Valve releases Steam

Wired is running an interesting article on Valve's new Steam content delivery system. The article is timely because Valve has just released the official Steam client. So, what is Steam? Here's Valve's answer:
ASAP. Games like Half-Life, Counter-Strike, and Counter-Strike Condition Zero are all being made available through Steam.

Steam games are automatically kept up-to-date with the latest content and revisions. Steam also includes an instant-message client which even works while you're in-game.

At its core, Steam is a distributed file system and shared set of technology components that can be implemented into any software application.

With Steam, developers are given integrated tools for direct-content publishing, flexible billing, ensured-version control, anti-cheating, anti-piracy, and more.

Steam should allow Valve to release Half-Life 2 directly to gamers as soon as it goes gold, which should make fans itching to get the game quite happy. Distributing games through Steam effectively cuts out traditional retailers, but it looks like Half-Life 2 will still be available as a retail product. More casual gamers with short attention spans will be able to access Half-Life 2 for a $13 monthly fee.

As a content and update delivery system, the premise behind Steam has promise. However, some have raised concerns over whether the service, which requires an Internet connection, will be necessary for LAN play. Others are worried that Steam simply won't have the bandwidth to keep up with demand—a reasonable concern since Steam's network status page is showing 77% bandwidth utilization at 3:30am PST this morning.

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