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The Age of Steam

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the stories-that-aren't-about-riverboats dept.

The Internet 159

Ant writes "Edge Online has a six-page article titled "The Age of Steam" about Steam's history that begins: 'The name could hardly be more appropriate. Just as railroads swept the US, leaving in their wake a west that was significantly less wild, so has Valve's Steam client spread across the PC, centralising, simplifying and consolidating. What started as a way of administering updates has become a delivery platform so powerful that it has threatened to render even the big publishers' alternatives obsolete, an online community so well-supported that it sets standards even for those found on consoles, and a no-fiddling environment that allows your games, settings and saves to follow you from one PC to the next every time you log in. Looking back, such success seems inevitable, but in reality Steam was far from an obvious idea. Creator Valve was a developer, not a publisher or distributor, and the service's opening months were marred by bottlenecks and a frustrating online registration experiment. More interesting than the triumph, then, is the journey: what has made Steam such a powerful platform? Which forces shape its evolution? And how can it rewire not just the PC market, but the way that games themselves are developed?'"

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Speaking as a valve fanboy and steam early adopter (4, Interesting)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 5 years ago | (#27132481)

It still leaves a lot to be desired in terms of reliability and user-friendliness. Turnaround times alone make steam a hassle at times, just because I remember how quickly I could go from playing TFC to Pirates Vikings and Knights in the old WON clients, and I tended to register FAR more servers for the list than the ~200-500 tops I get now.

Re:Speaking as a valve fanboy and steam early adop (3, Interesting)

MR.Mic (937158) | more than 5 years ago | (#27132591)

I used to have the same problem, where the server list refresh would stop at around 200-400. I read somewhere that you have to delete a file and let steam rebuild it on the next run. As I recall, it was one of those .blob files. I did that, and my problem was solved.

Re:Speaking as a valve fanboy and steam early adop (4, Interesting)

discord5 (798235) | more than 5 years ago | (#27132669)

It still leaves a lot to be desired in terms of reliability and user-friendliness.

True in some areas (as the ones you mention about multiplayer), but I have never bought as many games in retail as I have since I've got access to them through steam. The convenience of being able to buy a game I feel like playing and within the hour playing it far outweighs the problems for me. You could argue that I could pirate/steal/whatever the game and be playing it in the same amount of time for free, but by spending a little bit of disposable income I can be entertained for a couple of weeks and I get the added benefits of steam.

I remember how quickly I could go from playing TFC to Pirates Vikings and Knights in the old WON clients

I remember how much of a pain in the ass it was setting up a game between a couple of friends (not talking about WON here), and with steam that's done with a few clicks. I'm not going to paint a picture of a utopia here, but it's much improved from the old routine of getting on IRC or some IM client and alt-tabbing back and forth between your game typing "Can you connect now?"

The criticisms that I'd have on steam is the DRM (although compared to the draconian forms of DRM, Steam's DRM is acceptable) and of course the big question of "What happens if Valve dies and I want to play my games?"

All in all I'm really happy with Steam. It's made me buy more games than I used to, probably because now I buy on impulse rather than holding a box in a store and saying "Nah, I'll get it through other means", and it's decreased the time wasted on connecting to others.

Re:Speaking as a valve fanboy and steam early adop (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27132813)

Valve has promised in the event they go under, they'll release the DRM validation.

Of course, if they go under, it may not be their call to make. You never know who'll wind up in control. They're privately held now, but if the choice is between going public or going under, they may choose to go public first. Or they may take a loan against some of their IP like Flagship did before they imploded.

And, of course, who knows what their contracts with third party publishers look like? They're selling first run titles from other publishers now, Dawn of War II for example, or Spore.

I highly doubt publishers like EA would be happy with distribution contracts that would allow Valve to pull the plug on the DRM.

Re:Speaking as a valve fanboy and steam early adop (1)

k_187 (61692) | more than 5 years ago | (#27133925)

You assume two things

1) That their current distribution contracts don't include such provisions.
2) That Valve's employees won't go ahead and release the DRM stripping software anyway.

Re:Speaking as a valve fanboy and steam early adop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27134495)

It's one thing to say they'll do it, it's another thing to actually take steps to make sure it'll happen. Last time I looked Steam's TOS explicitly stated that they are under no obligation to allow people to continue playing their games if they go out of business or even just decide to pull the plug because it's not profitable any more. This is a very dangerous situation for gamers and no amount of happy thoughts about what great guys they are at Valve will change this.
What I'd like to see is Valve change their TOS to explicitly state that a third party will hold code to unlock the DRM and will release it in the event of Valve going out-of-business or else decide to pull the plug on Steam. In fact, I'd like to see all publisher do this. They should collectively set up a organization for unlocking DRM in old games.
In the meantime, I'll just steer clear of Steam and go checkout good old games instead.

Re:Speaking as a valve fanboy and steam early adop (1)

spyrochaete (707033) | more than 5 years ago | (#27134883)

Did they promise this? In their EULA they immediately define their customer as "the subscriber". That suggests to me (hopefully incorrectly) that when Steam is gone, so is the subscription. Hopefully that's just boilerplate cover-your-ass legaleze.

Re:Speaking as a valve fanboy and steam early adop (3, Insightful)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 5 years ago | (#27132877)

"What happens if Valve dies and I want to play my games?"

It is, as you point out, a valid concern. But I frame this problem in context of the cost/benefit I have received from a game. For the amount of money that I payed for TF2 and the hours I've spent playing it, I feel like I have already gotten the better end of the deal. Throw in the fact that the game has gotten so many additional updates (free of charge!) and I feel like I have already gotten value. If the game were to evaporate or be gone forever, I take comfort in knowing that I played it a lot, got enormous entertainment value out of it, and if I really missed it *that* bad, there's a cracked version out there to keep playing.

So that argument from the anti-DRM boogie man doesn't seem to hold too much water with me. I mean, at least some secu-rom rootkit isn't being installed on my machine, right?

Re:Speaking as a valve fanboy and steam early adop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27133455)

Said like someone who's never heard of someone's Steam account getting hijacked or banned (they LOVE the banhammer over there at Steam) and losing their entire game library.

Re:Speaking as a valve fanboy and steam early adop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27133823)

So that argument from the anti-DRM boogie man doesn't seem to hold too much water with me. I mean, at least some secu-rom rootkit isn't being installed on my machine, right?

Are you sure about that? After another mandatory update, are you still sure?

Re:Speaking as a valve fanboy and steam early adop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27134277)

Automatic updates can be disabled.

Re:Speaking as a valve fanboy and steam early adop (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 5 years ago | (#27134583)

TF2 wasn't the reason I bought the Orange Box, but since I've spent over 200 hours playing it since I got it, it alone was worth the purchase. I've also taken to posting in my journal when TF2 goes on sale to try to get my friends who haven't yet gotten the game to get it. During the most recent sale, I thought Friday morning about getting it for one of my friends as an early birthday present, but forgot that Valve's "through Friday" means through 12:00:01am Friday.

I have quite a few games I purchased over Steam (69, the latest being World of Goo. No, that's not a joke.), and some of them were impulse buys that I later wish I hadn't bought. I am somewhat concerned with what will happen to the DRM on non-Valve games if Steam went under, but given the amount of sales Steam does, I'm not that concerned.

Re:Speaking as a valve fanboy and steam early adop (2, Insightful)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 5 years ago | (#27133717)

Steam's DRM certainly is NOT acceptable. I purchased a game, boxed, at Best Buy. When I installed, it would not let me play until I activated it through Steam.

Guess what? Steam's activation server was down for the entire evening! Steam kept me from playing a game I purchased in a retail store! Utterly unacceptable.

Steam Objector (2, Interesting)

vincanis (1496217) | more than 5 years ago | (#27134695)

As with Lord Ender, my complaints with steam derive from the online activation component on retail titles. Half-Life 2 was the first and last Steam title I ever purchased. While I can appreciate Valve's frustration at the HL2 code thefts, I still have an encrypted, unplayable DVD of Half-Life 2 sitting on my office shelf. While I can see the utility of Steam, I simply haven't recovered from this insult.

That being said, I have no qualms about a one-time authentication process for games purchased online, or when CLEARLY disclosed on the box and in the game description before purchased. However, throwing an activation routine on a disk-based retail game without prior full disclosure is simply unacceptable.

I'm a huge fan of digital distribution. I just wish that I had never purchased the retail edition of HL2 (still have the shirt) so that I could give Steam one more chance in good conscience.

Re:Steam Objector (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27135711)

If you've got the box, why wish for a chance? You have the code, it'll be "free" to try steam.

I'll agree... there are things that should be better. Minor DRM, 'what if they go under?' and other minor issues aside, they have gotten things right.

What's the worst that happens? You use the game you paid for, still don't like it, and never spend money there again. What have you lost? What has Steam gained? Nothing but lost bandwidth.

"I had one bad experience years ago now I refuse to think any other way"... bleh.

Re:Steam Objector (1)

EnderWiggnz (39214) | more than 5 years ago | (#27136157)

Try L4d before you give up on Steam. Seriously, its an amazing game.

Re:Steam Objector (2, Informative)

Creepy (93888) | more than 5 years ago | (#27136227)

true - it'd be nice if they had some phone number you could call to activate it like Windows in case you didn't want to use the service for privacy reasons, but since games tend to be less of a sure thing than Windows (well, at least until Vista...) or MS Office releases, I don't think the game companies always have that luxury (maybe Activision Blizzard could do it, but companies like Midway or NCSoft are struggling too much as it is).

Privacy issues aside, I've actually had some pleasant surprises with Steam lately, like when a friend dropped by and we were able to play left4dead between my desktop and laptop and all he had to do was log in (since I had it downloaded on both machines but I only had one license). I also can switch steam to offline mode on my laptop and still play the games, which some intrusive DRMs don't allow (I forget the game, but I had at least one that checked back with the mothership every time it started, so it was no fun when I was on the road with no internet). It's also nice to be able to switch between my laptop and desktop and not have to worry that I only have a 3 or 5 install limit. Since I typically don't back up games that is an issue - I average about 1 system wipe a year due to hardware failure, and my laptop had two wipes within two months because they had failed to set a bios setting when it was sent in the first time and Windows update wouldn't work. They also forgot to install the restore partition the first time (is it any wonder why I don't have any respect for repair people...).

Re:Steam Objector (2, Informative)

Goldberg's Pants (139800) | more than 5 years ago | (#27136637)

I'd much rather have online transparent validation than crap like Starforce or Securom infecting my store purchases.

I love Steam. Yeah, it has issues. As DRM goes, I'm happy with the compromise. However, what I am increasingly unhappy with is Steam allowing other companies to bundle junk like TAGES with games on Steam. Valve could clearly take the high ground and say no since they're the 800 pound gorilla of online game distribution right now, and could use their power for good, but they don't.

What's doubly sad is around Christmas they started listing on the games pages if it had third party infections likes TAGES. That information has quietly disappeared again I've noticed, making buying new games on Steam a much riskier proposition. (The new X3 game had TAGES listed for example, a listing which disappeared shortly after Christmas, despite it still being bundled with the game as far as I'm aware.)

I like Steam because it has spared me from the system damaging issues of Starforce and the like (own one system that Starforce damaged, and a friend owns two), but now that cancerous malware like TAGES, Securom etc... is slowly spreading on there, I am no longer as enthusiastic as I once was.

Re:Speaking as a valve fanboy and steam early adop (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#27136335)

i bought a box set of games from Circuit City I think it was Half Life, Blue Shift, Opposing Force, Team Fortress, and Counter-Strike. I installed it, and it needed to call home to activate. But the activation software version in the packaging was old, so I had to upgrade to the latest version. Did so, ran it again, and it gave me a terse alert telling me I still needed to upgrade, but it was the latest version, and it didn't even tell me where to go to get a newer version. The software sat unused for months on the hard drive.

Eventually I got curious again and did more searches and found that the registration software had been replaced and that I needed to install Steam to manage the games now. I did so, went to register... and the registration codes were already registered by someone else! Well, for everything other than Half-Life. Some more research and I found that the packager of my set of games had put the same registration keys in all the boxes! If it had been within the first 30 days, I could get a free set of keys. This being months later, they offered to sell me a new set of keys... for the same price I paid for the games, effectively doubling the price!

Except for Half-Life, they still sit unplayed on my hard drive.

Re:Speaking as a valve fanboy and steam early adop (1)

Scott Kevill (1080991) | more than 5 years ago | (#27133817)

I remember how much of a pain in the ass it was setting up a game between a couple of friends (not talking about WON here), and with steam that's done with a few clicks. I'm not going to paint a picture of a utopia here, but it's much improved from the old routine of getting on IRC or some IM client and alt-tabbing back and forth between your game typing "Can you connect now?"

You'll still have these problems with non-Valve (or at least non-FPS) games.

Steam makes it easier for games that use simple server lists where the game-play permits joining an already running server, but you're still mostly on your own for RTS and other games where lobbies are more appropriate (eg. hosting / joining game rooms, games where it doesn't make sense for late-joining, etc).

It does nothing to help you deal with router and firewall issues that cause major problems with these games.

The connection problems you refer to are exactly why I brought the GameRanger online gaming service to the PC. For most people, it completely solves all these network problems. It currently supports over 500 games, and is a fast, lightweight client that's dead easy to use.

Re:Speaking as a valve fanboy and steam early adop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27133853)

From what I've heard the DRM on Steam games is fairly easy to strip out; my friend was playing Portal on a flash drive on school computers when it came out before he bought his gaming rig that he could play Orange Box legitimately on.

That said, I usually buy games off Steam anyway since they tend to be cheaper than the retail counterparts and usually aren't using SecuROM or some shit like that. (In fact, it's the only way to get Spore and a bunch of other EA titles sans SecuROM) In many cases the weekend deals end up being around what you'd pay used for a game's console equivalent.

Speaking of the oft quoted 'we will remove the DRM if we go under' quote, I doubt that applies to third party games. Who would sign a contract - not a EULA, but a real contract mind you - stating that someone can remove your copy protection retroactively?

Re:Speaking as a valve fanboy and steam early adop (1)

atomicthumbs (824207) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135693)

Your friend is not stripping the DRM; his flash drive is big enough to hold a copied Steam folder. I've got TF2 and CS:S on a portable hard drive and it works fine at school.

Re:Speaking as a valve fanboy and steam early adop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27132695)

My chief issue with Steam is the content validation, these days. I picked up Sid Meier's Pirates the other day; bargain bin stuff, ten bucks.

Purely a single player game, and not exactly a hot commodity these days. (Five years old, after all.) Steam wouldn't launch it---unable to verify content. I'd actually just been playing less than an hour before, too.

Turned out my ISP's DNS server was spazzing so it couldn't phone home. I can understand that for multiplayer games or hot properties, but it seems slightly excessive in this circumstance. Phoning home on every single launch to verify?

Still, Steam remains a damned good content delivery system. Games I bought on CD most of a decade ago are still available to me for immediate replacement on Steam---good, since my physical media for Half-Life 1 have long since vanished. Infinite installs, so if I visit my family, I can throw Portal or what-have-you on whatever computer they lend me to use.

Compared to say, Direct2Drive or EA's Download Manager, there's simply no contest.

Re:Speaking as a valve fanboy and steam early adop (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27132955)

Let steam log in and authenticate.
Close steam completely.
Disconnect your Internet connection.
Start steam, log in offline.
Close steam.
Save the steam .blob files somewhere else.

The next time your ISP is down or the steam servers are down. You can still use your local games if you copy the blob files back. Don't allow steam to try to connect at all after you replace the files. I use Comodo and just disallow all Internet connections.

It used to work anyway.

Re:Speaking as a valve fanboy and steam early adop (1)

Goldberg's Pants (139800) | more than 5 years ago | (#27136719)

You don't even need to do that. Login. Then switch to offline mode. You're done. I have Steam on multiple systems here and there is no problem even when my crappy ISP is down.

No copying and mucking about needed.

Free the Digital Distribution Revolution! No Steam (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27132581)

Didn't RTFA yet but have something to say about steam.
Digital Distribution of games is growing more and more popular. It no longer is an oddity amongst PC game distribution methods. Unfortunately it is growing more and more monopolar constantly with Steam's rising success.

Steam still is proprietary, non-free and most importantly, controlled by a game development company. There's not much wrong technically with Steam, it's actually the best digital distribution method I've tried.

Unfortunately with buying all your games from Steam we run the risk of no serious competition against one big juggernaut in digital distribution. There might come a day when Valve, a privately held corporation, decides to actively deny publishing something because it could put Valve's own products at disadvantage.

The best alternative would be a free, open source digital distribution method with payments handled by a non-profit entity/entities.

Re:Free the Digital Distribution Revolution! No St (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27133089)

Well, since a good portion of Valves profits comes from their slice of the game-sales, I'd say they would welcome their competitors with open arms. A way to make money off of SOMEONE ELSE'S game.

They might bump the steam release date a week if they are releasing something too, but I doubt it. They compete with gamestop for distribution, and every other developer for game sales, but nobody for both.

Re:Free the Digital Distribution Revolution! No St (1)

garylian (870843) | more than 5 years ago | (#27133653)

There will always be the concern that a company/platform with the vast majority of users/subscribers will cause problems, but sometimes, it helps.

Not everyone loves iTunes, but let's be realistic about it. Apple has created a consumer's place, more than the paradise the RIAA would prefer. Apple has done more to champion music at a reasonable cost than the RIAA companies would like. And iTunes has become so powerful, it keeps all the rest of the companies in line. The RIAA would love to break iTunes' stranglehold on the market, as would several other people like Wal-Mart. Frankly, I hope they don't, because Apple seems to have its head on straight about this.

So, it depends on the company running the show. Apple and Valve have both shown themselves to be responsible towards the consumer. Others would surely ratched up the greed factor.

Re:Free the Digital Distribution Revolution! No St (1)

agrounds (227704) | more than 5 years ago | (#27136545)

Throwing karma to the wind here, but the last thing we need is an open source distribution method for games people pay for with real money. I mean, even high-profile projects like compiz get crapped out because developers come and go and lose interest in "teh shiny." That's fine when we are talking about notepad application number 2,387,691 on an OS I didn't have to pay for, but that is not going to cut it when money is on the line and I want to play that game four years from now.

Frankly, the track record for open source for longevity and remaining agnostic about the issue-of-the-moment is not exactly stellar. All it would take is some pissing-contest between developers over "the vision" or whatever, and the rifts would last in perpetuity. XFree/Xorg is a great example here.

Betting on the long-term success of any open source project is about as reliable as betting on sub-prime mortgages in your investment portfolio. I wouldn't put my money into it. Valve has a far better track record and long-term viability despite the DRM inclusion and phone-home nuisances in their products.

Re:Free the Digital Distribution Revolution! No St (1)

Goldberg's Pants (139800) | more than 5 years ago | (#27136799)

Stardock have Impulse. I've got a few games on that as well. DRM free etc... But the experience just isn't as solid as Steam IMO.

Good sales : (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27132583)

I just bought World of Goo for $5 on Steam and it is every bit as fun as the reviews have said. That's probably the third game I've bought for $5 in the last few months.

Almost every weekend they have another game going up for anywhere from 5% to 75% off. Bought GTA4 for $35 when it's still full price everywhere else and it plays fine for me.

Steam has a lot of benefits but when you don't have a large game budget those sales are nice.

Re:Good sales : (1)

rcuhljr (1132713) | more than 5 years ago | (#27132611)

Is there some super cool deal on steam I'm missing? cause it's still 20 bucks for me right now.

Re:Good sales : (1)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 5 years ago | (#27133473)

It was one of their weekend sales that they have, well, every week. It's no longer the weekend, ergo, it's no longer on sale.

Re:Good sales : (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 5 years ago | (#27132713)

How do you find out about these deals? I Googled and found a few of the old ones, but don't see anywhere to find out about future ones as they happen?

Re:Good sales : (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27132921)

Every weekend there's a "Weekend Deal". I usually just login in Saturday and see what is it, and perhaps end up buying it every other week or so.

Re:Good sales : (2, Informative)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 5 years ago | (#27132927)

A lot of these deals will pop up on your Steam client when you first start it up. Also, they typically show up with much fanfare on the 'Store' page. I picked up L4D for 50% off on President's Day weekend.

There was an interesting article on Valve's sales strategies [slashdot.org] of late.

Re:Good sales : (1)

Slider451 (514881) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135757)

Same here. L4D for $24.99. First time using Steam. Made it really easy to connect and chat with a couple 40-something buddies. We've been killing zombies a couple times a week ever since. Good times.

Re:Good sales : (1)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 5 years ago | (#27133499)

Most weeks, it pops up in their RSS feed [steampowered.com] , though for some reason there was no entry for World of Goo.

Re:Good sales : (1)

richy freeway (623503) | more than 5 years ago | (#27132755)

I did the same 2 days ago, £4.24 off Steam.

These days, if a games NOT on Steam, I don't buy it.

Oh yeah, World Of Goo rocks, If any of you don't have it, buy it!

Re:Good sales : (1)

Bruiser80 (1179083) | more than 5 years ago | (#27133293)

Agreed! Goo is a great deal at $5! I would have skipped it at $20 though.

Currently building a 30m high tower and re-playing the levels to get OCD status :-)

Re:Good sales : (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27134663)

World of Goo is one of those games that I bought from the developer directly, rather than from Steam. There are a few reasons for this.

The price was basically the same at the time.

I wanted to give my money to the developer, rather than a middle-man. I'm perfectly happy to buy Valve's games from Steam. Same with games that are unavailable elsewhere (like Trackmania United, or Psychonauts) because I have no other option. Otherwise, I'd prefer to compensate the developer, rather than Valve (who didn't actually do anything).

And now for the purely selfish reasons.

The version of World of Goo bought from 2D Boy has no DRM at all. Not even something as basic as a product key.

Steam's DRM is by far preferable to the crap most publishers use, even for physical copies. Internet activation combined with limited reinstalls, for example. Even Telltale's Sam and Max games had this - had they been available from Steam at the time, I'd have strongly considered buying them from Steam instead of Telltale directly. It would have meant that Telltale get a smaller cut, but at least I'd have a less restricted version.

Finally, I run Linux on my main desktop machine, and I have a Mac laptop. Buying from 2D Boy gave me access to the Windows version, as well as the Mac and Linux versions when they were released. There are other games I've bought directly from the developer rather than Steam (Gish, for example - I've never even played the Windows version) because of this.

All that said, I've bought more than a few games from Steam's weekend sales. Half Life and both addons (even though we technically already own them - they're registered to my brother's Steam account instead of mine) for the grand total of $3. A good few older games that I already pirated years ago. A few others that I'd never have considered buying if they weren't available at such a low price. Even a few newer games, because they have less copy protection in their Steam incarnations.

I still regret buying Red Alert 3 retail, rather than waiting for it to show up on Steam.

Prices Euro zone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27132587)

Too bad that prices (in euros) are still the same as in stores, or even more than in store. Most of the time you can get the game cheaper, and with a box, if you go to a store. But then again, going outside is scary.

Re:Prices Euro zone (1)

Elisanre (1108341) | more than 5 years ago | (#27134089)

The local european currencies are pretty weak compared to the euro. But this still does not explain the prices charged over Steam since there is no manufacturing/storage of the boxed games. Meh to Steam

Re:Prices Euro zone (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 5 years ago | (#27134171)

You don't even have to leave the house, ordering from Amazon.de is generally 5-10EUR cheaper then Steam.

My experiences so far (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27132615)

I bought a physical copy of the first Half-Life back when it was released. When Steam entered the picture, I registered Half-Life to it, making the CD-Key useless since at least the online portion of the game was now completely tied to the Steam account. Then I forgot my Steam password and was unable to recover it - for five years. So I couldn't do much with the boxed copy of the game I had, nor could I access it through Steam.

However, a week ago I suddenly remembered my Steam password, and installed Steam to see if my account was still alive. Not only did I find Half-Life associated with the account, but also several commercial mods and two expansion packs that I had never bought. All of these automatically downloaded/installed with just a click of a mouse. Turns out that the commercial mods/expansions were awarded at some point for free to those who bought Half-Life before Steam existed. On top of that I noticed the (apparently long-running) NVIDIA [steampowered.com] and ATI [steampowered.com] campaigns on Steam, through which you get a couple of games for free if you have their graphics card, most interestingly for me Half-Life 2: Deathmatch. And all of this works flawlessly through Wine on Linux.

All in all, I must say I'm quite impressed with Steam, as long as you don't lose your account credentials.

Re:My experiences so far (2, Interesting)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#27132715)

I hear you on the credentials...

I forgot my steam password, once, when setting up a new machine. The old one wasn't exactly functioning, and I'd simply copied all of the files off the hard drive, assuming that would be enough for anything I needed. Fortunately, I also had a disk image, which i convinced to run in a virtual machine, then downloaded and ran a small utility to find my password (from a very isolated virtual machine, so no way it could send it to anyone).

I'm sure it's possible to do it without actually running the Windows in question, but there was no ready-made script, and it was way more than I wanted to learn about Windows crypto.

But yes, after that, there is no way I'm forgetting that password.

Re:My experiences so far (2, Interesting)

Khelder (34398) | more than 5 years ago | (#27133595)

I think I must be misunderstanding, because it sounds like the company broke your physical copy because you used their on-line service, and you think this is a good thing.

I'd like to thank you for helping me understand Steam better. Now I'm *sure* I want no part of it.

Re:My experiences so far (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27134209)

I could still install the game with the original CD I have, I just would not be able to officially play online using the original CD-Key as proof of legitimate copy. There are unofficial ways [wikipedia.org] to play online without Steam though.

All that Steam really changed here was the switch from CD-Key as identification to Steam account as identification. And even though I have some mixed feelings about that forced change, I have no one to blame but myself for losing the account information. Although, I guess it would have been nice if Valve had shipped me a sticker with my account information written on it, so I could have glued it on top of the CD-Key on the back of the CD case.

Actually (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 5 years ago | (#27133899)

I had kind of the same situation but I still don't remember my original Steam account info, but I contacted their service and jumped through a couple of hoops and was able to re-register the counter strike pack on my new Steam account

Re:My experiences so far (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 5 years ago | (#27134671)

I was under the impression that using your CD key was one of the ways of retrieving your old account name and password.

In fact, I'm pretty sure that's how I retrieved my old information, although, to be honest, I still had my old email account as well.

P.S. I got the same mods and things for having HL1 registered.

Re:My experiences so far (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135819)

Man can't access game for 5 years, says he's impressed.

Really? is the excitement of finally being able to play your game completely wipe away the fact that you couldn't play it for 5 years?

Shit, I wish I could fuck up for 5 years, then be competent one time to impress everyone.

Support and development (2, Interesting)

Xiroth (917768) | more than 5 years ago | (#27132649)

Creator Valve was a developer, not a publisher or distributor, and the service's opening months were marred by bottlenecks and a frustrating online registration experiment.

And in fact, the problems stemming from Valve being historically corporate-facing (publisher-facing) rather than direct consumer-facing company are still being felt. Their customer service is infamously bad, and their policies when things go wrong seem almost specifically tailored to piss off the customer as much as possible.

The software is decent (although I'm still quite unhappy with the intrusiveness of the DRM), but software alone won't take them all the way. I'd suggest that there needs to be a near-complete split in the company - one which focuses on game development and one which focuses on game delivery, as the two are completely different in the approach they need: product development vs service delivery.

Steam and retailers (4, Interesting)

Xest (935314) | more than 5 years ago | (#27132657)

It's odd how different retailers are taking different stances with Steam. But also, here's why I think retailers are stupid to support Steam as is.

Gamestop in the US I believe refused to stock Dawn of War II because of the fact it forced the user to register, update, and play the game via Steam. This is understandable as they'd basically be selling a game that forces a competitors sales tool on their system.

Here in the UK though, I purchased it online from GAME. They shipped me it to arrive on the Thursday before the Friday release and although GAME got it me early, I couldn't play it because I couldn't activate it via Steam.

I still personally think Valve are in the wrong here, just because I have to register with them does not mean I should have to activate via them and activation was not mentioned on the box or GAME's website. Still, who is in the wrong is debatable, neither did anything legally wrong, but one thing is clear, you might as well just buy via Steam anyway as you can still preload it and download as many times as you want from them.

But here's the twist, I complained to GAME because I was still pretty pissed that I'd bought a GAME off them that I couldn't play until Valve decided that I could so I complained to them and oddly, rather than having Gamestop's stance, that they agree, it's bad for their customers to have to deal with Steam they actually wholeheartedly supported Steam and their DRM and actually took responsibility saying they shipped it early to ensure I got it for release but that it shouldn't have got to me before release but that if they'd shipped it a day later I might have got it after release, blah blah blah. I also made the point that their website didn't at the time mention Steam, Windows Live activation and also complained that this is important because should Steam ever go titsup and not have chance to release a patch (which wouldn't be an impossible scenario for any company as the current economic situation has taught us) that I may never be able to reinstall or play the product again after that point.

I find that stance rather interesting, it's almost as if GAME actually wants to be destroyed and replaced by the likes of Steam. So is there more to this? Do they think they can actually benefit from Steam in some way? Was it just political correctness in that they wouldn't want to slag off a company whom they sell software for or is there something else to it altogether (maybe they only care about console sales?)? I as a customer sided entirely with them stating that I felt the activation and such was stupid but rather than seize that, they turned around and agreed with their competitor (Valve) that their method of distribution and service was effectively inferior even though there's no reason they actually needed do so.

For what it's worth I also contacted trading standards who agreed that my complaint regarding the DRM was valid, and that it was not illegal for GAME to ship me the game early and as such I should've been able to play it at that point. They are looking at taking action at very least for the fact the game box and GAME didn't advertise that the game was only usable when a 3rd party (Valve) states it can (or can't) be used through activation even if it did mention registration is required.

I also pointed out that the alternative is that many may just resort to piracy if it's difficult or troublesome to play legitimately purchased games. I received a rather amusing response that contained the ultimate freudian slip (or perhaps not??) stating:

"The DRM software that must be installed is designed to prevent privacy"

I'd imagine they meant piracy, but privacy works for me too.

Still the crux of it is this, I'd like Steam a lot more if it avoided DRM. You can do preloading without DRM- just give people the entire game except the executable needed to run it. I'll also never buy from GAME again, not particularly out of spite, but more because the only feeling I got from them was one of arrogance, effectively the tone and content of the e-mail was one of a company that thinks it's customers should just fuck off and that it's such a strong company it can last indefinitely in the face of any competition that comes along no matter how superior.

For a company that wasn't far off from folding in the recent financial situation, that seems a rather odd stance to take. Ultimately though I think their fate is sealed, I think services like Steam will win in the end regardless, but retailers like this could at least delay that by winning hearts and minds siding with the customer by not supporting the most horrifically bad of DRM and generally just giving them good service they may not get from a faceless interface. Those that don't, like GAME, will undoubtedly fail quicker and are already losing ground to the likes of Shopto.net and a few other online retailers who give excellent customer service and nearly always lower prices.

Re:Steam and retailers (2, Insightful)

mewsenews (251487) | more than 5 years ago | (#27132753)

Here in the UK though, I purchased it online from GAME. They shipped me it to arrive on the Thursday before the Friday release and although GAME got it me early, I couldn't play it because I couldn't activate it via Steam.

So to be clear, you received a game before the street date and got upset that you couldn't play it early. Were you aware that you ran into one of the huge assets of Steam, that games can't be played by those who beg/bribe/steal the game early?

It was a HUGE victory for Valve when Half-Life 2 was released and paying customers were the first to play it, rather than pirates downloading leaked gold master copies two weeks before the street date.

Steam isn't going away because you are upset you couldn't play a game a day before its release date. And your retailer was right, if they had shipped you the game later it would probably have arrived days after the release date, and for a guy so concerned about 1 day of waiting that probably would have infuriated you even more.

Re:Steam and retailers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27132819)

It could have been that way.. but to my eye's it was something else that was making GP furious. You just seemingly didn't notice (or made a choice to ignore) that neither on the box nor the seller's site was any mentioning of game requiring steam.
-Deepone

Re:Steam and retailers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27133283)

IIRC, my DOW II box from Play.com has a red area on the front stating an internet connection is required to activate, and the back at least mentions 'Steamworks'.
Didn't mean I was happy to seem to have to go through Steam and then Windows Live to get even a single player game going.

(I think it also arrived a day early, but my PC died that weekend so I didn't get to play it for a week.)

Re:Steam and retailers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27132821)

This isn't true though. You could play pirated versions of Dawn of War 2 (and more recently Empire: Total War) before you could install/activate the games on Steam. Pretty much the only people being stopped by this are the people who legally bought the game and why does the release date matter when someone has already paid the money for the game? If it does, they shouldn't take your money until the game is usable. What's more people in certain countries can't even play the games legally any more and have to resort to piracy if they want to play due to the strict activation policies.

That said in principle I like the idea of Steam, I just think the implementation is currently a bit off. The patch servers need to be more stable, it should be possible to patch outside of Steam (it can still verify the patch) and be able to play without patching (without going to offline mode). I don't think release date lockout should exist in it, and they really need to sort their prices out to be competitive with other vendors.

Re:Steam and retailers (1)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 5 years ago | (#27133559)

Release date lockout is something that the publishers require; it's not some inane idea Valve came up with. Valve has been having to contend with it since Half-Life 2.

Re:Steam and retailers (2, Informative)

FinchWorld (845331) | more than 5 years ago | (#27132831)

It was a HUGE victory for Valve when Half-Life 2 was released and paying customers were the first to play it, rather than pirates downloading leaked gold master copies two weeks before the street date.

I don't recall that at all. I do recall not being able to activate it via steam, because the servers were too busy. Luckly by this point a crack had been released.

If I'd had payed for the game (I got a coupen for it bundled with my ATI 9600xt) I would have been annoyed. But I can assure you, many people who payed played after the pirates.

Re:Steam and retailers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27132981)

It's worth noting that there was a 'playable' version (early version based on source code leak) of Half-Life 2 released to the internet months before the final version was released on steam.

Re:Steam and retailers (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 5 years ago | (#27133933)

Er you are kidding right?

The only people who can play it early are those with pirated copies as pirated copies bypass Steam activation.

I as a legitimate customer however, who did nothing illegal and who got a legitimate copy from a supplier who did nothing illegal (even if some may disagree it's bad practice, it's not illegal) am the only one who got screwed, whilst a friend who pirated it was playing it.

I'm amazed that anyone in this day and age would be ignorant enough to believe that people who get games through illegal means are the ones that can't play it early. Hell, in your Half-Life 2 example, pirates even distributed the source code released due to Valve getting hacked months before it's release, let alone got the game early!!

It seems you do believe that though, so here's a hint as to why your understanding of the situation is completely and utterly wrong - pirates don't need to activate.

Re:Steam and retailers (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 5 years ago | (#27134105)

It was a HUGE victory for Valve when Half-Life 2 was released and paying customers were the first to play it, rather than pirates downloading leaked gold master copies two weeks before the street date.

.

That's funny. I remember my roommate being able to play it 3 days before I could. And he pirated it.

Re:Steam and retailers (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27132793)

DRM fanboys really love steam, so expect to get lots of comments arguing against you, telling that the shop is right, and you are simply being stupid for not singing the praise of DRM.

Re:Steam and retailers (2, Insightful)

brkello (642429) | more than 5 years ago | (#27136255)

I think people find bizarre things to complain about. GAME got you the game before they were supposed to so that you could play it the instant the activation servers allowed it (i.e. its official release date). They could have sent it later and made you potentially wait a day or two to play the game, but they didn't. I agree that they should state on the box that you can't play it until the activation server is up. But really, you are complaining about getting really good service. I really can't believe how anal people are on this site sometimes. You got the game before the date, you got to play it when you were supposed to be able to play it, yet you are still unhappy.

Mistaken Identity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27132675)

Jeez. I was thinking I was going to get a treatise on Martin Wallace's masterpiece [boardgamegeek.com] .

big releases... (1)

xch13fx (1463819) | more than 5 years ago | (#27132711)

are painful. It took me 3 days to download unreal III during the free weekend and cut off very shortly after i got it downloaded because steam didn't have the servers/bandwidth. I would rather stand online all night for a midnight release then babysit a download from steam for 3 days again.

Re:big releases... (1)

xenolion (1371363) | more than 5 years ago | (#27132839)

I noticed that during this free weekend of unreal III my bought copy from way before the weekend wanted to update? the last time i checked there was no updates to unreal III at the time, could have been a small bug making everyone who had the game update while the free download was going on, Im going to have to keep an eye out for the next free weekend and see if i have the game and same issue.

Problematic Business Model for customers (1)

arekusu_ou (1344373) | more than 5 years ago | (#27132717)

1. Yeah until Steam is no longer around and you find yourself without any of the games you paid for. Sure most people wouldn't care about decade old games they paid for, hey they hadn't played it in awhile, they'd never miss it. Same business model as those DRMed music stores that go bye bye with your songs, which you would miss. We're back to not owning our purchases and leasing it.

2. And I never tried it without internet access, but I know when you try to run a game (even one that's not online to play) it opens up steam. I had a problem once when I had steam running, and I opened the game from my desktop, and it said problem, steam is running, can't open again.

3. And the long download times. Buying a digital download game is all and cool, and progressive. But I'd still like to burn my own copy for backup. I'm one of those people who like reformatting their computer for ha ha's, incidentally I've been a Windows user for a decade. I also like to uninstall games that I haven't played in awhile to make room for new games, and then reinstall it years later when I like to revisit. I hope steam doesn't grumble at how many times you can install someday.

4. I also have two computers, a gaming computer for when I want to concentrate on gaming. And an all purpose computer that I'll play the game on with all the lags involved when I don't feel like booting up my gaming computer.

I do like steam for their handy demos, and trailers, though there's youtube for the trailer. And it was very innovative, although I wonder if they distribute the games via Torrent tech.

I also find it amusing, they have a bunch of classic games that they sell.

But my latest annoyance is DoW2 is Steam online. DoW is definetely a game that I'd want a backup of because RTS games you can go back to years later.

Re:Problematic Business Model for customers (1)

lordandmaker (960504) | more than 5 years ago | (#27132743)

1: Steam going under affects games you've bought online, yes. But using steam doesn't proscribe buying discs at all. Sure, it's missing a bit of the point, but your 1. is exactly why I do it. And you can (or at least could last time I checked) install the game off the disc without using Steam.
2: Works with no issues. I quite regularly play while offline.
3: This is where it's great - serial reformatters. Install steam, select all the games, hit 'Install' and go to bed. Wake up, all your games are there. No disc-swapping and endless 'next' clicking.

Re:Problematic Business Model for customers (1)

Bruiser80 (1179083) | more than 5 years ago | (#27133263)

4. I also have two computers, a gaming computer for when I want to concentrate on gaming. And an all purpose computer that I'll play the game on with all the lags involved when I don't feel like booting up my gaming computer.

I do like steam for their handy demos, and trailers, though there's youtube for the trailer. And it was very innovative, although I wonder if they distribute the games via Torrent tech.

I also find it amusing, they have a bunch of classic games that they sell.

But my latest annoyance is DoW2 is Steam online. DoW is definetely a game that I'd want a backup of because RTS games you can go back to years later.

So what's the problem? Run steam on both machines with the same login. Just don't try to run them at the same time - don't know what will happen there :-)

Re:Problematic Business Model for customers (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 5 years ago | (#27134781)

So what's the problem? Run steam on both machines with the same login. Just don't try to run them at the same time - don't know what will happen there :-)

As I recall, it'll kick one of the two off.

Steam pricing is the weak point (5, Informative)

GReaper (86963) | more than 5 years ago | (#27132735)

They might do some great offers if you manage to catch them, however any long term users of Steam know that if you want to get the best deal for a game then sometimes you have to look elsewhere. This is starting to build up a lack of trust for customers, games on Steam are often more expensive even though it costs less to sell than a physical box - customers will end up doing Google searches for the cheapest deal elsewhere. It reminds me of people going into stores to find the product they like, then ordering off the Internet to get the best deal.

Apart from pricing it's a nice platform.

Re:Steam pricing is the weak point (2, Interesting)

east coast (590680) | more than 5 years ago | (#27133219)

I see your point but the fact that it appears that you have unlimited downloads of purchased games that makes it more valuable, IMHO, than a store bought game. I have no less than 4 box games that I'm missing a disc from or a disc is no longer readable to. I could get a new disc if I pay a price (assuming it's an unreadable disc, with a missing disc I'm SOL) or I can use Pirate Bay if they have it there but with Steam it's just a legal and fast download away.

I will buy a Steam version before a box version assuming that there isn't a vast difference in price (let's say 20 USD versus 50 USD). So Steam has me as a customer unless they change their policy. It's a much better deal than iTunes in that fashion.

Re:Steam pricing is the weak point (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27135327)

Sadly this doesnt work as well in Europe.

As I wrote in my other ranty post they recently changed their pricing from USD to Euro in the European side of the Steam store.

This means that a title that used to cost 39.99 USD now costs 39.99 Euro. This is a jump of about 10 USD for a single title. (39.99 Euro is aprox 50 USD)

This pisses me off since it is a blatant abuse of their DRM and is just another type of region-lock that was attempted on DVDs.

Screwing over customers in Europe this way and then refusing to admit that they raised prices pisses off people to a fair degree. Hell, I must have seen 20-30 people just this weekend with "1 EUR != 1 USD" at the end of their gaming name.....

This shows the bad side of a system like this. Pricing based on region. This is no different than having region-locks on DVDs and it causes people to go "Screw this, I'm going to TPB" out of principle.

You really do not want your customers to feel morally superior by looting your content off of TPB... If they do you're just plain fucked :-p

--Pissed off gamer--

Re:Steam pricing is the weak point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27133505)

IIRC, the pricing is rarely competitive because of the retail factor. If a retailer sees that Steam (or another service) would be offering a lower price on the same product, they don't want to waste their shelf space. And because retail still is a significant portion of sales, publishers still wish to keep retailers happy. You aren't going to find good sales on Steam until several months after release. When a retail store has a sale, it's usually because they are liquidating stock and/or using it as a loss leader.

Re:Steam pricing is the weak point (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 5 years ago | (#27134831)

My experience in the US is that Steam is usually the same price or less than retail stores..

I've heard it's just the opposite in Europe, though...

Re:Steam pricing is the weak point (3, Informative)

dapendragon (832274) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135355)

Steam pricing in Europe went from good to poor after they decided to implement the 1 € = 1 $ pricing scheme around new year.

This happened at the same time that they introduced the € as currency for everyone in Europe but UK residents, even for countries that do not use the euro. There's a long topic [steampowered.com] of complaints and documentation about this on the Steam forums.

Up until this change I would usually buy from Steam since it was cheaper or the same price as any other place, with the digital distribution as a bonus. Now I'll only buy from Steam if there's no other option available.

Despite Valve's reputation as an open company, there's currently been no official comment regarding this change.

Re:Steam pricing is the weak point (1)

mackil (668039) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135537)

Apart from pricing it's a nice platform

I agree 100% with you here, which is why I wait for the weekend sale! (Left 4 Dead was 50% off a couple weeks ago)

Re:Steam pricing is the weak point (2, Insightful)

Clovis42 (1229086) | more than 5 years ago | (#27136077)

This is starting to build up a lack of trust for customers, games on Steam are often more expensive even though it costs less to sell than a physical box

The production cost of an item has little to do with how much it is sold for. The selling price is determined by how much people are willing to pay for it. Why should Steam offer lower prices when people are buying the games at a higher price? There's no need for Valve to pass along the digital distribution savings to their customers. The best example of this (ie, capitalism) is text messaging. That basicaly costs nothing, but the cell phone companies charge up to $.25. Why? Because hordes of morons pay for it.

Valve does a pretty good job about listening to its customers, but when it comes to pricing, they aren't going to listen to a few forum users boo-hooing about it.

"an online community so well-supported that..." (3, Insightful)

The Ultimate Fartkno (756456) | more than 5 years ago | (#27132917)

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

I love Steam, I love Valve, and I loves me some HL, but I've been trying to walk through that door in "Opposing Force" since LAST SEPTEMBER without crashing the game.

Seriously.

September.

Fix it.

Re:"an online community so well-supported that..." (0)

therufus (677843) | more than 5 years ago | (#27133053)

Had that once in a HL title. Uninstall the game, re-install it and delete that save game file. Works every time. It's usually a glitch in when the map changes after a corrupted savegame has been loaded.

Re:"an online community so well-supported that..." (3, Informative)

The Ultimate Fartkno (756456) | more than 5 years ago | (#27133371)

It's not a corrupted save, according to the Steam forums. It's a long-standing bug in the game that no one seems to want to address. You can work around it by bringing up the console and doing a bunch of tinkering, but this is the sort of thing that Steam was supposed to make obsolete. One coder should be able to fix this in a day and have the patch rolled out to the entire userbase within hours, so it's quite frustrating to still be waiting to open that door for the past six months.

Re:"an online community so well-supported that..." (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 5 years ago | (#27133163)

Are you talking about the original Opposing Forces (I don't know if there is a Source version)? I bought and played it off Steam over the holidays and didn't have any issues.

Fine for the masses (1)

Crumplecorn (904797) | more than 5 years ago | (#27132933)

Steam is great for the masses, but I mostly play games which are good enough that I will be playing them on and off for some time to come. As long as the general crap is all that's tied to it, I don't care that much. However, I am afraid that DD (Steam or otherwise) and its equivalents on consoles may take over completely, which would threaten the longevity of those games I do wish to play. So, in the interest of games which are more than transient time wasters, I hope physical distribution stays strong, and preferably (though hopelessly unlikely) that DD just goes away.

There may be hope though. When music first started becoming legally available online, it was horribly DRM encumbered, but they have backed off a lot over time. So, while DD may never go away, games in the future might at least not be programmed to fail.

Although, even in that case I would still hope that physical distribution would remain the standard. A real life example, the first two Team Ico games came in nice cardboard cases with art cards. I'm currently wondering if their PS3 game will follow suit, or only have a normal case. The idea of one being released without so much as boxart or a manual is not appealing.

if only... (1)

n3tcat (664243) | more than 5 years ago | (#27132935)

if only the support channels weren't selective about their service and at least attempted to answer every question. Or at least reasonable ones. For example I have been attempting to address their pricing changes since late last year. Us AMERICAN soldiers stationed overseas are subjected to whatever pricing options they deem appropriate for our area, rather than change the prices for those of us coming from American-owned ips. You see, us soldiers have internet through a specific company here in germany, and the state that the ip address is registered to is an American military address. Porn advertisers have figured this out, as I get ads displayed on screens for "my local area" of APO (American Post Office). I spoke with Hulu.com about this, and they fixed it. Soldiers are now able to watch hulu videos because their service checks the ip addresses properly (or did, last I checked). Steam fails to do this. So after not receiving a reply to my support message about this, I sent another email saying that they should at least allow us the opportunity to mail in tax relief forms. We soldiers are not subjected to the 19% Value Added Tax present on every purchase made here in Germany, yet Steam forces us to pay this. And they didn't respond to that email either. So now I gotta pay long distance charges to attempt to call their offices during whatever their central time zone work hours are. GG Steam.

Re:if only... (1)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 5 years ago | (#27134453)

Funny—I didn't think they had a phone number to call.

Steam messed up Empire: Total War (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27133215)

Look at the cock-up Steam made of the Total War Empire release last week:

http://shoguntotalwar.yuku.com/topic/44598/t/Empire-Total-War-Sets-Sail-For-Stores-Now-.html

Board Games Rights Management (1)

Nux'd (1002189) | more than 5 years ago | (#27133311)

I'm having more trouble understanding how the Age of Steam (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_Steam/ [wikipedia.org] ) ALLOWED games to be downloaded than how it prevented it.

Can of worms (1)

bashibazouk (582054) | more than 5 years ago | (#27133507)

Do you really want to go there? [boardgamegeek.com]

As an early adopter... (2, Interesting)

PHPNerd (1039992) | more than 5 years ago | (#27133313)

I remember when they first pushed Steam with Counter Strike 1.5 (or was it 1.6?) oh well. Before you could launch CS without Steam in a stand-alone client and after you had to have Steam. I was in college at the time and everyone (with but few exceptions) in my entire dorm hall played CS together at nights. Then Steam came out. Everyone hated Steam at first because it was clunky, slow, and impeded our play. It would frequently crash and sometimes kick people for no reason. It was Steam that killed dorm CS and left a bad taste in my mouth. Several years later when HL2 came out along with CS:S and I saw that they were still using Steam, I almost didn't buy it. When I found out what they had done with Steam (improved it substantially, made it actually work, added an online community, etc) I was happily surprised. Today I use Steam all the time and just last night downloaded a new game (UT3). Steam allows me to play with my friends in just a few clicks, keep tabs on their achievements and progress, and voice chat rather easily. I have real-life friends scattered all across the country now, and we can still very easiloy get on and play CS together. I know of no other platform that allows such seamless play for such a variety of games. Just my 2 copper coins.

Steam, never again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27134071)

I will never buy another game powered by steam -- what a pain in the neck. Wound up tossing HL2 in the trash - $60 down the drain.

Steam and ownership (1)

thetagger (1057066) | more than 5 years ago | (#27134157)

The thing I like about Steam is that it gives me a great sense of ownership. I'm sure this is not strictly speaking true, but I have the feeling that the games are mine, that I can download the client to another machine and play them just fine without harassment. Yes, there is DRM, but it is invisible.

(Now, I know there are some corner cases here. Bioshock. And Valve _can_ pull the plug on me after all.)

Compare that to the game Syberia, a great point-and-click adventure game developed by non-mainstream developer Microids. They sell the game by online download, which is provided by some shitty company called Metaboli. Look at the issues I faced with their DRM junk:

1) They won't let your game run under a VM or emulation. This is by design, and intentional. (I run Steam under VMware, Crossover and natively on my Mac, depending on what works better for that particular game)
2) Their support is shit. It took them a week to answer "No it won't work under a VM, yes, it is undocumented and it is remaining that way and you already tried to run it so it activated and you are screwed, no money back 4u!". Sheeple that I am, I move to a native Windows installation.
3) If I ever need to install the game on another machine I would have to beg the fine folks who sent me the answer above, because I already wasted my allowance of three activations trying to run it under Crossover and VMware.

They are sleazy enough to promise that you can "burn your own CD" as a backup. Yeah, like it will work if the activation server goes down. Congratulations for making me feel pissed off after buying an excellent game that I liked, Microids. Though the rest of your catalogue seems to be my thing, and I loved Syberia, you managed to successfully lose this customer.

Steam gets how the experience should be.

So great! (0, Offtopic)

t'mbert (301531) | more than 5 years ago | (#27134425)

Steam is so great, I've literally never heard of it until this article today.

Re:So great! (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 5 years ago | (#27134899)

Hey, do you need help moving that rock you've been living under for the last 5 years?

Euro != USD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27135195)

About a year ago I installed Steam and started buying games. It works and I was quite happy with it.

Then recently they decided to SHAFT the European customers by raising prices by over 25% on ALL titles.

How did they do this? They stopped taking payment in USD and started taking payment in Euro. But the numerics stayed the same.

What used to cost 39.99 USD now costs 39.99 Euro.
That is about 50 USD. Imagine how happy all of us in Europe was when we got that slapped in our face?

Case in point: When you go to the Audiosurf website it states one price which is 9.99 USD
Click the "Buy it!" button and if you are redirected to the steampowered.com store. One little detail for European customers... the price is there 9.99 Euro.

While for such a small purchase the difference is not very big, but it is the principle of the thing. AT LEAST admit to your customers that you have raised the price of all titles and stop playing the Fawlty Towers "I know noooothing"-game.

I emailed the Audiosurf author and he seemed to agree with what Steam is doing since "9.99" is a "better" price than "12.70". Even though the change in currency happens.

I wonder if he would enjoy it the same way if it was "9.99 NOK" as that is about 1.11 euro or 1.42 USD :-p

If the people at Steampowered.com feel like just arbitrarily bump the price of games in Europe I see no reason to buy the games from them. If they insist on doing this I will keep the games I already bought, and not buy any more games from them.

I mean... If I just snag em of TPB I dont have to get up to grab my VISA. Oh, and I can blow the money on some oreo-cake and ice-cream instead... or maybe a steak...

Fuckers :-p

*goes back to working on what he -should- be working on*

Gifting Games (1)

xmod2 (314264) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135635)

I had purchased HL2 with Episode 1 and some other expansions a while back to play Gary's mod. Recently I wanted to play Portal and saw that Orange Box was a pretty good package deal, so I picked it up through Steam.

Steam recognized that I already had a copy of HL2 on my account, and actually added a button that allowed me to GIFT my extra copy of HL2 to another Steam user.

I was expecting the HL2 bundle part of the package to just be wasted (since I already had it), but the fact that they recognized it as a separate product and even allowed me to give away the duplicate copy sat very well with me.

I recently purchased DoW2 through them and my download speed was faster than what I was getting for the same product from TPB.

Steam gets a thumbs up from me.

Steam was obvious (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135721)

Everyone talked about there being some sort of central online organization of downloads 20 years ago.

Steam is still a clunky POS that does more to impead my play then add to the experience. I also wander why it says it deletes something, but still keeps all the files on my system.

Steam: Designed for Abuse (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135887)

Steam was created to prevent you from exercising your First-Sale Rights [wikipedia.org] . Not coincidentally, it also prevents you from exercising your Fair Use Rights [copyright.gov] to make an archival copy (specifically 17 USC 117 (a)(2).) Steam has a backup process but you can't play the backups until your Steam installation has been updated and blessed, by connecting to the Steam network. Steam backups are no backups at all! They are backups of game content but you can't really call it a game until you are able to play it. Until then it's just a collection of files taking up disk space.

Those who purchase a Steam-"powered" game while Steam does not permit both the immediate play of a restored game backup and the transfer of Steam games from one account to another are voting to give up their legal rights in the only way which matters in a capitalist society - with their money.

A change of habbits (1)

dalmiroy2k (768278) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135985)

I'm from Argentina and I bought Left 4 Dead for $37 during the holiday sale deal.
I already had the pirated version but wanted to play online (hassle free) and have the latest future patches or (free) DLC from the moment they are released.
You could say I bought not content but a license to play it buy I'm fine with that given that I played countless hours online so far (compared to the offline-only/buggy/abuse-cheat online servers from the pirate version).
Another odd remark is that the retail version was not yet available in my country, so Steam was the only legal way to buy it back then.
Also I got the $10 Team Fortress 2 deal a few weeks ago and I'm loving it.

Steam ROCKS (1)

pnuema (523776) | more than 5 years ago | (#27136507)

Try having hard disk failure someday. The fact that I can rebuild a system, log into my Steam account, click a few links, go to bed, and wake up with 15 games installed, patched, and ready to play, cannot be beat.

Steam Cloud is promising to be even better. All of your saved games are stored on Valve's servers. You can log into your Steam account from any PC with internet access in the world, and within an hour, be playing one of your own saved games.

Frankly, the most of the people I hear complaining about Steam are pirates, and I say FUCK THEM. If you actually pay for your games, Steam's service is unbeatable.

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