Valve Software's Steam is closing in on its sixth year of existence, and it continues its impressive proliferation into an increasingly digital-minded market.
The developer, also behind Half-Life
, said Friday that Steam boasted over 25 million active accounts at the end of 2009, up 25 percent from 2008. Ten million of those users have created user profiles as part of Steam's community features, Valve said.
Steam originally launched in 2003, beginning as a way to deliver patches for Valve's games. That evolved continually into what the service is today -- a digital distribution ecosystem for PC that combines a storefront, community features, and gaming.
Valve also said software unit sales on Steam increased by over 205 percent during 2009, "marking the fifth straight year the platform has realized over 100% year-over-year growth in unit sales." The company did not reveal any specific unit sales figures, although Gamasutra has reached out for comment.
Steam's growth comes as digital distribution and other forms of online delivery are gaining increasing interest from major game publishers, whose revenues remain largely physical retail-driven. But even brick-and-mortar retailers, namely GameStop, are beginning to acknowledge digital trends with new initiatives focused on the online business.
The number of concurrent users broke the 2.5 million mark in December, the company added. Users have access on Steam to over 1,000 games from more than 100 developers, a roster that includes major mainstream publishers like Electronic Arts and Activision, as well as one-man indie game developers.
Valve said its free Steamworks suite of publishing and development tools experienced strong adoption from game makers in 2009. Recent triple-A titles incorporating Steamworks included Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Warhammer 40:000 Dawn of War II
and Empire: Total War
, with numerous smaller developers also employing the system. Valve unveiled Steamworks
in early 2008.
Valve president Gabe Newell said in a statement, "Steam turned five years old in March 2009. With the introduction of each new platform feature released over the years -- such as the Steam Community, Steam Cloud, and Steamworks -- we've seen corresponding growth in account numbers, concurrent player numbers and developer support for the platform. As such, we plan to continue to expand and grow the platform to better serve the developers supporting the open platform and millions of gamers logging in each day."