The state of Steam in 2012

By on June 5, 2012 6:47:22 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Frogboy

Join Date 03/2001
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steamLet me get this out of the way: I like Steam. I like Valve.

We have a poll up right now that asks whether you use Steam. Let us know please.

I’ve been in digital distribution since before digital distribution was a thing.  The very first computer game that was launched at retail and digitally distributed was Galactic Civilizations back in February 2003.

For us, digital distribution was a matter of life or death. Consider this, how many other independent (or heck, just non-publicly traded) game studios have been around 20 years? Go ahead. Count them up. Not many eh?

I incorporated Stardock back in 1993 from my college dorm room. And I can tell you, if it weren’t for digital distribution, we would have stopped making games a long time ago.  That’s because the more people that are between you and your customer, the more opportunities there are for theft. Not by players but by retailers, publishers, distributors, etc. 

One of the reasons why the whole “piracy” bellowing from publishers irritated me was because the biggest obstacle to getting paid for my work wasn’t from pirates. It was from the middle men.

In 1994, we released our first game. Galactic Civilizations for OS/2.  It was published by a company called Advanced Idea Machines.  The game was a huge hit. So I heard anyway. We didn’t get paid. And being a poor college student at the time, I couldn’t afford a lawyer.

So in 1996, we released Galactic Civilizations 2 for OS/2.  This time we released it ourselves. But our retail distributor, Micro Central, went bankrupt and didn’t pay us and our mail order distributor, Blue Orchards went out of business as well and didn’t pay us.

So then we moved to Windows and we released Galactic Civilizations for Windows, published by Strategy First….and again, didn’t get paid.

Do you see a pattern here?

What saved us was digital distribution.  With it, we could sell directly to customers, cutting out the middle man.

As you can imagine, when Steam came out we started to get a little nervous. Not because of the competition but because we feared the idea that we would one day need to sell our software through a third party and hence risk not getting paid…again.

As it had turned out, our fears have been unwarranted.  Impulse, now owned by Gamestop, pays like clock work and so does Steam.  By contrast, with a retail distributor you were lucky to get paid merely 90 days late. And that’s not counting the obnoxious and expensive RMA games they play. I like the service Steam provides. They’re easy to work with, they’re honest, and they’re passionate about what they do.  And most importantly, they let me, as a game developer, focus on what matters: making games.

Anyway, the point here being, what are your feelings on Steam these days?

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October 29, 2012 10:56:58 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I despise Steam, and yet I use it daily.  It does offer convenience for managing my game collection, and it does make it easier to purchase and install games (too easy, as my credit card statement shows), and it does make it easier to purchase games as gifts for other folks (assuming they too have Steam) and yet I cannot help myself but dislike them.  But it's not limited to Steam.  At one point I had 5 or 6 different digital distribution (i.e. download managers) on my system because everyone had their own proprietary downloader, and this was all before Steam.  So eventually when I was forced to put Steam on for some game or another, I was extremely irked that I yet had to download and install another download manager.  You could kinda say Steam was the straw that broke the camels back.

These days I don't mind it so much as I no longer play those other games that had their own installer.  These days I limit myself to Steam and Battle.net, but I still garner a great deal of resentment towards them.  For the record, I got rid of Impulse fairly quickly once it was sold to GameStop.  I've gone so far as to re-order games I already owned just so they were available via Steam (damn you Steam!!!) such as Sins of a Solar Empire Rebellion, and even Galactic Civilization 2. 

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October 29, 2012 11:03:13 AM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

I like Steam, because for me, it IS digital distribution, and I like digital distribution.

 

Technically I started up with Impulse but when I learned it wasn't Stardock anymore I got away from it.

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October 30, 2012 2:24:03 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I don't like the 'idea' of steam, but lately I've begun to use it daily.

At least for me, it seems the most reliable Digital Download distrubitor to date. After the shift in Impulse ownership, my old laptop had troubles reaching the Impulse servers ... and now I am currently locked out of my Impulse account due to a new security initiative.

So yea, as far as this sad, sad state of affairs when it comes to gaming, Steam is the better of the various poisons (better, I may add, by leaps and bounds).

So certainly I could say that I support steam, at least as much as I have to, but I am not necessarily a 'fan' of steam. I like steam about as much as I like the CocaCola company, or Hersheys, Walmart or Bestbuy. I don't particularly like them, but they are relatively good at what they do, and its better than living in Industrial Revolution Britain where the peasants only got potatoes to eat (due to the nature of British law, economic decisions, etc, the Potato replaced the normal variety of food the british lower class were able to eat, thus causing health problems and disgruntled peasants).

 

That being said, 10 years from now when I dust off one of my old computers from storage .... will I be playing my steam games? probably not. But I WILL be playing those games that don't require such services ... such as my Rome Total War, and my Medieval 2 Total War. (both bought with CD keys only, no steam or steamworks required).

This new fad of 'lets all play the game at the same time and then stop doing so once we get tired of it and abandon the servers' isn't exactly for me ... I like to play a game once every 3-5 years or so. Just depends on the game and the circumstance ... but yea. Sometimes I don't finish a game until I've played it off and on for 10 years, just because of some nuance, level, or I just got bored with it a few levels in (the first time).

 

Compare this with certain games where I destroy the campaign within 72 hours of opening the box (Bioshock, Assassin's Creed, Hunter:The Reckoning, Hunter:The Reedemer) but the point remains ... my playstyle across the passage of time is highly irregular, and therefore I don't like being dependent on the public at large (companies, servers, etc) to determine whether I can play my single player game or not. I play games (sometimes) to escape reality, not to simply add a layer to my interaction with reality.

For now I will buy and play a few games in the steam format, but I doubt that these are the games I will be playing in 5, 10, or 15 years hence. Games that I can simply dust off, plug in, and play ... (albeit perhaps with adaptors or emulators) those are the games that I'll keep on playing into the Golden years.

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October 30, 2012 2:24:45 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Jythier,
I like Steam, because for me, it IS digital distribution, and I like digital distribution.

 

Technically I started up with Impulse but when I learned it wasn't Stardock anymore I got away from it.

 

Yea, 'gamestop' owned Impulse is a pain to deal with, at least from a customer's perspective.

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October 31, 2012 11:11:04 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums

Quoting myfist0,

Quoting erischild, reply 374 I can tell I am an ignorant fanboy because so many people here feel comfortable calling me that and other names as a method of persuasion

I have followed this thread and others like it. It seems to me that you are the one insulting people that do not like or use Steam.
Nice try. 

 

I am not the one calling people "fanboy".  If I did the opposite somehow, then I apologize.

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October 31, 2012 11:51:02 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Generally speaking steam is my first choice for a digital game (even if it cost more; though I will buy from another vendor if they provide a steam key). My only real complaint about steam is that they are hard to reach if there is an issue. They do respond to email (usually a couple of days later) but generally speaking I've had no real issue with steam itself.

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This is in contrast to other vendor on line 'stuff' (the two that have given me the most problem are gwfl and orgins; mostly because they can't even get updates correctly).

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Anyways I worry that at some point steam managemetn will change and I sure it will eventually and what happens then....

 

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October 31, 2012 1:30:58 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

The thing I don't like about digital distribution in general is that you never actually own the game. And if the host goes out of business, or decided to repurpose the server that supports the game, you are out of luck.

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October 31, 2012 2:56:12 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

I stumbled on this post from another, and noticing the original date I hadn't really intended to reply off the cuff. However, since it's currently still active, I'll throw another note on the pile.

 

I will not install Steam for any reason. I'm not going to bore the thread with pros and cons, I'm sure you've all heard plenty time and again. I will say there are a few Steam exclusive games I really want. A lot. Borderlands 2, for example. I'm one of the biggest Borderlands fanboys the world has ever seen, but I'll do without the PC sequel. Fortunately for Gearbox though (and myself) I can get my BL2 fix on the 360 and PS3 as well, and they can soak up my money through that avenue. PC exclusive releases on the other hand cannot claim that luxury.

 

Personally, I believe all PC games should come with Steam as an option. I like options and I know people like Steam, I don't want to take that away from anyone. However, if a PC exclusive game requires Steam, I can guarantee you at least one lost sale.

 

From a sales perspective requiring Steam just doesn't make sense. People that use Steam are going to buy the game whether it can use Steam or must use Steam. People that won't use Steam would buy the game if it can use Steam but will not buy it if it must use Steam.

 

 

Although to be perfectly fair, I don't think I've purchased any games from Impulse since being acquired by Gamestop. Partially due to the fact that their software "does not support my operating system" even though previous versions have worked just fine. If they don't want to support me I'm certainly not going to go through any trouble to try supporting them any farther, especially since they could (I assume) at any time decide older versions of the program aren't allowed to connect to the service so the future of my purchases is in constant jeopardy. Originally the only reason I got Impulse was because Stardock forced it on me through GalCiv 2, I was perfectly happy using Stardock Central. For a long time GalCiv was the only game I had on Impulse. I have about 40 games at this point through Impulse though mostly it's full of games I can't buy any other way. Things that either had limited distribution in the first place or are simply unavailable (or unlikely to reward the developers with retail money) due to their age.

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October 31, 2012 2:59:42 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

No way I ever use Steam.Period.

I refuse to be able to play only with online permanent connection.

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October 31, 2012 3:50:15 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Quoting pdifolco,
No way I ever use Steam.Period.

I refuse to be able to play only with online permanent connection.

To be fair, I beleive Steam has an "offline" mode.

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November 2, 2012 1:20:12 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

I use steam ONLY because I have to in any way shape or form OR because I consider myself to be renting [but only if the game is cheap](I usually buy a boxed version if available and a good game).

I was burned by Steam before (pun intended) because my (old) school firewall-blocked steam's ports and you can't use a proxy and finally because offline mode didn't work (using port 80 steam identified a mandatory update). Also auto-updating isn't always in the best interest of the consumer (for reasons I won't go into here). Therefore, I will usually pay a significant price premium to buy from another store.

I actually like Origin, but that is because >90% of my games are actually boxed copies redeemed on Origin (dragon age, mass effect, the sims 3, spore, etc.) So I know I have a safeguard against (almost) anything! Honestly, I think Origin is moving towards surpassing steam in the next few years.

GoG.com is also really great (for reasons that have already been stated).

As for Impulse (the new name is just too terrible), it was great while Stardock was running it (and I have a good size library from those days). Today it isn't terrible but doesn't stand out as a better alternative anymore. They might fix some of the issues (nothing too terrible but it just feels like beta software that was somewhat rushed and therefore bugs are still being fixed) but I don't really understand why they had to re-build the client in the first place. And the new name is just as bad as EA Download Manager (EA wizened up I hope GS does too, and soon!). However, the biggest hurdle has always been title availability and especially DLC (I had to redeem keys on steam to get the DLC for some games).

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November 2, 2012 1:26:32 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

At launch, I bought a gift for a friend using the new GameStop client and the system accidentally transferred my ENTIRE account to his. Fortunately his account was new so it was easy to get things sorted out. Since then things have improved a lot but I expected a far more, shall we say "solid", client to be developed before GS tossed out the old one.

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November 2, 2012 3:41:40 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


Anyway, the point here being, what are your feelings on Steam these days?

I don't like my GAME LIBRARY being OWNED by the 3rd party namely Steam. I've read horror stories of Steam banning accounts and thus the buyer/customer loses ALL Of his games he BOUGHT and PAID for. Yeah I know games are merely licensed these days but that crap wouldn't hold up in a real court if it got down to it. There's consumers rights above and beyond EULA's and game Licensing. EA does this also and I no longer buy games from them through them either.

Now Gamersgate and GOG and once Direct2Drive now Gamefly don't use this system of gestapoing your gaming library. You OWN your games up to the point of DRM of course but as long as you backup your SETUP.exe you don't have to worry about some gestapo digital sales company banning you from your games library.

Plain and simple if I rent a car and wreck it I don't get banned from ever renting a car from that company again. Steam/EA should stay out of other peoples/consumers business and it shouldn't matter what people do and say on their forums, ban them from the forums but they have no right to ban those consumers from their games library imho.

You yourself Frogboy talked about when you didn't get paid for your hard work (our hard work buys your games) how would you feel if these digital distribution sites went out of business and didn't release our gaming library? That's exactly what would happen in a BANKRUPTCY for us. We'd lose everything from Steam and I don't like that thought one bit. At least with Gamersgate, GoG and Gamefly we have the opportunity to backup our games with the CD-keys and set them up again if they went out of business. With STEAM that's not possible because of the "activation" required through Steam. When Steam becomes like Gamersgate et al then I might think about buying or recommending them.

Oh and as an example of how it should be. I have games from the 80's that I can still Install and play. I don't have to go activate them on any distribution sites. But, these games were made by SSI, Microprose, 3D labs and a slew of others that are NO LONGER IN BUSINESS! See what would happen if/when Steam goes out of business? I wouldn't be able to play the games I bought from them. In a bankruptcy everything would get tied up and they wouldn't release anything to the consumers that the judge didn't allow.

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November 2, 2012 5:12:24 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I hated steam when it first came out and tried to avoid it for as long as i could. It bugged on my PC pretty often resulting in WIN reinstallation. I hated it when the new games like CivV started to come out only via Steam, but i quickly changed my mind and began an excessive Steam user nowadays.

The thing with Steam that pleases me the most is its recent price policy that depends on your region. It allows me to buy games here in Russia at ridiculously low prices.

For comparison - XCOM with its 50$ in USA/Europe costs just 20$ here in Russia. And Stream allows me to pick any language that the game supports meaning that i`m no longer forced to use bad/limited localisations. EF also costed me 20$ which, i believe, is less than the other world paid for it.

Playing multiplayer games over Steam is another my favourite feature of this service. Its easy to invite/join friends and stable most of the time.

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November 3, 2012 10:26:30 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Okimosy,
I hated steam when it first came out and tried to avoid it for as long as i could. It bugged on my PC pretty often resulting in WIN reinstallation. I hated it when the new games like CivV started to come out only via Steam, but i quickly changed my mind and began an excessive Steam user nowadays.

The thing with Steam that pleases me the most is its recent price policy that depends on your region. It allows me to buy games here in Russia at ridiculously low prices.

For comparison - XCOM with its 50$ in USA/Europe costs just 20$ here in Russia. And Stream allows me to pick any language that the game supports meaning that i`m no longer forced to use bad/limited localisations. EF also costed me 20$ which, i believe, is less than the other world paid for it.

Playing multiplayer games over Steam is another my favourite feature of this service. Its easy to invite/join friends and stable most of the time.

Is that $20 US dollars or $20 Russian dollars? Since Russian currency is sooooooo much more BELOW the US $ then in comparison while you pay only $20 US $$ you only make 1/2 as much per hour as US employee. Plus we live in BIGGGG shoebox while you live in just a one or two room shoebox? One thing I like about that and the cost of your games I used to have friend in Poland who get games sooooooooo cheap and then sell them to me for still 1/2 of what it cost in US and he pay shipping costs as well. Something happen though and his costs go up so prices for me go up to more than I want to pay. But, I get game like Steel Panthers General Edition which is like $60 US price for like $25 shipped to me.

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November 3, 2012 7:56:28 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting willie sanderson,




Anyway, the point here being, what are your feelings on Steam these days?


I don't like my GAME LIBRARY being OWNED by the 3rd party namely Steam. I've read horror stories of Steam banning accounts and thus the buyer/customer loses ALL Of his games he BOUGHT and PAID for. Yeah I know games are merely licensed these days but that crap wouldn't hold up in a real court if it got down to it. There's consumers rights above and beyond EULA's and game Licensing. EA does this also and I no longer buy games from them through them either.

Now Gamersgate and GOG and once Direct2Drive now Gamefly don't use this system of gestapoing your gaming library. You OWN your games up to the point of DRM of course but as long as you backup your SETUP.exe you don't have to worry about some gestapo digital sales company banning you from your games library.

Plain and simple if I rent a car and wreck it I don't get banned from ever renting a car from that company again. Steam/EA should stay out of other peoples/consumers business and it shouldn't matter what people do and say on their forums, ban them from the forums but they have no right to ban those consumers from their games library imho.

You yourself Frogboy talked about when you didn't get paid for your hard work (our hard work buys your games) how would you feel if these digital distribution sites went out of business and didn't release our gaming library? That's exactly what would happen in a BANKRUPTCY for us. We'd lose everything from Steam and I don't like that thought one bit. At least with Gamersgate, GoG and Gamefly we have the opportunity to backup our games with the CD-keys and set them up again if they went out of business. With STEAM that's not possible because of the "activation" required through Steam. When Steam becomes like Gamersgate et al then I might think about buying or recommending them.

Oh and as an example of how it should be. I have games from the 80's that I can still Install and play. I don't have to go activate them on any distribution sites. But, these games were made by SSI, Microprose, 3D labs and a slew of others that are NO LONGER IN BUSINESS! See what would happen if/when Steam goes out of business? I wouldn't be able to play the games I bought from them. In a bankruptcy everything would get tied up and they wouldn't release anything to the consumers that the judge didn't allow.

 

You don't own a game on cd / DVD either.  You've only purchased a limited license to play it.  You never "own" any creative property.  We should all support Steam if for no other reason than it allows us to learn about and play indie games that we would never know about.  It has done a lot for indie developers for getting their games out there.  There are so many little gems that I've enjoyed that I never would have known about without steam.  

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November 4, 2012 6:26:04 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting charon2112,
You don't own a game on cd / DVD either.  You've only purchased a limited license to play it

Companies like to pretend that a CD/DVD is both a license and a physical good such that they get the benefits of both and the responsibilities of neither and that customers get the drawbacks of both and the benefits of neither.

However, not the whole world is the dreary IP nightmare that is the USA. European union courts upheld first sale doctrine for so called licenses.

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November 4, 2012 11:39:47 AM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

I hate Steam with passion, and I feel murderous urges rising in me each time I see a game being developped on it.

I loathe intrusive DRM, I abhor forced online connection when I don't do something that SHOULD require connection and I hate programs that have control over my games.

Steam is the number one reason I don't buy many games lately. Give me GoG or Impulse any day, something that allows digital distribution without forcing me to install some dirty spyware that has the ability to decide when and how I can run my own purchases.

I could go on for hours on how much I hate Steam, but I guess you got the idea.

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November 4, 2012 12:44:03 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

You dont need steam online for those games. It works offline.

id go any road to hep stardock and indies get more money then they get from resellers.

always.

 

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November 4, 2012 1:17:03 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

I despise Steam - I deeply dislike DRM and I am not interested in any kind of software hub, as I am perfectly capable of organising my files and folders on my own. Unfortunately, I bought Fallen Enchantress via Gamers Gate and completely missed the note mentioning that a "third-party product" has to be installed in order to play the game, i.e. Steam. So, now I've paid for a game and am considering downloading the warez version instead in order to avoid being forced to use Steam.

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November 4, 2012 1:48:15 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Hmm, cant you get it from starocks download also?

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November 4, 2012 2:26:54 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

athelasloraiel: That's quite correct, so that part of my grumblings above isn't really much of an issue

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November 4, 2012 2:29:14 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Essentially every complaint in this thread about Steam involves something that isn't true...intrusive DRM, Steam controlling when, how you play, etc...Steam is quite simply the best, cleanest, most efficient DD service I've used.  The only one I liked better was SD owned Impulse.  But that's history unfortunately.

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November 4, 2012 11:04:38 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I used to be strong supporter for Box/Retail games as they come with the physical items, i have a "collector" mindset. But nowadays, the convenience of digital d/ls and a most importantly a central platform to help me track/organize/manage my owned games has won me over. The only time i will buy Box/Retail is for Collector's Edition(like Sins). Normal and deluxe editions will all be via Steam.

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November 4, 2012 11:19:35 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Quoting charon2112,
Essentially every complaint in this thread about Steam involves something that isn't true...intrusive DRM, Steam controlling when, how you play, etc...

Try running steam on a laptop without turning it off on your desktop first

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