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Initially, Valve was required to be the publisher for these titles since they had sole access to the Steam's database and engine, but with the introduction of the Steamworks software development kit (SDK) in May 2008, anyone could potentially become a publisher to Steam, outside of Valve's involvement to curate titles on the service.
Steam's primary service is to allow its users to download games and other software that they have in their virtual software libraries to their local computers as game cache files (GCFs).
Users can access their saved games and achievements providing the main owner is not playing.
When the main player initiates a game while a shared account is using it, the shared account user is allowed a few minutes to either save their progress and close the game or purchase the game for his or her own account.
Mobile apps with connected functionality with the main software were later released for i OS, Android, and Windows Phone devices in the 2010s.
The Steam platform is the largest digital distribution platform for PC gaming, estimated in 2013 to have 75% of the market space.