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Steam is not free software #164

jfinkels opened this Issue Dec 20, 2012 · 9 comments

6 participants


Steam is not distributed under a free software copyright license. This would fix issue #66. It would also allow, for example, the community to provide more rapid bug fixes and support at decreased cost to Steam, among many other benefits.


Yeah, would be nice. But good luck with this one.

Valve Software member

Steam is free (gratis) not free (libre). Community updates may introduce considerable corporate issues.

ghost commented Dec 20, 2012

It's not a bug, it's a feature. :P

scottlu commented Dec 20, 2012

There are no plans to make Steam free software. Marking as won't fix.


Please consider opening at least your downloader. After all, this is installed as a system package and can run under root.


Have a look at instead.

@MrSchism MrSchism closed this Dec 21, 2012

This response by Valve is very strange to me. I assume Valve does not want to produce free software because they do not believe they can make money this way. Here are some reasons why producing free software helps you make money.

  1. Producing free software engenders a good relationship with Linux distributions, and package maintainers will have an easier time making your software available to users of those distributions. This increases the number of potential users of your software, thereby making you more money.
  2. Producing free software makes Steam available to users of more systems than you alone can support. We don't know what the systems of tomorrow will look like, but people will certainly want to use them to play games. This increases the number of potential users of your software, thereby making you more money.
  3. Producing free software reduces the cost (in human-hours) of maintaining software by offloading the work of identifying and fixing bugs to volunteers around the world, thereby reducing your costs.
  4. Producing free software allows volunteers to translate the strings in your software at no cost to you, making your software more easily accessible to users who prefer to use software in their native languages. This increases the number of potential users of your software, thereby making you more money.
  5. Few people will stop using software if you provide the source code as well. On the other hand, not providing the source code prevents a large group of people who would otherwise use and enjoy your products from doing so.

Finally, remember that if you are concerned about making money, you are encouraged to distribute free software for a fee. As long as you 1. make it easy for users to provide money in exchange for your software (for example, by using the Ubuntu Software Centre), and 2. provide value on top of your product, people will happily pay a reasonable fee.

Valve Software member

The following is my take on the situation; Valve may or may not agree with it.

Your assumption is wrong. It's not for the sake of making money; it's for the sake of having proprietary binaries as a way to help curb competition. While many people use Desura, many others don't because of its design. I'm one of those people. Competition could take Steam sources and legally modify them and implement them for themselves if Valve used a free license for Steam's sources.

As-is, Valve has their own license for the current package and software components. They've met the community half-way by making the Steam runtime open source.


My assumption may of course be incorrect, but Valve is a company, and companies like money. It's just a guess.

Also, an attempt to "curb competition" is an attempt to increase usage of a product and hence make more money.

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