We Didn't Always Love Steam

We love Steam almost as much as we love sales. Perhaps your wallet (or, hey, let's not forget about purses) has combusted due to overuse.

Over the years we've come to trust Steam, but that wasn't always the case as my video above shows.

Music: Atlantean Twilight Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Have words you want to tweet at me? I can be found @laserfrog


    I really have come to love steam because all my games are in one place and the deals of course. I really think the tv industry and movie industry need to get together and create a program like steam but for tv shows and movies have deals and you see piracy will go down.... But hey it wont happen.

      They have been working to solve the "all your shows/movies in one place", but are doing it without forcing everyone to use one central store. It is called Ultraviolet.

      If this kind of system was in place for games, it'd be like letting you purchase games from Origin and having them appear in your Steam library (or vice versa), with the stores and libraries cooperating to associate the license with the right account.

    Do we love it now? I don't.

      Why not? Please don't tell me about DRM

        Right now if you want to play a game you have to download the respective publisher's client and manage an individual account for all those services. Gaming for me was supposed to be a hobby.

        Not blaming Steam in particular and I don't hate it either. But, I don't love it. I see nothing big coming from it apart from discount sales, of carefully selected games.

          That's entirely on the publishers' end. The majority of games through steam just load directly, but there are certainly a few that load their own launchers (most notably anything MMO or Ubisoft).

          I don't disagree with you however, I also wish they could just load normally, but usually it's due to an added layer of DRM/Anti-Cheating in the case of MMOs. The flipside is that all of those games that i'm aware of will load that launcher no matter where you get the game from whether it's Steam, Publisher Download or Retail box, so it's hard to point the finger at Steam for that.

          Back on Topic though, I've had steam since it launched (pre HL2, playing the CS:S Beta) and remember the early days of never ending updates and clunky(er) performance (to be fair, internet at that time was terrible). Generally speaking it got absolutely slammed in the early days, but they've certainly turned it around in the last few years.

          I still wish steam was more actual Program and less Web browser. My internet still isn't amazing and a lot of the pages still lag noticeably which it really shouldn't.

          That's not steam's fault. Blame the publisher... also only a few games actually do that. Origin, Uplay and Games for Windows are the worse culprits.
          But really that's like saying you hate Ikea because you have to use a Hex hey instead of a screwdriver... it's not really the point is it?

            If you read carefully the comment you are replying to, you will find that I don't hate steam. It's not the publisher's fault exactly, they get better revenue if they sold it on their own client.

            Also other developers and publishers (Ubisoft and EA and more in the future) can easily create their own client.

            It's just a model and Steam was the first to pull it off successfully.

            Last edited 17/07/13 11:45 am

              Yeah sorry,
              I guess what I was referring to was that you see no benefit to it apart from sales. The platform is so much more than a shop, in fact the shop part is the worst bit due to the australia tax that publishers force on us.
              The point about 3rd party clients is still valid though.

              Steamalot! Steamalot! Steamalot!
              It's just a model and Steam was the first to pull it off successfully.
              On second thought, let's not go to Steamalot, 'tis a silly place.

          Doesn't this still happen if you don't use steam? Luckily for me, gaming is still a hobby because i just bought a brand new game at 88% off and didn't need to install anything else or register to a service. I also appreciate that the offline mode works beautifully, enabling me to indulge my hobby whilst moving house and being without internet for nearly a month.

          I have to say gog.com is becoming a strong candidate for my time now.

          Right now if you want to play a game you have to download the respective publisher's client and manage an individual account for all those services
          this is only true for quite a select number of games

          I see nothing big coming from it apart from discount sales, of carefully selected games
          the sales affect a majority of the games offered on steam. many won't receive the 50-75% that comes from the daily deals, but a very casual browse will show you that an enormous range are discounted.

          you're spreading misinformation

      I don't either.

      Reasons: DRM. Crappy offline mode. Crappy method of handling updates. Client is relatively heavy and clunky. Client does not obey windows UI conventions. Client takes previously DRM-free games and adds DRM. Valve does not force publishers to drop their own crappy DRM clients.

      Article assumes author's situation is universal.

      Where possible, I buy non-Steam versions of games.

        His situation IS basically universal. There are not many that don't like Steam

          [citation needed]

          People love to assume that because they like something, everyone likes it.

        All but one of your reasons are factually incorrect.

          Oh really?

          DRM? It IS DRM. It ties your use of games to a single login and requires activation.

          Crappy offline mode. Offline mode will not work unless you have previously switched to offline mode after installing a game but with internet connectivity. I.e. it prevents you going offline for the first time when you have no internet connection.

          Crappy method of handling updates. Steam itself seems to update about 17 times a day, and it is often the case that you are unable to play games because it has randomly started updating. Periodically, updates stuff up an install and the whole thing has to be re-downloaded (google this if you don't believe me).

          Client is relatively heavy. It would be possible for the client to take a couple of milliseconds to load, but because it is basically a web browser and file manager kludged together, it is relatively slow to load, even on a new system.

          Client does not obey Windows UI conventions. Click the "X" in the top right corner and tell me what happens. Now do the same thing with every other program on your Windows system.

          Adding DRM to previously DRM-free games - obvious.

          Valve doesn't force publishers to drop their own crappy DRM - also obvious. E.g. many games involve uplay "inside" Steam. Awesome.

          So which ones are "factually incorrect", exactly?

            "Client does not obey Windows UI conventions". Factually incorrect (and also has nothing to do with 'UI conventions', which looks to be a buzzword that you made up on your own). Closing the X does not, and has not meant for a long time that the client will close. See: every torrent program, virus scanners, etc, etc ad nauseum.

            "Crappy offline mode" - also incorrect, was fixed years ago (honestly, how can adults with functioning brains mess this up?

            "Crappy method of handling updates" - It doesn't update '17 times a day'. Client updates are small, most are under 20mb and usually fix actual bugs...yaknow, like updates are supposed to. If you have to wait more than 30 seconds, steam isnt the service for you.

            "Client is relatively heavy". No, it isn't. Check its memory footprint. Check its CPU usage. It's delay is network related, which they can't really do anything about. Web browser and file manager kludged together? By that token, Microsoft Powerpoint is just a text editor and paint kludged together, right guys? .... right?

            The DRM one I agree with (because its one point with 3 reasons), with a huge caveat - "Valve doesn't force publishers to drop their own crappy DRM" - and how do you think that would go over with them, huh? Call me when you get back from fantasy land.

            So once again, all but one of your points are factually incorrect.

              So in summary, you are a massive Steam fanboy who will reject any criticism of Steam on any basis.

              Just because you don't know what the concept of a user interface convention is does not mean it's a "made up" phrase. Google it and feel foolish. No coincidence that the other examples you cite are also typically badly designed and/or deliberately misbehaving programs.

              Offline mode is not fixed. The issue I described occurs in the current version of Steam. You can test it yourself very easily if you want to, but I'm sure you'd rather make ill-informed claims online instead.

              No point responding to you further as you will just come up with more random assertions about why Steam is perfect, I suppose.

                Im happy to let you stew in your imagined criticisms, I'm over here enjoying games.

                FYI, I'm not a 'fanboy', I had steam when it came out, and I certainly wasn't a fanboy then, I just don't like criticism that's factually incorrect.

                Your 'UI convention' is still pointless. Deal with it.

                And I did just test the offline. I went into it perfectly. This is the method I used:
                I hadnt gone into 'offline mode' since installing all of my games from summer sale.
                I disabled my net connection.
                Exited steam.
                Restarted it.
                It asked me to go into offline mode.
                My up to date games work.

                How is it not fixed again? I can draw you a picture if that's easier.

      It's a lot better then Origin.

        You'd want it to be, it's about ten years older.

    I used to hate it, having to carry my PC from my bedroom to the study to use the dial up modem to connect to the Internet to log in to play Half Life 2. The offline mode was junk and barely worked. Those were the days...

    Now, I've just discovered I can't take part in the magical summer trading card adventure because I needed to reset my password after changing pcs and forgetting my old password. Now I'm locked out of the marketplace for a month and steam support can't give back access early. So they're happy to take my money, but not willing to let me trade...

      I'm glad I wasn't the only one lugging a desktop around to the modem just to play Half Life 2. Steam was so hated when it first came out but it was a lot different to what it is today. It's why I'll take people hating Microsoft for wanting to go digital with a pinch of salt. I didn't like them wanting to exclusively digital that was a mistake, but at some point in the near future digital delivery systems will be the norm over buying a physical copy

      You're really not missing much with the trading cards though.

        Not missing much!? I just made 25 cents off it! That's almost an AU tax right there.

      A month? I was only locked out for 5 days.
      In 7 hours, the tradinating begins.

        Its longer because I hadn't logged in for a couple of months because I moved overseas and didn't have much time/interest in gaming on my laptop until I heard about rogue legacy. :(

      Please wait. Decrypting files
      4 hours later.

      Steam was not my friend, even now it is more of an acquaintance but we get along ok.

    Hated it originally too, stayed away from it until around 2 years ago, then I fell head over heels in love with what it's become.

    Anyone else feel like this videos probably made by EA to secretly Spruik origin? lol

      Origin's download speeds are what kills it for me.
      I get 10-13 MBps from Steam on Telstra Ultimate Cable.
      From Origin I'm lucky to get 800 Kbps.

      An email to EA requesting information on how I can connect to a server with a bigger pipe was given a in the fullness of time when resources are available answer.

    I remember defending Steam to people when it first came out. One guy in particular never played Half Life 2 as a protest against Steam. I told him he was being foolish, he told me he'd play it when they released a non-Steam version.

    I get this lovely tingly feeling of "I told you so" whenever I think about that, and that is something I will always treasure with all my heart. Thank you Steam. Thank you.

    Last edited 17/07/13 10:27 am

      That guy is a legend in my eyes. You call a guy a fool because he has self control and principles. You are the fool for putting up with their shit just to play a game.
      Playing video games is supposed to be about having FUN, not putting up with the least amount of shit from corporations whose only incentive is profit.

        "Playing video games is supposed to be about having FUN, not turning it into some anti company protest"

        sorry couldn't help it...

        I don;t love steam....but its ok, it doesnt get in the way of my games (anymore) too much so its ok

        Hey relax guy! No need to get puffy like a dragon.

        I haven't talked to him in years, but this is a little fantasy I like to play in my head:

        This guy sits through years of people telling him what a good game it was, and every time it's brought up he's gets all indignant and starts a little diatribe about how he's protesting, and they'd look at him funny for a while and say "Fair enough, your loss" and then he'd stomp about for a while. And then later people would be telling him about the awesome Steam sales, and then he'd get that glint in his eye where he could inform them that really they are supporting DRM and Steam is actually evil and... and they would just drop it and go and pick up fifty games for a dollar while he does another little stomp.

        It's awesome he has principles. I'm sure it gives him a little buzz whenever he can exercise his self control and stand strong in the face of greedy corporations.

        I could use more principles, seriously, I'm weak! I'm a fool! It's all true. Fight the good fight funky_munky_aus! For people like me, who are too blind and stupid to see the chains of oppression that bind me to the poisoned teat of capitalism!

        Haha, just having a laugh mate.

        PS: Half life 2 is currently $2.50 on the Steam Sale, hurry hurry hurry, it's never too late to join us! JOIN US! JOIN US! JOOOOIIIN UUUUSSSSSS!

        calling valve a corporation is a dangerous compliment to actual corporations

    I sort of consider Steam early days the penance for the Half Life 2 Source code theft and leak.

    I remember how much people complained when HL2 came out, which was one of the reasons I avoided Steam until a few years back. I think it was Portal that convinced me to jump in. Of course, by then they'd improved it immensely (although I still think the client could be made a bit less clunky).

    I remember the time I was using a pre-paid mobile broadband internet dongle for a while and instead of updating my copy of Aliens Vs. Preadator is redownloaded it from scratch costing me aout $70.

    Steam's ok but still has some real issues, like deciding to start downloading and installing a steam client update while you are playing a steam game online. It's also a bit of a drag on a slow internet connection, as sometimes it can take up to 15 minutes just to go from clicking Steam to it actually being logged in and usuable.
    But generally, like others above, we have reached some sort of equilibrium in our relationship. As long as it works ok I don't have too many complaints.
    Actually another thing they could fix is when I update the video card drivers, some, but not all, games have their video settings reset back to 640x480, low detail etc.

      Your main problem seems to stem from a slow internet connection... that's not really Steam's fault is it? It's an online platform I don't think it's unreasonable for it to require a decent connection.

        I love Steam, but I really wish they put in an option for scheduling when to do game updates, so we could take advantage of downloading during off peak hours and uninterrupted gameplay.

        "It's an online platform I don't think it's unreasonable for it to require a decent connection"

        Except that in many cases you are forced to tie offline, single player games to it...

          Usually only to "register" them. Most games you can launch from outside steam, and you can always just keep steam in offline mode permanently.
          I don't mind the online aspect, in fact I even tie non-steam games into it, so I can have a single platform for all my games (shortcuts) and friends. I even have friends who use steam to launch other programs like microsoft office, photoshop etc.

    Sorry, Steam - I left you for GOG. She may be the "older woman", but there's something to be said for experience.

      Yeeeeah but when you get the milf and the young chick together.... *drool*

      I mean. Use Steam and Gog together!

      Why choose ?
      A toast to our wives and mistresses. May they never meet.

      i just check GOG......my god all my 80's and 90's gaming memories came flooding back

    I don't love it as much now, too many games being overpriced for us, and now I prefer to get games on gog.com if I can, I love those guys.

    I love the platform. I don't always buy from it due the the Australia tax, but that's not Steams fault.
    Steam (or Valve rather) doesn't set the prices (except for their own stuff of course). When I buy games from Ozgameshop for example, I opt for the even cheaper code via email option.

    Steams, updates, cloud saves, big picture mode are all too good to pass up.
    Yes 3rd party platforms like uPlay and origin are annoying but again, not Steam's fault and nothing steam can do about it.

    Probably most important is the friends and community aspect. Having one central platform for almost all my gaming (and it even links to PSN) makes it a lot easier to play with friends. You can even add non-steam games into the launcher so you can launch the game and show up as playing it within Steam.

    Can it be improved? Sure. The store can be slow to load, there should be more preferences, and I hate my paypal transactions timing out sometimes, but these are minor issues.
    I'd like to see better integration with PSN and XBL to properly unify gaming with friends.
    I still dream of proper cross-platform play.

    And to everyone complaining about downloads and breaching limits etc.... it's an online distribution platform... of course it's going to use data. That's like playing with fire and complaining you got burnt.

    Been a Steam user since the orange box came out. Never hated it, but that was four years after initial launch so can't say much about how it was before.

    I never hated Steam. But then again, I didn’t get HL2 when it first came out, so I never had to go through that disaster. I am willing to bet that the vast majority of steam users didn’t have to go through that either.

    PS. I’d just like to thank all of those early adopters.

    I remember the complaining about Steam when it first came out, but I always loved it. I always regretted that I signed up literally one day too late to get a coveted 4-digit Steam ID, so I'm stuck with a 5-digit one. My epeen never forgave me =(

    The thing I like about Steam is that I have 158 quality titles and have only spent $410 in total. However, recently I've noticed that Steam is pretty much the worst for regional pricing, so I'm not sure whether I'll stick with the service long term.

    I personally have never disliked Steam.. *shrugs*

    Didn't get Steam till just before the orange box (but never used it much till orange box came out) and have loved it ever since, even if I hated everything else about it, I would probably still use it for the steam overlay in games, that is a god-send to be able to chat with people without having to alt+tab even in non steam games.

    Some of the latest additions like social media integration have irked me but I just ignore it.

    I never saw the point originally but now that it works right its a decent service.

    Back in the day when HL2 came out, a mate got it & spent a few days getting updates thanks to their shitty infrastructure and his even shittier dialup connection and that really turned me off it. Once he got the orange box & gave me his spare copy of HL2, I finally had steam myself and it was reasonably stable even if I never used it because HL2 was so shit. By the time Dawn Of War 2 came out, steam was stable, useful and were starting to give me reasons to shop there and its only gotten better since.

    That said, am I the only one finding this new sale distinctly underwhelming? I swear skyrim & sleeping dogs have been on sale every other day, if not one of the daily sales, then as one of the flash sales or voted sales.

    It's ok. But browsing the store and community pages via the steam application itself not via a web page is awful.

    I don't care for Steam at all. I'm quite a fan of the Humble Store though, that thing's great.

    Been using Steam since it first came out and they pulled the plug on WON. It was terrible back then and I don't remember a single person who liked it, particularly since they forced people onto Steam by killing WON. Fast forward to today and everyone loves it and lots of people have forgotten about the early days. Steam didn't start to become acceptable until The Orange Box, when it was much more stable. It still has issues (the client is still pretty terrible) but it definitely has come a very long way.

    Never hated it, never loved it.

    Some of those deals have been great, though. I've picked up 11 games so far and have only spent $50. A lot of those "if only they were cheaper" titles that I never got around to picking up.

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