Steam is PC Gaming. It is the leading platform for delivering and offering games on PC, and one of the biggest single gaming platforms in the world. The biggest and most played games are all available on Steam, with only a limited number of exceptions. Steam has enjoyed this monopoly for many years, and it doesn’t look like it will relinquish that monopoly anytime soon.
But imagine a world where Steam is hit with backlash and scandal and financial mismanagement. All these are firmly within the realm of possibility looking at the last few years of Steam-related news. Let’s say that Steam gets into that unlikely scenario that its continuation is threatened due to these financial and brand problems. When you have this picture in mind, ask yourself, will Steam actually fail? Or is it just too big to fail at this point?
The answer may be different than a simple yes or no. And as everything in life, it comes down to money and value.
It is impossible to say for certain what the value of Steam is. Being a private company, they have no interest divulging company values and revenue and other financial reporting to the public. We are only felt to speculate the value of Steam. Luckily, with the help of sources like SteamSpy, this is at least plausible. And looking at the numbers on SteamSpy paints an interesting scenario.
At the moment, there is approximately 3.1 Billion copy of games owned by gamers on the entire Steam platform. Seeing as only about 2.1 Billion of those copies are paid-for games, we can roughly estimate the value of all the games owned on Steam. Taking an average of about $9 per game, the current average selling price of games on Steam, we get an estimated value of $19 Billion. And that is just the value of all games currently owned on Steam. There are at over 21200 games available to be bought on Steam. Couple that with its monopoly stake in the market, that value quickly moves up by a fair couple of billion dollars.
So if Steam had to be put in a position of financial or brand peril, it would literally be billions of dollars of value at stake.
So what will happen in our fictional scenario? The most likely of scenario is that a different company, someone like say, Tencent, would swoop in and buy all the available Steam assets. This company would most probably rebrand the service, decoupling itself from the stigma that Steam would leave, and ultimately provide the same, if somewhat different service than what Steam did. Ultimately, your games should most likely be safe.
So yes, the idea and assets of Steam are too big to fail at the moment. There is no way that another business would not pick up the pieces of a broken Valve and run with it themselves. But the brand Steam can never be too big to fail. So you can sleep safely tonight, knowing that all those thousands of Rands you’ve spent in Steam will most likely be safe. It might just not be the same Steam as you know it.