Steam's come a long way since its days as a
streetwise tough with nothing to lose glorified Trojan horse building block for Valve's empire, but it's far from perfect. Far, far, far, far from it, to be precise in a uselessly vague sort of way. One especially purple, pulsating sore spot? Offline mode, which kind of, well, isn't. Best case scenario, it requires an Internet connection once every couple weeks, something many players have chalked up to the increasingly unnecessary evil that is DRM. Apparently, however, Valve considers that a kink in the system, and it's working to let Steam run offline indefinitely.
Valve poster Henryg explained in response to an incensed forum post:
"Offline Mode is designed to be indefinite. That said, there are many components involved in Offline Mode, and some of them have known issues and bugs which we are continually working to improve. We're aware that it doesn't always work as flawlessly as we want it to, but please keep reporting bugs with Offline Mode. It is not broken 'by design.'"
"Someday soon, once this work is completed, we will eliminate the old authentication system (represented by the ClientRegistry.blob file) and Offline Mode should immediately become much more robust."
So fixes are on the way, but Valve is - as ever - moving in Valve Time. "Someday soon" could be anytime between tomorrow and the day whatever absentee deity rules over existence cleans out its Steam backlog and decides to dash our mighty civilization like so many sandcastles.
Still though, it's good to hear that we'll eventually be able to play our games sans any sort of Internet (beyond initial downloads, of course). It'll certainly make "What single item would you most want if you were stranded on a desert island" quandaries a lot easier.
Update: The above forum thread is from June. I feel very silly. On the other hand, kinda proves my point about the whole Valve Time side of this story, huh? Someday, though. Someday.