This might actually happen (with enough library interest): Steam to be available as an Ebsco-like e-game lending service?

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Philip Minchin, Euchronic Games

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Jan 16, 2012, 8:56:39 PM1/16/12
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Hi everyone, a follow-up.

A day or so ago I spoke to Leslie Redd, Valve's Education Officer. While she is naturally heavily focused on their (very impressive) schools initiatives, she was most definitely interested in working with libraries, and in particular the prospect I raised of libraries using Steam as an Ebsco-like lending service for electronic games.

She asked me to gather responses from libraries to gauge the extent of interest in the idea. I already have responses from some of you, but if there's anyone out there who would like to see this happen who hasn't chipped in to say so, now is the time. This is no longer a random Aussie asking a hypothetical question - this feedback will be going straight to someone inside Valve to be fed into their internal decision-making processes.

So please let me know if you think this is a good idea. And if your library-type friends think it's a good idea, it wouldn't hurt for them to say so too.

To be clear, we could get a petition of millions and it still might not happen - there are technical obstacles and business considerations which may yet rule it out. So nobody's making any promises. But a clear indication of a lot of interest from libraries would certainly make it more likely.

Thanks again to all and Happy 2012!
Cheers
Phil




On Thu, Dec 29, 2011 at 2:57 AM, Philip Minchin, Euchronic Games <euch...@gmail.com> wrote:
Hi folks,

Just before Christmas, I posted a pair of pieces to Liz Danforth's Library Journal blog as a guest post, and to my (very sporadic) Gamasutra blog, floating the idea of Steam as pretty much only needing some basic LMS integration to be a e-lending platform similar to Ebsco. (Only cooler and with better UI, and obviously lending PC games instead of e-books/e-audiobooks.)

I ended by inviting both game devs and librarians to comment as to whether they liked the idea, as this will help me make the case to Valve that they should consider doing this.

I've had one very enthusiastic comment on Liz's blog (thanks Danielle!), but only one.

On Gamasutra, I got the post featured on the front page of the site (thanks Gamasutra eds!), but after that I've only had some slightly non-comprehending responses from game devs who don't quite get how libraries work with e-lending, and one guy whom I suspect of actively trolling.

I'm sorry to seek attention, but it's not for my own sake - this is an idea that could happen relatively easily and could be a huge boon for games in libraries. I'd hate it to get lost in the usual Christmas kerfuffle. Steam's collection is pretty high-quality and using their client in Wavesound-like ways would instantly resolve all the issues we're having here in Australia managing licenses/keys/etc for PC games - which are effectively preventing us from lending them. Given how much cool stuff happens on PC, this sucks. It would also make it easier to justify having Steam clients on in-library PCs... which would make, for example, network tournaments that much easier.

So I ask all of you: if you like the idea of being able to authorise borrowers to try Steam games like ebooks, go read/comment on the posts - both of them preferably - and say so.

And if you have game dev friends, or other library friends who would be interested, please get them to comment too.

I'm really hoping to go to Valve in the coming year to argue this case - it will be much more effective if I have your support.

Thanks for your time and attention, and Happy New Year!
Phil


PS I know I've said it plenty in private, but Ms Danforth: thanks again for the support, the conversation and the fierce appreciation of how good games can be. Fingers crossed!

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JP Porcaro

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Jan 16, 2012, 9:04:06 PM1/16/12
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I'd encourage someone to raise this issue at our ALA Games & Gaming Round Table (GameRT) Forum at the ALA MidWinter conference (10:30am this Saturday if i'm not mistaken). Maybe we can get some traction out of it with the help of the GameRT & ALA!

- JP of 8bitlibrary.com

Beth G

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Jan 16, 2012, 10:08:36 PM1/16/12
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This would solve so many issues - damage, theft, etc. We need to get beyond the idea of library as a physical place lending physical items. I'm lucky to live in an area where people do have Internet access at home and we do have users who are remote/virtual only, and love our range of electronic services.

It's about time someone picked up where OverDrive left off - their game database never saw the light of day, as they focused on ebooks.

If this were available, I'd be pushing it for my library -- in lieu of a circling game collection -- and asking my director to apply pressure to the local consortium to pick this up.


Beth Gallaway
Assistant Director, Haverhill (MA) Public library 
Author, GAME ON: Gaming at the Library

Muhlenberg County Public Library

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Jan 17, 2012, 10:05:30 AM1/17/12
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For our small community library this service would be a great! I am 100% in favor of it. Having met Gabe Newell (ga...@valvesoftware.com) many years ago I can't imagine him not seeing this as a complimentary business model. Valve is unusually perceptive to community interests.

-Luke Waltrip
System Administrator
Muhlenberg County Public Libraries

Valerie Verscaj

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Jan 17, 2012, 1:02:19 PM1/17/12
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Just to be clear, are we talking console games as well? If so, this sounds like an interesting proposition.

 

Valerie Verscaj

Youth Services

St. Charles Public Library

vver...@stcharleslibrary.org

Description: Tree

Andrew Fuerste-Henry

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Jan 17, 2012, 1:58:24 PM1/17/12
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Sounds great to me. We've discussed creating a games collection at my library but have yet to do so. One of the biggest stumbling blocks is that we simply don't have anywhere to put the games if we bought them. An online service would be a big step in the right direction.
Andrew Fuerste-Henry
Carnegie-Stout Public Library
Dubuque, IA

From: libg...@googlegroups.com [libg...@googlegroups.com] on behalf of Valerie Verscaj [VVer...@stcharleslibrary.org]
Sent: Tuesday, January 17, 2012 12:02 PM
To: 'libg...@googlegroups.com'
Subject: RE: {LibGaming} This might actually happen (with enough library interest): Steam to be available as an Ebsco-like e-game lending service?

Minchin, Phil

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Jan 17, 2012, 4:46:13 PM1/17/12
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Hi Valerie,

 

No, Steam is a platform for PC (Windows/Mac/Linux) games only, although many titles are published on both console and PC.

 

In my library service’s experience, console games are far less problematic to lend as they do not require unique license keys which mean only the first borrower will get to play the game. They are very much more self-contained on the disc, like a standard AV loan. PC games are the ones it is becoming impossible to lend for the technical reasons outlined above, so that’s the focus of this suggestion.

 

Digital distribution of console games is a possibility, but that would need to be addressed directly with Microsoft and Sony (the Wii doesn’t have sufficient HD space for a standard Wii title, though a similar e-lending arrangement could be made for the Wii’s downloadable titles).

 

Thanks for asking!

Phil

 

Philip Minchin

for Port Phillip Library Service 
T: 9209 6655
Private Bag No 3, St Kilda, VIC, 3182

http://library.portphillip.vic.gov.au

This message and any attachments may be confidential and/or legally privileged. If you receive this message in error, please do not copy or distribute it. Instead, destroy it and notify the sender immediately. To the extent that this email contains information provided to Port Phillip City Council by other sources, Port Phillip City Council does not warrant that it is accurate or complete. To the extent that there are opinions or views expressed in this email, they are those of the individual sender and may not necessarily reflect the views of Port Phillip City Council. Please do not delete or alter this notice.

 


Jack Schultz

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Jan 17, 2012, 5:16:34 PM1/17/12
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My library would be interested in working with Steam.

I tried contacting Bigfish Games after hearing about their trial with the Orange County Library. I received no response.

http://www.ocls.info/bfgames.asp

- - -
Jack Schultz
Westmont Public Library
428 N. Cass Ave
Westmont, IL 60559
(630)969-5625 ext. 5

Minchin, Phil

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Jan 17, 2012, 5:24:28 PM1/17/12
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Nice! Thanks for the link, Jack – I had no idea this had happened. Very useful information!

 

Cheers

Phil

 

Philip Minchin

for Port Phillip Library Service 
T: 9209 6655
Private Bag No 3, St Kilda, VIC, 3182

http://library.portphillip.vic.gov.au

This message and any attachments may be confidential and/or legally privileged. If you receive this message in error, please do not copy or distribute it. Instead, destroy it and notify the sender immediately. To the extent that this email contains information provided to Port Phillip City Council by other sources, Port Phillip City Council does not warrant that it is accurate or complete. To the extent that there are opinions or views expressed in this email, they are those of the individual sender and may not necessarily reflect the views of Port Phillip City Council. Please do not delete or alter this notice.

 

Richard Haynes

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Jan 17, 2012, 6:47:13 PM1/17/12
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I'd be on this like white on rice. Thanks for at least getting this dialogue started. 

Sent from my iPhone

Anthony Avila

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Jan 18, 2012, 4:29:39 AM1/18/12
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It could interest french libraries too !
Please keep us informed of any further advancements.

Anthony Avila



2012/1/18 Richard Haynes <libra...@yahoo.com>

Doug Baldwin

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Jan 18, 2012, 8:52:19 AM1/18/12
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this is an awesome idea and we would definitely take advantage at our library!!!

Doug Baldwin 

Pikiora

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Jan 18, 2012, 1:50:50 PM1/18/12
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I think this sounds great!  Well done on this initiative,  looking forward to hearing more.

thoma...@rivlib.net

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Jan 18, 2012, 4:00:02 PM1/18/12
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Of course - this sounds like an awesome idea. I would be happy to help in any way I can.

-----Original Message-----
From: "Pikiora" <pik...@pikiora.com>
Sent: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 10:50am
To: libg...@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: {LibGaming} This might actually happen (with enough library interest): Steam to be available as an Ebsco-like e-game lending service?

>> Just before Christmas, I posted a pair of pieces to Liz Danforth's *Library
>> Journal* blog<http://blog.libraryjournal.com/gamesgamersgaming/2011/12/19/a-christmas-wish/>as a guest post, and to my
>> (very sporadic) Gamasutra blog<http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/PhilipMinchin/20111219/9129/Steampowered_libraries_anyone.php>,

Matthew Morrison

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Jan 18, 2012, 4:13:36 PM1/18/12
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I said so before on one of the original articles, but I'll say it again - a digital resource similar to EBSCO-Host or Steam would be an amazing resource for libraries.


Matt Morrison

Teen Services Librarian

Burleson Public Library

mmor...@burlesonlibrary.com

"Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it." - Mark Twain

Angela Vanden Elzen

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Mar 6, 2016, 11:01:10 PM3/6/16
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Does anyone know if progress has been made on the Steam in libraries/e-lending idea? I see that the Steam Family Sharing option is now available (http://store.steampowered.com/promotion/familysharing).

Thanks!
Angela

Angela M. Vanden Elzen

Reference & Web Services Librarian

Seeley G. Mudd Library 

Lawrence University

John Scalzo

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Mar 7, 2016, 1:50:53 AM3/7/16
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I checked in with Steam back in November, and they said that any such system is currently against their TOS. So I don't see it happening anytime soon.

But my rep from one of the bigger vendors (I want to say Baker & Taylor) told me they're working on something like this, so while it may not be Steam, some work is being done on creating an Overdrive-like service for games.

John Scalzo
Irondequoit Public Library | irondequoitlibrary.org
Video Game Librarian | videogamelibrarian.com

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John Scalzo
Media Librarian
Irondequoit Public Library

Angela Vanden Elzen

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Mar 7, 2016, 11:14:39 AM3/7/16
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Thanks, John. That's helpful to know.
Best,
Angela

Philip Minchin

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Mar 10, 2016, 10:38:58 AM3/10/16
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The Steam family lending solution is also pretty cumbersome - if someone is using one of your games, it locks your entire library. From the FAQ:

Can I share specific games, or do I have to share my whole library?

Libraries are shared and borrowed in their entirety.

Can two users share a library and both play at the same time?

No, a shared library may only be accessed by one user at a time.




However, there actually is a service that already does this, and does so on far more favourable terms than any of the e-book lenders: Danish company OnePlay. http://www.oneplay.com/en/contact_us

(FULL DISCLOSURE: I sell their subscriptions in Australia and NZ, though the only reason this happened is because I independently contacted them after encountering them as International Games Day @ your library sponsors to ask if they would consider selling here.)

They lend a library of over 1000 Windows and Android games with no artificial scarcity - no loan limits per borrower or per title, and an installation limit of 2 devices per loaned title. For this reason alone I'm really keen to see them succeed - I want this to be the default model for this market.

They use a SecuROM wrapper around the game executable which requires authentication when the game is first run; after that the security is inactive for 30 days, at which point it requests the password again. They say that's all the additional network traffic they require (obviously there's downloading and whatever you actually need for the game, but that's all OnePlay add).

Their selection is already pretty decent (especially their simulator range) but is currently quite Euro-centric. However, they are in the process of negotiating access to EA and Disney's back catalogs. Note that they don't rent big-ticket new-release titles, simply because publishers won't license that - you're subscribing to an extensive catalogue of older and less-well-known titles, not the newest hotness. That said, check what you do get - I'm pretty sure titles as recent and big as Lego Marvel Superheroes are in the VIP subscription.

They are also partnering with Lenovo, which will see them pre-installed on 35 million new PCs. An Android partnership is also rumoured.

I don't know the full details of pricing outside ANZ, but I do know that they have been talking to established library vendors as potential partners. Here in Oz they basically sell heavily discounted VIP subscription accounts to libraries, which libraries then pass on to patrons. (When I say "heavily discounted", I mean the best discount I secured at today's exchange rates was around 99.96% OFF, i.e. for every $100 of retail value libraries paid $0.035. The standard price was more like $0.09 per $100, and that price is about to go up to about $0.22 per $100 value.)

If you would like to know more, feel free to contact me directly with any questions. Unless you're in Australia or New Zealand, my answers will be provisional and I won't be able to help you get a deal, but I'm happy to help libraries anywhere if I can. Just be aware I check this address irregularly - you may have more luck at p...@philipminchin.com.

Cheers!
Phil


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