Blizzard goes to launch a few of its video games on Steam, beginning with Overwatch 2. I did not see that coming in any respect. Blizzard is a founder of recent PC gaming, with a legacy that goes again additional than Valve’s, and Battle.web existed nicely earlier than Steam did. Blizzard has by no means put a game on Steam, and it by no means appeared prefer it wanted to.

Effectively, issues have modified. Once we spoke to ex-Blizzard workers concerning the 2021 sexism and harassment lawsuit, they mentioned they began to really feel Blizzard’s popularity collapsing in 2018. 5 years later, its previous leaders are gone and it is on the verge of changing into a Microsoft firm. For higher or worse, it is not the Blizzard it was.

I believe at present’s Overwatch 2 information is as a lot about Valve as it’s Blizzard, although. Issues had been mildly rocky for Valve within the mid-2010s: EA and Microsoft stopped releasing video games on Steam in favor of their very own launchers, Steam Machines had been a dud, and it did not look like Valve’s VR funding was going to repay within the brief time period. Then Name of Responsibility left Steam, changing into a Battle.web unique on PC, and Epic Video games, flush with Fortnite cash, launched its personal retailer and began nabbing massive timed exclusives. 

However Steam stored rising anyway, and with few exceptions, massive publishers like EA, Microsoft, and Activision got here crawlin’ again. When Sony relented and eventually began placing its PlayStation exclusives on PC, they got here to Steam, too. It is now simpler to ask who’s not on Steam than to ask who’s.

The most important PC video games that are not on Steam

  • Epic Video games: With few exceptions, Epic’s video games are solely out there on PC from the Epic Game Retailer. Except for Fortnite, that features video games from Epic-owned studios, similar to Rocket League, and video games being revealed by Epic, just like the upcoming Alan Wake 2.
  • Different Epic Video games Retailer exclusives: EGS unique video games that are not owned or revealed by Epic itself usually have a timed exclusivity deal, they usually typically come to Steam when it expires. We do not all the time know if or when that is going to occur, although. The Kingdom Hearts sequence, for instance, has remained unique to the Epic Video games Retailer since 2021.
  • Riot: The League of Legends spin-off video games are on Steam, however League of Legends itself is simply accessible via Riot’s launcher, and the identical goes for Valorant. Riot’s video games have been listed on the Epic Retailer since late 2021, however nonetheless launch the Riot Video games shopper. (PC Game Move subscribers get some perks, too.)
  • Minecraft: Microsoft has began placing video games on Steam once more, nevertheless it continues to covet its cubic jewel: Minecraft’s PC variations can solely be bought instantly from Microsoft.
  • MiHoYo: The Genshin Influence developer does have one game on Steam, Honkai Influence third, however that is it. Genshin Influence is accessible in its personal launcher and from the Epic Video games Retailer.
  • Meta Quest exclusives: Some VR video games, like Fringe of Nowhere, are unique to the Meta Quest Retailer (aka the Oculus Retailer).
  • Single-game launchers: Some main video games, similar to Star Citizen and Escape from Tarkov, use their very own launchers completely.

Many hundreds of different PC video games cannot be bought on Steam, both as a result of they can not be bought digitally wherever, or as a result of they’re hosted independently, completely discovered on shops like itch.io, or are solely offered on platforms used primarily in China or different international locations. So not all the things’s on Steam, after all, however its library has almost quadrupled over the previous 5 years, many of the massive gamers are again, and now Blizzard is becoming a member of the membership. 

Blizzard would possibly withhold its most vital video games, like Diablo 4 and World of Warcraft, however the addition of Overwatch 2 remains to be an infinite symbolic victory for Steam, vindicating a few of the dangerous choices Valve made round 5 years in the past.

Valve retains profitable

Valve has made small concessions alongside the best way to Steam’s current vitality, decreasing its income reduce to twenty% for the largest earners (which remains to be greater than Epic’s 12% reduce) and letting publishers get away with bundling their very own launchers into Steam releases, however I do not assume extra favorable phrases are actually what’s introduced so many publishers again to Steam. Its gravitational pull simply bought too sturdy to withstand.

What out-of-nowhere indie hits like Vampire Survivors would possibly we now have missed if video games nonetheless needed to wriggle via Steam Greenlight?

I used to be nervous when Valve launched Steam Direct in 2017, opening Steam’s catalog to anybody with a game and $100, and shocked in 2018 when it removed almost all its content material and high quality guidelines. On the time, I criticized Valve for eschewing duty for the video games it offered. Weren’t folks going to submit piles of low-effort crap to attempt to make a fast buck? Weren’t they going to publish hateful, nasty video games simply to get consideration?

Folks positively did and nonetheless do these issues, so it ain’t an ideal system, however as enterprise choices go, opening up Steam was a profitable move. And for all of Steam’s current day faults, I am unable to in hindsight think about that PC gaming can be higher had Valve not launched self-publishing. What out-of-nowhere indie hits like Vampire Survivors would possibly we now have missed if video games nonetheless needed to wriggle via Steam Greenlight? And would we now have the identical entry we do now to, say, indie video games from China? 

Nonetheless, it is most likely a great factor that Epic made its Fortnite cash when it did and selected to climate public anger to problem Steam, albeit solely barely, with the Epic Video games Retailer. As a lot as I just like the comfort of consolidating all my video games into one launcher, somebody’s bought to preserve Gabe in verify, right? The Steam Deck appears to be a giant success, too, and if this string of wins retains up, Valve would possibly get cocky and do one thing reckless like launch the third game in a sequence.