Stardock required games that used Reactor be sold on Impulse and, while I don't have a copy of the terms handy, I'm sure you also had a "most favored nation" clause in your contracts. You tell me why you giving away Impuls::Reactor for free in exchange for a game bing sold on Impulse didn't pan out (granted selling it to GameStop surely didn't help it) since that is what you're attributing to Valve's success with Steam; as being without merit.
This is not true. Impulse::Reactor did NOT have a most favored nation clause. It did not require the Impulse store to be distributed.
Steam succeeded because of merit. But merit is a prerequisite.
It became an effective monopoly because it played hardball with Steamworks back at the time. Developers didn't choose distribute the Steam store because they wanted to. They were forced to because of Steamworks. And Steamworks had no technical reason to require the distribution of the Steam store.
The alternative to Steamworks were expensive third-party libraries. So in effect, Steamworks was payment in kind in exchange for distributing their store. In addition, they blocked Impulse::Reactor games from being on Steam even though it did not require the Impulse store to be distributed.
Two specific examples:
- Take 2 chose Steamworks (on behalf of Firaxis) over Impulse::Reactor because Valve said they would not allow an Impulse::Reactor game on Steam. We know this because they told us. We were deep in discussions with Take 2 in 2009/2010 on this very topic.
- Dawn of War 2 (I think it was that one) had fully implemented Impulse::Reactor including all our hosting stuff when they switched to Steamworks for the same reason: Valve said no Impulse::Reactor games on Steam even though Impulse::Reactor did NOT require Impulse to be included. It was just a set of DLLs. So they actively had to tear out their integration at Valve's behest.
In short: Steamworks wasn't chosen because it was better. It wasn't. It was by any measure, substantially inferior to Impulse::Reactor and developers wanted to use Impulse::Reactor (and is still lacking features that Impulse::Reactor had that devs could make use of) and were until Valve told them that they could not put their game on Steam with it at the time.
BTW, when Civ V did come out exclusively for Steam (and still exclusively requires Steam) it got review bombed on Amazon.com because, back then, people hated Steam.
Now, as for Tencent, they own pieces of lots of companies including Paradox. So I'm not really sure the issue there.
BTW, I *like* Steam. A lot. If I have to choose between Steam and Epic, I choose Steam also for the reasons other described here. I like how benevolent Steam has become culturally. The people we work with at Valve have been universally pretty awesome. Valve has a really really good culture over there.
I am skeptical of Epic's long-term success with their store because it is a competitive landscape and Valve's employee culture is so much more in line for the needed elements to succeed. Look at how long the Epic store took to get a cart. It still doesn't support multiple branches. Steam and Steamworks are objectively superior to Epic's equivalents today.
So for me, as a consumer, it's a lot like Egghead vs. Amazon. If I can choose, I go to Amazon because I like that storefront much better. But on the other hand, if it's only on Egghead, which is sometimes the case, I don't really mind buying it from there (Even with their skeevy RMA stuff that came out recently).
But in 2022, there are a lot of other factors to keep in mind that Steam lags behind on. There is, imo, no excuse for Valve to be taking 30% of our revenue anymore. My game project that took 4 years to make gets crowded out by 10 semi-porn games in a given day. Steam reviews are an abomination of abuse.
And at the end of the day, if someone doesn't want to buy our game on Epic, that's fine. It's a free market. I don't have any issue with someone waiting until it shows up on their favorite store be it Steam or GOG or MS Game Pass or whatever.