Valve Software has rolled out a closed beta for Steam Mobile, an upcoming free application for iOS and Android devices allowing users to access services from its digital distribution platform.
The Left 4 Dead
publisher says the app, which it created after receiving direct requests from customers, is part of its commitment to "expand the service functionality of Steam to make it richer and more accessible for everyone."
Several other digital distribution platform holders have pursued a similar strategy, taking advantage of mobile devices' portability and ubiquity by releasing complementary apps for them. Both Xbox Live and PlayStation Network have smartphone apps allowing users to view their accounts on the go.
While Steam Mobile won't allow users to play games they've purchased on the PC versions of the client, it will let them chat with friends, browse communities and user profiles, view screenshots and user-generated content, browse Steam's catalog, and purchase games.
The private beta rollout follows several weeks after Valve announced that Steam has surpassed 40 million registered users
, and saw its annual revenues double for the seventh straight year in 2011 -- despite facing increased competition from rival digital distribution platforms.
Steam Mobile is available to download now through Apple's App Store
and Google's Android Market
, though users will need a beta key before they can access it. Valve hasn't announced when it will open the app to the general public.