Region restrictions a selling point for Steam
Valve have begun to use region restriction as a front-line selling point for Steam. From their latest press release:
Speedball 2 Tournament will be available via Steam at the end of November 2007 and in stores this fall. The retail disc will use the same authentication technology used for Valve’s The Orange Box. Valve’s authentication technology enables Frogster [Interactive, Speedball 2's publishers] to use a single master for multiple languages, to time retail activation worldwide by region, and to control grey marketing and unauthorized activations.
The release is also the first time Valve have explicitly promoted Steam to publishers. This wasn’t done for the big fish like Activision or Take2, so it’s reasonable to conclude that they’re looking to attract smaller outfits now. It would certainly be a sensible move: exclusivity deals like this one are good business that larger companies would never agree to.
The press release also talks about the tournaments, leagues, clans, global leaderboards and matchmaking that are major features for Speedball 2. Hopefully these will be compatible with the Steam Community, but the release doesn’t go out of its way to suggest they will and with less than a month to go until release things don’t look too hopeful. Still, we may be surprised.