In the current economic climate, digital business innovation is the key for success. In this article, Westminster Business School student Kevin Dean Kowalczyk explains how the gaming platform Steam uses digital solutions to foster successful business innovation.
The Steam platform developed by the Valve Corporation was officially released in the middle of 2013. The main idea behind Steam was to create a platform which allows users to download games and other software which is stored in their virtual library, so that they can be accessed from every computer on which Steam is installed.
In the beginning it was just based on the concept of providing games by the help of their platform, but like every company which wants to stay competitive in a particular industry, they have had faced challenges and therefore had to improve their services, especially in creating new features.
Steam works together with a lot of software houses, it does not matter if they are big or small. They already have about 2.000 games available on their platform, 50 million users. One of the big and new features created to differentiate is “Steam Greenlight”, which enables developers to submit early builds or beta versions to get support for these games. As you can see this offers also the opportunity for individual developers or very small businesses to take foot in the gaming market, without taking bigger risks.
What makes Steam a business which has innovated using digital solutions? Steam uses a virtual library for all their games, thus users do not have to deal with physical media, particularly discs, with all their disadvantages. Mainly, games are mostly cheaper compared to physical discs, because for physical discs you have also the production and the retail costs. This could be best shown with the autumn campaign where you can buy games for up to less 75% of the normal price. For example Bioshock Infinite will cost you £6.24 at Steam while you need to pay £20 at Amazon, which is the next cheapest one.
The library opens the possibility to use it on every computer the user wants. The only requirement is to install Steam on his or her computer, giving flexibility to the user. This strategy is based on cloud computing which allows it to get access to your games everywhere, only premise is a running internet connection. In this case, the gamers do not run the risk of losing their games if a problem happens with their game CDs.
Moreover Steam created a huge Community feature which allows users to interact with other players. In this community, users can join groups and submit and read discussions in the Forum. There is also a Marketplace where users can buy and sell items for different games. Building a Community is very important, especially for such a big platform. Users always want to collaborate with others, in terms of exchange experiences, share interests or moreover play games with others. But also Steam benefits from this feature, because with the help of the user-generated content they can find out what their customers want, in terms of what satisfies and what does not satisfy them in order to see new trends or to prevent threats.
Steam started as a gaming platform, extended to non-gaming software. The next step into the digital is Steam’s prototype of their first PC including a Controller to challenge the console industry. The strategy to link the software and service they already got with the new hardware components makes the whole package perfect. Comparing to XBOX and PS4 there is a big advantage for Steam, their Steam Machine can be freely modified and upgraded by users, similar to PCs. Moreover the Controller is touchpad-based intended to provide players with a level of accuracy similar to the mouse-and-keyboard setup.
About the author
My name is Kevin Dean Kowalczyk, I was born in Karlsruhe and I am studying business administration at the HTW Berlin. At the moment, I am doing a semester abroad at the University of Westminster, in which I am a student in the course Business Innovation in Digital Economies.
About the series Inspiring Digital Business Innovation
by Magda David Hercheui
Westminster Business School started in 2013 a new module, Business Innovation in Digital Economies (BBIM510, level 5). The module has been a success, and students have been very inspired to learn more on digital technologies which are used in business innovation processes. Westminster Business School wants our students to become better entrepreneurs who have more information and skills to succeed in business innovation, using digital technology for that.
In order to motivate students to get more involved, we invited them to write articles for the series Inspiring Digital Business Innovation, to be published in our Westminster Business School blog. In this series, students choose the company or innovation which has inspired them to better understand the possibilities of business innovation in the digital economy.
You can follow the series here in the blog. We hope you get inspired as well.
About the author
Dr. Magda David Hercheui is senior lecturer at WBS.
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