Valve Announce 25 Million Users For Steam

By John Walker on January 29th, 2010 at 6:36 pm.

His head swells with money.

Valve have announced the latest stats about Steam’s performance in 2009. If I were to plot them on a graph they would go off the top of the paper and I’d have to draw on the desk. Which would leave no room for a title. And my graph would be marked down. Steam now has over 25 million users. Which is a 25% increase over the year. Which means Gabe Newell’s throne made of diamonds is now 25% sparklier. And all in the week when GoG.com founder, Marcin Iwiński, called Steam “malware”.

10 million of the accounts have Steam profiles, which indicates a more dedicated use than having been forced to download it for a particular game (Modern Warfare 2 didn’t exactly sell out on PC, but it can’t have hurt Steam’s figures). It also indicates a dedicated hardcore PC gaming player-base of a minimum of 10 million. Which is significant.

Here’s some more fun numbers. Steam at one point during the last year had more than 2.5m concurrent users, which when converted in the nonsense of “player minutes” makes more than 13 billion per month.

While they still won’t reveal any useful data about sales, which is frankly just tiresome at this point, they report that unit sales increased by more than 205% over the last year. This of course doesn’t directly translate to increased profit, as 2009 was the year of the Valve Sale.

These big numbers come in light of remarks by Good Old Games founder, Marcin Iwiński, where he described Steam as “malware”. Discussing the ineffective nature of DRM he spoke about his experiences with Modern Warfare 2 to Polish website Polygamia.pl.

“I was personally affected when I bought Modern Warfare 2. The installation (through Steam) took almost two days and only then I could sit down and play it. Then, when I uninstalled it from Steam, I tried to delete Steam itself. It turned out that there is no “Uninstall?” option in the Steam directory, and when I tried to do it through Add/Remove, I faced a message that I have no Administrative privileges (sic!). Fortunately, I managed to uninstall it thanks to a clever program called Total Uninstall, which effectively deletes leftover files from badly written programs. After such experience, it’s hard to be positively inclined towards DRM. One would want to buy a new game (for lots of money, by the way), install it and start playing normally, not be forced to do various different things and install various malware that cannot be normally removed. ;)”

We approached Valve for comment regarding this quote, but they chose not to respond.

Valve intend to expand Steam further throughout 2010, and hopefully we’ll see a more effective roll-out of features like Steam Cloud. (In an optional form!) Newell offers his thoughts at the end of the announcement:

“Steam turned five years old in March 2009. With the introduction of each new platform feature released over the years — such as the Steam Community, Steam Cloud, and Steamworks — we’ve seen corresponding growth in account numbers, concurrent player numbers and developer support for the platform. As such, we plan to continue to expand and grow the platform to better serve the developers supporting the open platform and millions of gamers logging in each day.”

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238 Comments »

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  1. jsutcliffe says:

    Oh dear. Where is this “Steam is malware” claim? I must read it so I can point and laugh.

    • hoff says:

      Considering one of the main definitions of malware is that it doesn’t let the user uninstall it, the claim is pretty solid.

    • Premium User Badge

      Newblade says:

      I had no problem uninstalling Steam before.

    • gryffinp says:

      Yeah, Steam can be a bit of a bitch to uninstall, but I’ve been able to do it on the few times it was necessary. Seems to me that he just ran afoul of vista’s UAC or something.

    • Bonedwarf says:

      So what does Steam install outside of it’s own directory then that makes it so hard to uninstall? As in experience you can just copy an entire Steam directory to another machine and it’ll just work, indicating to me there is nothing installed outside of it’s own directory, which means a simple delete of the directory would nuke it.

    • Aftershock says:

      His claims are ridiculous.
      Firstly, he says the install takes two days. That’s what you get for trying to download 12gb. (i think it was 12) Secondly, he’s all “ZOMG NO ADMIN PRIVILEGES!” Well yeah, you need admin privileges to install/uninstall stuff. That’s nothing to do with steam.

      Steam is the best DRM going around.

    • F_t_R says:

      Now I like GoG, but hes not doing them any favours here

    • destroy.all.monsters says:

      Steam itself is a form of drm and by definition all drm is malware. That so many people have decided to drink the kool aid rather than reject the status quo is reasonably typical for those who don’t want to think too hard about things.

    • Psychopomp says:

      I suggest you look up what malware actually means.

    • ugg sale says:

      thanks.sharing too.

  2. Paul says:

    The malware note is tongue in cheek, though I absolutely agree that Steam can be a bitch sometimes.GOG rocks more than steam anyway (though I do use both : )).

  3. FreakinSyco says:

    I don’t see why people hate on steam. If I’m buying a computer game, its going to be off of steam.

    Why? Well I just upgraded my computer last week from XP to 7. I simply backed up My Documents and blew it away. I don’t have to worry about all the games I had. Just load Steam, and bam, I’m back in business. Heck back in the day I bought Unreal Tournament at least twice because of lost disks. No longer. Plus all the social features are a real value add for me.

    Thanks Valve!

    • Chris R says:

      Yes, exactly. +1

    • Sarlix says:

      If you had used it from day 1 you would know why. It’s evolved into a mostly positive thing now though….mostly.

    • Drakkheim says:

      If you’ve got kids, Steam is WONDERFUL. No worries about little hands scratching discs, loosing cd keys on flimsy paper sleeves and when they hose their system (monthly) a couple clicks and then let it sit overnight and they’re good to go.

      Now if only recovering their homework was that easy.

    • Muzman says:

      Much as I don’t mind Steam and my experience has been good, with the monthy fee for the internet account that would allow me to do this ‘download everything again’ thing quickly and easily (assuming a few recent mainstream games, large on data, in the collection) I could buy a couple of dozen full price games a year.

      That’s nothing to do with steam of course. It’s just funny how so much about modern internet software seems to assume cheap unlimited bandwidth the world over.

    • cliffski says:

      its worth saying what you are mostly describing is just digital distribution. Not steam. Steam is just one store that offers digital distribution, not the only one.

    • Sarlix says:

      Lol, no I agree with you it’s good for lots of diff reasons for lots of diff people. I was just replying to FreakinSyco point about there being a lot of hate for it too. Which probably comes from it’s earlier years when it was a complete mess + other reasons. :)

    • Sarlix says:

      Argh, that was supposed to be a reply to Drakkheim. Damn you lot comment quickly.

      I foresee this thread rapidly turning into somewhat of an epic……

    • Bonedwarf says:

      Folk are aware right that with Steam if you HAVE the game files on another system you can just copy them over? I just download on one machine, then distribute the files to my other computers. No more pesky downloading.

    • FreakinSyco says:

      @cliffski: Indeed it is all about the digital distribution, but its also the rights management done *right*. A lot of e-stores think digital rights management just means preventing you from sharing it with anyone and thats it.

      Lets use iTunes as an example. As of now I use Amazon for most of my MP3 purchases, no DRM. Now if apple decided that DRM meant more than just preventing me from sharing songs, and they started tracking what I own and let me redownload it all if I lost it; I would switch to them in an instant.

      Steam seems to get DRM, when a lot of companies wiff it.

      (PS; Yes I know iTunes is mostly DRM free now. It was just an example.)

    • archonsod says:

      “don’t have to worry about all the games I had. Just load Steam, and bam, I’m back in business.”

      Yeah, I do the same with Gamer’s Gate. Except I don’t need to install some useless piece of crap that expects to always be running to do it.

    • Premium User Badge

      Carra says:

      Yes, data limits are still a problem. My 30 gig limit vanishes fast when games like Mass Effect weigh in at about 15 gb…

    • LintMan says:

      @Drakkheim: Steam’s not that great if you have kids and and want to have all your games (yours and the kids’) in the same Steam account. In that case, Steam give you a hard time when you’re logged into it at the same time the kids are (from another computer), EVEN IF THEY ARE PLAYING A DIFFERENT GAME.

      Steam’s policy is to only allow one active login at a time, so if your kids start up a Steam game while you’re already using Steam, you’ll get logged out. Some games seem to check the Steam login regularly, so when you get logged out from Steam, you also might get booted from the game. This has happened to my kids when I jumped on to my own game while they were playing a different game.

      I contacted Steam’s support people and while they said sharing an account for my family is OK, they still only allow 1 PC at a time to be logged in. Grrr.

    • TheApologist says:

      Yep – Steam is great.

      It is at this point a better platform for games than either of the consoles in many senses.

      I know it has problems, and I know there are concerns about getting too dependent on it, but I also think it is through Steam that PC is leading the development of the videogames market yet again, this time in digital distribution.

    • Jon says:

      Lintman, assuming your children (or you, I suppose) aren’t gaming online, just set Steam to offline mode on the PC(s) that aren’t being used for multiplayer stuff.

    • Kadayi says:

      @archonsod

      You mean the useless piece of crap that automatically keeps your games upto date, let’s you know when your friends are online and what they are playing, let’s you join their games, lets you form groups with them, let’s you chat to them, even lets you speak to them if you have a microphone, not matter where they are in the world for free and also allows you to send gifts to people you like, as well as keeps you upto date with future releases and when there are sales? That useless piece of crap yes?

    • MD says:

      @ Kadayi:

      Sure, ‘useless’ isn’t a great word choice. How about ‘not universally desired’? You can’t expect everyone in the world to appreciate having those features thrust upon them, just because you find them useful. Nothing on your list is an unambiguously good thing.

      @ this thread in general:

      I think we all need to remember that on an issue like this (Steam’s position on the ‘good thing – bad thing’ axis) it’s possible for people to disagree without one side being ‘wrong’! Some people appreciate Steam’s various features, others don’t. Some people are bothered by its perceived drawbacks, others aren’t. Sure, some commenters use excessive rhetoric or even make factually incorrect statements, but on the whole this entire issue seems like so much sound and fury signifying little other than a clash of subjective opinions, fueled by intensity of feeling and ignited by miscommunication.

    • Fumarole says:

      Funny, I’ve yet to hear of one single instance of Steam thrusting itself on one’s PC all by its lonesome.

    • Kadayi says:

      @MD

      “Nothing on your list is an unambiguously good thing”

      If you want to say that I’m afraid you have to provide some form of counter argument for each, not just a vague illusion. I mean what exactly is so bad about Steam keeping your games up to date (also be aware you can turn it off under options). What’s so terrible about having friends lists? Clearly they must be your friends because you choose to add them? If you don’t want them there any more you can remove them, and if you don’t want to chat to anyone you can turn friends or notifications off.

      The more I read the negatives that people post, the more I’m beginning to think that a lot of people just don’t actually understand how to use menus, help or (shock horror!!!) right click. Maybe they should give up on the world of computing and go buy themselves an PS3 or 360.

  4. Paul says:

    Founder of GOG:

    “As for The Witcher 2 – it’s a good question, but it’s too early for a definitive answer. Yes, we would like to have The Witcher 2 without DRM, but the final decision will be made several months before the game is published, together with the worldwide publisher. We have many ideas on how to convince the players to buy the game legally (emphasis on convince, not force), but we need time to finalize them.”

    Wish Ubisoft would realize that..

  5. Rick says:

    Steam’s fine. Its when Steam’s combined with other forms of DRM that it all becomes a highly pointless exercise.

  6. Vague-rant says:

    I understand a lot of the complaints about steam as a form of DRM but I haven’t found it too obtrusive. Of course no DRM is always better but, as someone who’s been using steam for about 3 years I have no major complaints…

    It could do with a few things though. A UI overhaul and a streamlined offline mode would be good.

    • Spacewalk says:

      It could do with asking you if you want to run in offline mode when it starts up regardless of the status of your connection so I wouldn’t have to set that in advance.

  7. Premium User Badge

    Wisq says:

    I agree that Steam should probably look into making their uninstall actually work, if it’s really broken. But it’s designed as a platform, not as a single application — it’s not the sort of thing that’s meant to be installed for a single game and uninstalled after.

    It’s also hard to take a “serious PC gamer” very seriously these days if they don’t already have Steam installed for certain Steam-mandatory games (HL2/TF2/etc.) and for the massive number of Steam deals going on. Unless they’ve been specifically avoiding Steam for years now — and what does that say about their objectivity towards reviewing it?

  8. Max says:

    25M Accounts? Thats 7M more than Second Life! Now wheres the media hype claiming that this Steam game is the future of the Interwebs and every company should have a representation there?

    When presented with this kind of statistics I’m always curious about about stuff like percentage of user that have logged in this month, last three month, after they completed HL2 and so on.
    But I guess marketing will prevent that these figures ever will made public.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      @Max

      “Thats 7M more than Second Life! Now wheres the media hype claiming that this Steam game is the future of the Interwebs and every company should have a representation there?”

      This isn’t news because everyone knows PC gaming is dead.
      ;)

  9. Chris R says:

    Uninstall steam… Wha??

    I try to purchase all my games through Steam. The crazy sales are the best part of the weekend, hoping that something I’ve wanted will go on sale. And I like that it keeps all my games in one place, so I don’t have to mess about with a CD, or store a little case somewhere.

    I’ve never had Steam block me from playing any games, and when I don’t have internet, offline mode works great.

    Also, of the 70 or 80 friends on my friends list (half of them real life friends), I’ve never heard one of them that had an issue installing a game or getting it to work as described by Marcin Iwiński.

    I basically use my Steam Friends list as an instant messenger program when I’m not playing games, it’s so convenient to see what friends are playing and hop into their game if I feel like it. It’s awesome, how could anyone really hate that?

    • Lord Bigglesworth says:

      Cool story, bro

    • Jason McThompson says:

      I agree. My kids love steam! When I’m at work I know either my wife or my friends or my kids will be on steam! I have replaced steam for AIM though I still use MSN. I have had Steam since beta in 2001, and ya when it came out in late 02 it was crap. I think its silly all the fears of steam. I have not had an issue with Steam since my son was born just over six years ago!! Wow time flys!!

    • Spacegirl says:

      @ Lord Bigglesworth

      I must say that was a good “Cool Story, Bro.”

      Steam is mostly okay! it sometimes does screwy stuff but everything about a PC is sometimes screwy.

    • EaterOfCheese says:

      The only thing I hate about steam is the play offline functionality, which always seem to bork itself whenever I try and use it.

  10. Sarlix says:

    “Steam turned five years old in March 2009″ Is that referring to steam as a digital distribution platform? cos I first had to install steam back in 2002? whenever CS moved from 1.5 to 1.6, everyone who wanted to play 1.6 had to use steam. Back then I would of called it malware, it totally screwed my hard drive. And no I’m not exaggerating.

    • Will says:

      Yeah, back in the day I really, really hated it too. It caused me endless hours of RAGE as I tried to get Half Life 2 to actually work.

      Nowadays I pretty much only buy games on steam (not on principle, just for convenience). In fact, I think the last game I bought not on steam apart from GSB* was that Settlers 2 remix, years ago now.

      *Hi Cliffski!

  11. Premium User Badge

    Carra says:

    Optional is indeed the word for Steam Cloud. Making it necessary would put Steam on the same level as Ubisofts new protection scheme which forbids playing off-line.

    Personally I see that I’ve only started buying on-line last year. Zero games at retail price (their prices are way more expensive then boxed copies) but 30(!) separate buys during their bargain deals. These include bundles like the Eidos or Telltale pack.

    As for gog.com, I still prefer their service and if I count it all up I’ve bought 40 items from their site last year. If a game is up for $5.99 at both Steam and gog.com I’ll go for the no DRM gog.com. But there’s really no need to throw shit at each other. Since gog.com provides a niche product there will be room for them next to Steam.

    It does make me a bit sad though. There is no way that I can play all these great games. Let alone with toppers like Mass Effect 2 & Starcraft 2 on their way. 2010 looks like it will be a top year.

  12. bookwormat says:

    It would be interesting to know how many of the 25 million purchased at least one subscription online.

  13. Ushao says:

    Even with the crazy, insane, everything must go sale-o-thon I didn’t have trouble getting games to install. I got the “server is too busy” hiccup every so often but another try or two a couple minutes later and it was installing as smoothly as Steam usually does for me. I do wish the DRM within DRM within DRM thing would go away but otherwise Steam is like silk.

    Guess you just can’t please everyone.

  14. the wiseass says:

    Of all the evil evils out there, Steam is the lesser evil.

    • Paul says:

      And GOG is lesserer.

    • viper34j says:

      GoG shouldn’t even be in the same conversation as Steam. GoG has its no DRM policy because it waits until the game is so freakin’ old that it doesn’t matter anymore. Steam is the lesser of all DRM evils.

    • Bonedwarf says:

      “Good Old Games” is a largely misleading names. “Old Games” would be more apt. (Since very few are actually “Good”.

      Comparing Steam and GOG is like saying “The Bugatti Veyron is so much better than this steam engine.”

    • Paul says:

      Bonedwarf – you are either an idiot or a moron.Can’t decide which.

    • Jon says:

      Viper’s got a point though, Paul. You wouldn’t catch Activision licensing MW2 through GoG. Steam’s one of the most consumer/developer-friendly DD outlets there is, and it comes with a shitload of added value in the form of achievements/community etc

    • Frankie The Patrician[PF] says:

      2Bonedwarf:
      Stonekeep, Simon The Sorcerer 1+2, Freespace 1+2, Gabriel Knight, Arcanum, Commandos 1-3, Tex Murphy series, Riven, the HEROES series, the Might and Magic series, the Fallout series, DN3D, Psychonauts, Beyond the Good and Evil…OH YEAH, very few are actually good, riiight…You, Sir, got no taste and/or you are too young to understand..

    • Lone3wolf says:

      And Gog is not evil at all, nit just lessererer ;) NO DRM at all = Not evil. Free from DRM! Join the revolution in treating customers as valued people, not robbing bastards to be fleeced for everything they can provide.

      Also, does Steam provide technical support for every title released through it? Gog does.

  15. kyrieee says:

    Steam revoked copies of MW2 that were imported from other countries than your own and then activated on Steam. Everything’s not sunshine and flowers

    • DaFox says:

      That’s not steams fault though, the blame goes to Activision. I do agree that it’s shitty that such a thing is even possible on steam but they need their high profile clients like Activision.

  16. Nimic says:

    My turn to Steam-fanboy’ism was swift after the initial seething rage when they took the old CS 1.5 WON servers offline.

    Now, I love it.

    • Sarlix says:

      Oh man I used to live in the WON chat rooms and servers, good times!.

  17. Jeremy says:

    I like Steam. I use it often and play games on it. Actually, Steam, more than anything, has become a way for me to catch up on old games I haven’t had a chance to play, at really cheap prices. It’s just 1 step above a Nintendo Emulator for me in terms of functionality. Way better though, because Stalker is a lot more fun than Clu Clu Land.

  18. Sir Forkington says:

    Bollocks, titles on my graphs! Thanks for the heads up, Walker.

    Also on a more on topic note, it is a pain in the ass to, when buying a game and being on a in internet connection which errs on the slower side of snails pace, having to sit and wait to play a game. If I wanted to watch a % go slowly up over a period of days, after buying a freaking DVD, I would go out and buy a film, then torrent the game. At least I’d have something to do in the mean-time. /rant

    P.S, I’m serious about the graph, I have all my lab reports due in tomorrow, and I managed to lose the titles copying them from excel. :\

  19. Skurmedel says:

    Steam never pays for creatine, that is the key to their success: http://content.yieldmanager.edgesuite.net/atoms/75/79/64/64/757964646d2ceb3a1cfce76a3c720b93.jpg

  20. Alaric says:

    Steam is not malware as such… BUT is another nasty DRM scheme. When it closes, you can kiss your games good-bye.

    • Kadayi says:

      Companies don’t up and disappear overnight, especially ones with successful ventures. Even if Valve rolled up and died Steam would be sold on. It’s the Amazon of digital game distribution.

    • Fumarole says:

      What, didn’t you hear? The sky is falling. Or may fall. Well, possibly can fall sometime. Maybe.

    • invisiblejesus says:

      I’ve said it before, but I think it bears repeating: AOL is still in business. Still providing virtually nothing, yet it rolls on. If AOL can stay in business even today, I don’t think we need to worry about Steam shutting down anytime in the remotely forseeable future.

  21. Snords says:

    I don’t get it.

  22. Tim Ward says:

    Steam as an architecture is absolutely fine. Steam as a user interface, though… well, it can be a piece of shit sometimes.

  23. TheSombreroKid says:

    i don’t know how to work my computer, therefore steam is malware!

    ehh naw!

    you can call it malware for the malware like practices (harvesting data, required install with disc based games etc.), but not the fact that you failed to muster the neurons to setup your permissions in windows.

  24. Forscythe says:

    I like Steam because it makes playing games easier and often cheaper, but it has tremendous shortcomings that we shouldn’t forget about just because we got GTA4 for $7.50.

    1) Offline mode still doesn’t work right for many people, including me, most of the time. Particularly in the case where you lose your internet connection for some reason (or the steam servers are down), and then try to start steam, it seems like it almost never gracefully switches into offline mode the way it is supposed to. This is incredibly aggravating when it happens, most of us have experienced it, and I REALLY wish valve would put a bit of effort into fixing it once and for all.

    2) Steam is bloated and slow.

    Problem: There is a significant delay to launch steam, a significant delay for the login process, and another delay before launching a game (on top of the normal startup delay for whatever game you are playing). Restarting steam also takes forever. The client takes up a fairly large amount of RAM (less of an issue than it was a few years ago), and the steam.exe process continually spams vast quantities of I/O reads and writes whenever it is running.

    Solution: Valve needs to work on speeding things up, and it’s way past time they let us start playing a game without starting the full steam client.

    3) Steam is marketing.

    Problem: I realize that there has always been a link between playing games and shopping for games, but Steam takes things a little too far, bombarding you with ads for games when all you want to do is play the game you already have. Even if you turn off banner notifications and set “My Games” as the default tab, you will still be subject to marketing, as “free weekend” demos suddenly appear in your games list.

    Solution: Valve should make it easier to opt out of steam marketing, and really needs to stop messing with my My Games list for marketing purposes. There is no reason “Free Weekends” couldn’t work like regular demos, where they only appear in the My Games list after you have made the decision to install the demo from the store page. The store tab should be the location for marketing in steam.

    4) Steam is too centralized.

    Problem: Since all your games are tied to one steam account, if your account is blocked for any reason (such as a billing problem) you lose ALL your games. If you are running some mod and are mistakenly detected as cheating in one game, you effectively lose internet multiplayer in ALL steam games, permanently. If you are playing Left 4 Dead in one room, your brother can’t play TF2 in the other room.

    Solution: Valve needs to ease up on VAC bans, because mistakes do happen and the penalty is now too severe. They also need to allow multiple steam connections initiated from the same IP, so you can play more than one game at ones in your home. If there is a problem with your purchase of one game, Valve should not block your access to all of your other purchased games.

    5) Steam is serious DRM.

    Problem: Steam is nearly as bad as securom, although it mercifully has no install limits. That oft quoted line from Gabe Newell saying that if steam were ever to close they would release a patch that would unlock all of your games is total and complete BS. Valve has complicated contractual relationships with all of the major publishers on steam and there is simply no possibility they would be able to remove the steam DRM protection without legal and financial apocalypse. It isn’t going to happen. If steam dies or valve dies, your games die. (See #1 for some of the problems with offline mode, which are also caused by DRM.)

    Solution: Ease up on the DRM. I really want the game industry to move towards zero DRM the way the music industry is, but at the very least after a single online activation of a game, I should be able to launch the game from that point forward, whether or not I can currently connect to the steam servers. If Valve would disallow games sold on steam from adding their own additional DRM schemes, that would also go a long way to making the system friendlier.

    I love steam. But if Valve made some progress on these issues, I think it would make Steam a much more valuable service.

    • RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

      @Forscythe, I have only had problem number 2 (it takes 14 seconds to load and connect steam). But I think your other concerns are also valid.

      #1 Steam should wait until after startup for connecting to the server, and the connection process should run parallel to all other processes, so it doesn’t interfere with off-line actions. All operations that are best experienced online, should have a subtle note telling you that you’re offline.

      #2 See #1. When startup is no longer delayed with connecting, the startup time should increase dramatically.

      #3 I’m usually interested in what they have to offer, but I don’t see why free game offers should be clogging up my normal game list. It is already very full, because its design stems from the days in which only a few games were available. But besides giving you more options to search in and order your game collection, free game offers should be listed in the store, and they should basically work the same as demos.

      #4 VAC bans should be stored per game, giving server moderators the choice which games to use blacklists from. Or a block all blacklists option, of course.

      #5 If developers choose to use Steam as the only DRM, which they should, by the way, their game should be DRM free as soon as the end patch is released. Furthermore, it should be financially possible to run the license servers for a few years after closing steam, to make it easier for developers to accept Steam as the only DRM.

    • TheApologist says:

      @ Dreadnought – yes to all of this. Dead sensible. Hope someone at valve reads this.

    • Rited says:

      #4 – come again?

      I share a house with 3 other Steam users, and we never have problems playing different Steam games online.

      Quite often one of us will be playing L4D2, one is playing TF2 and one is playing CS. We all connect through a single router to a single broadband connection, is there something I’m missing here?

    • Premium User Badge

      DarkNoghri says:

      @Rited:

      I believe he means on the same account. If I have disc copies of say, UT2k4 and Swat 4, I can install each on a different computer, and then I and my brother can play those different games at the same time.

      It’s much harder to do this with Steam (if you want to play multiple games online, anyway), as you can only play online on one computer at a time, even though you have multiple games.

      Am I making sense, here?

    • Red Avatar says:

      @Rited I hope you realise Valve is within their rights to close all three accounts down, right? They clearly state it’s illegal to own more than one account in the same household. See why Steam is SUCH FUN *sarcasm*?

      No, I’m not kidding – people already lost accounts because they owned more than one on the same IP. A while ago, someone on the Steam forums lost his main account and his son’s account because he had opened a support ticket on his own account concerning his son’s account. Instead of helping, they notified him that he’s only entitled to a single account … and closed both. I took him a lot of effort to get them back and with the message that they’ll make an exception for him (which is ridiculous – why an exception and not just alter the rules?).

      Really, Steam is a legal minefield. For cheap games I don’t mind but no way I’ll buy expensive games – Steam is too risky.

    • Kadayi says:

      “1) Offline mode still doesn’t work right for many people, including me, most of the time. Particularly in the case where you lose your internet connection for some reason (or the steam servers are down), and then try to start steam, it seems like it almost never gracefully switches into offline mode the way it is supposed to. This is incredibly aggravating when it happens, most of us have experienced it, and I REALLY wish valve would put a bit of effort into fixing it once and for all.”

      Have you actually tested this recently?

  25. Colthor says:

    Between having to load the client (it’s hardly nippy), not being able to lend/resell your games, and the possibility of all your games vanishing for various reasons including those entirely out of your control*, Steam has its fair share of disadvantages.
    If it wasn’t for the sales it really wouldn’t be worth bothering with, and I strongly dislike it when boxed games require it.

    In some ways or cases Impulse and D2D are better, but GoG’s system is easily the best of the DD game shops I’ve tried.

    * “But all your boxed games could be stolen!” – home contents insurance. I bet it wouldn’t cover my Steam account getting hijacked/banned/whatever, or replacements if Valve went bust or shut down Steam.

    • Colthor says:

      And that’s what I get for not refreshing before posting a comment.

    • TheSombreroKid says:

      yawn yawn yawn, in what way are they better, exactly? in thier distinct lack of features perhaps.

      steams not perfect, but you can’t honestly tell me that these half baked alternatives are actually better? lets not pretend they’re doing a good job, that doesn’t encourage competition, if they want to be seen as a compeditor to steam, they need to actually compete with steam.

    • Sarlix says:

      @ TheSombreroKid What’s wrong with GOG? At least you actually own what you buy and are not reliant on a 3rd party to play it.

    • Colthor says:

      @TheSombreroKid:
      Impulse: Only need the client running to download/patch games.

      D2D: No client necessary. Some games have no DRM at all, making them equal to GoG.

      GoG: Once you’ve downloaded the installer you can do what you like with it – and you can redownload that if you lose it as long as (your account on) GoG survives.

      More features do not necessarily make something better; maybe if you mostly play multiplayer games the extra stuff Steam provides/imposes is useful, but I don’t, so not having to bother with it is a bonus.

    • Jeremy says:

      @Sarlix

      While GoG is a great place to get games online, I would say that GoG doesn’t have to compete with anyone. They are selling games that nobody else is selling, and they’re not competing for my purchase in games like Mass Effect 2, or anything else that is new.

      Maybe in terms of their stance of DRM we can say they are competitors, but that doesn’t actually impact who I buy from, because their catalogs don’t overlap. Most people use GoG and Steam, that way they can access all the games.

    • TheSombreroKid says:

      so you’re saying the steam community, steam cloud, steam overlay, achievements, dlc, auto patching, easy reinstall/machine switch and shop are not as good as not having to have a 60mb executable in memory?

    • Colthor says:

      @TheSombreroKid:
      Indeed, those features that I rarely use aren’t worth waiting for a pretty sluggish client to load in my opinion.
      Also, that client is what will stop me getting at my games in any of the various possible doomsday scenarios, or just if there’s some connection issue at the moment and offline mode has a mardy on.

      If it were optional I’d turn it off.

    • Jeremy says:

      Does Steam really take that long to load? Mine turns on as I start my computer.. and literally, it takes seconds to open. I’m just curious if maybe Steam really does take longer on some computers, because I can’t even imagine speed ever being a complaint lodged against Steam.

    • Blather Blob says:

      @TheSombreroKid: I don’t much care about Steam’s resource usage (though it’s currently using 180MB on my machine, not 60MB), but when it’s a game that doesn’t have any of the features you list except through the overlay I prefer to not be bound to Steam (unless Steam’s having a $5 sale of course!).

      I keep all my games on a separate partition, so as far as reinstalling goes, after a format it’s really a matter of being able to double click an .exe and play a GOG or D2D or CD game, vs. having to setup steam and setup my login all over again before being able to double click a steam game’s .exe.

      I also really don’t like Steam being wrapped around games I want to be able to just launch and play a quick game of. Gravitron 2 is a game I love to jump into and play until I crash, which is usually embarrassingly quick. But it takes 45 seconds just to start when you have to wait for Steam to load up and login. A steam-less copy loads in less than a second. It really kills the impulse to play a quick minute of something when you know you’re going to be spending another minute staring at a Steam loading screen. And steam just gets slower and slower with each game I buy on it, which isn’t great encouragement to keep doing that.

      So far I’ve always chosen Steam when a game actually takes advantage of it, and I love Steam for its sales. But if a game is going to cost the same price or more to get on Steam, and have nothing to show for it, I avoid it.

    • Nimic says:

      I think he might be referring to the features lacking in most of the other services. They’re purely for downloading games. Steam is a little bit more than that.

      Edit: I probably should have refreshed my browser before posting.

      I think something might be wrong with some peoples’ Steam. Mine starts running and automatically logs in within seconds of logging in to my windows account. And running a game doesn’t take any longer than it would have if I hadn’t been using Steam.

    • Blather Blob says:

      @Nimic: I don’t run Steam at startup, and often quit it. So I get to see the whole login, check for updates, check for new ads cycle more often, probably. I also have 179 games and tools, 163 of which are installed and presumably have to each be checked for updates every time it loads. I’ve noticed it taking longer and longer as my list grows, and I do remember it being much faster before the weekend deals started becoming so cheap. On the other hand, if it is linked to the number of games installed Valve employees have a lot more games on their lists and I can’t imagine they’d be willing to put up with even longer waits. Unless they don’t install most of their games.

      It’s gotten to the point where just starting the client by itself involves the window hanging with an empty list while it’s checking for updates — long enough for Windows to mark it as not responding and ask me if I want to end the process.

      Even if it is some sort of bug in Steam, there isn’t any additional software with bugs to worry about if I don’t use Steam. Could also be a sign I need to defragment my Steam install, though again it’s only affecting Steam itself, not my Steam games (if I crack them to run without Steam they load fast).

      On the other hand, it is only about 45 extra seconds when launching a game directly (unless an update has come out for anything you own, of course, in which case Steam cancels launching your game) which isn’t really too bad of a hit to the load time of most games, and it’s more in the range of 5-10 seconds if Steam is already running. But it sucks for the smaller games you only want to play a single round of.

    • Nimic says:

      @ Blather Blob

      Holy ****, that’s a lot of games. I’ve only got 46 installed and 60 total myself. With more than twice that, I’m not surprised the whole run/update/etc business takes a while. I see your point, though, particularly concerning the smaller games that you just want a go at for a little while.

    • Colthor says:

      @Jeremy:
      On my desktop Steam just took about 35 seconds to load, and, as you’d expect, it seems much slower on my low-end laptop. I don’t load it at startup as that’s caused problems for me in the past, and as I don’t use it most times I boot there’s no point.

      That might not seem a long time, but when all you wanted to do was play Doom II it’s more than long enough to think “This was a hell of a lot quicker on the P90 in 1996″, it grates because it’s just unnecessary, and on the laptop it can put me off firing up games that require it at all.

      (Desktop specs: Q6700@3GHz, 4GB RAM, Spinpoint F1 750GB, Win7 x64 – not a slow machine.)

    • Fumarole says:

      @Bob

      Every time Steam launches it checks for updates for every single game and tool you have installed. Cut down on that number (163? yikes!) and you’ll see a drastic improvement in load time. I was there once too, with everything in my account loaded.

    • Blather Blob says:

      @Fumarole: I’d rather keep my games available — I have tons of HD space, and have at least as many boxed games installed too, without slowing each other down. If I’m not actually able to install and use the games I own on steam, that kind of kills it for me.

      But I think a good solution is to run through and manually mark each of them as “Do not automatically update this game”. It will still check for updates and install them, as I understand, but only for each games as and when I launch it. That should fix the problem, if it’s caused by checking for all updates at once, and let me continue taking advantage of the Bargain Bucket!

  26. Eggy says:

    “Even if you turn off banner notifications and set “My Games” as the default tab, you will still be subject to marketing, as “free weekend” demos suddenly appear in your games list.”

    YEAH STEAM STOP GIVING ME FREE GAMES.

    CORPORATE SCUM

    • Forscythe says:

      @Eggy: I like free games as much as anyone. What I don’t like is having Zero Gear mysteriously appear in my games list with an urgent sounding “2 days, 1 hour remaining”. I already knew about the free weekend from the steam popup billboard ads and the steam news.

      They could put all of the free demos on your My Games list permanently, but they don’t. It hasn’t stopped me from installing and playing free demos. They did put Zero Gear on my list, not to give my a free game, but because they were trying to promote it and boost sales.

      Steam is a store. I get it. But when I buy something from a real store, I don’t expect the store to come home with me and keep trying to sell me stuff while I use the product I purchased. I would just like to keep one small corner of the Steam application clean from marketing.

    • Blather Blob says:

      @Forscythe: I tried out Zero Gear when it was in beta, and apparently a side effect of that is Steam does permanently list its demo in my uninstalled games. I was rather glad to see the full game stuck there for the free weekend, since I hoped it would take the demo with it when it left. No such luck, though.

    • Forscythe says:

      I had a friend who saw UT3 show up on his list during a free weekend and assumed that I had purchased it for him as a gift – he did pay the $8 to buy it for himself once he found out the truth, though

  27. Blather Blob says:

    GTR Evolution is a steam game that you’re pretty much forced to buy retail rather than straight from Steam (it was less than half the steam price on amazon on launch day, and the prices only got further apart from then on). Yet when I tried to install it from disc Steam decided it would download the entire thing instead, and this was when Steam’s servers would only give me about 100K/s (they’ve gotten much better over this last year). It took about 6 hours to install from disc, and it still had to download an update to the game before it would play.

    When I got the Race On expansion last Christmas, it did the same thing again, downloading the entire game instead of reading it off the DVD… except this time in the middle of the holiday sale! It took half a day to even get the download to start. Admittedly I was one of the ones overloading the servers with all the many purchases I made :).

    The worst part is the Race series only uses Steam for DRM — no friends list integration, no server info integrated into the client, etc. It doesn’t even get your name off of Steam, just defaults to your computer’s login name.

    So the only benefit you get from Steam is being forced to wait while it logs in, clicking a selection box to tell it you want to play the game, not run the video configuration utilitiy, having to click away a popup window asking you to please wait while it downloads the latest TF2 update, and then having to tell it to launch the game again, and then having to confirm you want to play the game, not launch the video card configuration utility again. Then the game will start loading. The automatic updates are really the only advantage Steam brings to that game, but the game’s only gotten a few small patches anyway.

    Still, I think Marcin Iwiński is exaggerating. Even if he ran into the same bug I did and Steam was redownloading the entire game… the founder of GOG has an internet connection which takes 48 hours to download 10GB? His service sells several games that are 4GB already! Is widespread availability of bandwidth really something he wants to point out as a problem?

  28. Max says:

    Regarding “Steam is malware lololol”, the long install time was mostly likely due to his internet connection, or (if he bought the game right after release) from the the steam servers being overloaded. And both of those are simply unavoidable problems with digital distribution.

    And I’ve never had problems uninstalling Steam – that sounds like a problem with his Windows installation since I’ve had plenty of times where Windows denied me access to a program. It’s silly to blame the program in question in those cases.

    Also it sounds like he doesn’t know how to uninstall games through Steam. Right click > Delete Local Content.

    • RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

      I hear a lot about problems with digital distribution of content.

      Those problems are unavoidable with the CURRENTLY USED digital distribution. But only until a broadcast protocol is invented to offload large amounts of downloads not only to mirrors, but also to arbitrary in between points, that were used for the first download anyway. So when 50 people in an arbitrary area are all downloading the same file, they will all use one arbitrary hub, which in turn downloads from a hub closer to the original server.

      The difference with the current protocol is that the file doesn’t have to be sent to those hubs for every time it is requested. You would simply get a reference to the nearest midpoint. It would require some extra storage capacity on the hubs, but it would drastically decrease traffic between hubs, and the main server and should increase performance. Maxing out to the capacity of the nearest hub.

      It should work like cache memory (in your processor), where content that is most often used will be stored in the fastest memory (or in this case the nearest hub). Making the algorithm for deciding what content should be temporarily stored might be a challenge.

      Plus, the current protocol is pretty flexible, allowing data to be sent in packets, which could all take a different route. That makes the protocol even harder to design.

    • Blather Blob says:

      @RC-1290’Dreadnought': The protocol you describe sounds familiar. I believe it’s defined in RFC 2616, and you might have used it before ;)

    • RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

      @Blather Blob, I’m probably misunderstanding this, but are you telling me that plain old HTTP allows people to download from the nearest hub that was also used for another user but the same content? So if 10 people in a street download the same content, the first person would have to wait for the original server, and the other 9 simply get a reference to the nearest hub, making their downloads a lot faster because the file doesn’t have to come from the server again?

    • Blather Blob says:

      @RC-1290’Dreadnought': HTTP has extensive caching support but nobody actually takes advantage of it. ISPs would first have to setup those neighborhood cache servers you mention, then most browsers have bugs that stop them from working quite right, and then most Web 2.0 websites are designed without thought to working with caching servers anyway.

      And then even if you had it all setup and working, your favourite DD site probably would be telling the cache server not to cache your download of L4D because piracy concerns required them to — even though 50 of your neighbors might be planning to download L4D too. And then you’d probably have the same problems AOL users do with their cache servers, and be constantly told that too many people have already done something from your IP, because your ISP is disguising your IP out of privacy concerns and the website only sees the cache server’s IP, or the website is too stupid to look for a passed-through client IP from a caching server, or the website sees the passed-through IP but just doesn’t believe it’s from a real caching server and thinks you’re trying to trick it into believing you’re more than one person.

      So it’s in the spec, and sometimes works in real life, but not all the time and too few people need them enough to bother getting it working properly. Actually they do work really well on simpler sites, and used to be quite popular, but bandwidth has gotten cheaper and anything requiring a login, cookies, or javascript usually isn’t designed by someone who even knows HTTP supports caches, and ends up bypassing them completely. Mark Nottingham‘s site has lots of info on caches if you want to read about them — I think he’s Yahoo’s cache expert.

  29. Mike says:

    I think, as we’ve discussed before, I would be quite happy if Steam WAS malware. It runs so smoothly, it could take over, delete and replace my OS and I probably would neither notice any difference nor be that distraught.

  30. Mr Lizard says:

    With Steam being so successful, its hardly surprising that certain major publishers are rushing to add compulsory online / login based DRM purchase environments to their own games. Since they’re obviously not going to be deterred by the same type of outrage and resentment that greeted Steam at launch, let’s hope they learn from Valve’s example when it comes to providing a decent user experience.

  31. John says:

    Funnily enough Steam, the darling of PC gaming is what pushed me onto the console. Now I only use the PC for indie and classic games. I tried Steam but their awful payment systems blocked my CC and Paypal accounts. No support for days (thinking the world stops for US holidays) so I said goodbye to it and never looked back. The fact that I’ve bought many Valve games based on friends recommendations and only ever enjoyed one (Portal) cements it as a company I don’t want to support. I’m not saying it’s a necessarily logical decision but it’s the right one for me.

    GOG on the other hand has a truly global store with fixed international prices, worldwide release dates and no DRM. So they get plenty of support from my wallet.

    • Psychopomp says:

      GoG doesn’t have to appease retailers.

    • Fumarole says:

      Of course the world doesn’t stop for US holidays. But you know what does? The US.

  32. Dodoman says:

    Glad to be part of the 25 million users. I was in the first 1000000 though :)

  33. Kronyx says:

    All the convienency can and will backfire, as this service won’t last forever. It may not be in this decade, century or any time soon, but, one day the servers will inevitably shut down, effectively killing all your games and money spent. *shrug* Who knows, maybe the world will just explode, killing everyone too.

  34. Jason McThompson says:

    I agree. My kids love steam! When I’m at work I know either my wife or my friends or my kids will be on steam! I have replaced steam for AIM though I still use MSN. I have had Steam since beta in 2001, and ya when it came out in late 02 it was crap. I think its silly all the fears of steam. I have not had an issue with Steam since my son was born just over six years ago!! Wow time flys!

  35. mbp says:

    Am I the only one who is surprised this number isn’t bigger given that just about every half serious PC gamer has a Steam account. According to Wikipedia there are some 39 million Xbox 360’s out there and 25 million is not embarrassing compared to that. There are however 138 million Play station 2’s out there and I would much prefer to see PC gaming hit those heady heights.

    PS. Anyone know why I always have problems with the Captcha on RPS – most of the time the box isn’t even clickable for me. I am using Firefox.

  36. Antilogic says:

    Hmmm, I dont understand all the issue with uninstalling steam.

    I uninstalled it yesterday. I pressed the uninstall button in pregrams and features. It uninstalled, took 30 seconds.

    Simple.

  37. Jason Moyer says:

    Given the choice I’d rather download something from Impulse or EA Store. I dunno how people can find stuff like SecureROM activation to be intrusive when Steam requires you to launch their bloated store/chat application everytime you want to play something.

    • Psychopomp says:

      Steam actually has benefits. SecuROM just punches you in the balls.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      SecureROM lets you activate a game one time and play it forever without a disk in the drive. I’ll take that over the standard “I guess I’ll go take a piss while I wait for Steam to load so I can play this game I bought a physical copy of” thing with Steam. Or the “it’s been 20 years since FMV games that streamed audio/video off of a CD but I’m ok with companies using my optical drive as a dongle because I can bypass it by downloading an illegal crack” thing that seems to make everyone so giddy nowadays.

      I’d also be a lot more impressed with Steam’s userbase figure if it were derived solely from people who downloaded the client in order to purchase something, rather than being primarily composed of people who would have never touched the thing if it weren’t forced on them as DRM for games they purchased at retail.

    • Psychopomp says:

      SecuROM lets you play forever, up until you add in a new stick of RAM, and the DRM servers have gone down.
      Steam *also* lets you play forever without a disc, and has community features, fantastic sales, and in addition takes all of a split second to start up for me. I really hate to be that guy, but if Steam takes a noticeable amount of time to start up for you, you probably need an upgrade. My computer is a five year old POS, that runs everything on minimum, and steam goes just fine for me.

      You also seem to be under the impression that the average Steam fan *ever shuts the damn thing off.* Nowadays, I feel cut off if the overlay doesn’t work, let alone if Steam is off completely.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      I’ve had to call Microsoft a few times in order to re-authenticate my copy of Windows XP, and I can’t imagine resetting your activation limits for SecureROM is any more of a hassle than that.

      Yeah, Steam’s community features and file migration and whatever are great, if you need them. I don’t need them. I just want to be able to click on the icon that says “play this game” and play the game without some unecessary bloatware having to load every time. It’s also really irritating when I’m having a performance issue in a game, and the problem goes away if I fire up task manager and kill steam.exe. If you’re going to require me to use your stupid software, at least give it a small footprint and appear to care about optimizing the way it shreds your system resources to pieces the longer you have it running. That, and I’d rather not have to wait 15-20 seconds for the store application to load and log me in, in addition to the time it takes to load the actual game I want to play.

      If the userbase sizes of the respective digital download services weren’t highly tilted towards steam because of its use as DRM for physical media, I think you’d find Impulse or Gamersgate would be the leaders in market share by a wide margin. There’s absolutely no reason for a digital download provider to require you to run their store application every time you run a game you’ve purchased from them, yet that’s what Steam requires you to do, and people view this as a solution that’s preferable to other forms of copy protection. Weird.

    • Psychopomp says:

      “I’ve had to call Microsoft a few times in order to re-authenticate my copy of Windows XP, and I can’t imagine resetting your activation limits for SecureROM is any more of a hassle than that.”

      It really is, and that’s if they will even reset. I know from personal experience. That’s also completely ignoring that fact that SecuROM’s servers *will* go down one day, and unlike Valve, there’s been zero commitment to patch DRM out when that day comes.

      The rest? Fair enough, though I stand by you probably needing an upgrade.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      If resetting your activations is that bad, then that’s a problem, yeah. I’ve been fortunate to have never had more than 0-1 activations in use for any game, but obviously a complete system failure would mean I’d lose one. Still, I don’t think I’ve had 4 catastrophic system failures in 30 years of PC ownership (hell, I’ve had one hard drive die, ever, and that was because I shorted it during my first system build) so I’m not too worried about it. I do have issues with people implementing S-ROM with activation limits and not providing a tool to de-authorize a game from your PC, but that’s not really common anymore is it?

      As far as the upgrade part goes, I have a hard enough time justifying upgrades for legitimate purposes (not that playing a game is a legitimate purpose, and I haven’t actually built a new system for media creation since my P-100) so I dunno that I’m going to take a PC that runs iRacing at full detail at 100+ FPS and upgrade it so I can run an e-commerce application that’s unecessarily bundled with a handful of games I own. :)

    • jalf says:

      Steam *also* lets you play forever without a disc, and has community features, fantastic sales, and in addition takes all of a split second to start up for me. I really hate to be that guy, but if Steam takes a noticeable amount of time to start up for you, you probably need an upgrade. My computer is a five year old POS, that runs everything on minimum, and steam goes just fine for me.

      I assume what you meant to say is “Steam lets you play except when their auth servers are unavailable/overloaded, has community features including a friends system that goes down regularly, fantastic sales to compensate for their prices normally being 80% above everyone else, and in addition takes around 15 seconds to start up. (Remember, you just said you never shut it down, so how you’re qualified to determine its startup time is baffling.

      That’s also completely ignoring that fact that SecuROM’s servers *will* go down one day, and unlike Valve, there’s been zero commitment to patch DRM out when that day comes.

      Oh, that old myth again? Perhaps you could show me the quote where they said that? Perhaps you could tell me how on Earth the big publishers would ever tolerate a clause like that? I can just imagine Activision going “Eh, I guess we can sell our games on your platform. We trust they won’t be pirated like crazy. And you know, if you one day path the DRM out? Ah, that’s ok, I’m sure it’ll be for a good reason, never mind that everyone will be able to copy our games”.

      Valve hasn’t committed to doing anything like that. With good reason, because they’d be unable to sell 90% of the games currently on Steam if they did that. Plus, of course, companies that go bankrupt are notoriously short on money, meaning that funding the patching of software is a bit unlikely to happen.

      But then again, actually being object is so much less fun than blind fanboyism. Just forget I said anything. ;)

    • jalf says:

      Oh, you also seem to have forgot to mention a few other of Steam’s selling points:

      – Some of their games just don’t work on newer computers. Never did, never will, and Steam provides zero support. Unlike GOG who actually verify that their games work, and try to help you if you can’t get it running.
      – Some of their games never get patched, or get patched much later than the retail versions.
      – They’re wonderfully sloppy about security. Last I checked, they stored your passwords in plain text. And then there are problems such as this, or unfortunates like this guy… I personally just can’t wait until my account gets hijacked due to Valve’s insecure software.

      Very convenient.

    • Psychopomp says:

      “I assume what you meant to say is “Steam lets you play except when their auth servers are unavailable/overloaded, has community features including a friends system that goes down regularly, fantastic sales to compensate for their prices normally being 80% above everyone else, and in addition takes around 15 seconds to start up. (Remember, you just said you never shut it down, so how you’re qualified to determine its startup time is baffling.”

      1)Authentication servers go down approximately once in a blue moon. If they’re down, restart in offline mode.
      2)The friends system goes down, at most, once a day. Oh no, I can’t chat for five to ten minutes.
      3)The normal prices are in line with retail.
      4)Here’s a shocker: people shut down their computers. Surprising, I know.

      “Oh, that old myth again? Perhaps you could show me the quote where they said that? Perhaps you could tell me how on Earth the big publishers would ever tolerate a clause like that? I can just imagine Activision going “Eh, I guess we can sell our games on your platform. We trust they won’t be pirated like crazy. And you know, if you one day path the DRM out? Ah, that’s ok, I’m sure it’ll be for a good reason, never mind that everyone will be able to copy our games”.

      Valve hasn’t committed to doing anything like that. With good reason, because they’d be unable to sell 90% of the games currently on Steam if they did that. Plus, of course, companies that go bankrupt are notoriously short on money, meaning that funding the patching of software is a bit unlikely to happen.

      But then again, actually being object is so much less fun than blind fanboyism. Just forget I said anything. ;)”

      Oh, yes, characterize someone who likes something you’re afraid or dislike as a fanboy. I can tell you’re an objective thinker, not taken in by fear mongering.

      1)http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showpost.php?p=10642189&postcount=28 is the closest I can find, but here’s a funny thing. Some of us *trust* people. It’s not like all corporations are out to get you.

      2)You still think DRM this day and age is about piracy? Oh, my, you silly man. It’s about second hand sales. The publishers aren’t stupid, they know they can’t win against pirates.

      3)Yet again, publishers aren’t stupid. They know steam isn’t going down any time in the foreseeable future. Once it does, they’ll long have stopped making money off the titles they’ve sold on steam, and would have known well enough to stop putting their newer titles on the service

      4)You seem to be under the impression that Steam would just immediately go down, with little notice to anyone that it was happening. Businesses don’t disappear over night.

      5)Cracks aren’t large files, at all. What on earth makes you think they don’t already have the necessary files ready for when that day comes?

      “- Some of their games just don’t work on newer computers. Never did, never will, and Steam provides zero support. Unlike GOG who actually verify that their games work, and try to help you if you can’t get it running.
      – Some of their games never get patched, or get patched much later than the retail versions.
      – They’re wonderfully sloppy about security. Last I checked, they stored your passwords in plain text. And then there are problems such as this, or unfortunates like this guy… I personally just can’t wait until my account gets hijacked due to Valve’s insecure software.”

      1)”Never did” is an outright lie and you know it. They may not have worked perfectly, but you could play them. As far as after that, it’s kind of hard to foresee what difficulties newer hardware can cause.

      2)This I’ll give you

      3)

    • Vinraith says:

      Honestly, with any purchase I make on Steam, I simply assume I’m going to lose that game sooner or later. It’s a rental, I have no illusions about that, and it’s the reason I won’t buy anything more than $5 or $10 on the service. Valve makes it very clear in their EULA that service can be dropped or denied at any time, I take that seriously.

      If people want to have faith that Valve is a benevolent and all-powerful company that will distribute cracks should anything ever happen, will never wrongly suspend or ban them, and will likely exist forever I suppose that’s their business. I’ll stick with their own legal documentation as a guide, instead, and buy from places that aren’t quite so interested in getting between me and my games.

      As to people that think a subpar chat and VOIP client is worth the surrounding hassle, all I can do raise my eyebrows and slowly back away.

  38. invisiblejesus says:

    This just in: government study show that Steam’s competitors don’t want you to use Steam! Film at eleven.

  39. Shalrath says:

    “My turn to Steam-fanboy’ism was swift after the initial seething rage when they took the old CS 1.5 WON servers offline.

    Now, I love it.”

    I still remember that day. I was so angry…

    Now I buy nine of 10 game purchases off steam.

  40. dodo head says:

    I like GoG; everything they do is good. But this? Pathetic. Nothing of what he say is true expect for admin rights to uninstall, of course you need admin rights to uninstall, it’s a proper piece of windows software! They lost a lot of respect right there.

  41. Big Daddy says:

    Hey Marcin Iwiński: try make something better. I dare you.

    • destroy.all.monsters says:

      He already has. An incredibly successful company that releases games without region lockouts, VAC bans, or any other controls that attempt to take control of *your game* from you. Along with it he has created a vibrant community and has instilled a degree of customer loyalty that no other company has. It is remarkably common to read on the forums at Gog.com how a person already owned said game and re-bought it just to support the company. That is real customer loyalty.

      Simply by treating the customer as a person and not a presumed pirate. To top it off they regularly participate in their own forums and respond to emails quickly. Valve don’t. Impulse/Stardock doesn’t. Only Gamersgate compares in customer service.

      Next time read what the man has to say in its entirety – and educate yourself on his background before inserting your foot directly into your mouth.

    • Psychopomp says:

      Jesus christ, why can’t you get this through your thick skull? Steam and GoG are not competitors. GoG sells ooooolllllld games, Steam just sells games. Except for a few titles, they do not overlap at all. They’re no more competitors than the electronics section and the shelves of candy at checkout.

      Also, if you keep bitching about VAC, I’m just going to assumed you’re a pissed of 12 year old cheater, who got caught using aimbots.

    • jalf says:

      So two companies are not competitors unless they sell *exactly* the same products? Impulse and Steam clearly aren’t competitors either..

      Activision and EA aren’t competitors either, obviously.

      I think the person having difficulty getting something “through his thick skull” is you. If two companies sell the same product, they are competing. True, they’re not competing on *every* game they sell, but they’re sure as hell competing on some of them, and they’re both competing for gamers’ money.

  42. RoboSobou says:

    Not sure if Marcin Iwiński was directly involved in the creation of The Witcher, but his company is, as far as I understand. So consider this: compare installing the retail and the Steam versions of The Witcher (i.e. mandatory registration and endless patching vs. one big download) and then try to tell me that Steam has some evil DRM scheme going on. I dare you.

    Let’s see them improving The Witcher 2 (which is sure to land on evil Steam anyway, when it eventually lands).

    I really like GoG, but that was an enormously stupid thing to say.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      Copy protection is determined by the publisher and not the developer (the NA version of the EE that I have came addled with Tages, not sure about the versions distributed elsewhere). In any case, the currently patched version of The Witcher has no DRM whatsoever.

  43. Rich_P says:

    According to Wikipedia there are some 39 million Xbox 360’s out there and 25 million is not embarrassing compared to that.

    Microsoft spent billions of dollars designing and manufacturing the Xbox product line. By comparison, Steam essentially cost Valve nothing. While the Xbox undoubtedly brings in more revenue than Steam, the latter’s return-on-investment must be staggering.

    Valve created a platform that delivers them a cut from every game sold (exactly like the Xbox and its licensing fees) for virtually nothing. Hardware costs and assembly are left up to the user; advertising for the service is practically nonexistent; and Valve doesn’t have to rely on a massive retail apparatus to push consoles and games. Once a user is hooked into Steam, they’ll likely keep coming back for more, no need for retail.

    I’m not going to pretend to know everything about videogame economics, but you have to marvel at Valve’s genius with Steam. While Sony and Microsoft are out spending billions of dollars developing consoles with the hope that licensing fees and DLC make up for it, Steam’s silently cruising along with massive year over year growth for virtually nothing.

    • Y3k-Bug says:

      Steam is many things, but it certainly isn’t cheap.

      It’s easily one of the biggest networks in the world. Steam costs Valve quite a lot.

    • Rich_P says:

      Yes, but I’m willing to bet that Valve did not spend billions of dollars developing and deploying Steam. My point is that Steam’s upfront costs are less than game platforms like the Xbox, while bandwidth costs are factored into each purchase. I’m curious as to how many users buy a game (say during a sale) and never end up downloading it — free money from Valve’s perspective. Personally, I’ve yet to download about half the games in my account.

      Without hard numbers (which we’ll never get), all of this is handwavy and speculative. What’s for certain, though, is that Valve will never have to spend $1 billion fixing broken Xbox hardware :)

    • Jason Moyer says:

      Former Microsoft employee starts company that uses Microsoft-style competitive practices…I’m pretty sure the amount of money that’s invested into Steam at any given time is roughly equal to “whatever it takes” plus one.

  44. Marcin says:

    Steam is great, when it works. When it doesn’t, you realize all of your games are held hostage to network issues, steam issues, weather issues, connection setup issues, designed-obsolescence issues, account fubars … and all of a sudden it doesn’t seem quite so hot. I can never play any Steam stuff at work, either (terrible inorite? ;) – the auth server port is blocked.

    I’m slowly starting to move away from it, and mostly intend to get bargain bin titles off of it. Chances are if I didn’t buy it right away, I won’t be too sore if I can’t play it for a while because of “issues”.

    • Kadayi says:

      You don’t remotely think these connection issues might not actually lie at you end perhaps? I mean Steam is many things, but it’s not an ISP last time I checked.

    • MD says:

      @ Kadayi

      (One of) the point(s) is that those connection issues, regardless of where they originate, would not be a problem were it not for Steam.

      i.e. of course Steam isn’t to blame for every connection issue, but Steam is to blame for converting those connection issues into “cannot play games” issues.

    • Kadayi says:

      @MD

      How often does Steam not work for you personally? Would you say 1 in 5 times, 1 in 10 times, 1 in 50 times, 1 in 100 times, 1 in 500 times, 1 in 1000 times?

      Personally as someone whose being using the service since the beginning, I think the number of times I’ve actually had an issue with Steam itself (not my ISP or Router messing up)is probably about 3 times in total, so somewhere between 1 in 500 and 1 in 1000. I’d say that a pretty acceptable failure rate on a service for what is at the end of the day entertainment, not a life support machine.

    • MD says:

      @ Kadayi:

      I think you misunderstood me. I wasn’t claiming that Steam itself has a high failure rate. I was pointing out that the “ISP or Router” problems you refer to would in many cases be irrelevant were the game not Steam-dependent. If I buy a game from GamersGate, GOG, Impulse, etc., then once I have downloaded the game (and authenticated it once, when applicable), my ISP or router can do whatever it likes, and I will still be able to play the game.

    • Fumarole says:

      Ahem. Offline mode?

    • Kadayi says:

      @Fumarole

      For the sake of humour I thought I’d refresh myself as to offline mode. So having disconnected my router I started up Steam and low and behold Steam says ‘can’t make an internet connection, would you like to use offline mode?’ (or words to that effect). I say yes, Steam launches and aside from the fact that I can’t see the store or the community everything is in place. I fire up Left4dead2, it warns me that because there no internet connection I’m not attached to the Steam cloud for synching, but it starts ok and I’m able to play in Single player mode fine. Next up I fire up Mass Effect 2 (hot off the shelves). The game fires up without a problem, though it does warn me that because it can’t connect to the internet certain DLC aspects to the title aren’t presently available (that is title specific rather than Steam specific) once it’s launched, however I’m otherwise able to play. I exit the game (though not Steam). Plug in my router and once my connection is back again I go to file>go online, and Steam says it needs to restart in order to do, so which it does seamlessly.

      No problems whatsoever.

    • Fumarole says:

      Imagine that. A reasonable, dispassionate experiment shows that the system in fact works and is not Bin Laden holding your games for ransom. Thank you for that.

    • Urthman says:

      To be fair to Marcin, this seems to be a recent, awesome improvement made to Steam. I’m certain that a year ago, if you didn’t specifically go into offline mode while you were online to get permission to do so, and your connection went out, you were completely locked out of your Steam games until you could get your connection back to get permission to use offline mode.

      With this improvement, I am much, much more willing to buy games on Steam now.

    • Kadayi says:

      @Urthman

      So basically you’re saying we should be fair to a guy whose come here with outdated information and passed it off as present fact? Maybe it would of made more sense for him to have checked up on it before hand no?

      @Fumarole

      My pleasure. Pity the OP didn’t try the same before posting. ;)

  45. Premium User Badge

    mickiscoole says:

    I can’t wait to see what the announcement about steam at GDC will be (Introversion hinted at it on twitter)

    • Kadayi says:

      Care to point us at that twitter. I had a look but couldn’t see anything that stood out tbh.

  46. Vinraith says:

    Steam really is the Wal-mart of digital distribution. Cheap and convenient, but you get what you pay for. Fortunately for them, “cheap and convenient” is more than sufficient to keep them wildly popular.

    As with the real Wal-mart, I use them when the price is too good to pass up, but seek higher quality for products I care about.

    • Forscythe says:

      @Vinraith: Well put!

    • A-Scale says:

      You analogy isn’t really apt though, as the quality of the products themselves is unaffected by steam. It is the accessing of those products that you might take issue with. It’s more akin to buying two products of identical quality, but the former option sells them for less and locks them in a complex safe that is sometimes susceptible to breakage, whereas the latter option costs more but has a much simpler or no lock on the safe. Not nearly as pithy, I know, but more accurate.

    • Vinraith says:

      @A-Scale

      You’re right, of course, and you’re correct that your own analogy is more apt. Mine, however, is considerably simpler, and adequately conveys the point I think. I can’t help but think there might be a pithy but more apt analogy that we’re both missing, but until I or someone else comes up with it this is the best I’ve got.

      Plus, come to think of it, several Steam games really are “substandard” in one way or another. Quite a few of them aren’t patched up properly, and a few of them have regular installation “irregularities” or other conflicts with the Steam client itself.

    • jalf says:

      Cheap? Been a few years since I heard that word being used to describe Steam. For Europeans, it’s grossly overpriced.

      Most of my American friends say it’s about the same price as brick and mortar stores, which in themselves are far above what you pay if you order from online retailers, so again, hardly “cheap”.

    • Vinraith says:

      @jalf

      I’m not talking about the normal prices, I’m talking about the sales. Steam sales blow every competing digital distribution and physical store right out of the water, at least in the US. Without those sales Steam wouldn’t be nearly as popular as it is.

  47. castle says:

    I’m OK with Steam, but I have a lingering concern with the segregation of offline and online “modes.” This really needs to be seamlessly integrated–you open Steam, and if an internet connection is present it connects to the servers and begins the usual update checks/steam cloud/etc.; if a connection is not present, it simply doesn’t do these things and opens as normal.

    This can’t be that difficult to make happen. The current system of having to activate “offline mode” to play without the internet is absurd…more than once I’ve had problems getting offline mode to work and been stranded without any of my Steam games.

  48. damien says:

    the only thing that becomes any clearer whenever one of these wild steam discussions breaks out is that steam must be headed in the right direction because of how strongly people feel about it (both for and against).

    no one has strong feelings about a direct2drive, or gamersgate, or insert-your-country’s-chain-game-store-HERE. for better or for worse, they are all just places to conduct a business transaction. there’s no more thought involved. you want a product, you pay for it and go about your way.

    i look at steam as a work in progress, a store and a set of social experiments rolled into one, trying to figure out what works and doesn’t work as it goes and grows.

    on a personal note – its revolutionized the way i buy games in just the two years i’ve used it. pc games at retail don’t make any sense to me anymore because of how seamlessly steam has been integrated into my gaming life.

    • MD says:

      @ damien:

      “no one has strong feelings about a direct2drive, or gamersgate, or insert-your-country’s-chain-game-store-HERE. for better or for worse, they are all just places to conduct a business transaction. there’s no more thought involved. you want a product, you pay for it and go about your way. ”

      This can partially be explained by the fact that D2D, GamersGate, et. al. are not forced upon anyone. To my knowledge, nobody has ever bought a copy of a game from retail store x only to find that they are forced to use GamersGate brand DRM in order to play said game. That happens with Steam, though.

      GG, D2D and physical stores are treated as ‘just places to conduct a business transaction’ because they allow us to treat them as such. Steam is a service which, in certain cases, we are forced to use for the lifetime of a purchased product.

    • MD says:

      (You seem to sort of implicitly accept this in the second half of your post, but II was replying to the bit I quoted with regard to the previous bit:

      “the only thing that becomes any clearer whenever one of these wild steam discussions breaks out is that steam must be headed in the right direction because of how strongly people feel about it (both for and against).”)

    • A-Scale says:

      It’s not Steam that “forces itself upon” these poor buyers, but rather the publisher that demands the game go hand in hand with steam. This is because Steam offers significantly more benefits to the gamer and game designer than any of the more limited options you listed. Steam offers a method of contacting friends, networking, steam cloud, a means of delivering patches easily and rapidly, and constant hack protection, among other benefits.

    • MD says:

      A-Scale, my comment was a response to something pretty specific. None of what you just said is relavant to the point I was responding to.

    • MD says:

      A-Scale, my comment was a response to something pretty specific. None of what you just said is relevant to the point I was responding to.

    • A-Scale says:

      Evidently you missed something. What I said was entirely relevant to what you said.

    • MD says:

      Okay okay, I’ll bite. To clarify, I honestly can’t see the connection. I would concede the distinction between “forces itself upon” and “is forced upon”, except that I didn’t use the former phrase in the first place.

      I was responding to damien, who said:

      – “steam must be headed in the right direction because of how strongly people feel about it”
      – “no one has strong feelings about a direct2drive, or gamersgate, or insert-your-country’s-chain-game-store-HERE. for better or for worse, they are all just places to conduct a business transaction. there’s no more thought involved. you want a product, you pay for it and go about your way.”

      I said:

      – certain games are inextricably bound to Steam, in a way which does not happen with other (digital and physical) retailers
      – so we are ‘forced’ (that is, if we want to play certain games) to use Steam as an ongoing ‘service’
      – which might explain why Steam is not treated as ‘just a place to conduct a business transaction’, while other retailers are
      – these facts may also go some way toward explaining why Steam attracts such strong feelings

      You said:

      – Steam is used at the behest of publishers
      – “Steam offers significantly more benefits to the gamer and game designer than any of the more limited options you listed”

      I still can’t see the link.

    • A-Scale says:

      My point is that your beef isn’t with Steam, as it doesn’t force anyone to use itself, but rather with the publishers, who demand that you use Steam. I then pointed out why those publishers do so, because Steam offers significant advantages that the other download services don’t. Thus anger against Steam is misdirected, publishers who force you to use it have a decent reason for doing so, and the fact that more anger is felt against steam than the other download services is partly allayed by the fact that it also offers more benefits than they do (again, hence why publishers force their use). It’s entirely related. I’m a bit shocked you missed the connection. Are you a native English speaker?

  49. MD says:

    Heh, I was hoping I’d cancelled the first (typo-infested) comment in time.

  50. Nickosha says:

    Steam’s weekend and holiday sales are such an incredible value that they can convince all but the most adamant critics. Along with many others, I would not hesitate to choose a boxed copy over a digital copy, even if it held a few dollars premium. But when Steam is offering a game at 50% or more less than it’s competitors, it is such a good deal that you’d really have to hate Steam not to go for it.

    However, I understand that the situation of Steam offering games at way below any other store is less common outside of the United States.