Valve has announced that Steam has grown significantly. In fact, the digital distribution portal has grown so much that it makes the competition look pale and anorexic by comparison. A large majority of the growth also came within the past 12 months, probably thanks in large part to Microsoft pushing people out of console gaming and towards PC gaming with that atrocious Xbox 720p.
2013 is also said to be Steam's 10 year anniversary, although I couldn't say for sure because in 2003 I was too busy engulfed in the original Xbox to care about a crappy piece of DRM. And let's be honest, back in 2003 Steam was nothing more than a crappy piece of glorified DRM. The digital distribution portal didn't get decent until after Half-Life 2 and then Valve started treating it like it was legit.
The head honcho of Valve, Gabe Newell, chimed in on the success of the portal, which boasts more than 3,000 titles in its software library, saying...
"The main goal of Steam has always been to increase the quality of the user's experience by reducing the distance between content creators and their audience," ... "As the platform grows, our job is to adapt to the changing needs of both the development and user communities. In the coming year, we plan to make perhaps our most significant collaborations with both communities through the Steam Dev Days and the Steam Machines beta."
Unfortunately, Newell didn't say anything about Half-Life 3, but that's probably because some grade-A douche bag made a fat joke on Reddit. So yeah, thanks Reddit for being douche bags.
Anyway, Steam now has more active users than Xbox Live, according to a not-so-detailed comparison by The Verge. Xbox Live is struggling to maintain 48 million active users and that number will probably shrink by the time the VHS Beta Master 720p launches on November 22nd.
Of course, though, one of the main reasons why Steam has garnered so much popularity over the past year is due to the amazing Steam sales. You can also buy games from other outlets and use the product registration codes to attach them to your Steam account. This means that you can sometimes combo great deals and coupons from elsewhere and still have the game on Steam. It's amazing like that.
What's more is that Valve has also made Steam casual-friendly. You don't have to drive-dive on the internet or call software support to figure out to get a game to work, you just pick what you want to play and Steam automatically installs and updates the game according to your system specifications (for most games, anyway... Valve can't fix games that suffer from consolitis).
Valve isn't content in staying still with greatness, though. Gabe Newell has a vision of the future where PC gamers will play in harmony and peace in their living room the way we used to play console games before they required day-one patches and were glitched right out of the box. The company is working on prototypes right now of the Steam Machines and they also have a Steam Controller and SteamOS in the works. The trifecta of change is coming to the living room gaming space soon and it will greatly affect gaming like never before.
Being able to command 65 million active users while introducing a direct rival to the next generation consoles could bode well for Valve. 2014 certainly could be the year of the GabeN if the Steam Machines are properly priced and if the controller turns out to be as sexy as it looks.