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A startup called Desura is getting ready to challenge online game distribution systems like Valve’s fast-growing Steam. The company plans to launch its platform in two months, but today it’s competing as a finalist in the startup competition at our GamesBeat@GDC event in San Francisco.

While on-stage, Desura will announce that it’s starting to look for venture funding, as well as a chief executive to build the company.

So why would developers and gamers choose Desura? It will include important-but-not-unique features like developer tools, in-game community, and auto-patching. More importantly, founder Scott Reismanis said Desura will be the only platform allowing independent developers to create their own content for existing games. This can run the gamut from characters to single maps to entire games built on top of existing engines.

Resmanis also said Desura will be more developer- and community-driven than its competitors. Developers get a profile where they can post whatever content they want. Community members get to post comments, review games, and upload screenshots.

One drawback facing Steam, Reismanis said, is that it’s run by Valve. Since Valve makes hugely successful games like the Half-Life and Left 4 Dead series, there’s a potential conflict of interest there, one that rears its head whenever Steam rejects a game. Desura, on the other hand, comes from the team that created indie game developer site Mod DB, which it says has 400,000 members and receives 2 million unique visitors per month.

Desura will take a 30 percent cut of each game sold, and also enable the sale of user content through microtransactions.

Read all of our coverage from GamesBeat@GDC.


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