Game sales on Steam
, Valve's industry-leading digital download game service have more than doubled now for seven years in a row
. Sure, seven years ago the digital download market was tiny, but it's hard to argue with 1800 games, over 40 million account holders and this Christmas, over five million users online simultaneously. That's a lot of games and a lot of people on Steam - it owns over 50 per cent
(with estimates ranging up to 80 per cent) of the games download market. Steam dominates digital download of mainstream games. Why?
Simply put, Steam is built by a development company who make great games (the Half-Life, Left 4 Dead and Portal series among others). Their system is a dream for gamers - an iTunes Store for non-handheld games. It's simple, easy to navigate, well stocked and robust. In all honesty, the most likely reason why Origin, Steam's biggest competitor from Electronic Arts, is doing any numbers at all is because EA's games are not on Steam any more - if you want Battlefield 3, and you want to download it, Origin is your only answer.
So are there any alternatives that could unseat Steam? At this stage, unlikely, but you never know (after all, Android or Windows Mobile's stores may one day unseat Apple). But there is one interesting idea that could be complementary - IndieCity
. IndieCity provides download access to the weirder, quirkier more independent games that might get overlooked on Steam (or iTunes etc.). Its strength, according to its creators, is its recommendation system - that looks at what you download and finds more stuff you might like.