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Valve is arguably the world’s most popular PC gaming company. By raw sales data, bigger companies like EA might take top prize. But in terms of winning the hearts and minds of PC gamers, Valve is likely at the top of the list.
Valve and its low-cost digital distribution platform, Steam, recently changed the way they distribute and price games. These changes are likely to bring about a new era of PC gaming and likely encourage more sales and more free-to-play games.
Earlier today, Valve announced that developers will now be in charge of their own pricing. The news was actually exclusive to the private Steam developer forums, although it was inevitably leaked by one developer onto Reddit.
From now on, game developers will be able to launch their own sales, discounts, and promotions. Everybody knows about the Steam Summer Sale and Winter Sale, of course, and now it looks like we’re going to have similar sales every day of the week.
What it means for you
Isn’t that exciting? Well, it will only be exciting if developers jump on board. Since the news broke, Steam sales have included 75% discounts on Age of Empires II HD and other popular games, so it looks like the system is working.
Here’s what you, the gamer and consumer, can expect from this change:
-Lower prices on a diverse range of titles
-Discounts throughout the year in addition to the annual Steam Summer and Winter Sales
-More free-to-play titles as the race to zero continues
Is this really a good thing?
Some people are against this so-called “race to zero”. Those against Steam’s system of low-cost distribution feel that selling games at heavily discounted rates all the time cheapens the value of the product. Who would pay $59.99 for a brand new PC game, they argue, when you can wait a few months and get an even better deal?
I personally believe the market will work itself out. There will always be fewer people paying full price for a game and more people buying that game when it drops to $10. Plus, more people playing a game – regardless of the retail price they paid for it – means more opportunities for in-game purchases and expansion packs.
More players also means more hype for the next title that developer releases.
Instead of having your wallet take damage every July and December during the semi-annual sales, you can now enjoy the joyous pain of cheap PC games every day of the week.
It’s only a matter of time before you own every game you’ve ever had even the slightest interest in playing. I know there are a few games like that on my Steam account.