The first part of this partnership regards the opening of the new Steam App Store. Steam is moving beyond games and will begin selling application software as well. GameMaker: Studio will be one of those apps and I’m told that it will be the only development software available during the expanded service launch.
Steam users will be able to download the recently released free version of GameMaker: Studio to try out, and will of course be able to purchase the standard version and its various development modules. It looks like GameMaker: Studio is about to get a lot more popular. Hopefully, this also means downloading updates to GameMaker: Studio will go a little more smoothly and quickly for members who link their software to the Steam service. This is wonderful news in and of itself, and with any luck it will be lucrative for YoYo Games, but that’s not the end of the story.
The second part of this partnership is a lot more interesting. GameMaker: Studio will be integrated with the Steam Workshop for users who wish to interact with this large creative community. This is expected to work a bit like the Sandbox on the YoYo Games web site, but with the full might of Valve’s servers and community behind it. GameMaker: Studio users (including users of the free version) will be able to create Steam Workshop community pages with information about their projects (including pictures and videos), upload their games to the Steam servers, and provide the ability to launch those games from within Steam. It may even be possible to post HTML5 games right in the Workshop environment, but this is not yet clear and is admittedly doubtful.
YoYo Games have been working closely with Valve tweaking GameMaker: Studio to ensure it is a “good fit” for their creative environment. Valve are reportedly “very excited” to see what GameMaker: Studio users will bring to their community — and who can blame them! This also looks like a smart way for developers to get going on Steam Greenlight since it should be very easy for them to link directly to a Workshop page to launch a game, demo, or prototype with almost no barrier to entry. For the start, only Windows games will be supported, but Mac support should be coming soon after. More information about working with the Steam version of GameMaker: Studio can be found on the YoYo Games wiki.
This partnership has the potential to greatly increase the reach of GameMaker users to Steam’s vast online community, as well as bring more attention to GameMaker from people who want to create games themselves but don’t know where to get started. The Steam Workshop has always been a great way to jump into game development and now it’s just gotten better. The existing Sandbox community on the YoYo Games web site will continue to operate and may see some minor updates in the future. It is hoped that games already posted there will find new players drawn from within the Steam community. In the distant future, the Sandbox may give way entirely to Steam Workshop. Only time will tell … but what exciting times they are!
YoYo Games has since posted its formal announcement.