While a lot of digital platforms will feed ads to users without a second thought, and most digital distribution platforms are known for ads, one service does not have them: Steam. One of Valve's staff explains why Steam doesn't have ads.
In an interview with Gamespot, Valve's Erik Johnson explained why the digital download service doesn't have ads like its console counterparts, PlayStation Network and Xbox Live. The simple gist of the matter is that Valve doesn't believe it adds anything of value to consumers.
When asked if something like a Doritos ad might appear on the Steam store, Johnson replied...
We don't see a case for that ever getting user value, [...] So we wouldn't do it. I don't think that those ever work, either. To take it a step further, I don't think anybody buys Doritos as a result of that.
According to Johnson, he states that Valve wants to focus on long-term relationships and he states that it would be “dumb” to go the route of the other service providers who have gamers pay a subscription fee and still have to suffer through seeing ads on the service periodically.
Johnson isn't alone in thinking the way he does about ads. Valve's Robin Walker concurred with the idea that ads don't help customers and that they don't “serve any value to costumers”. It is true that there's really no benefit on Steam seeing stuff you don't care about. And plain and simple when I start up a service to play games the last thing I want to do is sit through seeing some pointless ad on the sidebar or in the update menu.
The only “ads” gamers will see on Steam is for other games. Now those kind of promotional notifications are very welcomed because it's always great finding out about new games or learning about some new game that's either discounted or available for cheap.
In fact, Valve's whole goal is to help gamers better discover the kind of games they want to play. With more than 1,500 games being made available on the SteamOS and with more than 6,000 games in the database, it's not a matter of adding more games to the library so much as it is helping gamers find the sort of titles that interest them.
Johnson explains to Gamespot that Valve's top priority at the moment is improving the algorithms that power the Steam Discovery tools. This means that gamers will be able to find the sort of indie, AAA, RPG, sports and action games as they see fit.
Right now the search tools are fairly decent but the discovery toolset could still use some improvements. For now, Steam is definitely leagues above the competition in terms of its selection, variety and prices. Microsoft is slowly playing catch-up by including more indie titles after a bit of a debacle with the release parity clause from back during the Mattrick era of the system, and Sony has been selectively picking a lot of high-profile indies to help fill out the ranks on the PlayStation store.
What's interesting is that Steam offers more games than both the Xbox and PlayStation storefronts, but the other two have third-party ads while Steam avoids it like the plague.