Valve’s Steam App Store to Let Developers Gun for Gamers

The digital world, which has no shortage of app stores, will soon get one that takes direct aim at gamers.

Steam, a service that more than 40 million people use to download computer games, will expand its offerings to include utilities and other non-game applications on September 5, according to Valve, the software maker that runs the platform.

The online shop will be similar to app stores on other platforms, such as the one that Apple already offers or that Microsoft will bring out in Windows 8.  One big difference? Software developers using Steam, which will only take paid apps at first, will be able to target an audience comprised of millions of hardcore gamers, rather than one dominated by “Angry Birds” fans.

Programs purchased from Steam can be updated through the service, and users’ files can be kept on the cloud-storage network of Valve, which is based in Bellevue, Washington. Steam is compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux computers, allowing people who use, say, a PC at work and an iMac at home to manage their software using the same tool.

“Our initial objective is to deliver more value for our existing audience of gamers,” Doug Lombardi, the vice president of marketing at Valve, wrote in an e-mail. “Long term, this might let us branch out to other audiences.”

Steam has become a hot business for Valve, which is known for its action games, such as “Half-Life,” “Left 4 Dead” and “Portal.” Lombardi declined to say which apps will be made available on Steam next month.

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