Steam: Business Model, SWOT Analysis and Competitors to 2023 (2023)

In today's digital world, the gaming industry has undergone drastic changes and companies are constantly evolving their strategies to capture the largest market share. Steam is one such company that has revolutionized the way games are distributed and experienced. Developed by Valve Corporation, the platform changed the gaming landscape by becoming the primary marketplace for buying, downloading and playing games. In this blog post, we take a deep dive into Steam's business model, how it continues to play a key role in the evolution of the games industry, and what sets it apart from the competition. So buckle up as we unravel the secrets behind the success of one of the most influential gaming platforms.

STEAM Annual Report

Who owns Steam?

Steam is owned by Valve Corporation, an American video game development, publishing, and digital distribution company. Founded by Gabe Newell and Mike Harrington in 1998, Valve revolutionized the gaming industry with the launch of its Steam digital platform in 2003. Steam offers a wide variety of games and software and allows users to purchase, download and manage their digital content. It has grown to become the largest digital distribution platform for PC games, changing the way games are sold and consumed in the market today. Valve Corporation owes much of its success to its popular Steam platform and various critically acclaimed gaming franchises such as Half-Life, Portal, and Dota 2.

What is Steam's mission?

The mission statement of Valve Corporation, the company that created Steam, revolves around revolutionizing the gaming industry by putting the player at the center of the experience -- by creating high-quality, immersive and engaging games while providing a powerful digital distribution platform. Steam is committed to providing accessible, seamless and convenient content to customers and developers, focusing on innovation, fostering creative communities and ultimately connecting people around the world through the power of interactive entertainment. The company strives to respond to the ever-changing gaming environment, constantly improving and expanding its platform using cutting-edge technology to ensure user satisfaction and success.

(Video) Business strategy - SWOT analysis

How does Steam make money?

Steam is a digital distribution platform created by Valve Corporation that generates revenue primarily through the sale of video games and related content. Developers and publishers pay a percentage of their sales (usually around 30%) as a distribution fee for using the Steam platform. This allows Steam to profit from every purchase of games, software and downloadable content (DLC) that game developers and publishers sell on its massive online store. Additionally, Steam operates a digital marketplace called the Steam Community Market where users can buy, sell and trade in-game items and collectibles. Valve charges a small transaction fee for these transactions, which further boosts the platform's revenue. Additionally, Steam offers a subscription service for certain games, which provides additional regular income.

Explaining the Steam Business Model Canvas

Developed by Valve Corporation, Steam is the gaming industry's leading digital distribution platform. The Business Model Framework clarifies every aspect of Steam's operations.

User Segmentation: Steam serves a diverse set of users, including hardcore and casual gamers, game developers, and publishers. The platform aims to provide users with an integrated gaming experience, from purchasing games to user-generated content and social interaction with other players.

Value Proposition: Steam is primarily focused on offering an extensive library of games through its digital distribution platform. With regular discounts, sales, competitive pricing and an ever-expanding library of games, users can enjoy the ultimate gaming experience. For game developers, Steam connects them with their target audience, increasing their visibility and making it easier to monetize their games.

(Video) Paypal Won't Exist In 5 Years. Here's Why.

Channels: As an online platform, Steam is available on multiple platforms including PC, Mac, Linux, and mobile devices. This allows users to access the platform anytime, anywhere. Additionally, it offers a "Big Picture" mode that allows users to interact with the client via a game controller, making it compatible with big and TV screens.

Customer Relations: Steam fosters a sense of community by integrating social features such as friend lists, groups, achievements, and game ratings. The platform encourages user-generated content through the Steam Workshop, allowing players to customize and share their gaming experience using mods. Steam demonstrates a positive relationship with customers and is constantly tweaking and improving the platform based on user feedback.

Sources of Revenue: Steam's primary source of revenue is the sale of games and software, including in-game purchases and downloadable content. Steam takes a percentage of each sale, usually around 30%. Other revenue streams include subscriptions, advertising, and marketplace transactions, where users can sell virtual items like skins and trading cards.

Key Resources: An extensive game library, software technology, intellectual property, and skilled workforce are Steam's key resources. Platform technologies for different operating systems and devices provide a seamless gaming experience and a secure trading environment.

(Video) Starbucks SWOT Analysis

Main activity: Steam participates in the ongoing development of the platform, creating tools and features for players and developers. Its main activities include game development, customer service and maintaining a secure network for digital transactions.

Key partnerships: Steam has relationships with a wide range of game developers and publishers, as well as hardware and software partners. Partnerships with other companies, such as HTC's partnership with the HTC Vive, have helped Steam expand its catalog of VR-related content.

Cost structure: Major costs for Steam include infrastructure maintenance, platform development, server management, and marketing costs. Other overhead costs include employee salaries, royalties, and partnerships with gaming companies.

Which companies compete with Steam?

Steam, developed by Valve Corporation, is a dominant force in digital video game distribution. Despite their high profile, they face competition from several well-known companies. Rivals include the Epic Games Store, which is owned by Epic Games and offers exclusive games and the occasional free game release. GOG (Good Old Games), owned by CD Projekt, is another competitor known for offering DRM-free games and focusing on classic titles. Ubisoft's UPlay, Electronic Arts' Origin, and Rockstar's Games Launcher are also targeting the same market by offering exclusive access to their own games. In addition, emerging cloud gaming platforms such as Google Stadia and Microsoft's Xbox Cloud Gaming (Project xCloud) may also challenge Steam's market position. Together, these companies seek to offer an alternative to Steam's place in the gaming industry through exclusive content, unique features, or innovative technology.

(Video) Tesla SWOT analysis

Steam SWOT Analysis

Developed by the video game company Valve Corporation, Steam is a digital distribution platform that primarily provides PC gaming services, multiplayer features, and communication tools. In SWOT analysis, we can identify the following strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the platform:

Strengths: Steam has a dominant market share in the PC gaming industry, allowing it to leverage its position to negotiate competing deals with developers and publishers. The platform also offers a useful, powerful user interface with a wide range of games and features. Its frequent discounts and sales attract a large customer base, while its community engagement features and user reviews add to the brand's reputation.

Weaknesses: Steam has been criticized for its relatively high revenue share, which can discourage independent developers from using the platform. The platform's customer service has also drawn negative attention, often due to slow response times and imperfect resolution mechanisms. Furthermore, reliance on digital distribution brings with it the risk of piracy and security issues associated with online platforms.

Opportunity: As the global gaming market expands, Steam has the potential to attract new customers and developers from developing countries and enter previously untapped markets. It also has the potential to adapt to new technological trends such as virtual reality and cloud gaming, integrating them into its products. Additionally, there is an opportunity to develop new and exclusive games to reach a wider audience and retain customers.

(Video) Business Analyst Training for Beginners | Business Analysis Tutorial | Invensis Learning

Threat: Steam faces stiff competition from other digital distribution platforms like the Epic Games Store, GOG, and Ubisoft's Uplay, all of which can offer competitive prices and exclusive content to lure customers away from Steam. Additionally, changing consumer preferences could lead to increased demand for console or mobile games rather than PC games, which could affect Steam's market share. Finally, evolving cyber threats and regulatory changes may challenge digital distribution models in terms of data security and compliance.

All in all, Steam enjoys a strong market position in the PC gaming industry, with a strong product and dedicated user community. However, the platform needs to address its weaknesses, including revenue sharing, customer service, and security concerns. By capitalizing on new market opportunities and responding to external threats, Steam has the potential to maintain its dominance and grow into a global leader in the gaming industry.


In conclusion, Steam has undoubtedly revolutionized the gaming industry with its innovative business model. With an extensive game library, growing community, and user-friendly features, Steam has solidified its position as a major player in digital distribution. The company's focus on continuously developing and improving its platform for developers and gamers has allowed it to remain relevant and gain a strong foothold in the market. As the gaming industry continues to expand and evolve, Steam will likely continue to adapt and seize new opportunities in order to maintain its competitive edge and position as a destination for gamers worldwide.


What is a SWOT analysis for competitors? ›

What Is SWOT Analysis? SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis is a framework used to evaluate a company's competitive position and to develop strategic planning. SWOT analysis assesses internal and external factors, as well as current and future potential.

What is Steam's business model? ›

Steam is an online platform that allows users to purchase, play, distribute, as well as discuss video games. Steam makes money by taking a percentage cut from every game sold on its platform, fees for developer tools, licensing fees, as well as by selling physical hardware.

What are the opportunities for SWOT analysis examples? ›

Examples of opportunities for a SWOT analysis might include training, internships, or career moves. Opportunity examples for businesses include market growth, new technologies, or new investments.

What is the Steam commission fee? ›

Steam charges a "Steam Transaction Fee" of 5% item value for every item sold on the Market.

Can you use SWOT for competitor analysis? ›

But did you know that you can also use SWOT analysis to analyze your competitors? By understanding their strengths and weaknesses, as well as the opportunities and threats they face, you can gain valuable insights into their strategies, performance, and potential.

What are competitors strengths and weaknesses? ›

If a competitor only sells one product, this may be seen as a weakness as the competitor will have limited market reach . In contrast, if a competitor has a large product range, this could be seen as a strength, as the competitor is likely to be able to target a wider range of customers.

Who is Steam's biggest competitor? ›

Steam's competitors

Epic Games is a video game and software development company. Challengermode is a company that provides an online gaming platform intended to help players to compete against one another for money.

Who is Steam's target audience? ›

Based on this data alone it looks like the Steam audience is generally Core and Light Core players.

What are the 4 major Steam sales? ›

SHMUP Fest: September 25th - October 2nd. Next Fest: October 9th - 16th. Return of Steam Scream Fest (Halloween): October 26th - November 2nd (Valve says there are “additional details to come”) Autumn Sale: November 21st - 28th (major seasonal sale)

What are 3 examples of opportunities? ›

What are some examples of opportunities?
  • Get help on projects.
  • Propose working groups.
  • Get testers for new ideas or products.
  • Create a team to work on an idea you have.
  • Share your expertise or best practices in a particular field.

What are the 4 areas of SWOT analysis? ›

SWOT Analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

What is strength and opportunities in SWOT analysis? ›

A strength is a resource or capacity the organisation can use effectively to achieve its objectives. A weakness is a limitation, fault, or defect in the organisation that will keep it from achieving its objectives. An opportunity is any favourable situation in the organisation's environment.

Who pays for Steam sales? ›

The buyer pays the Steam Transaction Fee. The Steam Transaction Fee is calculated based on the item cost and is shown on the confirmation page before purchase.

How much Steam takes from sales? ›

Steam Cut. Steam takes its 30% cut, although some developers may have negotiated a smaller cut, for example for exclusivity.

How are Steam sales so cheap? ›

Steam has very small incremental costs per copy since they are distributing digitally. Essentially once they have set up the game for sales (non-recurring cost), they are only paying bandwidth costs to distribute additional copies. They aren't taking a loss on anything.

What is a good competitor analysis? ›

A competitive analysis should examine your competitors' features, market share, pricing, marketing, differentiators, strengths, weaknesses, geography, culture and customer reviews. This article is for new and established small business owners who want to analyze their competition to improve their products or services.

What are the three is of competitor analysis? ›

According to Vicario, there are three key factors that need to be considered when conducting such an analysis, which are: “timing of market entry, market penetration and uniqueness of product.”

What are 3 examples of strengths in SWOT analysis? ›

Example SWOT analysis
  • Strengths - Excellent sales staff with strong knowledge of existing products - Good relationship with customers - Good internal communications - High traffic location - Successful marketing strategies - Reputation for innovation.
  • Weaknesses - Currently struggling to meet deadlines - too much work? -
Dec 8, 2022

What are the 4 competitive advantages? ›

The four primary methods of gaining a competitive advantage are cost leadership, differentiation, defensive strategies and strategic alliances.

What are the five key competitive advantages? ›

Competitive advantages are attributed to a variety of factors including cost structure, branding, the quality of product offerings, the distribution network, intellectual property, and customer service.

Why Steam is better than Epic? ›

Steam is better for finding new games

Steam offers access to around 50,000 titles while Epic Games Store came in at under 2,000 – as of 2022. So, if quantity matters to you, then Steam is well ahead. Not only is Steam ahead on quantity but it's better at helping you find games you might like within its huge selection.

What is a steam deck competitor? ›

The devices we would personally choose are the Asus ROG Ally, the AYANEO 2 and the GPD WIN 4. Although the last two are at a higher price than the Steam Deck, these are the most complete alternatives currently in development.

What is the biggest market in Steam? ›

The report shows that China has become the largest market for Steam, with annual revenue of 1,327.2 billion yen (about 10 billion US dollars).

How many people use Steam 2023? ›

62.6 million people use Steam on a daily basis. The Steam catalog in the US includes 50,361 games.

Who has more users Steam or epic? ›

As of last year, Steam has more than 120 million monthly active users — a massive figure compared to Epic Games's 56 million. It's crazy to think about how popular Steam has become, but there are plenty of good reasons for the platform's growing fanfare.

What is the most popular Steam group? ›

Most Steam group members ladder
#Group nameMembers
Steam LadderJoin now!
1Archi's SC Farm2,725,229
2Steam Trading Cards Group Steam official1,945,699
3Na´Vi Team1,840,647
98 more rows

What is Valve doing in 2023? ›

After weeks of rumours and speculation, Valve has finally revealed Counter-Strike 2 bringing Counter-Strike onto the new Source 2 engine, and announced it will launch in Summer 2023.

What is the best selling genre on Steam? ›

The findings were that the top sellers with little competition were mostly strategy, simulation, builder, crafting, rogue games. Meanwhile there were lots of games with lots of competition but lower sales: Puzzle, Platformer, Match 3, and VR.

What is Steam best sales ever? ›

Top Currently Global Selling Steam Games
#NamePeak Today
#1Counter-Strike: Global Offensive1,681,693
#2Destiny 2166,850
#3The Outlast Trials28,526
#4Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun6,616
106 more rows

What are weaknesses in a SWOT analysis? ›

Weaknesses prevent a company from performing at its highest level. They are areas where the business needs to improve to remain competitive, for example: Weak brand(s) Higher-than-average turnover. High levels of debt.

What are strengths in SWOT analysis? ›

Strengths are things that your organization does particularly well, or in a way that distinguishes you from your competitors. Think about the advantages your organization has over other organizations. These might be the motivation of your staff, access to certain materials, or a strong set of manufacturing processes.

What are the 4 growth opportunities? ›

Some common growth strategies in business include market penetration, market expansion, product expansion, diversification and acquisition.

How to do a SWOT analysis template? ›

How do I write a SWOT analysis?
  1. Determine your objective.
  2. Do your research: explore areas in your industry, market, and competitors. ...
  3. Make a list of company strengths.
  4. Make a list of company weaknesses.
  5. Make a list of possible opportunities.
  6. Make a list of possible threats.
5 days ago

What are examples of opportunities and threats? ›

Opportunities and threats are external—things that are going on outside your company, in the larger market. You can take advantage of opportunities and protect against threats, but you can't change them. Examples include competitors, prices of raw materials, and customer shopping trends.

What are your 5 weaknesses? ›

Sample responses to “What are your weaknesses?”
  • Self-criticism. I can be quite critical of myself, which can lead to negative self-talk and eventual burnout. ...
  • Fear of public speaking. I am a naturally shy person. ...
  • Procrastination. ...
  • Issues with delegating tasks. ...
  • Lack of experience with skill or software.
7 days ago

What are the weaknesses of a business? ›

Here are some of the most common weaknesses businesses may face:
  • Lack of qualified staff. ...
  • Poor business strategy. ...
  • Poor market visibility. ...
  • Weak financial viability. ...
  • Low aesthetic appeal.
Mar 20, 2023

Why does Steam take 30%? ›

"Valve, an innovator that created Steam as a platform for playing video games in 2003 and, to create an integrated customer experience, offered games for purchase starting in 2004, set the 30% rate at the beginning, at a time of 'vibrant competition' for PC digital game distribution," reads the motion.

How does Steam make money? ›

Steam makes most of its money via the commissions it charges on all game sales, with the exact commission based on total net sales volume. Steam charges a small “deposit fee” for new game developers who wish to list on the platform for distribution.

Are Steam sales profitable? ›

Through releasing its first-party games and other offerings from third-party developers and publishers, it is estimated that Steam generated more than 10 billion U.S. dollars in revenues in 2021.

What percentage of refunds does Steam give? ›

The average indie game on Steam usually has a refund rate of around 10-12%. For your first indie game on Steam, it's expected you'll have a refund rate of around 15-18%.

How many times a year does Steam have sales? ›

There are four major seasonal sale events per year, which take over the Steam store experience in a big way. All games on Steam are invited to participate with a discount. These four events are Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter.

What is the most expensive item to sell on Steam? ›

Yup, the most expensive item on the Steam Marketplace isn't a CS:GO skin, nor is it a Team Fortress 2 hat. It's a pan. More specifically, it is the infamous Olive Branch pan skin for PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, more frequently referred to as PUBG.

How much does it cost to list a game on Steam? ›

As long as your game complies with the Steam Terms of Service, you will only need to create an account and pay a one-time fee of US$100 to publish your game on Steam.

Why is Steam so expensive? ›

For niche software, the user base is small, and unit price is high. Often, it means software is sold for as high as you are willing to pay for. Steam makes it so that people from richer countries pay more than people in poorer countries, and even gives discounts to people who are unwilling to pay the full price.

What is an analysis of your competitors? ›

A competitor analysis, also referred to as a competitive analysis, is the process of identifying competitors in your industry and researching their different marketing strategies. You can use this information as a point of comparison to identify your company's strengths and weaknesses relative to each competitor.

How does a SWOT analysis help a business remain competitive? ›

SWOT analysis is an important part of strategic planning as it helps businesses identify areas for improvement and growth. By understanding their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, businesses can make informed decisions and develop action plans to address identified issues.

What is the difference between competitor analysis and SWOT analysis? ›

Porter's 5 Forces is a comparative analysis strategy that analyzes competitive market forces within an industry. SWOT analysis looks at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of an individual or organization to analyze its internal potential.

What are the 6 steps of competitive analysis? ›

6 Steps to Performing a Competitive Analysis
  • Identify competitors. The first step to doing a competitive analysis is identifying your competitors. ...
  • Analyze competitors' online presence. ...
  • Check online reviews. ...
  • Talk to competitors' customers. ...
  • Identify their strengths and weaknesses. ...
  • Use research tools.
Apr 5, 2021

How do I find my competitors weaknesses? ›

3 Ways to Find Your Competitors' Weaknesses
  1. Talk to Your Sales Reps & Customers. Field intelligence is exactly what it sounds like: competitive intel that comes from folks who are out in the field — i.e., your sales reps and your customers. ...
  2. Scrutinize Online Reviews. ...
  3. Track Personnel Changes.
Feb 24, 2021

What is an example of a business competitor? ›

Direct competitors.

These are businesses offering similar (or identical) products or services in the same market. They also vye for the same customer base. Some famous examples of direct competitors include Apple versus Android, Pepsi versus Coca-Cola, and Netflix versus Hulu.

How can a SWOT analysis help in aligning business and IT strategies? ›

A SWOT analysis will position you to seize opportunities and prepare effective strategies. Getting a clear and realistic view of your internal environment will help you identify ways to better satisfy clients, achieve your objectives and strengthen weaker areas that have an impact on your performance.

Why do we need to analyze competitors? ›

The purpose of a competitor analysis is to understand your competitors' strengths and weaknesses in comparison to your own and to find a gap in the market. A competitor analysis is important because: It will help you recognise how you can enhance your own business strategy.

Why are competitors a threat to a business? ›

Increased Competition

This threat can come from new competitors, or an existing competitor may release a new product or update that upstages you in some way. Unless you react to that threat quickly, this can eat into your customer share, siphoning business away.

Why is it important to know your competitors? ›

Knowing who your competitors are, and what they are offering, can help you to make your products, services and marketing stand out. It will enable you to set your prices competitively and help you to respond to rival marketing campaigns with your own initiatives.


1. How to Perform a SWOT Analysis
(OnStrategy I Virtual Strategist)
2. How to Complete a SWOT Analysis
(Alanis Business Academy)
3. How To Read & Analyze The Balance Sheet Like a CFO | The Complete Guide To Balance Sheet Analysis
(The Financial Controller)
4. Bathhouse Business Plan
5. IML: Build the hype for your next marketing plan
(Gorilla 76)
6. SWOT ANALYSIS OF TCS---earnmillion2billionmoney


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Jeremiah Abshire

Last Updated: 07/17/2023

Views: 5781

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (54 voted)

Reviews: 85% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Jeremiah Abshire

Birthday: 1993-09-14

Address: Apt. 425 92748 Jannie Centers, Port Nikitaville, VT 82110

Phone: +8096210939894

Job: Lead Healthcare Manager

Hobby: Watching movies, Watching movies, Knapping, LARPing, Coffee roasting, Lacemaking, Gaming

Introduction: My name is Jeremiah Abshire, I am a outstanding, kind, clever, hilarious, curious, hilarious, outstanding person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.