The Steam Music beta, which launches today, is Valve’s next step in its mission to keep you inside its massive, digital platform.
As of last October, Steam hosted over 65 million active users, with a peak concurrent user count of more than 6 million. That’s about 15 million more users than registered accounts on EA’s rival Origin service, and about 10 million more than Xbox Live. And the service’s expansion to commercial, living room computers running SteamOS can only grow its user base.
Like any ecosystem–think Apple’s iOS or Windows–the goal is to keep you there, buying and consuming content. The Steam Music beta is the latest in Valve’s list of features to dissuade you from opening another program. Now you can import your music library–though only MP3s are supported in the beta currently–and listen to it in and out of your game or app. Game soundtracks were already available to purchase before the beta, but now they’ll hook right into the new user interface.
Valve isn’t ready to talk about a future where you purchase albums or stream music in Steam, though. Spotify has over 24 million users, 6 million of which are paying a monthly subscription. Given its hefty user base, Valve could compete, but it’s unlikely it will want to spend its resources on securing music licensing deals.
With things like non-game apps; developer-oriented features like Steam Greenlight and Early Access; SteamOS and Steam Machines; and the hint at upcoming implementation of streaming video services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video, Steam Music makes sense at a time when companies are trying to capitalize on the growth of digital content by trying to rope you into their ecosystems and locking you out of others.
Source: Steam Community