In recent years, Steam has become one of the most powerful, and user friendly online game distribution services available and has managed to garner support from an impressive number of publishers and studios. Now, Valve is going one step further with the introduction of SteamWorks, the company's free-of-charge suite of publishing tools.
SteamWorks is a toolset which contains all that developers will need to publish their own games including real-time stats on sales, encryption tied to product activation to help prevent piracy, territorial controls, automatic update management, matchmaking support, online achievements, and a wealth of other features.
This is the same toolset used for Half-Life 2 and The Orange Box, according to the company, and will allow developers to focus on just creating good games and not worry about publishing issues. Interestingly, with SteamWorks not only can the created games be published quickly over Steam, but they can also appear on competing distribution services as well.