Valve announced it will open Steam for other developers. The game developer says other developers will be able to use the suite of tools freely:
The tools include real-time sales, gameplay, and product activation statistics, an encryption system, territory control, auto updating, voice chat, multiplayer matchmaking, social networking services such as leaderboards, and other development tools. The full list of features can be found on Shacknews.
Many of the features are already integrated into the Steam Community platform. The tool set is similar to what Microsoft offers to developers--for a fee--in both Windows Live and Xbox Live.
"Developers and publishers are spending more and more time and money cobbling together all the tools and backend systems needed to build and launch a successful title in today's market," said Valve president Gabe Newell. "Steamworks puts all those tools and systems together in one free package, liberating publishers and developers to concentrate on the game instead of the plumbing."