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Interviews

Valve lets off Steam

We question Freeman curator and Valve marketing man Doug Lombardi on the digital distribution service's past, present and future

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So what's the process by which a game is marked out for digital distribution? What's the quality control?

Doug Lombardi: Folks contact us, or sometimes we'll hear about something and make the first approach (Rag Doll Kung Fu, for example). There's a group of folks here at Valve that work with the studios and publishers from that first encounter, through launch and into the post-launch phases. We're simply looking for games of interest.

In your opinion, what does the introduction of services like Steam mean for talented independent game developers?

Doug Lombardi: Rag Doll Kung Fu was shown at last year's GDC as an independent project that Mark and his friends were pursuing at weekends. It was launched on Steam and soon found its way into retail boxes on many European shelves. Tripwire shopped Red Orchestra: Osfront 41-45 to every publisher under the sun: no takers. The company signed on to offer the game via Steam, issued a press release and publishers started calling; now it's heading to retail shelves as well. These examples (and some more on the way) say it all.

Is it a good feeling having a gaming legend like Warren Spector on the Steam roster?

Doug Lombardi: C'mon... A baby could answer that one!

What's the next major update we'll see in the Steam Service?

Doug Lombardi: More games. Additional payment methods. More things like the DOD: Source Free Weekend.

And in five years' time? What kind of things will be on offer?

Doug Lombardi: I'm not sure - it's really hard to say. But we're going to find out...

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