Simple Question: The Next Digital Storefrontier

Valve is always tweaking Steam, but more recent updates to the platform have made us wonder about the future of the platform. Will there be more or less games? If developers don't like the changes where else will they go?

Itch

If Steam wasn't an option where would you go to buy digital PC games and why?

  • Ryan Billingsley - I am definitely pulling for itch.io. Not only because their store isn't too bad, but also Itch has been willing to try different strategies to help developers out, like a better set of pre-release tools versus Steams Early Access. I really want to see Itch do something imaginative in the discovery front, because so far we haven't seen anything earth-shattering.

  • Andrew Cooper - This is a really tough question. I think back to how much everyone hated Steam when it came out. You just didn't have an option if you wanted to play newer Valve games. Now it's the norm and you can't imagine life without it. None of Steam's competitors come close to what it offers from a standalone application with exception to maybe Blizzard. Even though I know it isn't a possibility, Blizzard would be my quick answer mainly due to it having the most polished integrated voice chat capability alongside their game library management. I'd totally support them opening their platform up to indie devs. It's hard to say what Blizzard's interface would turn into with more games, so I can't say that I like it better or worse than Steam. It isn't too unlike Steam at it's core. I just trust Blizzard, and the software works. If we're talking strictly a home for indie games, I really like what itch.io is doing, and I'm also a big fan of gog.com. I just want that nice library app that lets me easily manage my game library, including handling updates, without having to deal with separate downloads and installations from a website. I don't know that that really exists outside of Steam in a polished interface at the moment.

  • JB Buckner - For better or worse there really isn't another store out there like Steam. As others stated previously your next best is Blizzard, but it has shown zero interest in adding third party games to this point. Plus, if you add as many games as Steam's library there would be a major redesign needed, and who knows if it still looks nice after that. What am I saying, its Blizzard, of course it will look nice. So if Steam doesn't exist, sure lets go with Blizzard.

  • Aaron McNeal - Wherever the games are, I will buy them. Steam has fostered a community over the years and of course it's easy to get tunnel vision with Valve's storefront. I've become very dependent on a Reddit forum called Game Deals. The users there will show off any site that's offering exceptional deals on new titles and even your ordinary 10% offs for the people merely looking for a little something-something on that game they've have purchased anyway. Having people vet the storefronts for you and let you know that they've had good experiences elsewhere makes it easy for me to put the money where the deals are. The Humble Store has deals often and occasionally throws the nice bonus towards subscribers of their monthly that aren't dependent on platforms like Steam, Origin, or otherwise. The more I delve into this question, the more obvious it becomes how many stores would be affected when they're not mailing out Steam keys. I'll second that itch.io is a great place for indies and I've been satisfied trying out Loot Rascals there before its launch.

  • Justin Gifford - I agree with @coop that Blizzard has a pretty slick system. Itch.io has been a bit of a mixed bag for me and I have no experience on GOG. I don't notice much difference between the voice audio on Steam versus Blizzard, but if its inventory management were as slick as Steam's/they had the volume of a library, I suppose that's where I'd go. It's not like I'm going to intentionally use Origin or UPlay unless I absolutely have to.

  • Rob Shaw - I haven't really been playing PC games much lately, but certainly Steam is my store/library/friend connector of choice. I just like having all my games in one spot and think the way they manage that and connectivity with friends is great. If there was no Steam I might make all my purchases through Humble... or probably would just find the best deals on whatever stores... Humble, Green Man, GoG, etc.

  • Cole Monroe - I agree with Coop that this is a tough question for me to answer. I'm not someone who explores different online stores outside of Steam. I've heard about Itch.io and have used GOG but until there's an app (like Coop said) that I can launch all these games from one place and keep track of my friends and playtimes, I probably wouldn't be into PC gaming if there wasn't Steam. That all being said I think there should definitely be thresholds developer's have to meet in order to sell their games in a store so that things don't get buried by a bunch of bullshit. I'd hate to see Itch get bogged down by a bunch of indie games whose quality is straight garbage.

  • Justin Lacey - Currently, if it's not on Steam, in order of preference I look to Itch, GOG, and the Humble Store. I like what Itch is doing and would like to see it become a viable home for smaller games and new developers, but I could also see the platform needing a major overhaul if a huge influx of customers came calling. With that in mind, I think GOG and Humble are better positioned for growth. While I support GOG's DRM-free outlook, Humble will probably be more friendly to game developers in supporting their preferred means of distributing their games. I don't think Blizzard have any interest in offering 3rd party games, and it would require an overhaul to the app experience I currently enjoy. However, should Steam go away or tighten up its policies, we may see a larger player step into the space in the form of Amazon or Google. Amazon announced that Twitch (which it owns) will begin selling games and that may serve as a testing ground for making more of a push into a focused video game storefront.

Horrible Night

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