In an extensive interview, Valve head Gabe Newell spoke of Steam's benefits over boxed game packages and announced his ambition to have every PC title ever made eventually available for the platform.
"The worst days [for game development] were the cartridge days for the NES," Newell said in response to a question about flexibility in making different types of games.
"It was a huge risk - you had all this money tied up in silicon in a warehouse somewhere, and so you'd be conservative in the decisions you felt you could make, very conservative in the IPs you signed, your art direction would not change, and so on," he added.
The advent of Steam, Valve's online game store, download center and community, Newell continued, has changed the status quo: "Retail has a kind of filter function: people hate to send boxes back, and if the boxes go back you're wasting all this money. If someone doesn't download something on Steam, we don't lose any money."
Reminiscing about old games, and noting that he fired up Quake 1 whhile the team was testing the Team Fortress 2 beta, Newell said he eventually expects to see a massive and comprehensive catalog available for purchase and download via Steam.
"I expect we'll go back in time and eventually pretty much every game that's ever been available will be on there 24/7."