Gamasutra has a good interview with Linden Lab's Rod Humble, who goes into more detail about why he bought Desura, the digital distribution service. Basically, Iris pretty much called it last week, but it's nice to hear it coming straight from Humble's mouth:
"[We want] to make it the most open, developer- and user-friendly distribution service for all kinds of digital goods, starting out with games and mods and going from there," CEO Rod Humble tells Gamasutra. "For us it's a natural step... We're about user-to-user transactions and empowering people's creativity."
So basically, Linden Lab wants to Steam-ify all user-generated content. That is to say, make it possible for people to buy and sell UGC on an open digital distribution market. Steam is a great service if you're an established developer or a somewhat established indie developer, but kinda restrictive and hard to crack if you're a newbie. And yes, Desura's basically targeting the Steam market:
Of course, Steam supports plenty of user-gen options as well, such as through Steam Workshop -- but to hear Humble tell it, that's the whole point. "When the market is so narrow, competitors are a good thing. They will bring different people into the space," says Humble. He's speaking particularly of Second Life's lack of a real counterpart in the virtual world genre, but the subtext is quite clear. He continues pointedly, "The same with digital distribution... It's certainly not saturated, right, when you have one very significant player dominating a lot of it."
So like Iris said, and explained in detail, this is a big move. Gabe Newell probably has nothing to worry about anytime soon, but the space he innovated with Steam is about to get even more interesting than it already is.
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