Ten years ago, you’d struggle to find fifteen retail PC games released in any given month – and fourteen of them would launch with bugs, never be patched, and sink without trace. Compare and contrast with today, where Brewsters’ Millions could be spent in the time it took to load the Steam store. The existence of Steam isn’t entirely the cause for our videogame abundance, but it’s certainly a large factor – along with an influence, for good and ill, on almost every other part of PC games culture.
But what if it had never existed? You be Jimmy Stewart-playing-Gabe Newell and I’ll be Clarence, your guardian angel and guide to this alternate reality.