I didn't know anything about Civ 5, yet I had placed money that this thread had to be about some ridiculous DRM complaint. Good to see that I was right. Call me crazy, but I buy games based on how much fun they are and how easy they are to use. I have to log onto Steam ONCE, set it on offline mode, and I get to play fun games. If you don't have the internet at least one time in your life to run Steam on offline mode, then I'm not sure what the hell you're doing on an internet forum. I don't buy Ubisoft games because I'm not always connected to the internet when I want to play. The difference between the two of them is night and day.
To the people that says "Steam works great for me, what is the problem?" The problem is this: Games sold by only one vendor is generally a bad idea. The marked doesnt evolve like it should, there is no price competition, one company gets too much power (higher prices, too much power over the game creators +++) and the end users have very little say in the matter.
You clearly don't understand how markets work. Games sold by one vendor isn't a bad idea. Larger vendors get to take advantage of economies of scale and that allows them to produce products at lower cost. This is a good thing. The fact that there is only one producer is not evidence of a "monopoly." It's evidence that the firm knows what consumers want and does a better job of providing it than competitors.
Your "higher" prices claim is absolutely nonsense, and you would know this if you used Steam. Steam FREQUENTLY offers games at substantial discount during weekend deals. Do you know why they do this? It's to maximize profits. There's more to maximizing profits that charging "higher prices." You have to take price elasticity into account. Steam is so versatile that their menu costs are practically nonexistent, and the EXTREMELY low transaction costs of buying games through it allows them to make profits by offering special deals. Almost EVERY single Steam game that I own was purchased at 75% discount. Retail outlets CANNOT profitably do this, and smaller online distros cannot offer them as frequently due to the fact that they are SMALLER.
End users always have the final say in games they don't like. They don't have to buy them. If consumers want something different then entrepreneurs will provide it. No one is forcing consumers to buy games they don't like.
In essence, stop worrying about the economics of the matter, because you really don't know what you're talking about. Just buy games because you have fun playing them. If the DRM is too inconvenient and makes games unplayable, then obviously don't buy them. On the other hand, if you're not buying a game from a vendor simply because they're a "monopoly," then you're cheating yourself out of a lot of fun. Your misguided notions are cheating you out of enjoying a TON of cool games, and that is where the REAL tragedy lies.