Steam: Leveraging the long tail

The long tail is a theory by Chris Anderson of Wired Magazine, which suggests that our economy is shifting away from the more popular “mainstream” products in a market and heading towards to smaller niche markets aimed towards a specific audience. In an era without the constraints of physical shelf space and other bottlenecks of distribution, narrowly-targeted goods and services can be economically attractive as mainstream fare. –Chris Anderson


Steam delivers a range of video games straights to a computers desktop. Comparing Steam to traditional gaming stores that only offers very few game choices (usually the high end popular ones) Steam offers a larger variety of game choices catered to specific audiences because of their unique business model which allows Steam to only pay for games once it has been purchased by the customers. As Steam does not have to pay for the delivery and the storage of the games it has very few costs involved which allows Steam to leverage the long tail by offering niche titles by independent developers.


Best practices employed by Steam as detailed by Tim O’Reilly


Build on the driving forces of the Long Tail
Steam builds on the driving forces of the long tail by offering a huge range of video games aimed towards specific niche markets.  Steam also gives its users selected game titles to play for free during the weekend.


Use algorithmic data management to match supply and demand
Steam uses certain algorithms, which suggest new games similar to the ones the user has purchased.


Use an architecture of participation to match supply and demand
Steam lists and classifies all of its games and allows the user to try a game before they make a purchase.


Leverage customer self-service to cost effectively reach the entire web
Steam allows its user to manage their account from the very basic to changing their login information to more complex settings like managing games update statuses. As with many other platforms, Steam also has a community powered forum where users can describe their problem and may get help from other forum users.


Leverage the low-cost advantages of being online 
Steam offers discounted and low cost price games for it users as Steam doesn’t have to pay for delivery or storage of the games.






Valve Corporation (2014) . Steam Community.  Retrieved from

O’Reilly Media Inc, (2013). What is Web 2.0. Retrieved from

Chris Anderson, (2009). Long tail FAQ. Retrieved from

Steam inc, (2013). Steam. Retrieved from



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