Seattle-based software and video game developer Valve is opening up its digital content platform Steam to non-gaming products, the company announced Wednesday. The move is part of its effort to introduce a wider range of software products to the platform, explaining in the statement that new features will "range from creativity to productivity."
The company is giving few details on what products will be featured but says the first line-up will be released Sept. 5.
Besides small indie titles and games developed in-house by Valve, Steam is rarely the exclusive distributor of the products sold through the service. But like the games themselves, new software purchased through Steam can take advantage of the platform's Steamworks features. These include streamlined installation, auto-updating and cloud storage, which will allow cross-platform access to content from multiple computers (both Macs and PCs, it should be noted) and an increasing number of tablet and mobile devices.
"The 40 million gamers frequenting Steam are interested in more than playing games," Valve's Mark Richardson said. "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."
This news comes shortly after Steam's recently released iOS application unintentionally leaked some details about the platform's future when it showed options for programs like "audio production," "photo editing," "education," "software training," and even "education." Shortly thereafter, Steam's Android app followed suit.
Valve's statement was vague on the details of what software will be launched come September—when contacted for more information, a press representative said that more would be announced closer to the release date. But tech writers such as Forbes' Jason Evangelho are already speculating that Valve may be preparing itself to compete with companies like Google and Microsoft in realms like cloud storage and office software.
Valve's co-founder and managing director Gabe Newell did recently call Microsoft's new Windows 8 operating system "a catastrophe," after all. So why not set out and make one of their own? Still, as with Apple's rumored video game console and Valve's own before it, it's hard to read too much into such preliminary information.
In Wednesday's press release, Valve stated that software developers "will be welcome to submit applications" for the enhanced platform through the recently launched Steam Greenlight initiative.
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