Though Valve's digital content delivery service Steam was originally launched using its own titles, and more recently hosted the company's landmark FPS, Half-Life 2
, recent months have seen significant interest in the service from third-party developers, now finally being realized in terms of downloadable content, with the company recently revealing that Steam now "offers developers and publishers a direct distribution channel to over 5.5 million customers."
One of the first to sign onto the digital publishing service in 2004 was Flying Lab Software, which intends to release its upcoming MMORPG Pirates of the Burning Sea
exclusively through Valve's service, and the company has just launched closed testing through Steam. Pirates Of The Burning Sea
will receive no retail release, according to the developers, in favor of Valve's service. Furthermore, Flying Lab will use Steam to handle "purchasing, subscriptions, logins, progressive content downloads, and upgrades," as well as to distribute the game's beta test software. The beta, already in progress, is available for registration at the game's official site
. The game is scheduled for a full release in winter 2005.
In addition, Lionhead artist Mark Healey's spare-time PC martial arts game Rag Doll Kung Fu
, which includes notable innovations in control and physics, is now completed, and is scheduled to hit Steam on October 12th for the price of $12.95 - Healy commented on the announcement: "Rag Doll
was originally just an idea for me and some friends to have some fun making an old style Kung Fu movie. It's amazing to think that a tongue in cheek film project has now evolved into a full game being distributed via Steam."
Valve apparently doesn't intend to stop there, since it has also announced early this summer that Ritual Entertainment's SiN Episodes
, being developed using Valve's proprietary Source engine, will be released in serial form commencing this winter. The company also intends to continue distributing its own titles digitally, as well as via its recently signed
retail distribution deal with Electronic Arts, but it's clear that third-party titles will be an increasingly important part of Steam going forward.