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Steam

Steam is an Internet-based digital distribution, digital rights management (DRM), multiplayer, and social networking platform developed by Valve Corp. Steam provides the user with installation and automatic updating of games on multiple computers, and social features such as friends lists and groups, cloud saving, and in-game voice and chat functionality. The software provides a free application programming interface (API) called Steamworks, which developers can use to integrate many of Steam's functions, including networking and matchmaking, in-game achievements, micro-transactions, and support for user-created content through Steam Workshop, into their products.

A screenshot with the Steam store open

Initially developed for use on Microsoft Windows, versions for OS X and Linux operating systems, and a limited-function version for the PlayStation 3 console, have also been developed. Chatting and shopping applications for iOS and Android mobile devices have also been written. The Steam website also replicates much of the storefront and social network features of the stand-alone application. The success has led to the development of the Steam Machine, and SteamOS, a Linux-based operating system built around the Steam client.

As of February 2015, over 4,500 games are available through Steam, which has 125 million active users. Steam has had as many as 9 million users on within a small period of time as of March 2015. In November 2009, Stardock estimated 70% of games bought online for PC weredownloaded through Steam. In October 2013, it was estimated by Screen Digest to have increased to 75%.