Game developer Valve is set to open up its online game distribution platform, Steam, to allow for non-game applications, such as productivity and creativity software. The move brings Valve into more direct competition with the big software players like Apple, Google and Microsoft.
Launching on 5th September, the system will allow users to purchase, download and update applications as well as save work all from within Steam. Meanwhile developers can submit applications via Steam Greenlight.
Mark Richardson of Valve said: "The 40 million gamers frequenting Steam are interested in more than popular games. They have told us they would like to have more of their software on Steam, so this expansion is in response to those customer requests."
Steam had a slow and wobbly start but has since become a reliable and highly popular game distribution platform serving up over 780 petabytes of data last year alone. Its inbuilt digital rights management and update systems as well as cross platform compatibility should make it a tempting proposition to developers looking for the widest reach with the least effort.
As we wrote about earlier this week, the convergence of hardware and software has lead to Apple, Microsoft and Google all producing closed app stores that are designed to work best with their devices only and which don't offer the ability to transfer purchases from one platform to another. The more open approach of the Steam system could well be seen by many as the more desirable long term solution.
Excited by the prospect of Steam's expansion or were you never a fan of the platform? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.