How Steam did digital distribution correctly

In the land where 84% of installed software are unlicensed, paying for stuff using digital distribution platform is still a foreign concept.  Just like having a meal without rice

As a true Indonesians born and bread, im a jack sparrow kind of a guy (read : pirates) when it comes to digital stuff. You name it,music, movies, software, games all of them. Price and availability usually accredited as the culprits of our piracy culture. Why would you pay 200k to watch Gypsy Danger beating up Kaiju when you can stroll to ambassador mall and get it for 7k rupiah. Even if i want to pay, most of the times the content isnt available to purchase in here (case in point : Netflix). And even if i want to pay and the content is available to purchase, what plus points do i get by buying the original ones ? pat in the back surely not enough. 

Add me on steam. my id : madkicks
Add me on steam. my id : madkicks

That was before my encounter Steam platform.  Nowadays i can proudly say in at least one category of digital goods (games), i got it in a legal an honest way. Valve, the company behind steam who also developed the cult following Counter Strike & Half Life series, did everything right in battling the piracy. Rather than going for offensive measures, Steam makes buying a legal content a seductive offering to even a born-and-bred piracy doers like me (and fellow third world country civilians i presume).

Steam has three advantage points which makes me preferring to spend money on original PC games rather than pirating.

Deals, deals and more deals

In steam, you have limited deals daily and weekly deals. Then you have special occasion deals such as fourth of july, christmas or new year. On all deals, you will get up to 75% discount. The deals can apply to all sort of games from AAA to indie which are bit older (newer games mostly are sold in full price), so its not feels like some marketing trick.  Theres also the notorious Steam Summer & Winter Sales where everything gone off like crazy you have to experience it yourself to believe.

prepare your wallet
prepare your wallet

This huge price cut incentive lowers the barrier in spending money because the price can be comparable (even lower) to pirated one. In Ambassador Mall , each game DVD typically will cost you around Rp30k. FarCry 3 is a 4 disk game which is 120K. In the last summer sales i got it for 7 USD. Steam further facilitate this price incentive by having menu to show games below 10 & 5 bucks exclusively

Its hard for me to shell 60 USD for brand new Wolfenstein New Order. But when Borderlands 2 with all of the DLC was on daily deal for 10 bucks, i didnt even think twice

Steam community, auto-update and perks

Other than low price, Steam are giving you hard to argue benefits for buying original games. 

First one is ability to play online (if the game has the feature). For pirated games downloader, its an accepted fate that playing online is almost impossible in newer games due to tight restrictions in the server. In steam, playing online is embraced. Steam in game notification will tell you when your friends are online and which games he/she currently plays. 

Second one, is auto-update on all of your games. This is minor thing but gives you convenient. Update or patch will be automatically downloaded and installed. You can set the schedule for this as well. 

trading card

The third and most brilliant one is perks. Steam has the mechanics of the game on itself. Youll be rewarded for every game you buy, how many hours you play the game or how many in-game achievements you get using level mechanism. The higher level you are, the more chance you get trading cards. As the name implies, this card can be traded for game credits.

So in short, Steam encourage you to play a lot  so you can get extra credits which obviously youll use to buy more game. Clever stuff right there

Access to most of the games you want to play

Both the price and the benefits will be useless if the games is not available. I want to play the games and buying is just one method of getting it. In a digital distribution, a shop/platform/sites is as good as it’s collection. No physical shelf and practically none inventory cost hence no excuse not too have massive library of stuff. 

How do steam ranks into this ?

back in 2011 it was already more than 50%
back in 2011 it was already more than 50%

According to Bloomberg, Steam has 75% of market share in game digital distribution. It was so OP, some even consider it monopoly. I can only think of two well known games which are not on steam, Battlefield 4 and Halo series. The first one is because EA having its own distribution platform called Origin while Halo is rumoured to drop into Steam soon. So in a sense it will be hard to find game that are not on Steam rather than otherwise.

In Conclusion

Stream has three things right which enables them to be options against piracy.

  1. Competitive & attractive pricing
  2. Give you lots of extra benefits (more bang for your bucks) 
  3. Massive collections of games

Other digital distribution platform whether its music, movie or even ebook should learn from Valve’s domination in the digital gaming sphere. 

But in the end, it is still not a perfect cure for piracy albeit all of  the superiority. In order to fully enjoy steam you need credit card to purchase and decent fixed line connection to download your game. With the penetration of less than 15% of total population for credit card and even 3% for fixed broadband, both are still luxury items. Hence the majority of Indonesian gamer wont be leaving Ambassador mall anytime soon. 

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