An online game store, communications platform, and game management program
Steam is a service that allows players to buy and update PC games as well as connect with other players in a social environment. Users can purchase and download games from a vast and ever-expanding library that holds an incredible 3,000 games. This number is constantly growing. In addition to offering the major titles released by the industry’s top publishers, Steam also offers lesser-known titles from independent developers. In late 2012, Steam also expanded its service to include non-gaming software.
The widespread popularity of Steam is quite impressive. The service has over 75 million registered accounts, and in December of 2013 the service exceeded 7.1 million concurrent players. It is estimated that more than 75% of game purchases and downloads go through Steam.
A significant contributor to Steam’s rapid expansion and success results from its social connectivity services. Steam offers players the ability to add other users to their friend lists, and chat with them using Steam’s built-in instant messaging service. People playing games through the Steam service are able to invite these friends to join them in games, as well as create scheduled multiplayer events.
While Steam was initially developed solely for use on the Windows operating system, the service has notably expanded its cross-platform viability, releasing additional versions for both the OS X and Linux operating systems. Steam’s software has very low computing requirements, making it accessible for a wide range of personal computers.
The application itself uses very little processing power while running, and the interface is so unobtrusive that users can keep it running in the background without getting in the way of anything else they may be doing. In this way, it is often used as a small and effective standalone chat client.
Steam is hugely popular and widely acclaimed. Its future is bright, and the aggressive development of the service means that there is potential for even more success in Steam’s future. However, Steam has its advantages and disadvantages like any other platform.
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