Steam is great, but they're a publisher -- they sell your game and pass on some of the money to you.
I imagine there would be a niche market for a steam-alternative solution that's self hosted.
Instead of you being a middle-man who takes a percentage of sales, instead, you sell the store itself to developers - like middleware. I pay you a lump sum *once* to license your platform for my game. I then integrate your storefront/distribution middleware into my game, upload my game to my own servers, and sell direct to customers.
I have to pay my own hosting/bandwidth bills, but no one takes a cut of my sales, and distributing to users is easy because your middleware makes all the hosting/patching/etc easy for me.
I have to disagree that this has much value -- Steam, as a storefront, isn't valuable because of what it offers in terms of technology so much as it is valuable because of what it offers in a market-place. It offers visibility into a market of people interested in buying computer games, through a brand that they've grown to trust and using a payment system they're already integrated in. Beyond that, they offer community of players, and trading of virtual goods and gifts, even across boundaries of a particular game or a particular publisher even. Steam is equivilent to the AppStore or Google Play -- without a significant built-in, relatively-captive audience, any competing store is doomed to become the Ouya ghetto, or worse.
To be a small developer that has a single game on their own platform that's every bit as good as steam doesn't offer them much, because it doesn't bring traffic to their door, it doesn't solve the trust issue, and presumably there's another payment system (or, e.g. Amazon Payments, et al, which are trusted but take a percentage for themselves). Solving the other problems that steam solves is nice, but they aren't the solutions that help you generate revenue.
For a small studio with a similarly small stable of games, it might start to gain traction, but I can't think of too many such studios that don't have a regular publisher affiliation.
Reading that back, it sounds like a harsher dismissal than I want it to. Selling something that simply solves "those other problems" certainly has value -- just be clear that you're not selling a "steam competitor" unless you have a steam-size user-base as part of the bundle. Since that's the part of the bundle that has disposable income, I happen to think that's what people who use steam or other distribution channels ultimately care about, when we get right down to it. I'm sure there are people who would be interesting in going it alone, I'm sure there are those who could find success (Mojang, for instance, basically solved many of the same problems on their own), but I'm also sure there are those who won't.
Edited by Ravyne, 21 August 2014 - 02:51 PM.