Steam Business Update

Notes on a talk from GDC 2019

  • To be a good platform, need to:
    • Create value for players and devs
    • Best experience for a given game
    • Grow the addressable market
    • Invent new ways for devs to make customers happy
    • …over the long term
    • E.g., Steam Link Anywhere automatically makes your game more valuable—no integration costs for devs
  • Coming soon
    • Steam Events: communicate to players when new stuff is coming; free stuff, live streams, updates, etc. 
      • customers choose how they want to hear about this: email, in app, push notification, iCal feed, etc. 
      • give people a reason to play/buy right now
    • Redesigned library
      • New home page to easily resume last game, show cool stuff happening in hames you already own, join in with friends
      • Pull in events on individual game’s page, prompt for review
      • Advanced filters for use with large libraries (like tagging)
  • Recently released
    • Developer homepages where people can follow you and automatically be notified of your new games
    • Livestreams directly in your store page
      • Show people what it’s actually like to play your game—better than screenshots or video
      • Can elevate user’s live streams to show up on your own page
    • Exclude off-topic review “bombs”
      • Automatically based on surges in review traffic
      • Added “call for help” button to get Steam’s intervention
  • New networking API
    • Valve’s infrastructure for use in your game
    • CDN has direct connections to 2500 ISPs; can see avg download speeds by ISP online
    • For multiplayer: want stable connections, low ping, quality matchmaking, protect against DDoS
    • Prioritize game traffic (latency sensitive) over downloads
    • Allows matchmaking across the globe (or if you’re more latency sensitive, maybe a small number of pools across the globe)
    • Available for both Steam and non-Steam versions of your game
    • Free
  • Emerging markets
    • Regions with a growing economy, or an established market where Steam hasn’t penetrated much (like Japan)
    • Challenges: expensive payment methods, esp. cash
    • Invest early
    • Use preferred payment methods locally: e.g., Japan prefers to buy online, walk to a convenience store, pay in cash there, come back with a printed validation code to download
      • Introduced Steam retail cards to make this easier (costs Steam 10-15% of the face value of the card)
    • China: 12.5% of transactions go through the five “standard” payment methods; most of the rest are cash based
    • PC cafe program

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