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Steam Workshop

The Steam Workshop is a Steam account-based hosting service for videogame user-created content. Depending on the title, new levels, art assets, gameplay modifications, or other content may be published to or installed from the Steam Workshop through an automated, online account-based process. The Workshop was originally used for distribution of new items for Team Fortress 2; it was redesigned to extend support for any game, including modifications for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, in early 2012. A May 2012 patch for Portal 2, enabled by a new map-making tool through the Steam Workshop, introduced the ability to share user-created levels.Independently-developed games, including Dungeons of Dredmor, are able to provide Steam Workshop support for user-generated content. Dota 2 became Valve’s third published title available for the Steam Workshop in June 2012; its features include customizable accessories, skins, and voice packs.

Valve has provided some user-developed Workshop content as paid-for features in Valve-developed games, including Team Fortress 2 and DOTA 2; as of January 2015, over $57 million has been paid to content creators using the Workshop. Valve began allowing developers to use these advanced features in January 2015; the developer and content generator will share the profits of the sale of these items; the feature went live in April 2015, starting with various mods for Skyrim. This feature was pulled a few days afterward following negative user feedback and reports of pricing and copyright misuse. Valve has stated they are still interested in offering this type of functionality in the future, but will review the implementation to avoid these previous mistakes.In November 2015, the Steam client was updated with the ability for game developers to offer in-game items for direct sale via the store interface. The first game to use the item store was Rust in 2015.

Steam for Schools

Steam for Schools is a function-limited version of the Steam client that is available free-of-charge to educational institutions for use in classrooms. It is part of Valve’s initiative to support gamification of learning for classroom instruction; it was released alongside free versions of Portal 2 and a standalone program called “Puzzle Maker” that allows teachers and students to create and manipulate levels. It features additional authentication security that allows teachers to share and distribute content via a Steam Workshop-type interface but blocks access from students.

Supported platforms

Steam was released in 2003 exclusively for the Microsoft Windows operating system but has since been expanded to other platforms.


On March 8, 2010, Valve announced that Steam was developing a client for OS X.The announcement was preceded by a change in the Steam beta client to support the cross-platform WebKit web browser rendering engine instead of the Trident engine of Internet Explorer. Before this announcement, Valve teased the release by e-mailing several images to Mac community and gaming websites; the images featured characters from Valve games with Apple logos and parodies of vintage Macintoshadvertisements. Valve developed a full video homage to Apple’s 1984 Macintosh commercial to announce the availability of Half-Life 2 and its episodes on the service; some concept images for the video had previously been used to tease the Mac Steam client.

Steam for OS X was originally planned for release in April 2010; it was launched worldwide on May 12, 2010, following a successful beta period. In addition to the Steam client, several features were made available to developers, allowing them to take advantage of the cross-platform Source engine, and platform and network capabilities using Steamworks. Through SteamPlay, the OS X client allows players who have purchased compatible products in the Windows version to download the Mac versions at no cost, allowing them to continue playing the game on the other platform. Some third-party titles may require the user to re-purchase them to gain access to the cross-platform functionality. The Steam Cloud is cross-platform compatible. Multiplayer games can also be cross-compatible, allowing Windows and Mac players to play with each other.


Valve announced in July 2012 that it was developing a Steam client for Linux and modifying the Source engine to work natively on Linux, based on the Ubuntu distribution.This announcement followed months of speculation, primarily from the website Phoronix that had discovered evidence of Linux developing in recent builds of Steam and other Valve software.Newell stated that getting Steam and games to work on Linux is a key strategy for Valve; Newell called the closed nature of Microsoft Windows 8, “a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space”, and that Linux would maintain “the openness of the platform”. Valve is extending support to any developers that want to bring their games to Linux, by “making it as easy as possible for anybody who’s engaged with us—putting their games on Steam and getting those running on Linux”, according to Newell.

The team developing the Linux client had been working for a year before the announcement to validate that such a port would be possible.[188] As of the official announcement, a near-feature-complete Steam client for Linux had been developed and successfully run on Ubuntu.[188] Internal beta testing of the Linux client started in October 2012; external beta testing occurred in early November the same year.[189][190] Open beta clients for Linux were made available in late December 2012,[191] and the client was officially released in mid-February 2013.[192] Valve’s Linux group will focus on improving the Steam client and will assure that its selected first Source game, Left 4 Dead 2, will run at an acceptable frame rate and degree of connectivity with the Windows and OS X versions. From there, it will work on porting other games to Ubuntu and expanding to other Linux distributions.[185][193] In early August 2012, Valve said it had successfully completed the Left 4 Dead 2 port.[194] Following Valve’s announcement, Devolver Digital announced that it will port Serious Sam 3: BFE with Steamworks support to the Ubuntu Linux distribution.[195] Linux games will also be eligible for SteamPlay availability; The Cave was announced as one of the first titles to take advantage of this.[196] Versions of Steam working under Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux were released by October 2013.[197] On June 5, 2014, the number of Linux-compatible games on Steam reached 500[198] while on March 11, 2015 the number of native games available via Steam for Linux / SteamOS had surpassed 1000.[199]


At E3 2010, Newell announced that Steamworks would arrive on the PlayStation 3 with Portal 2. It would provide automatic updates, community support, downloadable content and other unannounced features.[200] Steamworks made its debut on consoles with Portal 2s PlayStation 3 release. Several features—including cross-platform play and instant messaging, Steam Cloud for saved games, and the ability for PS3 owners to download Portal 2 from Steam (Windows and Mac) at no extra cost—were offered.[201] Valve’sCounter-Strike: Global Offensive also supports Steamworks and cross-platform features on the PlayStation 3, including using keyboard and mouse controls as an alternative to the gamepad.[202] Valve said it “hope[s] to expand upon this foundation with more Steam features and functionality in DLC and future content releases”.[203]

The Xbox 360 does not have support for Steamworks. Newell said that they would have liked to bring the service to the console through the game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, which would have allowed Valve to provide the same feature set that it did for the PlayStation 3,[204] but later said that cross-platform play would not be present in the final version of the game.[205] Valve attributes the inability to use Steamworks on the Xbox 360 to limitations in the Xbox Live regulations of the ability to deliver patches and new content. Valve’s Erik Johnson stated that Microsoft requires that new content must be certified and validated before distribution, which would limit the usefulness of Steamworks’ delivery approach.[206]

Mobile platforms

Valve released an official Steam client for iOS and Android devices in late January 2012, following a short beta period.[207] The application allows players to log in to their accounts to browse the storefront, manage their games, and communicate with friends in the Steam community. The application also incorporates a two-factor authenticationsystem that works with Steam Guard, further enhancing the security of a user’s account. Newell stated that the application was a strong request from Steam users and sees it as a means “to make [Steam] richer and more accessible for everyone”.[208] A mobile Steam client for Windows Phone devices was released in June 2016.[209]

Steam Machine

Main article: Steam Machine (hardware platform)

Prior to 2013, industry analysts believed that Valve was developing hardware and tuning features of Steam with apparent use on its own hardware. These computers were pre-emptively dubbed as “Steam Boxes” by the gaming community and expected to be a dedicated machine focused upon Steam functionality and maintaining the core functionality of a traditional video game console.[210] During the week beginning on September 23, 2013, Valve unveiled a console operating system called SteamOS built atop the Linux operating system, a console input device called the Steam Controller, and the final concept of the Steam Machine hardware, which were tentatively scheduled to be released in 2014 but now will be released in late 2015.[211] Unlike other consoles, the Steam Machine has no set hardware; its technology is implemented at the discretion of the manufacturer and is fully customizable in the same lieu as a personal computer.[212] The Steam client enables users to purchase this hardware directly.


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