With Amazon’s Appstore, we’re finally starting to see some big-name competition to the Apple App Store and Android Market as a source for smartphone apps. While it’s far too early to judge Amazon’s success, other companies may already be taking note and thinking about what it would take to launch their own similar services. One possibility that we’ve heard comes from Valve, which is looking into bringing Steam to iOS and Android devices.
Steam has been letting gamers purchase, download, and play titles for the better part of the past decade, though it really took off with 2004’s launch of Half-Life 2. After all this time, if there’s one thing Steam knows how to do well, it’s digital distribution, making it seem like a no-brainer for a candidate to open its own app store.
Though the gamer who reported this news after a trip to visit Valve wasn’t privy to any details on how a smartphone Steam might work out, we can assume it would offer a more social alternative to current app stores, as multiplayer plays a key role in the Steam community, with matchmaking and gamer discussions. If Valve can bring that aspect to smartphones, it could give gamers a good reason to check out its alternative app store. On the other hand, it might leave the actual gaming to PCs, and just use a mobile version of Steam to let users keep in touch with each other.
One big question is how nicely Steam would play with iOS. Valve may not be too keen on cutting Apple a slice of the income from all app purchases, as would be required under current rules. We’ll have to wait and see what Valve ends up doing, but the prospect of Android Steam sounds far more likely.