New from Valve this morning is an announcement that they have released a suite of Steam developer tools for free. Including everything from copy protection and sales reporting, to in-game achievement management and social networking services, Steamworks is sure to be a hit with independent developers, and will further guarantee the dominance of Steam as the digital distribution network of choice. Rock, Paper, Shotgun have a nice summary of the press release, and the full list of available services is below (courtesy of Kotaku).
• Real-time stats on sales, gameplay, and product activation: Know exactly how well your title is selling before the charts are released. Find out how much of your game is being played. Login into your Steamworks account pages and view up to the hour information regarding worldwide product activations and player data.
• State of the art encryption system: Stop paying to have your game pirated before it's released. Steamworks takes anti-piracy to a new level with strong encryption that keeps your game locked until the moment it is released.
• Territory/version control: The key-based authentication provided in Steamworks also provides territory/version controls to help curb gray market importing and deliver territory-specific content to any given country or region.
• Auto updating: Insures all customers are playing the latest and greatest version of your games.
• Voice chat: Available for use both in and out of game.
• Multiplayer matchmaking: Steamworks offers you all the multiplayer backend and matchmaking services that have been created to support Counter-Strike and Team Fortress 2, the most played action games in the world.
• Social networking services: With support for achievements, leaderboards, and avatars, Steamworks allows you to give your gamers as many rewards as you would like, plus support for tracking the world's best professional and amateur players of your game.
• Development tools: Steamworks allows you to administer private betas which can be updated multiple times each day. Also includes data collection tools for QA, play testing, and usability studies.