If you’ve ever used Steam’s platform for purchasing and downloading games — and you probably have if you’re a Mac or PC gamer — then you’ll already be aware of just how great it is. In fact, if there’s one platform that beats the Mac App Store when it comes to buying games, it’s Steam.
And that rivalry could be about to get a whole lot greater. After a list of productivity software categories briefly appeared within Steam’s mobile app, it looks like the company could be about to take on Apple’s store by selling apps as well as games.
As noted by a reader of The Verge earlier this week, Steam’s mobile app briefly listed a variety of software categories unrelated to gaming, including Accounting, Animation & Modeling, Audio Production, Design & Illustration, Education, Photo Editing, Utilities, Video Production, and more.
All of these categories were empty, but they reportedly appeared on all mobile versions of the Steam app — on both Android and iOS — for a short very short period. They did not appear on the desktop or web-based versions of Steam, however.
Of course, these categories have sparked speculation that Steam is going to expand its store to sell apps as well as games. The platform is already incredibly popular among gamers, with around 40 million users worldwide, which could provide a huge threat almost overnight to marketplaces like the Mac App Store, and Microsoft’s upcoming Windows store in Windows 8.
There could be some huge advantages to this, too. Steam offers software bundles, and frequently holds big sale events that see popular titles slashed by up to 75% — like the ongoing Steam Summer Sale. This is something Apple doesn’t offer with the Mac App Store (although developers can reduce their own prices as and when they choose to), which is disappointing to both consumers and developers.
These mystery categories are no guarantee of things to come, of course, so this could simply be a whole lot of speculation over nothing. But there’s no denying that the move could make a whole lot of sense.