Valve's software distribution platform, Steam, is finally launching for Linux computers, and a select few gamers will be able to try it out at the end of October.
In 2003, Valve launched Steam, a software distribution, social networking and digital rights management platform, and has since grown to become one of the leading game distribution systems for the pc, containing games and related content from small and large developers alike. Steam has since been released for several platforms, including iOS and Android, Mac OS X and to a partial degree, Playstation 3. Valve is hard at work developing the platform for Linux computers as well, and on October 26, 1000 lucky users will be taking part in a closed beta test of the Linux version.
The Steam Logo
The Linux port of Steam will have full functionality and run on Ubuntu 12.04 or higher. Only experienced users are being asked to part take in the beta, and testers will initially be given Steam itself, as well as one game, Left 4 Dead, for testing. Hopes are that once the beta is over, the Linux port will make it's way into public hands, and that more of Valve's proprietary games will be ported to the Linux platform. It should be pointed out, that Steam's games library does not automatically become compatible with the new platform, but that each game will have to be optimized to run on Linux.
Steam was originally born out of complications with updating their software. Updating Valve's multiplayer game Counter-Strike for example, usually resulted in many players being unable to play for several days while updates were being carried out. In order to streamline this process, as well as implement a better anti-cheat and anti-piracy system, Valve decided to seek out a new distribution platform. Initially, they asked other companies to create such a system for them, but Valve was turned down and decided to create their own platform.
Since its release, Steam has become quite successful; a 2009 estimation of Steam's market share of digital distribution for games, held it at 70% of the market share, though Valve never releases it's actual sales figures.Part of it's success owes to the hassle free DRM system, which links games to their respective owner's Steam accounts, thus protecting developers from piracy, while avoiding unwanted DRM software and hardware checks other distribution methods employ. As of august 2012, there are over 1500 games available through Steam, as well as software development tools and custom content for the games. New features are being added regularly, including the new "Greenlight" system, which allows users to vote on which games should be added for distribution on the platform.