Valve unveils game publication suite “Steamworks”

Valve Steamworks

Valve, the gaming industry legend known for its Half-Life line of games and their revolutionizing “Steam” video game distribution platform has made a surprise announcement and release – Steamworks. Pretty cool name, but sounds too professional for a game, right?

Right. Steamworks is a video game publishing suite, that helps game developers save lots of time and money by giving them lots of instantaneous features, including piracy protection, auto-updating, voice chat and lots more. And all this for free. No money – no currency – no slavery.

Hit the jump to learn more of Valve’s newfound altruism.

Steamworks is a publication suite, not a development engine of any sort (Source or Unreal engines, for example). It simply gives developers lots of tools to enhance their game, and allow plenty of extra features. This includes stuff that you find plastered all over the game, and not inside it.

Take real-time statistics. From the Valve press release:

Real-time stats on sales, gameplay, and product activation: Know exactly how well your title is selling before the charts are released. Find out how much of your game is being played.

And gameplay charts are always fun – who doesn’t want to know what is the average percentage of gamers who make a headshot at least once a week? Or the fastest gamer to complete the game?

Another gimmick seen rarely in games is social networking. This will let you get rankings, statistics, and (oh yeah) achievements, just like in The Orange Box. And Achievements are always awesome. Hopefully, with Steamworks, more and more game developers will allow achievements and ranking systems.

Such features are often skipped, because they aren’t necessary in games and require a lot more time and effort. With Steamworks, all this gone and we should expect an explosion of above-mentioned features. Awesome!

All that, and then we have auto-updating systems, multiplayer matchmaking (which is a near-essential in modern games, and the now-saved time should allow developers to spend more time on making a worthwhile singleplayer) and voice chat. Plus, some extra development tools, because Valve is feeling generous.

The cool thing is the freedom that Steamworks allows. You don’t need a specific engine, specific development tools or hell, anything specific. You can use Steamworks on anything, and anyhow you like. Plus, you can use its components individually or all together as Steamworks. You don’t even need to tie in with Steam, although Steamworks does have features for that. And best of all, it’s all free.

This announcement pretty much came out of nowhere! Here’s Valve’s official press release and here’s the Steamworks official site. What do you think of Valve’s generous offer? Be sure to let us know down below!

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