Steam: Savior or Slayer of PC Gaming?

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Geofredo

Steam is a double edged sword.

On the positive side, it helps reduce piracy and promotes the purchasing of video games.

On the negative side, you can no longer share games without giving someone your personal account information.

For example: I (posthumously)inherited a gaming pc and a old school gamer´s collection of video games. However, I can not play any of the games because I wasn´t able to ask that kind man (who passed away from cancer) for his information. Not that I would do that.

Lets try a different situation:
Timmy and Joe are friends in high school who trade video games. Timmy lets Joe borrow his copy of SERIOUS SAM HD. Joe can´t play Timmy´s game because it is ATTACHED TO HIS STEAM ACCOUNT.

Those are reasons and instances that PC Gamers are heading over to the console side. Any single player game that requires an internet connection to play a video game (due to Steam) is ignorant.

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charlyfox

I have a retail box of Shogun 2 and cannot install from the discs. My initial installation took 8 hours on my 3.5 megabit connection. I had to uninstall and spent several hours trying to find out how to install from the discs but no method I have researched will do that. Even advice from Steam says you can and indeed it took just half an hour to complete the installation. But then comes the update window - just another 9 hours or so before I can launch the game. So they're a bunch of liars. I can't believe that the rest of the pc gaming industry have allowed this bunch of dictators and liars so much power. The jumping through hoops system that Steam have is ridiculous. You even have to set up a separate account just to get help from their system. There is an explanation for this - Make pc gaming as unpleasant as possible and drive users to the consoles. This is what is happening. I suspect a conspiracy is going on between Steam and Sony/Microsoft. Ultimately the game developers don't care especially now that the big two consoles are x64. But why is Steam on this seeming suicide mission? Why did Google buy Motorola then sell it for a ten billion dollar loss? Answers to such questions will become clearer.

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terracide

Steam has its place, but I appreciate being able to walk into a store and walk out with a box too.. Why cant we just have options?.. Arent game retailers starting to offer both physical and digital now?

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joeyjr

Steam is by far the better experience from install, price, and click and play without the disk. Walk in to your local game store and ask for the PC section and compair that to what Steam has to offer. PC gaming without the DRM layers would be nice. Computer hardware is better than consolds and has more versitile and consolds go out of date. Steam even has games for MAC now. It seems to me that big business is to blame for the control of market share. for example: DirectX 10 and 11 or 3D Sound, where you could only have one without the other. DRM because loss of review do to stolen programs. I think Steam is a savyor because, the PC is the best platform for gamming and Valve makes it more of enjoyable experience, Steam will only get better in time as long as PC gaming is supported by the powers to be, and I dread the thought of where we would be today without digital distrobution.

With a consold I get 320Gb and with a PC I get as much room as my system will allow for game. I can make or fix my system the way I want and use what ever controller I choose for a particular game. Better graffics and frame rates. I can verify my games cache, back them up, and use them on what ever system I want. Also, I get a social network and a great server network that is always there with few problems.

Look and see how much Steam has grown in a few years and it has already gotten better, dispite the compitition from consolds and game developers. The powers to be such as Microsoft making PC gaming better and worse at the same time PC gaming still lives. I may be cheaper to make games for other platforms than to make a truly great PC game, but I I have played some of them and it was not as enjoyable as on the PC.

I personally am very happy valve created Steam to have so many games part of ther comunity with digital distrobution. I read do not know where PC gaming would be today if it had not done so, but I dont think I would be writing this if they hadn't or had a need to build customized PC's for that matter. I would proble be drinking the Powers to be coolaid and in the dark wishing things were different.

I am think PC gaming is much better off today than it would have been. Now there are others tring to copy what Valve started. I am hoping Steam gets more titles and game developers and publishers seen it benifits. I hope the EA thing gets worked out, guess they see where the market share is going. I have an old e8500 with an ATI 4890 and 8Gs of DDR3 which I can still play any game at 1920 x 1080, So for all of the nay sayers the PCs are dead try to play some of the newer games on a consold and record your favorate TV program at the same time.

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maleficarus™

Holly Golightly is the anti-Steam, Origin poster child! Is the drama-queen at it again?

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slyhambo

Here's why:

With Steam you HAVE NO CHOICE!!  You must load Steam before you can play the game...you must install the game through Steam before you can play the game...you must update through Steam before you can play the game...AAAAGGGHHHHHH!!!!!

I paid for the game - I just want to play the damn game!  What happened to: buying the game, dropping the CD into the tray, installing it and playing it???  What happened to that???!!!!

I got my intro to STEAM when I purchased Total War several months back.  I anxoiusly brought the game home and fired up my rig and put the disk into the tray.  After about 8 hours of downloading and updating I gave up and went to bed. (Hey, everybody doesn't have a T3, OK??!!!)

Ever since then whenever I look to buy a PC game I scan the packaging for "Steam account required".  If the game has that - I DON"T BUY IT!!!

Then the worst happened...I recently bought Supreme Commander 2.  I checked the packaging...no Steam...Cool!!  Got the game home and guess what???  Steam!  #@$&!!!

OK....maybe it's better now....NOPE!!  Same crap....I won't bore you, but the upshot is I'm done.

I've been an avid PC Gamer for over 25 years.  Now that Steam is sneaking into homes unannounced like a kick burglar I'm done.

Steam, you will die.  PC Gaming is circling the drain anyway...just look on the shelves of the retailers.  Due partly, at least, to your control freak attitude for the few games left out there PC Gamers were willing to purchase.

Thanks, Steam, for contributing to the destruction one of our favorite pastimes.

Slyhambo

Houston, TX

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Holly Golightly

Thank goodness somebody has some sense here!!!!!!!!!

I do not know why so many people embrace steam. They take the one true freedom away from PC gamers. I do not have a T3 line either, but I do not like being stereotype for always having an internet connection, despite the fact my connection is reliable. When I game, I do not want to use the internet, or some extra program that uploads my data to their servers. Valve, Steam, Gabe Newell brought forth the death of PC Gaming thanks to greed. Self destructive greed. With Steam, you never own your own games, just the privilage to play the game onto their own client, whether or not you own the actual disk or not.

Here, this is a full list from Wikipedia which is updated frequently: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Steam_games

If you do not have luck there, just use your favorite search engine and type down "Steamworks list." Just so you know, games that require the Steam client to run are SteamWorks titles. SteamWorks is a DRM that forces regular pc gamers like us to use steam. They do this not only to boxed retail hard copies, but also against other competitors like Direct2Drive and Gamer Gate... Sigh, PC Gamers are fighting a losing war. Still, I choose to game outside of Steam. But yes, keep a close eye out on games that require Steam for activation or use SteamWorks DRM. Goodluck on your gaming journey... We may just win.

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DrCruel

maleficarus™ :

"Holly Golightly is the anti-Steam, Origin poster child! Is the drama-queen at it again?"

If there is anything PC game oriented I hate more than STEAM, it's the STEAM fanboys.

I'm not interested in arguing about how great STEAM is, and how stupid I am for not embracing it. I don't want to hear how STEAM is good but all the other similar DRM competitors are evil incarnate. I don't want to be abused AGAIN for being upset that user rights I've come to expect over the last decade or so have been taken away - and that I'm not only supposed to tolerate it but to like it.

I don't want to see a list of STEAM games. I'd just as soon not know anything at all about them, as I will never buy a STEAM game and, as I don't play pirated games, that means I'll never play these games. I'm much more interested in a list of non-STEAM games. And that also means games without Origin or like always-on server-based monitoring DRM schemes. I haven't bought a new PC game since 2010, but I'd like to. I once bought hundreds if not thousands of dollars of games a year, so if anyone is interested in my business I'd be happy to see what they have to offer. As for the STEAM fanbase, after all the abuse I've taken from them in the past I'm not even willing to listen to them anymore.

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GeckoBanzai

I tend to like Steam for its cheap games and access to other players.

However I purchased BioShock 2 a month or two ago and not only do I have to deal with Steam's DRM but Window's Live as well. The game would not work and something in the Window's live software made it impossible for my brand new system to load properly at start up and I was forced to reinstall WIn7. Emails to STEAM were returned with the message that they were not responsible for the problems I was having and emails to the WIN Live support team were returned with the message that they weren't responsible for STEAM content. My thought being that I just paid 49.99 for a game that they will not return my money nor will they try to help me get the game to run. I was thoughtfully directed to the forums where I learned that over 30,000 customers have had the same issue. There is a small patch not endorsed by either company but it requires trusting in the good intentions of the patch creator something I won't do.

I am inclined to like STEAM because of its ease of use and having everything in one place but having money literally stolen from me with no way to get the money back or to have the product I purchased actually run has me wishing not for the first time that these people would get the message that the only thing DRM this draconian does is send people off looking for content that will run as intended.

System Specs: Phenom II X840 run at 3.5ghtz

                       8G of Crucial PC3-10700

                       MoBo - MSI 870A-G54

                       GPU - Radeon 5770

 

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Gezzer

For anyone saying they don't buy anything if it has DRM included. Good for you.

So by the way, how was that last AAA title you played? Oh sorry. I mean that last indie title you played. Just a sec how many indie titles have no DRM at all? I don't think that many... :)

 

Yes DRM sucks in principle, and often times in reality as well. A consumer shouldn't be seen as a potential criminal. Problem is they have to do something don't they? Well I pirated a game or two in the past often because I couldn't find it to buy any where. Other times because I wouldn't of bought it anyway so why not? So does the fact we have DRM surprise me? Not at all.

But with Steam it's so compelling to buy instead of steal. Plus if your willing to wait you can get some pretty good discounts. Steam's become my bargin bin. :) So if it becomes really easy to buy and at a price your willing to pay, why pirate? Not saying Steam will end DRM out right, but the more sinister types, yeah I can see it.

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szore

The one thing that deeply irritates me about steam, is that they charge the same price for digital dl as is charged retail, with all the shipping costs and packaging and manufacturing etc. If I am downloading it, it should be cheeper. That is why I use bittorrent and pay for nothing, screw em'. BALLS DEEP. Bunch of pigs, all of them.

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Holly Golightly

So much for capitalism... Eh?

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praack

they were first and best to the party so they get the better market share. DRM_ always been there- from coder wheels, copy protection of floppy- to looking up numbers/letters on pages of user manuals to invasive rootkit like stuff - it is there.

valve has staying power though and is still a good platform, EA wants more of a chunk of cash to push thier yearly updates to thier same IP, each year with zombie mode etc.

So Steam Evil empire? no, would be more scared if it was M-soft. would be especially upset if steam had never evolved and we had to go to each publisher individually to get games. - think- no price dropes, no sales, no indie games, no older games being available.

well soapbox done - ;-)

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Gezzer

You want to know something funny/scary.

I installed a Steam game that also uses Windows Live or whatever. Well WL had to do an update and what did I find in the Win7 games menu? A "Games for Windows Marketplace" icon that leads to...........

Yeah, I guess that means I have to buy from them now eh? Man they must clang some when the guys that come up with Windows sh#t like this are walking down the hall.

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Lhot

The day STEAM came out, I thought: Oh noes, there goes the PC Gaming Industry.  Haven't changed that opinion yet. 

DRM is evil, even nice DRM.

If I buy a disc, be it game or other software I OWN it.  If it has DRM, I don't buy it.

How many of you are going to buy STEAM Windows...aka Windows 8?

Nice DRM, is just DRM waiting to become....NASTY.

Many of you have stated reasons, for and against STEAM.  There should be no 'FOR' votes in these comments.  Once you start a giant rock rollinng down a hill, you just can't stop it...you can't say (5-10 years from now) "Oh no, I was wrong to embrace STEAM...by then it's too late."

The same will be true for Windows 8 and the CLOUD.  They, like STEAM are your computer under the control of someone else.  Wise up folks, before it's too late.  Oh no, they didn't do that.  STEAM didn't just apply a data/month cap...for example.

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Holly Golightly

I totally agree with you! I call it the avalanche effect. It just started off with one game, and now non-Valve games are using Steam as their primary DRM. Games like Fall Out New Vegas, and Metro 2033. Can you believe that? Retail games requiring a digital distribution format? They are out of their mind!

Then there is other things like VAC status. If your account is bad, you will be permanently banned. Then what happens to those hundreds of games people purchased? Gone! What Valve is doing is keeping their users on a very short leash. Dark times we are looking at. 5-10 years now, my opinion will still be the same. Steam is evil because they require you to log onto their client with your own internet just to play a game.

All DRM is evil, but Steam is equal to StarForce in terms of limitations. Maybe one day the brainwashed Steam FanBoys will open up their eyes and really see the damage Valve is doing to the PC Gaming industry with limited clients like Steam. They just need to do away with it all and start from scratch. A more simple way to have gamers actually own their games.

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Periander

Ultima VI released by Origin Systems; I see what you did there...

 

P.S. Ultima VI rules!

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Scatter

I'm sorry but i'm partial to Ultima IV & V :)

Also, EA using the name Origin for their online distribution system is a travesty. 

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DanScharff

Spot on, Periander; I was wondering if anyone would notice. Also, the picture for Steam the Slayer is also Ultima box art - from Ultima III: Exodus. Nothing says old school PC gaming street cred like classic Ultima.

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Jack Of Shadows

"And those who bemoan the good old days when the barrier of entry involved being able to run multiple memory managers, making sure your IRQ ports didn't conflict, and having to know the port configuration of your soundcard, you're living in the past."

Okay, this is Maximum PC, right?  I design (engineer) and build my own computers.  Yep, multiple, and even the brandname computer that serves as my 'net machine has seriously been upgraded way above 'specs'.  And the rig I'm looking at across the room was intentionally designed with one bus speed, front (CPU == Memory) to back (CPU == GPU).  CUDA really chrips when it kicks in.  I've been building them like that for over two decades now and get superior performance even before over-clocking.

Of course I also exercise the same due regard  with respect to the Windows/*nix of choice and tweaking their settings starts at first boot.  Ditto software.    No setting anywhere is left unscrutinized.  So, read that introductory quote again.  Do I in any way resemble a console junkie?  Thought not.

As for Steam, if it's involved then the game goes back on the (virtual) shelf.  Ditto any other DRM requiring online access of any sort.  That should be strictly voluntary.  [Which is why Diablo 3 is off the menu here.  Sorry Blizzard!]  I don't/won't do tethers and if that's the price of entry into that market, forget it.

In any case, I'm not on a soap-box against Steam here although I won't buy any game so encumbered.  My main point has to do with that leading sentence in your article.

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DoctorX

you are delusional then... almost all have DRM unless you got to GOG.  Securom is the most popular DRM there is.. and it tethers you to either disk, internet, etc.  So I take it you either dont play any games or you are a pirate.

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Balgaroo

 

Like many here I use Steam and love it.  I can live with the DRM that it has.  Customer service has been excellent the 2 times that I have had to use it.  I don't have to carry a disk around with me and all I have to do is long onto my account when I'm on my laptop vs PC.   Easy and the games are cheep.  I really want to buy Battlefield 3 but since its not going to be on Steam then I really do not know if I will.  Thought about buying the box version but I hate having to put a disk in the drive every time I want to play.  

I guess I will just wait and see.  I mean Elder Scrolls is coming out only a few days after BF3 and I'll have MW3 (I know I'm stupid and child like fore playing MW3 to some of you.  To which I have a retort . . . Fuck Off).  Maybe BF3 will be more desirable after a few months.

 

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Scatter

I'm really mixed about Steam.  On one hand I love many of the benefits; being able to play a game without having to put a CD in the drive, the huge library of otherwise hard to find games, the prices, etc...  On the other hand I also love collecting older games and apprecaite the box, manuals and all the other things that come with a retail product.  I'm sure that I'm being nieve but I wish that the two mediums would both be able to survive over the long term.  Unfortunately however for ever year that Steam not only survives but thrives I fear the closer we get to a time where the retail box experience will completely vanish.

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immersive

By far the best articel I have read on MaxPC. Even though some points I did not agree with.

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Nyarlathotep

I have used Steam since it was in beta in 2002. I was hooked on Day of Defeat until just a couple years ago (when L4D came along?). I still remember trying to download the client over dialup and having to start over multiple times because I would lose my connection. I have tried other digital services over the years but none have been better than Steam in my opinion. There has been ample time for a competitor to establish themselves but none have really succeded. I don't hold that against Valve. If Valve changes the terms of Steam to something I strongly disagree with or if someone else comes up with a better service I am open to change.

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DoctorX

Wait, there is games outside of Steam?  I jest... but still.  Actually, if it isnt on Steam, then it doesnt exist. Steam may have DRM, but it has DRM I can live with.  I have installed my games many times over on all sorts of systems and never had an issue.  Most of the physical copies dont allow that anymore... plus Steams's DRM is very pc friendly... unlike securerom, teges, starforce?~!?!?. I dont buy the games on steam with their own drm... (why?)

I also like the fact it saves me weeks reinstalling my system.  I have 1TB of games from steam.  All I have to do is restore the steam dir, install the client over the top of it, then start the steam client. All my settings, etc are all there. The only thing is i have to tell steam not to update certain games i have modified... like max payne (bug in code) and a few others.  I have the 64bit version of far cry and unreal tourn 2004 installed along with very modified versions of quake and quake2. (fix opengl etc).  I do not have to go through 100s of cd/dvds to load my games again.

Try walking into a Best Buy, Walmart, Target, Gamestop... where are the games?

 

As for Origin?  EA sucks.  They have sucked since the Commodore 64 days and the DRM they used actually would damage drives.  EA is like the Borg, they assimilate as much as they can and kill off most of what they assimilate.  

Steam may not be perfect, but it works for me.  I used to be heavy in the pirate scene.  I got pissed about the bad DRM out there.  But Steam converted me.  I have maybe about $2500 in games on it. My son has his own Steam account and i use it as a reward thing. ( it works :) ).  The only complaint with Steam for me, is their ready - fire - aim attitude with their TOS.  It has never bit me, but it has others.  If they could improve that process (like an email stating the fact instead of just getting locked out of account), would be an improvement.

Stardock had its own impulse until they sold it... but it was never any good.  Origin is just bad.

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Ghost666

Very well said.

 

I too have a GIGANTIC liist of games on my Steam account and I love not having to throw in a cd to play or get a hacked .exe to not. I love not having to keep track of cd's and LICENSE codes! I can find friends easily and have saved a fortune while buying during their daily and big promotions. I also agree that it's been nice finding some older games for sale there that work just fine on my Windows 7 machine without any work arounds.

Have you recently filled up your little SSD drive with too many Steam games? Grab Steam Mover and it will easily help you move everything to another, larger hard drive.

To the guys that have issues with Steam and therefore complain and bag on Steam, know this: You have something else messed up with your PC, period. I am an X PC technician who worked in a shop for 5 years and tech'd hundeds of machines. I heard countless customers complain about Steam who brought their machines in to be worked on. Once I killed all the spyware and deleted all the unnecessary "registry cleaning" programs, killed all the "fun, free apps!" they had all over the place and got the system running properly, Steam would then run flawlessly. the ONLY issue I've ever had with steam was the cloud problem with Fallout New Vegas, which they promptly fixed.

 

So yeah, I'll always have Steam on all of my PC's.

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someuid

I enjoyed this article right up to the point of 'monopoly'.  At that point, the article launched into fear and paranoia.  Bad writer.  Bad writer.

First, a monopoly isn't bad.  Exploiting your monopoly status is.

Second - why would steam want to corner the market on a game?  They are making more money being the digital store front than at making games, are probably spend a lot less effort running a store front than they do making games.  They would not risk losing that position just so they could try and corner the market on a game.

I find it funny that MaxPC would even bring up the complaints of market share, cornering a market, and monopolistic practices when MaxPC is so Pro Microsoft Windows.  MS could shut down tomorrow and leave us all stranded sky high, but we don't give that thought considering because it is a plain foolish thought. Same with Steam.  Need more examples?  How about Amazon.  Would they try and corner the market on just books they own copyrights on?  No.  The idea is simply ludicrous.

Third, as for Steam shutting down their servers and we lose all our games - go read their faq.  They clearly state a release code would be sent to everyone, unlocking their games and freeing them from Steam authentication.

Fourth - own a game?  Come on.  Have you even read the EULA's?  None of them say you own a copy of the game. They all say you own a license to play the game.  Same with music (licenses to listen) and movies (licensed to watch).  This "I own a copy let me do with it as I want" is a plain stupid argument. Get your freaki' head out of the sand.  The lawyers powned you a long time ago.  Stop being a moron behind a keyboard.

I built my first computer in 1995.  From that time to 2010, I bought maybe a dozen to 18 games over the years.  Since I jumped on Steam in 2010, I've bought about 24 games.  Go do the math.  Steam has done great stuff for PC gaming.  Buying physical stuff in a store is just plain uneceesssary.  To the 1% who don't have highspeed at home: you're not a big enough of a target audience to even care about.  Get over it and find yourself a solution rather than whining about it.  And to those who want a physical item, box, book, map, whatever, grown up already. You're not in kindergarten anymore.

Whatever evils you can think of from Steam, those are necessary evils.  Life is give and take.  Everything is a shade of grey. There is no perfect right-wrong, yes-no, black-white solution to anything and everything.

Long live Steam and any other company that pulls their head out of their arse and realizes that to beat Steam, you'll have to be better than Steam while less controlling.  Good luck.  I don't see any business manager out there who's spreadsheet will show them that magical sweet spot that Steam hit on the head from the get-go.  I attribute this to Steam's focus as a gaming company filled and run by gamers.  EA? Activision? Their managers don't play games and don't Get It.  They never will.

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Rcapps

I love using steam and owning a digital copy is fine for some games. Others it's just nice to own that shiny box it was in..like SWTOR (not to mention collectors edition for the figure and other things that come with it :P).

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DanScharff

First off, thanks everyone for all the feedback. For the record, I'm a Steam user and supporter - it actually would have been far easier to write a skewed, subjective, and anecdotal "Why Steam Rules!!!" type piece. But that's not journalism, and as a journalist I'd be remiss to ignore all the criticism of Steam as a platform.

Yes, alot of the negativity about Steam is focused on merely potential shortcomings and abuses. Of course none of us can predict the future, and alot of these fears may be unwarranted, but they're not entirely unfounded either. I also clearly stated that we were delving into a world of hypotheticals and that Steam's practices thus far have benefited users and developers.

Also, I stand behind my statement that while Steam has been extremely beneficial to PC gaming, it has also fundamentally changed the PC gaming ecosystem and to many people that's a big negative. Ultimately the point of the piece was to get people to examine their own relationship with Steam and how they feel it's affected the pasttime and the community going forward.

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Moon Unit

The only negative thing that could be derived from this article was that Steam has DRM, and you made a point saying "It's the best DRM ever!"

 

But, you can't play the games without installing THEIR software, which requires an internet connection to verify your account every time you play. A lot of times I want to play offline or places where there isn't any web connection.

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Nyarlathotep

Well done. I love seeing author's reactions to feedback on what they've written. Thanks for posting.

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Gezzer

I agree, it makes the readers/posters feel the author is one of us. Not delivering his/her message from on high, but wanting to participate in the ebb and flow of ideas a good article can produce.

 

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jnwoll

I am gaming on my PC now more than ever before since I got into steam.  I bought into all the negetaive statements on it and never gave it a second thought.  Then out of boredom one day gave it a shot.  Since then in about 6 months, I've purchased 8 games from them.  And now, I'm kind of bummed when I find a new game I want not carried by steam, I don't buy it.  It's a matter of wonderful conveinence for me.  This is good because financially I invest much more in my computer than I do my Xboxes and PS3s.

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Markitzero

I am waiting for Steam to come out for Linux OS(s) if it ever does. I like steam for the concept because to were I don't have to have the discs but it sucks for the people like me that are on not decent or crappy Internet like the people that have to live in a rural area or small towns.

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pendar

I think EA will start direct competition with steam, this may be true with there recent acquisition of POPCAP games for 1.3 Billion Dollars this will give them a good starting library of games

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someuid

Steam as thousands of games and hundreds of game company's title up for sale.  EA has something like 143 games.

EA bought Popgames so they could quickly and easily get into social gaming and tablet/phone gaming. Popcap games will not help them go after Steam.

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Gezzer

Still I see no reason why EA could not try to compete with Steam. How well they will do is another question.

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zaphodbeeblebrox 42

the biggest thing i hate about steam is how the offline mod never works. if i need to restart my laptop in the middle of nowhere. when i dont have internet when i do restart. steam wont let me play my games. ill click on the steam short cut on my laptop and it will say no intertnet connection. then it gives me 2 options. retry connection. or start in offline mod. clicking on "start in offline mod" it will say no internet connection and the proceed to closing the program. ALOT of popel have this problem just google " steam offline mod not working" to see more upset poeple. 

also digital games from amazon.com tend to be cheaper by alot. for example. i bought supreme commander 2 for around $6 from amazon then added cd key to steam. at the same time steam was charging $20 for the same game at the time. right now amazon has the game for about $12. even now they are cheaper. only problem i have with amazon is that the downlaod server's arent the fasest. not that it matter's with my internet which peaks at 584 KB/s downloads. another thing i like is that, unlike steam, there is no online/offline mod that can fail. instead it uses whatever drm the game has. instead of 2 sets of drm.

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someuid

I've used offline mode dozens of times without issue.  Trying disabling your wifi connection so there is no network stack loaded at all on bootup.

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skramblr

Personally, I hate any game that requires a network connection to get the game started. And probably half the 'cheap' games I've downloaded don't seem to work on my system (IE, incompatible with Win 7, but game description didn't mention that). So annoying and a waste of my money

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Rcapps

Well there's your problem IE is pretty crappy 

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Nyarlathotep

I think he means "id est" abbreviated "ie" which means "that is" or "in other words" in Latin not Internet Explorer. Or maybe you're making a joke and I missed it.

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I Jedi

Dan,

I read your entire article to make sure that I wasn't missing the point. While I agree that Steam itself is becoming the dominant figure in the PC market, and quite frankly they have been for a few years now, that doesn't mean that we should fear them monopolizing on the advantage that they now have in the industry. Google itself owns a huge portion of the search market, yet I never see them trying to bully and push out the competition, such as Bing! and Yahoo Search. Of course, this could simply be because Google doesn't view these services as a threat to its online dominance in the search market. That, and Google continually spreads out into other markets.

What really annoyed me about your article was a portion of your article that stated that at anytime the servers for Steam could go offline, which would effectively cut the client off from his or her gaming catalog. Steam has stated in the past that if they ever do go out of business, they have a patch ready to be released to unlock all games on a user's account, so that a user may continue playing their games in a post-Steam world. Now, rather than includes every last game in the Steam market, or just applies to Valve games and a few others, I cannot be sure about.

One thing is for sure, and something that we both seem to agree on, that Steam is the one thing that has really helped unify the PC gaming front. I don't think that Valve would so carelessly abandon their current practices, despite the recent issues with E.A., which we don't even know what really hapened, to going towards a model of divide and conquer of their users on Steam. Nothing is set in stone, but I distress again that Steam has never shown us (gamers) any ill will. The concept of Steam being gone from the PC market one day is a possibility, but every game, who reads Steam's ToS, understands this concept. Those who blanantly disregard reading the ToS are the only ones who can be at fault for not knowing that Steam could one day vanish.

I use Steam myself, I consume Steam's gaming library. I trust that Steam has my best interest in mind, as they have won my loyalty over as a consumer. Steam, as you put it, is easy, affordable, fast, and much more reliable in most cases. Until I truly start to see some evil acts come from Steam, I will continue to trust that they love money more than they want to alienate a community.

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someuid

+1,000,000

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Insurgence

I also have a few problems with it.

1. I hate having to leave it running in the background even though I properly installed a game. I like the way direct2drive works by requiring an activation.

2. The game developers will tend to do a direct CD version on Steam, including their DRM. It is the DRM part that I hate. You end up having 2 forms of DRM.

3. Better support for Steam features. It would be nice to have proper support of the better features of steam, such as the ability to save settings server side.

4. I hate being asked my age whenever I click on a mature game. It may be trivial but it is still annoying. I purchased games through there, they have proof of my age. I can understand requiring proof of age to remove that annoyance, but I am fairly confident that they should have confidence in my age. If they are worried about children sharing my account, then they should implement parental controls.

5. They should work with developers on creating a general storage location for game saves and settings for those people that do not want to use server storage.

I am sure if I sat down and thought about it I would find more problems with it, but that is also the case with all things.

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Vegan

"4. I hate being asked my age whenever I click on a mature game. It may be trivial but it is still annoying. I purchased games through there, they have proof of my age. I can understand requiring proof of age to remove that annoyance, but I am fairly confident that they should have confidence in my age. If they are worried about children sharing my account, then they should implement parental controls."

 

That's an ESRB mandate. NO SITE lets you save your age-gate birthdate for trailers.

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Gezzer

I guess I'm a Steamaholic.

For giggles I counted my installed Steam games, around 150. I have about the same in uninstalled either due to already played, or not supporting widescreen.

I'd say half of my games were bought as packages so I didn't spend a ton of money on them. That's one of the many great features that make Steam the leader in the digital game arena. Minimal client footprint, ease of use, freinds/multi-player networking, and auto patching to name a few more.

What I really don't understand is both the Steam fanbois and the detracters. Is Steam perfect? Of course not. But I've used and use others and I still find Steam to be the best over all package out there.

For example before I recieved the orange box with a hardware purchase I too said I wouldn't use Steam for many of the same reasons stated by others. A big deal was being tied to the client which I thought would limit my use, and not having a hard copy (cd/dvd) of the game.

I used D2D because I had always found Gamespy to be a class act and had used their client often for multiplay. Most of the D2D games could be burned to disc, which I thought was great, till I ran into their DRM with HoMMV. Every time I installed new video drivers I had to reactivate the game. Problem was the game only came with 3 activations and I had to go through support which took as much as a week to get 1 more. They wouldn't give me more then 1 activation at a time, said there was no way to fix the DRM so driver updates wouldn't flag, and would not refund my money.

 

I have never had any sort of problem like that with Steam. Even when there is both their DRM and the publishers, it has still been pretty painless over all. That's not to say I use it exclusively. Why do that? I also use Origin and Impulse, and if there was a compelling reason to use another as well I would. Why not support all forms of digital delivery that you can/want to? It will only strengthen the marketplace and competition which means we the gamers win in the long run.

Lastly to answer some reasons stated for not using Steam.

You can backup your Steam folder and games but you don't really need to. In fact I have a 1TB drive for Steam and a 40GB SSD as my boot drive. I've installed Win7 3 times (don't ask) and all I had to do was reinstall the Steam client to the folder on the 1TB drive again and run it. It found all the games I had installed previously. The only loss was the game icons were no longer in Win7's games menu and start menu. Not a big deal for me.

As for having a running client when you game. Big woop. There have been numerous clients like that over the years, and a couple were EA's as well. I really can't remember all the ones I've installed either on my own or part of the game install, but there's been a lot. I'd say any problems I ever had the client was the fault 2-3% of the time. Those things are written to have a minimal footprint. If your PC would struggle with it, it will most likely struggle without it.

Steam has stated on numerous occasions that there will "unlock" any Steam games if the client is ever discontinued. Meaning you only have to deal with the publishers DRM if any. And even if they don't so what? It's not like they'll be gone over night. I'm sure the writing will be on the wall long before Steam bids us ado. By that time we'll have stopped playing 95% of our Steam games I would think. So we'll have just moved on to the latest and greatest,

As for using their market control for evil. well have they so far? Most times that happens, it's early in the development cycle, or when their struggling to manintain market share. Not when you have a extremely popular product already raking in tons of cash. Doesn't make sense.

EA's Origin is a rebranding of a product EA has had for a very long time, I'd say almost as long as Steam has been around. It only makes sense to either discontinue it, or fully support it from EA's perspective. So is taking their games off of Steam a bit dirty? Well this is EA wer're talking about here, They don't really have a spotless record. But it makes sense. If your large enough with enough product to support your own client, why not? My only fear is that EA has shown over the years a real disconect from one system/concept to another. Ask anyone that tried to enable BF2 features in the last 5 years. What was when first introduced a simple system, is now a cluster f@ck with no one really knowing how to do it, and finding the right info is a major PITA. So down the road Origin might suffer the same fate.

PC games can and should be moddable and Steam's locking down games makes them more consolish. That's just dumb. I have a lot of games on Steam that I've modded SMRT for one. And as for modding the exe? Well the comunity patch for Gothic 3 works just fine with the Steam version. I'm sure that if the publisher allows a mod to work most times the Steam version will work too. A hard fact of PC gaming is that modding can introduce a lot of problems. So it only makes sense for Steam and publishers as well to be careful about why and how a game is modded.

Lastly about killing PC gaming as we know it. WTF?? This is a very dynamic hobby we all share. PC gaming will never die. On the other hand it will morph as it has so many times in the past. When PC gaming started all the games were indie. The concept of AAA titles and publishers changed that and might of killed PC gaming in the long run. Steam has brought indie back to the PC where it first started. Sure some games my be console only, but that's always been the case, as some are/were PC only. I'd say that there's actually more games that run on both consoles and PCs then there were in the NES/SNES/PS1 era.

So Steam isn't the boggie man, any more then EA is. It's just a very well designed system for content delivery that will only grow as long as Valve doesn't screw it up. But how often does Valve screw things up? A lot less then EA I'd say.

whoa, that's a long wall of text, srry.

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Biceps

Usually when someone writes as much as you just did, I find it is a rant I disagree with.  However, Gezzer, I agree completely.

I have owned several consoles in my life, but have been exclusively PC gaming now for about 3 years.  Why? Because consoles are at least two generations behind PCs, and I can't scratch my discs if I am using a Steam download.

I have about 100 games, installed and uninstalled, through Steam.  The majority are AAA titles, some of which I got on sale, and some of which I paid full price for.  However, without the crack-dealer-type draw of "get this awesome game now" that Steam provides, I probably wouldn't have purchased many of those games.  As evidence, I probably have about 30 games on physical media, and they are almost exclusively from years ago before Steam, or games that weren't offered on Steam (yeah, there have been a few).

Steam has issues, but they get resolved.  A scratched disc is scratched forever, and you can never ever upgrade a console.  So, there you go. 

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CantankerousDave

Back in the days of dialup, I was against Steam, as well. I had the Orange Box's install disks, why the heck should I have to tie up my phone line to authenticate a game that I'd already typed in an authorization code for? But now, yeah, I admit to being one of the horde, seduced by Steam's cheap, simple charms. The hussy.

 

A recent experience, though, made me reevaluate my dependence on a single source. Steam did a client update about a month ago that left me unable to log in to my account. There was a user forum thread on this bug that was nearly 40 pages last I checked, so I was far from alone in this. It took nearly a week to get any response at all from support, and that response was clearly automated. It was a full week after *that* that I finally heard from an actual human, after which it took a few days to isloate the problem and get me logged in again.

 

Long story short, I love the simplicity and prices, but with their massive user base, they have GOT to invest in more customer support staff as insurance against those inevitable times when things go pear shaped. Two weeks of down time is unacceptable.

 

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