Generally speaking, we love Steam so much that we occasionally drift off and daydream about long walks on the beach with it, but nothing's perfect. No two ways about it: Steam's been breached, and – though it's faring a lot better than a certain console-based gaming network so far – it's not exactly the prettiest sight. The long and short of it? Your credit card info may be out in the wild, but it's wrapped in a nice, warm blanket of encryption. That said, monitor it closely, and change your password right now. So that's our bit. Now then, play us off, Valve's Gabe Newell.
We love free things, and we like them even more when they're awesome. Those two don't go hand-in-hand nearly enough, but for a short while, they both apply to Portal, a single-player first person puzzle platformer that was born out of Valve's Orange Box bundle and quickly gained notoriety as a hella-fun standalone title.
In launching its own PC game download service, EA may have taken a headfirst dive into an extremely crowded pool, but it certainly hasn't bellyflopped. So then, you may not like it – especially given that it's aiming to be your sole supplier of EA's heaviest hitters – but EA CFO Eric Brown says that Origin isn't going anywhere any time soon.
If you’ve invested heavily in Steam’s growing portfolio of games, you’ll know that aside from offering a large enough selection of PC games to make GameStop blush in shame, the service also has a slick Graphic User Interface that makes keeping track of your downloaded titles a breeze. With very little effort, you can leverage Steam’s awesome library interface to keep track of and open all of your favorite web browser-bound games in exactly the same way.
From the get-go, the Steam client is designed to allow users to add executable files to their game list, but isn’t too keen on command line switches. That means that if you want to, you could add Google’s Chrome browser to your Steam library, but not a particular website or Chrome web application like Angry Birds. In order to do that, you’ll need to build your own executable file. Doing so is a lot easier than you might think.
One of the godfathers of PC gaming, AMD, sweetened the deal on some of its Radeon graphics cards by making an offer gamers couldn’t refuse: buy the card and get a digital copy of DiRT 3 for free. Unfortunately for AMD, rather than drumming up interest and shooting Radeon cards to the top of the sales charts, the offer turned into more of a “horse head in the bed” affair after hackers pilfered 3 million activation keys.
Steam has a lot of games. Like, all the games. Well, minus a couple from EA and – now that we think about it – indie ultra-sensation Minecraft. Pretty weird, right? We wish we could just chalk the whole thing up to coincidence and get back to constructing a scale replica of the second Death Star, but – as is typically the case with Death Stars – it's not quite so easy.
There's an old saying that goes "You can't take it with you when you die," but we disagree. Sure, you might suffer an XP loss or have a nifty +3 bastard sword disappear from your inventory, but all in all, your belongings remain intact in the event of an untimely character death. The saying should be "You can't take it with you if you don't save your game data." We can't help with your lack of FPS skills, but we can help you transfer your game data to a new PC or hard drive.
You know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you just know something's about to go horribly wrong? Like when someone says “This can't possibly go wrong!” or “Let's buy iPhones”? Well, that's how we felt when EA and Valve started taking their toothbrushes back from each others' houses. Obviously, Battlefield 3 wasn't going to benefit from the divorce. And so, predictably – but no less regrettably – here we are.
Is Valve's dominant digital platform the future? Or does it herald the end of PC gaming as we know it?
Steam. Publishers and rival digital distributors want to be it. Gamers and developers want to be with it. And animals lacking opposable thumbs want to learn how to use computers just to use it... or so Valve would have you believe. But all isn't as rosy in the land of PC gaming as all that, and as Valve's digital gaming platform has picked up more and more, well, steam, it's garnered its fair share of backlash as well. With Valve's recent tiffs with EA over their upstart Origin distribution platform, never before has the community been so polarized by Steam. Will Steam continue to dominate the PC gaming landscape? And if so, what does this mean for gamers?
First off, let's dispel the myth that Origin is a rival to Steam. Perhaps it will be in time, but as it stands now, EA's digital marketplace is just that - a digital store front for EA published titles. For the moment EA is content in simply bypassing Steam, in order to sell their products directly without losing revenue to a rival distributor.
So, no, Origin is NOT in direct competition with Steam, but neither are any of the other PC digital distributors. And I don't mean 'no competition' in the 'we're kicking your ass in marketshare' kind of way. No, I mean they're literally not selling competing products—they simply lack the depth and breadth of what Steam has to offer. Whereas Origin, Impulse, Direct2Drive, GoG, GamersGate and others are all perfectly valid online stores and distributors, they aren't what Steam is: a unified, managed gaming platform for the PC. And therein lies the true heart of the Steam debate: is the establishment of this type of system beneficial to the PC market?
Is Origin trying to snuff out Steam? EA's mouth says “no,” but things keep happening. Awfully suspicious things. First, Star Wars: The Old Republic went Origin-exclusive. Next, Crysis 2 disappeared. Then EA began luring gamers over to its big white van with Origin-exclusive content for games like Mass Effect 3. And now? Battlefield 3's taking to the digital battlefield by skipping Steam altogether.