The Valve Company, which is the developer of the games Half-Life and Counter Strike, presented the Steam technology that provides an access to software via the Internet. This solution will change the whole gaming business in the world. Game developers will be able to sale not only disks with games, but the access to the Steam dedicated server. A user will only need to pay for the network connection of the gaming server to play.
This solution has many positive sides. The Steam technology can eliminate the wastes for the games spreading. There is an opportunity for changing games that are already sold and at the same time, Steam provides more difficulties to pirates and a higher level of protection for software products. Steam could increase the profits of dedicated server hosting providers, since the Internet gaming requires a high speed connection. However, game publishers can suffer due to the fact that their services may totally disappear.
Steam has its own virtual file system that it is used for reading the resources from the local cache, CDs or Internet. The Steam applications use special content pre-loaders for loading caches runtime and supporting the normal work of the computer. The dedicated server hosting is good for placing the server part of such solution.
In this case loading is performed faster than in the streaming content. The cache is filled up and the LRU algorithm removes the old content, freeing the space for the new one. Due to this technology, the program reads data only once and content appears at the user's winchester at once. The first game that will be available for buying and downloading via the Steam servers is Counter Strike: Condition Zero. You will be able to download the updates via a usual cable connection, though it is better to buy the whole game on a CD. Therefore, the arrival of the multiple dedicate server hosting providers will provide a special ground for this business and the dedicated server hosting.
By the Valve representatives' message the Half-Life 2 will be sold in two variants. In the first case you will be able to buy only the one user part of the HL2. It does not contain a multi-player, a dev kit and an ability to switch on some modes. The second variant is a normal game with the support of the modes and multi-players, but the cost will be much higher. In the third variant Valve will put some trinket and poster to the box and they will call such miracle as a "collection edition". The main surprise is that the second and third versions will appear earlier than the first one. There will be a separate version for the Steam subscribers. The Team Fortress 2 will be treated as unusual mode and it will be sold separately. The same situation happens with the Counter Strike 2.
Valve colleagues from The Inquirer state that the Half Life 2 will be optimized for the Ati Radeon 9800 card. To say more, Ati and Valve Software signed a contract to include the Half Life 2.0 to a standard set of games, provided with the video cards of this company.
The Steam technology is a major step in transferring the gaming business for the dedicated server hosting to the Internet. Very soon, web servers will replace multiple instances of the game code on the laser disks. In this way the profits of the game developers will grow up with the simultaneous looses for pirates in this branch.