Steam has been a growing juggernaut since its release in 2003. It has grown from a simple distribution platform for Valve games on Windows based computers to being on both Windows and Mac, a mobile application, and with the release of Portal 2, the ability to connect your Steam account to your PS3. It has completely changed how games are distributed on the personal computer. I no longer purchase retail versions of games that I can get on Steam. They have also introduced many community features to help play and talk about games with others. The only thing I feel that is currently missing from this wondrous system is a way to share and borrow games.
Ever since I can remember playing games I can remember letting my friends borrow my games or me borrowing theirs. I feel that this is a huge community interaction that is missing from the digital distribution model. I propose that Steam implement a “Borrowers Program”, where users can share games with their friends. Now I imagine that most initial reactions to this would be that it can’t be done and that it will break the whole system. This was my first thought when I started thinking about this, but I came up with some guidelines for this system that I think would work.
1. Start with only multi-player focused games first. Multi-player is all about re-playability and playing with friends. If I am able to let my friends try out a multi-player game and they like it, they are more likely to then purchase it because they will want to play with me.
2. Once I let someone borrow it, I can no longer play it until it is given back. This will give people that want to play multi-player together, more incentive to then purchase it if they like it.
2. Limit the time that the game can be shared. Set a max amount of time that the game can be shared, for instance 1 week is the max but allow the lender to shorten that time. This ensures that the lender doesn’t just give the game away, and that the lender will eventually get their game back.
I do realize that this is a pipe dream but I really think that this would be a cool addition to an already awesome service.
Also, don’t forget to join the ACG Steam group!