On January 28th 2008, Valve released Steamworks, a free development and publishing suite that gives developers access to every component of Steam.

Steamworks can be combined with a standard Steam distribution agreement, the latter of which gives it advertising space in the Steam store but also provides Valve with a share of revenue; Audiosurf became the first game to be released in this way on February 15, 2008.

Below is what you can expect from Steamworks. You can find more information at the official Steam Works website.

Game Services

You’re already creating a great game. When it’s released, players will expect it to be supported by a robust set of community and networking features. Using Steamworks will ensure that players can find each other, talk to each other, and join games together. They’ll also be able to get access to your game from any PC, and they'll be protected from cheaters.

Persistent identity framework

Achievements, leaderboards, profiles, and avatars make your game come alive, building your community and providing a strong incentive to play more and recruit others.

Multiplayer matchmaking

Steamworks' multiplayer back-end is powered by robust matchmaking and lobby technology. The same technology that drives the quick and accurate match-ups in Left 4 Dead can be used in your game. Works with both peer-to-peer and server-based games. Steamworks' built-in voice functionality enables players to work quickly to strategize their next misson.

The Steam Community

Your game becomes the talk of the town as part of Steam’s large and connected Steam Community. Friends will see friends playing your game and will be able to organize matches, compare achievements, and talk about the next match, sequels, favorite parts, or their favorite villain.

Official Groups

Talk directly to your customers and invite gamers from across the Steam Community to be a part of your Official Group on Steam. Official Groups are run solely by you. You can organize matches, post concept art, announce news, or simply chat about anything you like with your customers. Each game and partner automatically has a spot reserved — it’s up to you to say what you like and connect with your customers.

In-Game DLC

Sell additional content from within your game to the customers who want it most. Steamworks provides true in-game DLC, allowing customers to select, buy, and use DLC — all without leaving the game. Additionally, using Steamworks' DLC does not close off your other channels. You are still free to sell the content at retail, either with other online sites or through the Steam store.


With true cheat detection, keep cheaters from ruining it for the rest of us. Extend the life and sales of your game by making sure that the game plays as you intended it to when you shipped.

Access from any PC

Your customers can sign in and use their game from any PC. Access to their games is based on a customer account, not tied to a computer. Plus, with built-in offline mode, your customers can play on laptops when traveling — or anywhere else.

Voice chat

With built-in voice chat, players can talk to each other both inside and outside the game.
Publishing Services

When you can ship updates to customers as often as you want, product support becomes a proactive force for customer satisfaction. When you have access to real-time sales data immediately after a game's release, marketing decisions move light-years ahead. Steamworks also addresses grey marketing, player authentication, and piracy, so you can focus on the business of simply making great games.

Steam Anti-Piracy

Steamworks' anti-piracy suite combines three approaches to anti-piracy: (1) Custom Executable Generation, (2) Retail Encryption, and (3) Valuable Platform-Dependant Features. These work together to provide a seamless end-user experience, protecting your game and giving real value to customers.

1. Custom Executable Generation

Custom Executable Generation creates a unique build of your game for each user, making it difficult for any one user to share the game with any other user. Each individual copy of a CEG-protected game is only playable by the Steam account authorized to access it. CEG is transparent, and does not impose limits on users. It lets users access their content from any hardware, and allows unlimited hardware configuration changes without the content becoming unplayable. In fact, no changes are made to a user's computer for CEG to work. Instead, CEG works in tandem with Steam authentication, enabling content access based on user accounts, not arbitrary hardware-based "rights-management" restrictions.

2. Retail Encryption

Protect your day-one release by shipping encrypted media to stores world-wide. No need to worry that your game will leak from a replicator or stock room - your game stays encrypted until the moment you decide to release it.

Encryption technology also allows you to preload your game to users on Steam. Download encrypted data weeks in advance so that players have access to your game the moment it's released, increasing player numbers and satisfaction during the critical first days.

3. Valuable Platform-Dependant Features

Customers won't want to pirate a game that's connected to 20 million gamers and a feature-rich platform. Features like Steam Achievements, Anti-Cheat, Auto-Updating, and Steam Cloud simply don't exist outside of Steam.

Furthermore, constantly updating your game with upgrades and content leaves the pirates in the dust they are relegated to a featureless game with no community of players.


Be confident that all of your customers are running the most current version of your game. Update and expand your game as you see fit. Your community stays current, and your support burden will be significantly reduced. With no certification process, you're in control. Update as much as you want, with as much as you want—there is no charge for bandwidth.

Real-time sales data

Log on to your personal sales and data tracking site and see your product’s statistics up-to-the-minute. Don’t wait for weeks to find out where and how your game is selling. Real-time, worldwide activation and use reports give you the detail you need to make informed decisions about marketing and retail conditions when they need to be made.
Territory control

Open up new markets. Games can be set to authenticate only in specific regions, allowing you to go day-and-date worldwide without the worry of grey marketing of products intended for specific territories.

Key-based authentication

An easy, known, and proven path for customers to authenticate their game, keys are the backbone for inventory control and sales data. Keys can be customized for region, content, language, and SKU.

Free Weekends and Guest Passes

Hold events like Free Weekends (or any length play period) to entice customers and promote your game. Then securely and efficiently turn the promotion off at the end of the period. Also available is guest pass technology that allows you to promote your game through your community. Let friends give free, limited-time passes to their friends. This is proven tech that has been used with our games and third parties.

Development Tools

Steamworks improves the development of your game. Share your game in-progress with remote team members or participants in a private beta. Base your compatibility work on what your customers actually have under the hood of their computers. Use an installer that can update itself right out of the box—don't worry about that gold master leaving the building. Automatically track the most frequent crashes in your game. All these benefits come from a suite of tools that drop right in to your existing development process.


Run secure public betas of your game. Hold public betas and choose from one participant to thousands, if you like. The timing and scope of the beta is up to you.
Rapid and secure build distribution

The same tool that allows us to securely build and share Left 4 Dead between our offices in Seattle and Orange County can be used for your product as well. No more syncing to build trees to playtest. Let your own internal version of Steam help you run more frequent playtests at the click of a button.

Know your target audience

Using the results of the Steam Hardware Survey to look at your game in particular, you can better target your development and support of games.

Bug reporting

Track most frequent crashes in real time and then triage based on number of unique users. Auto–collection of minidumps and minidump parsing tools to make your job easier. Find and address bugs even before customers contact support.


Reduce your support costs with Steamworks updatable, proven, and intelligent installer. Your installer can be auto–updated even after delivering a gold master, ensuring that your customers have the best experience from the first time they play your game.