A new Steamworks Software Development Kit (SDK) update has been announced (via VG 24/7). It gives video game developers the tools needed to introduce items that will appear in players’ inventory on Steam. The Steam Inventory Service changes the user experience on the biggest digital distribution platform for PC, Mac and Linux games. This optional service allows developers to create items that users will be able to buy or unlock. Players will be able to unlock various items depending on playtime or specific in-game situations and actions. These items can be “marked as tradable through Steam or sellable via the Steam Marketplace.” The Inventory Service also allows developers to enable item crafting. This will allow players to craft a combination of items into “more rare, unique, or valuable items.” The service is available right now as part of Steamworks.
The Steam service is the premier digital marketplace for PC video games. Its meteoric rise in recent years has been attributed to its ease of use and large library of titles. This service allows users to buy, manage and play PC titles without many of the problems that are commonly associated with this platform. Buying a game is as easy as adding it to one’s cart. Steam also supports purchases made outside of its service. Users are able to redeem codes purchased from other retailers and digital marketplaces. Previously purchased games can be deleted and reinstalled without any restrictions. Users are also able to organize and search their game library with ease. Playing a game requires very little work on the user’s part. The service’s client installs drivers and any other software that may be required to play a specific title.
No service is without its flaws. Steam has been criticized for its lack of customer support. Users may end up waiting for weeks to have a routine matter resolved. It has also been criticized for monopolizing the booming market for PC titles. Any developer that is unable to get their game on Steam will have a hard time selling their title. Even titles that do appear on the service can be missed by most users due to the large number of daily releases. More games are released in a day on Steam than in a week on the PlayStation Store. This has only helped the service’s competitors to gain ground.