Steam digital distribution system hits a milestone

Retail video game sales might be floundering in 2009, but Steam, the largest digital distributor of PC games, is have a banner year. Steam-logo

Valve Software, maker of the “Half-Life” franchise and the owner of Steam, say active accounts at the service have topped 30 million – with new growth of 178 percent in the past 12 months. At its peak, the number of simultaneous players has reached 3 million.

The rise in members has, not surprisingly, meant a rise in sales. Steam sales over the past 12 months are up 200 percent, according to Valve. It’s currently on track for its sixth straight year of 100 percent (or greater) year-over-year unit sales growth.

Steam currently offers over 1,200 games. It’s available on both the Mac and PC and will tie in with the PlayStation 3 next year with the release of “Portal 2”.

In Valve’s inimitable style, it offered one mind-boggling factoid with the announcement. To accommodate the increase in users, the infrastructure at Steam now has the ability to run at 400Gps. That, says Valve, is enough bandwidth to ship a digitized version of the Oxford English Dictionary 92.6 times per second.

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