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Distribution War? Gabe Newell Sees It as Healthy Competition

  • Valve vs Epic Games became a big story during the course of 2019.
  • Epic Games Store and Steam became weapons in a new age of platform wars.
  • Industry titan Gabe Newell’s take on the situation may be surprising to some.

Since the advent of at home gaming, there has been an ongoing platform war. First it was computers vs consoles, then it became consoles vs consoles vs computer gaming. Then computer gaming leapt far enough out in front to create the long-running joke of console peasantry and PC master race, becoming an often cited meme online. In the last year, though, Valve’s digital distribution platform Steam finally got some strong competition. While Steam has had competitors for years, it was the Epic Games Store to offer up a strong enough challenge that ended up igniting a new take on the platform wars.

With Epic Games Store practically throwing money at developers and publishers, there was a huge amount of controversy during 2019 about the business practices of those involved and where the line between pro-developer and anti-consumer was. What was observed was that line was so thin that at times it may as well have not been there at all. Love it or hate it, the Epic Games Store as a platform is pulling no punches. As a side effect, many noticed that this new challenge saw Steam rolling out a number of updates to improve upon itself for the user. 

Epic Games Store may be able to entice players with free game giveaways that are often big names, but Steam’s quality of life changes still give it an edge over the competition. The result is that increasingly, people are starting to use both platforms. That being said, the ‘war’ isn’t over as there are a number of users on both sides of the fence that will wave the banner for their platform of choice.

In the latest issue of Edge Magazine (mentioned in one of Games Radar’s attempts to get people to subscribe to it), Valve’s Gabe Newell sits down for an interview about everything from the failed Steam Machines to rebooting Artifact. The highlight of the interview however comes from his commentary on the ongoing competition with Epic Games and the EGS platform.

Competition in game stores is awesome for everybody. It keeps us honest, it keeps everybody else honest, but it’s ugly in the short term. 

You’re like, ‘Argh, they’re yelling, they’re making us look bad.’ But in the long term, everybody benefits from the discipline and the thoughtfulness it means you have to have about your business by having people come in and challenge you.

To his credit, I think Gabe has a great point here. While the practices of both Steam and Epic Games Store will never have the debate settled, if you look at the actions taken by both platforms you’ll see that the actions of one spur the other. As such, both have shown a lot of improvement in a short amount of time. Steam, in particular, saw an incredible amount of changes last year, after what felt like year of living by the mantra if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. To Gabe Newell, it’s healthy competition, it’s necessary. But what do our readers think? Let us know down below.