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Game Stores on Mobile and PC

This bit of news from RPS is pretty remarkable:

We’re not even halfway through 2014, and Steam has already added more new games than it did in the entirety of 2013.

Is PC gaming headed towards the fate of the iOS App Store, where there are eleventy-billion games and no one knows about 99.9% of them? Or is the App Store going to look more like traditional PC gaming over time, with bigger production and marketing budgets sitting alongside a plethora of highly available indie games?

The truth is probably somewhere in between. Indies have been on the rise for PC due to the decreasing cost of creating (through things like Unity, GameMaker) and distributing (through Steam, the Humble Store, and others) games. You could argue that on iOS, the same mechanics exist, taken to an extreme. It’s always been cheap to make mobile games (vs traditional AAA titles) and throw them on the App Store, and so there are many more titles.

On the flip side, since there are so many titles on mobile, standing out has gotten harder and harder. Fewer and fewer companies have the budgets to market a new game to the level required. A large part of this is the lack of discoverability on mobile. As shoddy as Steam is (I love Steam, but this is another story for another day), it’s a hell of a lot better at surfacing things than the App Store.

But if Steam is actually dropping Greenlight, then we’re going to need another way to deal with the glut of games. Maybe, as a commentator on RPS suggests, the answer is more storefronts (like GOG, Humble Bundle, etc) but no one really knows. Valve/Steam really are the gatekeepers on PC (whether they like it or not) right now, so the next few years will be interesting to say the least. Less restrictive gatekeepers than our overlords at Apple, but in control of a lot of market-making levers nonetheless. Interesting times to be a gamer, indeed.