Mass-distribution store debunked
Reports of a new storefront for Steam and the hosting of images from three Activision-published games on it (thanks Jobye and hahnchen) have been debunked by Valve as configuration slip-ups relating to run-of-the-mill development.
“We’ve been testing a lot of different games as we iterate on the Steam filesystem,” said Steam developer John Cook, “but that doesn’t mean any of them will be for sale”. The new Store sub-domain,
storefront-dist, was explained to be the result of recent load balancing upgrades.
Valve’s use of third party games echoes DiStream’s use of demos to test the Triton filesystem, to the extent that Valve are likely responding to their technological advances.
However, the news leaves an important question hanging again. With Atari’s announcement last month that their GamersFirst budget range would be distributed through Steam, the risk arose of their sizable back catalogue swamping the indie offerings in the Store today, threatening a return to the shelf-space issues of the past and the loss of one of digital distribution’s most important benefits. The new server could well have become a ‘warehouse’ of sorts for such mass-distribution deals, keeping Steam’s indie offerings on even footing, but it now seems that this is not the case.
Unfortunately, while what will be done to avoid the situation is an “excellent question”, Valve are not inclined to give us their excellent answer just yet!