So my column this week is about the ongoing platform wars. Spoiler: It starts off talking about the Nintendo vs. Microsoft vs. Sony thing but then jumps in with some numbers suggesting that Steam is as big as any living room console in terms of customers.
Originally I was going to write about how well Valve is integrating into foreign markets, which is always a tough hill to climb. But the more I looked into it, the less confident I was to talk about it. The subject is just so vast. I spoke with Robert Rath, who writes the Critical Intel column at the Escapist. (Highly recommended.) His article on buying games in Hong Kong can give you an idea of just how different markets can be once you get outside of North America and Europe. There are so many countries, and every one of them has a completely different and equally outlandish way of doing business with consumers.
Some other facts about Steam that didn’t make it into the column:
- The “users” number represents active users, not existing users. Publicly available numbers for Xbox or Playstation are given in existing users.
- The growth of Steam users is accelerating, and has been for the last three years.
- The Oculus Rift could bolster the PC market even more. The buzz surrounding the VR market is that “VR makes converts on contact”. This hasn’t been true in the past. After twenty years, we finally have the technology to make this work, and apparently the results are amazing. Note that this buzz is coming from engineers like Carmack and Abrash, not marketing types. I find their recent talks on the subject to be very convincing.