Steam is arguably the king of digital games distribution on PC and has been for many years. But, if you look beyond Valve's admittedly polished offering, you'll find the likes of GOG.com, GamersGate and an Australian-made option called Desura. It might not be in the same ballpark as Steam, sure, but it's built up enough of an offering that Linden Lab, the guys behind the MMO Second Life, recently acquired the service.
The news was announced a few days ago on both the Desura and Linden Lab websites. This initial delivery of information didn't go into much detail about what the acquisition would mean for either company, though it did assure Desura customers and listed developers that the service would "continue running uninterrupted" and the Linden Lab's resources would allow it to explore "big plans and many ideas".
The day following the announcement, Desura published an "open letter" to its community to expand on a little on the news:
To date Desura has been built and run by a dedicated small team -- and it's grown to the point where we list over 1,000 games and have served over 1,000,000 customers. We are very passionate about the developers and community we represent, and I want to assure you now this policy isn't changing.
With Linden Lab's support, we plan on expanding our team and providing you with more co-ordinated coverage, sales, marketing efforts, reporting, and assistance from us. We want to solve challenges like discoverability and giving your customers' choice, and we look forward to doing so. We are going to continue to polish and innovate so Desura stands out and does its most important job better: getting your game into customers' hands.
By the sounds of things, the company wants to have a serious go at competing with Steam, which provides a lot of these services. Right now, Desura does give developers the raw tools to market their game, but they're still left mostly in the deep end. To be fair, the approval process to get a game on Desura is much easier than Steam.