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Steam
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kaythomas
Somewhere in the frozen tundra
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November 21, 2010 - 6:55 pm
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Would someone explain Steam to me.

Why does Steam exist?

Why are game being released that have to be played through Steam? Even if you buy them in a store and have a real disc.  What is the advantage to the game companies?

What is the benefit of Steam for me -- a poor,  humble, techno-challenged gamer with a pretty good but not a great computer?

Does it make more sense to anyone to just download games from Steam?  Can you get it off your computer when you are done?   Can you reload it somehow if you want to replay?

As you can see,  I am totally ignorant.  However, I just bought Fallout - New Vegas  at Best Buy and ran home to load it and found myself in Steam. 

So would someone explain this all to me.

Kay

Imagine life with no hypothetical situations. 

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Scout
Portland, Oregon
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November 21, 2010 - 7:08 pm
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kay, I'll let someone with more smarts than me explain it but I can count off some pluses and minuses.

 

Plus:

* Instant access to games via download.

* Automatic patching by Steam people means you always have the most updated version.

* No need to have CDs that can be scratched, break or take up resources to manufacture or fill up landfills…its green!

* Hopefully will crush the much loathed Games for Windows Live.

Minus:

* Downloads take a long time with slower systems.

* Need internet connections for download and often for play.

* No physical copy means you can't resell the game on eBay. (Evil developer ploy!)

* Save games that go to internet server (cloud) occasionally don't work. Like in the recent release you just bought, Fallout: New Vegas. Steam has dumped that for now and saves go back to your hard drive.

* Hopefully won't crush the much loved Good Old Games

 

As far as I can tell, Steam was created by Valve to distribute their games. There was a lot of resistance at first but now most gamers are on board with the idea.

After all that, recently I've been slowly reverting to buying games in physical form. I guess I'm just too old school at heart.

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xtal
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November 21, 2010 - 11:49 pm
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Scout is right on the last point. It was initially conceived as a distribution platform and security device for Valve's own software and has grown into the behemoth it is today. This is a brief history of Steam:

 

2004 – Half-Life 2 is released, Steam is born, HL2 requires Steam; the gaming world implodes as Steam is near-universally broken (and hence loathed). Days later the storm subsides, HL2 is called "greatest thing ever" by many hyperbole-slinging magazines; all is well.

2005 – Steam still exists only so people can play Half-Life 2.

2006 – Steam still exists only so people can play Half-Life 2 and Counter-Strike.

2007 – Valve releases Half-Life 2: Episode Two, Team Fortress 2, and Portal. People buy it and say "hey, I forgot about Steam, it still exists. Neat … I guess?" Valve has a meeting and says "Hmmm, this is good for preventing theft, but what if we became a publisher for other developers?" A light bulb goes off. Three or four games from other companies are released on Steam. People still mostly don't care about Steam.

2008 – A good chunk of games are published digitally via Steam; several dozens, to be precise. The year is mostly calm, except for when the month known as December arrives and Steam begins a tradition called "The Steam Holiday Sale." The prices of existing games on Steam are dropped to maniacally-batshit-crazy-low levels; quite a few people notice, about 13% of the gaming world now use Steam, over half of that percentage even go so far as to "accept it" into their lives.

2009 – The Year Steam Broke® — as in: went totally nuts– Hundreds of games are released on Steam, sales happen at any given time of year, month or week. From its status two years prior as "hmmwhatsthatohsteamyesiveseenitiguessitsneat" to "Sliced Bread Wishes It Were Steam," Steam is near-universally accepted as The Standard Computer Gaming Thing and Is Required For Alot ([Image Can Not Be Found]) Of Things. It's hard to trace when exactly business went through the roof, but one inarguable fact is Steam's most brilliant move of 2009: it came in November when the annual Call of Duty roster update, er, I mean, a game called Modern Warfare 2 was released and it required Steam to play the PC version. Game, set and match.

2010 – The Year That It Felt Like Steam Had Existed Forever® – frankly in 2010 people don't remember a time before Steam. Several theories point to something Valve put in our drinking water tampering with our memories, but that could just be blasphemy speaking. Resume regular programming. All hail Steam. History books will probably show that there was a sharp decline in the purchase of computer games from the month of July to December because everyone was just waiting for Steam to have its now-annually-expected Steam Holiday Sale. This trend is likely to continue unabated, that is until the year 2015 when the Tea Partiers rule America and, under their rule, video gaming is declared a form of ungodly hedonism and promptly banned. In 2018 Steam updates will miraculously resume to peoples' home computing devices and a single news update will be sent to all users: "It's Back. You're welcome in advance –Love, The Silo."

If being wrong's a crime I'm serving forever

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Finkbug
Maine
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November 22, 2010 - 9:13 am
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Nice list xtal. I'd only the Coaster of the Year given it by Computer Gaming World in 2005.

Kay, short version: Steam is DRM (digital rights management, or copy protection) via distribution.

Slightly longer version: It's also often the cheapest way to get a game if you watch for the sales. You can play them without a connection but you won't own a physical copy. Unless you change the settings in Steam it will launch when your computer starts, which I find thoroughly obnoxious. Steam features community fluff, er, stuff for those on your friends list; you can see what they are/have been playing and send them messages if they're online. Inevitably it also has useless Steam achievements for most games.

grooowrrrr! [menace menace] rrrrowwwr!

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Scout
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November 22, 2010 - 10:37 am
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Ah, the sales. xtal and Finkbug both point out probably the best part of Steam. The upcoming Steam Holiday Sale is a great way to stock up on older games at crazy low prices. The games will only be accessible on your Steam account home page of course but will always be there for you to play.

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Helmut
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November 22, 2010 - 12:12 pm
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Kay, I didn't like it at first, but have come to, well not a truce, but an understanding at least. It was sorta intrusive getting started up with my old system. I disliked wasting time starting up Steam when I just wanted to play, and that's still a bit of an issue when downloading one of the very frequent Steam patches before being allowed to play a game, but it's much less an issue with a modern processor. On my new system, I enjoyed being able to select the games from my Steam library that I wanted to restore and have them appear, patched, overnight. So I think it does have its uses. And there are a few of us with public accounts, so you know, you can be part of our gang if you want.

My Dark Souls single player sensibilities are protected by a +10 GfWL Firewall of Ineptitude

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Toger
Somewhere, out there...
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November 22, 2010 - 2:00 pm
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xtal speaks truly. I've found a lot of older games (and newer) on Steam during its much-vaunted sales. For me, Steam does not launch on start-up as I turned that feature off. We're both happy. (The guy who repaired my computer has a terrabye drive with nothing but Steam purchases of which he knows there isn't enough time in his lifetime to play them all and yet he continues to fall prey to Steam's crazy sales)

Powered by PMS ™

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kaythomas
Somewhere in the frozen tundra
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November 22, 2010 - 4:27 pm
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Thanks all of you.

But especially Scout with the pros and cons and xtal  with the year-by-year history which I found facinating.  Looks like they just stumbled onto a business plan that is succeeding.   Anyway it appears that Steam is here to stay in my life.   So I will get used to it.  Kay

Imagine life with no hypothetical situations. 

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xtal
planet
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November 29, 2010 - 11:33 pm
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Also know this: buyer's remorse will constantly be rubbed in your face. For example, today Steam rubs in mine and Helmut's faces that Metro 2033, a game we both paid $49.99 for in March, is now $10.

That kind of stuff is inevitable with Steam. Unless you're a very frugal consumer who never buys games at retail launch price.

If being wrong's a crime I'm serving forever

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Helmut
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November 30, 2010 - 12:12 pm
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Except I've enjoyed it five times in that period with a differential cost of $39.99 or $8 a playthrough.

 

Ok, that's a rediculous statement, but I have to think of something to justify early purchases.

My Dark Souls single player sensibilities are protected by a +10 GfWL Firewall of Ineptitude

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Yapette
Tangentistan
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November 30, 2010 - 1:35 pm
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My buyer's remorse over Metro 2033 was paying $13.99 instead of $10.

And yes, I did log into my Steam account just to look up what I paid. [Image Can Not Be Found]

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kaythomas
Somewhere in the frozen tundra
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December 15, 2010 - 9:06 pm
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i just had to respond to this "buyer's remorse" stuff.  I don't get it.   If you want something,  just buy it.   If you want to comparison shop, do it before you buy it.   Once you have bought it, close the door.  Don't pay any attention to what you could have gotten it for if you waited or looked elsewhere.  It's done.   There is something you wanted; you now have it.  Don't spend time making yourself unhappy that you could have saved $2 or $20.   Have fun with what you have.   Kay  

Imagine life with no hypothetical situations. 

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Steerpike
Subtropical Southeastern Michigan
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December 15, 2010 - 9:26 pm
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Kay, I'm a wholesale Steam apologist. I love it. It's simple, friendly, has thousands of games, massive sales, and has never given me a single problem. It supports modded games, allows you to burn your purchased content to a disc if you want (but you still can't sell it, at least legally, as Scout points out), allows you (in some games) to protect your saves from computer crashes by syncing them with Steam Servers, and is a nice way to keep track of your gaming friends. 

 

I originally hated the idea of digital distribution - see my original Half Life 2 review. And I don't want a thousand digital distribution clients on my computer. But Steam, to me, is simplicity, fun, and laziness all rolled into a delicious ball. They haven't even paid me to say these things. I just believe them.

 

I honestly don't remember the last PC game I bought in a box.

 

Be advised, Valve does collect information about user habits - what games they like, what their hardware is like, etc. You can opt out of this, but so far Valve has used it only to compile fascinating (to industry watchers) reports about trends in hardware, amount of play time, levels or games people find difficult, and so on. In a world where we have no privacy anyway, I tend to think this very small invasion is well-meaning.

Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.

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Armand
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December 16, 2010 - 4:26 pm
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I do worry about how they use that collected info. I think the marketing potential is just too great for even the "nicest" of companies to resist. If they aren't using it already, they will soon. And I'm not exactly convinced they aren't.

Is that bad? I'm not sure. The anti-commercialism/consumerism guy in me says it's bad. The consumer who wants targeted gaming ads says go for it.

And thanks for the kind words in response to my Steam article last week Steerpike. It actually means a lot coming from you. : )

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xtal
planet
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December 17, 2010 - 7:15 pm
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Helmut, your 5 playthroughts definitely justifies shrugging off any remorse. 5… that's impressive.

 

Last boxed game I got … was Planescape: Torment in the mail from Yap!

[Image Can Not Be Found] Thanks again for that!!

 

edit: Although, technically, that came in a DVD case. I think the last PC game I got which actually had some cardboard around it was Modern Warfare (the first one) or Wrath of the Lich King.

If being wrong's a crime I'm serving forever

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