Steam as Social Media

By: Elena Holbrook, SAS for Ellensburg Downtown Association

In today’s world, everyone is aware of social media as an entity. Whether you are online or away from your keyboard, social media is very difficult to escape – everywhere you go people are reminding you to “Like my Facebook page!” or “Follow me on Twitter!”

However, one platform of social media tends to fly under the digital radar: Steam.

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Steam is a platform which offers a fusion of social media and product distribution. Steam’s software was originally developed by Valve Corporation, a Washington company that develops and distributes video games for the computer. Valve has developed such games as: Portal, Half-Life, and Team Fortress.

According to Valve’s website:

…Steam is our direct pipeline to customers. It began as a little sleeper project – a handy tool to update Counter-Strike – and morphed pretty quickly into the world’s largest online gaming platform. Steam guarantees instant access to more than 1,800 game titles and connects its 35 million active users to each other—and to us. Through Steam, fans can easily buy, play, share, modify, and build communities around Valve products as well as titles from other independent game studios. Steam is available in 237 countries and 21 different languages.

blog8Though Steam was initially designed as a simple way for customers to update games (which it now does automatically), it has grown into so much more. Steam now has become a piece of software in which people can purchase and download games as well as interact with an online community of gamers with similar interest.

You might be wondering what it is that sets Steam apart from its competitors. What is it exactly that has made Steam so successful? The answer lies in social media.

One of Steam’s biggest competitors is EA’s Origin, which is similar in that it is also a piece of software which distributes games to customers. However, when offered a choice between the two, the majority of gamers will opt to use Steam.

There are two reasons for this loyalty to Valve:

  1. Online Community – Steam has created its own online community where people can engage with each other. Finding this community and getting involved is also easy and efficient.
  2. Variety – Steam offers a wide variety of games developed by different people. Though the software is made by Valve, they also have games available from developers like Bethesda, Rockstar, Ubisoft, and many more.

Steam’s success is a testament to the understanding of their audience. Despite popular belief, video games are a very effective way for people to engage with each other. People who play video games love to talk about video games. Playing a game with another person also requires a certain amount of mutual trust.

Steam understood this, and integrated a highly usable community aspect to their program.

Social media permeates nearly every aspect of modern life. As technology continues to grow and change in the digital age, social networking and connectivity are only going to become more and more important and powerful to users around the world.

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