Chris Taylor: Steam's dominance will 'shift' in the next five years

Tom Francis at

SupremeCommander2 2010-10-20 17-41-30-60

When I got the chance to interview Chris Taylor recently, I asked him what he thought of Steam. Then, off his blank look, I asked specifically how he felt about its dominance of the digital distribution market for PC games.

Chris designed two of the world's cleverest strategy games: Total Annihilation and Supreme Commander. More recently, he and his company Gas Powered Games took over development of Age of Empires Online, a free-to-play version of the old classic. He thinks Steam's dominance will shift before long.

PC Gamer: What do you think of Steam? Is it a good thing or a bad thing? Digital distribution generally seems to be a good thing, but is it bad that Steam has something close to a monopoly?

Chris Taylor: I have games on Steam, I have an account, I buy games there. I have three different digital distribution platforms on my PC, it's driven mostly from the game I want to play. If it's on there, if it's exclusive, it narrows the field. I actually don't generally have to do a whole lot of soul-searching.

Your question though was what do I think of the fact that it's taken a footing? It's obviously extremely popular. Kudos go to the Valve guys for having the vision to build it. And they made a big bet - they made a big, scary bet, and they get rewarded for that.

Ask me the question about where they are in the market five years from now: I think it's gonna shift. I think the playing field's gonna level out. Because exclusive content drives it. I mean once upon a time we had a Sega console. There was a company called Atari that had a big market position. It changes and it shifts based on the way the company continues to evolve and interact with its customers, the service it delivers.

I think that now we're seeing so many new players come, they have to come to the market with their first party games. And if they deliver really outstanding games, the platform follows. So I think it's all gonna work out in the end. But like I said, you've got to give kudos to those guys for jumping in and being first and doing a really good job, and taking a chance.

Previously Chris told us why he couldn't go back from free-to-play games, and why PC gaming is bigger than ever. Tomorrow we'll have his thoughts on Total Annihilation, and why his priorities changed as he moved on to Supreme Commander and Supreme Commander 2.