Steam is now bigger than Xbox Live

Maybe indie is popular after all. Gaming company Valve announced today via email that its independent-focused platform Steam experienced 30 percent user growth in the past year, pushing the total active accounts to 65 million — more than Xbox Live. Microsoft estimates that its platform has 48 million accounts, while Sony’s Playstation Network claims 110 million.  Valve will enter with a broad user base into 2014, where it hopes to convert those fans into loyal Steam Machine buyers. But it’s a sign that PC gaming isn’t as ailing as everyone expects.

Valve’s Steam: Not just for games anymore

Valve, a big name among gamers, plans to use its Steam online distribution system to offer productivity applications as well. Developers can submit their titles to Steam Greenlight. The store goes live September 5.

The incredible story of Indie Game: The Movie

The independent film’s lifecycle has undergone a lot of upheaval in the last 20 years, but digital distribution’s truly disrupting things. Less than six months after debuting at Sundance, Indie Game: The Movie will be available for sale via iTunes, VHX and gaming platform Steam.

Get Portal free on Steam until Sept. 20

This is a treat. Valve is offering hit first-person puzzle game Portal for free starting Friday, until Sept. 20. You can grab your copy of Portal for Mac (or PC) on Steam. If you haven’t played Portal, great. If you have, it’s worth playing again.

Could Portal: No Escape be the next fan film to go legit?

The release of a short film set in the universe of Valve Software’s popular Portal video game series has people excited over the possibility that director Dan Trachtenberg could bring his vision to a full-length version. But is such a move really likely?

Valve’s Portal 2 Early Release Promotion: Innovative or Crass?

Game maker Valve kicked off a promotion today that allows fans to force the early release of Portal 2 if they buy a bundle of 13 independent games through its online store. It’s an innovative idea, though the execution makes the effort feel a little crass.

Steam and Valve Games Headed to the Mac

Us Mac gamers are a much abused, much maligned lot. We get titles late, and most never at all. By the time most titles do come to the Mac, we’ve probably already broken down and played them using Boot Camp or that gaming PC we hide in the closet that we bought specifically for the purpose. Today, things are looking up.

PC game maker and distributor Valve is dropping all kinds of hints, which are by no means ambiguous, that Steam and many of its titles are headed to the Mac sometime in the near future. MacRumors and various other Mac news sites received teaser images direct from Valve themselves, all of which point to that very same conclusion. Read More about Steam and Valve Games Headed to the Mac

How Meet the Spy Machinima Helped Double TF2’s Popularity

Team Fortress 2 has already been on the market for 18 months, but the multiplayer shooter from Valve Software didn’t reach the peak of its popularity until last weekend — thanks in part to this month’s release of Meet the Spy, the latest in a series of machinima shorts Valve produces to introduce the game’s characters. Up until last week, Valve’s director of business development, Jason Holtman, told me in a conference call, TF2 was hitting maximum concurrency numbers of 32,000 players; over Memorial Day weekend, however, that more than doubled to 68,000. (The single best sales day was also last weekend.)

Like the game itself, Valve’s video series is a clever reworking of traditional first-person shooter conventions, eschewing realistic violence and macho fantasy for cartoonish graphics and ironic wit. (In Meet the Sniper, TF2’s ruthless Aussie marksman gets flustered by his disapproving parents.) Meet the Spy is by far the most ambitious installment, depicting a trio of befuddled squaddies who try to locate an enemy agent in their midst, only to be undone by comic mishap and a surprisingly romantic plot twist.

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Gas Cubby Gets 2.0 Update

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About two months following the pricing experiment by App Cubby’s David Barnard, Gas Cubby gets a 2.0 upgrade.

Gas Cubby provides a way to track gas mileage for your automobile. But more than that, all maintenance and other costs sunk into your vehicle are dutifully tracked as well. Tilt your iPhone horizontally and view graphs that can tell you how well your car is performing (or not), and how much of a drain on your wallet it may be. And my favorite feature: setup maintenance reminders so you don’t miss that oil change when the sticker falls off the inside of your windshield. Read More about Gas Cubby Gets 2.0 Update