Disproving the power of packaged goods once again, Valve's Steam digital download platform saw another year of massive growth in 2011, with sales more than doubling and the number of simultaneous users surpassing the five million mark. What gets five million people on Steam all at once?
You can blame those damn Steam holiday sales for a large portion of those numbers, the annual deal days bringing in buyers in the millions to partake in the sort of savings retail outlets just can't match.
Over the past year the service has grown to offer more than 1,800 games to its 40 million registered users, doubling its server structure to handle the more than 780 petabytes of data served in 2011. A Petabyte equals 1,000 Terabytes of information. I had to look that up.
As their dominance of the computer room continues to grow, Valve looks forward to annexing your living room in 2012.
"Steam and Steamworks continues to evolve to keep up with customer and developer demands for new services and content," said Gabe Newell, co-founder and president of Valve via an official announcement. "Support for in-game item trading prompted the exchange of over 19 million items. Support for Free to Play (FTP) games, launched in June, has spurred the launch of 18 FTP titles on Steam, with more coming in 2012. Looking forward, we are preparing for the launch of the Big Picture UI mode, which will allow gamers to experience Steam on large displays and in more rooms of the house."
As the PC sections of video game retailers continue to shrink, Steam is only getting stronger. It's gotten to the point where, outside of extravagant boxed collector's editions, I can't think of a single good reason to leave my house to buy a PC game anymore. Soon they will devour the market.
Then begins their sinister phase two.