Why do game companies use Steam?
Why do game companies use Steam?
Over the course of Video Game evolution, I've noticed a consistent turn to newer and greater things, until now. I may just be missing the "amazingness" that Steam provides. I first encountered Steam through the game Supreme Commander 2 and thought, "Hey, I'll go check this out," and then after 3 days of emails, almost 20 hours of being on hold to talk to a representative at Steam, and 4.5 hours of loading from the Steam servers, I got to play it and I loved it.
I thought that this aforementioned experience was just an isolated incident, but now I realize that that assessment is vastly inaccurate. Within the last month or two, I acquired a copy of Civilization 5, again the Steam symbol made its presence known, and again I have suffered for it. Now, I've always been an absolute Civilization fanatic... I practically grew up with the game on every computer I've ever had, but now... after 15 years of playing this series, either on the go or at my stationary desktop, I can't even load the game onto my desktop without an error occurring in the transfer data from Steam and then an error message saying that the product key is in use already after restarting the whole process! It is being used by my computer from the first time I tried downloading.
I now must conclude that Steam is destroying the very fabrics of the reason for video gaming: quick and immediate enjoyment through a graphics interface into a virtual reality where rules are applied and tasks are given; meant to stimulate fun or enjoyment due to interaction between the computer and the individual. So, my question is: Are these just two very isolated phenomena or is Steam as terrible as it has presented itself on the two separate occasions?
Regardless of the answer, I feel that it is my duty to inform anyone who reads this in the developer world or even the distributor world, I will be looking for the Steam logo or even reference to Steam on every video game I buy from now on, and I will never ever, for the rest of my life consider buying a game with this brand linked to it in any way. And Sid Meier and 2K games, I'm sorry, but you lost another lifelong Civilization fan. We just can't handle this betrayal to your loyal customers, so unless you can return to a proper distributor or convince Steam to actually function well, I will not buy anymore Civilization Games.
Not to leave on an entirely negative note, I loved the gameplay in Civ 5. It is absolutely phenomenal once you actually get to the point where you can play. Thanks for so many wonderful games, but now I leave your video game enthusiast rank and venture off looking for a new entertainment.
Last edited by Tech Ian; 05-02-2011 at 04:51 AM.
Companies are shifting toward steam because the majority of the PC gaming market is run through Steam. Steam allows users to play their games on any computer, talk to friends in game, use a browser in game, get great price cuts from games, easily download a game without going to the store, etc. The list goes on. Before you claim that I'm a steam fanatic I'll just say this. Steam was the first and there will be many more to follow. Eventually the majority of games will play through some sort of program similar to it, windows live for example. I've never had any errors relating to steam and I'm sorry you do, but you're just going to have to accept that things are changing.
Sorry to say but it isn't the 90's anymore. Most games will have some sort of online connectivity and require some sort of online authentication. Most games cannot be resold and most games aren't even hard copies. Maybe it's time to move to consoles? As harsh and stereotypical as it sounds, I've found that most people who hate steam are 28+ of age. It's quite possibly the generation gap that creates this inherent hate.
I never had problems installing the game via Steam, but I've had numerous other problems with it. The fact that you need to run the game through steam instead of being able to own the files on their own is an enormous bother. I really prefer the old way games worked, and for that matter, I didn't have much of a problem with gamespy as the internet server for Civilization IV.
In conclusion, Steam is a "Steam"ing pile of ☺☺☺☺. I'm with you 100% OP.
I personally love steam, ever since the moment I was forced to use it (which was with the release of Half-Life 2). No cds needed anymore, installing is very easy, automatic updates, achievements, great for online gaming (for most games) and so on. Problems for me are almost non-existent, and I'm not just saying that because I love steam. The only problems I sometimes encounter are the occasional server overloads surrounding game releases and patches. And if they lose some costumers because they can't cope with the system, I don't think they care. And why would they, using steam opens up a lot more possibilities and generates a lot more money (at least that's why I think).
When I first started with steam, I just hated it. I really did. But over the few years, I love the dang thing. What if I want to play xcom-ufo defense? The only reason you can play it now is because of steam. Steam is drm. There is no way around that. Drm, but user friendly drm.
But there is a trick to steam, and you have to follow this rule. You have to let it win. You really do. If you think that you are going to fight it, it becomes a nightmare. Once you just let the steam win, it goes a lot easier. But here is the number one thing I love about steam. Counter Strike, I own the orginal cd's from 2003, but they will not read anymore. They are not physically damaged at all, but the dye in the cd has degraded to the point where they are unreadable.
With out steam, the 8 year old game would not work. But since I have steam, I don't need the cd's. When I want to play counterstrike, I just download it and I am off.
I paid 40 bucks for counter strike the first time. In 8 years, I think I would have bought it maybe 3 times, which means it would cost me 80 bucks for a game I legally bought the first time. Since then, want to play half life, just download and go, no cd, no problems.
And that is the thing for me, once I buy it off steam, which I never pay full price for anything because of sells. It is bounded to an account that I can access from anywhere. Which means I never rebuy a game because of a stupid friend or cheap discs.
But trust me on fighting it. It is just better to give in, let steam do what it thinks it needs to do. Because, you are not going to win.
Three simple words:
Digital Rights Management
Why do people write walls of text which people will not read as it hurts their eyes?
I like Steam. Bored and can't sleep at midnight? Just download a $5 indie puzzle game and I'm set!
It's a 1st post and obviously a copy and paste job probably been posted on loads of forums at the same time.
Originally Posted by Furball
The only problem I have with Steam is that half the time their downloads are ridiculously slow. When I bought Shogun 2 (instore) it took over 8 hours to download a small update. Portal 2 took about twelve hours to download. Now at my normal download speeds (600Kb/s+) they would both have taken a much smaller time (Shogun's update about 40 mins, Portal 2 about three hours). And I download it at the lowest download time. So it should be much faster.
That's one good thing about being a gamer in Australia.
You should use paragraphs
Originally Posted by FalloutForever
I am a Steam hater for many of the reasons you've stated. I've not been able to swear off steam connected products, because unfortunately most games companies are now using it.
I have sworn off Valve products though - a half step - because most of my game installation problems have occured when trying to install a Valve game, and their customer service is an insult to me the customer.
There's a bunch of other reasons to hate Steam the most significant for me being the destruction of the second hand game market that Steam has produced. Up until a couple of years ago, I sold many of my old games second hand. Allowing me to buy more "new" games. This is now impossible. And despite a drop in the "value" of new games, (due to this loss of the second hand market) there has been no drop in price to the consumer.
In fact, bizarrely, where I live, in Europe, Steam has actually contributed to an increase in price - all games in Europe are sold in Euros for the exact figure that they cost in the US. (50 dollars - 50 Euros), which is more expensive than they used to cost in the bricks and mortars shops (it used to be something like the equivalent of dollar price through the exchange rate) . Consequently the prices have risen in the bricks and mortars shops too. (though even more bizarrely, often they are still slightly cheaper than on Steam).
I hate Steam, I hate Valve for bringing it into the world and somehow con most consumers that, hey, we're buying into a good thing.
I won't even begin to go into the SEUA and privacy issues
Why is it that people think it's ok to be nasty via implication, if they do it in a sly underhanded way? I like Steam, and as a consumer, I don't feel "somehow conned" at all. By posting your opinion, that people have been conned into thinking Steam is good, implies that you also think that you have a superior intellect to most consumers, that they are unable to see the truth of Steam the way you see it. You imply that those "most consumers" cannot see it as the evil "con" you see. I'm not stupid, not an idiot, and not mentally below average, but do I like Steam, and I do think it's a good thing.
Originally Posted by Greasy Dave
I like steam, hassle free and easy to use and I've never had a problem and downloads are very fast.
Great post. I believe there are a number of underlying issues that gave rise to Steam (and similar programs such as Windows Live or GameSpy)
1.) Software Piracy. Of course all Steam games are still pirated within a few days of release, but by reserving some content for on-line access only (patch updates, achievements, user mods) they are "encouraging" serious fans to purchase the full version so they can access these features. Honestly 90% of folks on the web and forums complaining about not having certain features because "they don't have web access on the computer they play on" have pirated the software.
2.) Advertising. They cause you to boot up an on-line store complete with advertisements, sales, and specials. You can turn the advertisements off, but then the layout changes, or banners still display, suffice to say you will never escape it completely. This is fairly typical of all software companies these days, I won't even *start* with the ridiculous amount of bloatware HP installed on my computer just so I can use the scanner.
3.) Features. It would be unfair not to mention some of the features that users may genuinely enjoy. Automatic patches, public achievements, social networking, ability to purchase old games. I may or may not use or appreciate the features, but at least some people do.
Personally, I don't like Steam at all. I'm perfectly capable of downloading patches and with some games I PREFER not to patch (Crysis2 1.1 patch anyone?). The only one single issue that really grinds me is that I can't just disable it totally and say "Thanks, but no thanks." It is literally forced upon you. To even operate Steam in offline mode, you have to go ONLINE first! Yet if you do disable your internet it will go directly to offline mode, so it is obviously capable of doing so.
The sad reality is Steam games are alot like Wal-Mart. We can discuss the evils of them all day long, but until we are ready to really put our money where our mouth is and refuse to buy games that utilize Steam in big enough numbers to have an impact, they will continue to use it
I'm also a steam hater. I've played two games that use steam. The first I couldn't play for about 7 months after purchase because of a steam issue. The second is Civ 5, which runs slower while steam is running.
Steam prevents me from playing single player games if my internet goes down, it forces advertising down my throat, all downloads are painfully slow, the achievement system lacks the addictive qualities of many others, I've heard of many games where steam actually caused a plethora of bugs because it didn't execute launch files correctly...I could go on.
Steam also feels invasive and I hate the fact that it is not compatible with the same computers as the games that try to run through it. There are also currency issues when buying things online....they don't convert different currency properly.
Steam sucks, yet sadly, having it actually increases sales, because it appeals to the social network lovers. A universal friends list and their anti-cheating software helps to hide its many terrible flaws.
One interesting thing to note is that although Game companies have, for years, cried poverty and player malfeasance when it comes to returning their games... especially horrible ones (I tried to return Civ V, but the Steam rep informed me I'd played too many hours for there to be any hope of return. Yes, that's right. They track your playing habits and will use that to deny you a refund) they make it just as difficult or more so to return it now.
Mind you, THEY can yank your "license" any time they want. If, for example, Steam execs or the fine Folks at 2kgames decided they just didn't like your face, they could either yank your steam account (thereby effectively taking all your games you paid with real money away from you) or just cancel your civ v.
And they don't have to give you a refund.
There is positively no legitimate industry I can think of that is as abusive to its customers as the gaming industry.
You should watch more Sesame Street. Then perhaps the whole reading thing won't intimidate you so much.
Originally Posted by Furball
Originally Posted by Benfea
Don't mind him , just another comment paid for by our fine friends at...
It shocks me that gamers seem to think that it's impossible, just IMPOSSIBLE! that forums have devs and staff logging on into dupe accounts to defend their product.
I mean hell, if the creator of "Dilbert" would have no problems doing it, you think some customer relations guy whose JOB is to make the company look good would think twice? Of course not.
Excellent post. For now, XBOX 360 is meeting my needs (I do not use the "live" feature). Even if I were to use XBOX live (I won't) at least it is not connected to the computer I use for things other than gaming which severs the prying eyes of Steam from my computer. Additionally, I can sell my game, trade my game, purchase cheap used games, return games I do not like, etc etc etc. Just finished Assasin's Creed II - awesome on XBOX. Am I boohooing over Shogun 2 (which requires Steam). No. I laugh every time I see the box on the store shelf and reject it.
Originally Posted by inseeisyou
I am confident this will change. Its not as much about whether we buy Steam games. Its really more about there being competition. Competitors will come as consumers realize they have lost licenced ownership of a game copy.
Originally Posted by Sombrus
I think he meant the lack of paragraphs/line breaks, not the word count.
Originally Posted by Benfea
Originally Posted by NitroPhantasm
And that's where you're wrong. Let's face facts, a big part of modern online games, especially of the MMO genre isn't about creating 'fun experiences'. They're about getting the player addicted to the game.
Consider one mechanic that is ubiquitous to virtually every single MMO out there: The Random Loot drop.
The parallels between the random loot drop and your everyday ordinary slot machine are obvious, what's not so obvious is why they work the way they do and why game companies employ them.
Let's say you have a hamster and you want that hamster to press a lever. A lot. As a reward you offer that hamster a pellet for pressing the lever.
But, how often do you give that hamster its pellet?
If you give the hamster the pellet every time it presses the lever it will only press the lever when it's hungry. If you give the hamster a pellet at scheduled intervals it will largely repeat the same action.
But if you make it random? The hamster will press the lever constantly. This is actually a very well known phenomena.
This is also why game developers use terms like "reward schedules". As in how little reward can we give the player while still getting the player to play.
There are other things, such as the new "Accolades" mechanic that's popped up in virtually everything. It's to keep you playing, pressing the lever. Defeat this map, then defeat that map, then defeat the game using this character.
This plays to our natural need to horde.
Seriously, people really don't grasp just how evil (It's a lower case e, but I use the word intentionally) game companies really are.
People gripe about "DLC", but listen to the arguments. They're remarkably similar to political ploys. "If we give the game developers more money, they'll give us more product", while entirely ignoring the reality that game developers have been giving us more product since day one to keep us playing. Now, however, the mentality has switched. It's a very subtle thing, and I don't expect everyone to pick up on my point here. Players are now beholden to the game company to produce games. We owe them our money because they might produce more content, regardless of quality. Nobody comes out and says it but that's the general theme.
There's endless examples, one of my favorite being forums.
Try to have a discussion with a forum moderator for a video game about their rules. First you need to be aware of there are no "rules" on video game forums. None. They can keep you, ban you, do whatever they like with you. To which the common response is "It's private property, they can do whatever they like". Alright, so if they can restrict my access can I get a refund? No? Why not. I have to pay for the game to gain access to the forums, and frequently have to pay by the month to continue to have access to the forums. This is all beside the point however...
The real point being the incontrovertible "rule" of virtually every video game forum is you don't discuss the rules and you absolutely DO NOT, under any circumstances discuss the penalty for breaking those rules. Certainly not publicly. You cannot criticize the rules. You cannot even come out strongly against the rules, especially the rule that says you cannot talk about being penalized for breaking the rules.
Disciplinary actions will not be discussed. Let that sink in. Video game companies "disciplining" its players for discussing rules. Can you think of ANY organization that does that? ANY organization that will punish you for discussing previous punishment? Think on that, think about how truly bizarre that is. Only Child Molesters and Game Developers behave like that. Don't talk about how I hurt you, or I'll hurt you more.
i've got over a hundred games in my steam account and clocked tens of thousands of hours. I think its single-handed keeping the PC game market alive - a market i really care for. Other than the non-resale issue which i believe will be addressed in the next few years, i've yet to hear a real argument against it, other than cherry-picked conspiracy theories *eye-twitch* on its data collection (which is no less than your favourite web browser) or its potential user-license recalls (no stronger than ANY other media's T&C's).
edit: the consoles biggest selling point for developers is the the fact every xbox /PS3/ETC is the sames as the next, this dramatically reduces development time. In the future steam wth steam works will offer this to the PC world.
Steam can't make up for the differences in hardware or OS/service pack version (although its surveys can help developers see what's most common, so they can focus testing on that). However, easier development is what DirectX and OpenGL (as well as tried-and-true game engines like Unreal and Source) somewhat address.
Originally Posted by foxdie
Steam's support of Mac doesn't make Mac porting much easier, but it does make it more lucrative.
Steam is used because the features it offers help developers control and develop their products. Patches can be distributed to the entire playerbase immediately, so by default all players get their patches rather than having to search them out manually. Botched installs can be repaired with much greater ease than breaking out the disk and reinstalling the game. Multiplayer is easier to implement so devs don't have to write their own networking systems (which are rather expensive). Social gaming options are a similar story: devs don't have to write their own systems for friends and chat and such; those things are part of the Steamworks API. DRM is simpler, with Steam authentication and all of the Steam DRM measures. DLC is easier with the Steam methods of selling DLC.
It's the same reason devs use DirectX or OpenGL; it's simpler. Every single game developer out there can write their own graphical APIs and have their games run on custom code bases. That's actually what happened in the 90's when different versions of games were produced for different video card vendors. But that was expensive and a hassle for both costumer and developer, so people switched to using DX or OpenGL. Same thing with Steam; rather than having every single developer create their own DRM measures, online gaming networks, and their accompanying netcode, they use the standardized Steam API.
I like Steam since it works without issue, allows me to buy games online, patches my games, and provides community features. But I don't use Steam exclusively; I also like to use GFWL, the much-hated MS client since it allows me to buy my games online, patch them, and provide community features while not having any problems. I have not used Gamespy, Impulse, or EA Manager though, but I will use them if the game requires them. I'm mostly impartial to game clients.
They get DRM, boxless distribution, easy updating, advertising... all in a package that MOST players actually like because it adds value to the product instead of taking it away.
Some people don't like steam, and a sympathize. But consider your options. Would you rather have "games for windows live"?
better question is why game companies dont use steam
I will at least agree it is better than Windows Live.
Originally Posted by Artifex
The distribution method with its DRM would be less controversial if they didn't tether you to their system by never giving an install that does not require ongoing permission to collect data from your computer. The willful and strongarmed approach to maintaining my attention and connection so they can harvest data is objectionable. All else is convenient and perhaps enjoyable.
Originally Posted by Artifex
Try Impulse; The implementation that you dislike is NOT universal, nor required.
That said, digital distribution is the future.
Tell me more about Impulse.
Originally Posted by Valkrionn
The primary benefit of Impulse over Steam is simple: Impulse can be uninstalled or deactivated, without affecting the playability of your games.
I really don't get the distain for steam...
You make it sound like they are collecting your credit card data in secret to sell it, when all they are doing is collecting anonymous player statistics, and telling you how many hours you have had X game open.... Hardly some secret plot to take over your computer as one step at taking over the world :-/
Originally Posted by NitroPhantasm
And there are many articles that have been written that basically state that Steam is single handedly helping save PC gaming from going extinct(to console gaming), by making PC games extremely easy to access and often very cheaply. So what if they want a small program to run in the background on your computer to safeguard their intellecual property, and discourage piracy, it is a small price to pay IMHO.
The only reason I am not moved to tears by this is that the company does more than protect against piracy. Its greedy for data that have nothing to do with piracy. I would never visit the Steam website had I a choice. It would have no occasion to collect game data from me because I have no interest. I resent the requirement that I give more than what is needed for authentication because it is invasive. I will not argue over the well vetted fact that all CIV V boxes said Steam was required for initial installation. I have come to a reasonable understanding as to why the box says this and yet... I and even some Steam-supporters agree - its misleading even if unintentional. There is no clear communication anywhere- anywhere- that I was to have an interminable love affair with Steam, in which I contingently must consent access to my computer in order to play CIV V. This fuels my resentment. I do not like being forced to connect to websites I do not pursue.
Originally Posted by CanuckSoldier
The problem here is that these articles tend to be misleading; I've read the same information. The thing here is that several games would continue to run without any programs similar to steam and be protected and secure on PC for years to come. An example would be your standard MMORPG's. Granted, not all genres are online. However companies have still come out using similar DRM like steam for their own games (like EA). These however have had mixed results. Steam also doesn't necessarily discourage piracy; steam games are also pirated and quite quickly at that. Do I believe that steam is, however, aiding against piracy? Yes I do. I also believe that it is aiding in improving the PC market. As large as its presence has grown though, it's still just a small part of the big picture that we refer to as the PC market.
Originally Posted by CanuckSoldier
Also to NitroPhantasm, you should try impulse. It's much more efficient and user-friendly than steam.
Originally Posted by CanuckSoldier
Except they then use that information to deny you a refund. Let's go through that again... They collect information and use that information as a justification to deny players who want to return a game a refund.
Oh, and your Iphone tracks your movements. And reports it to third parties. Without your consent. What? Don't flip out. It's not some kind of conspiracy or anything.
Yes much the same as most box stores will not give you are refund on software that is open as well. So I fail to see how steam is different from policies that have been in place for years by most retailers. Steam is just applying that model to online digital distribution, if you have played if for hours and hours you can hardly say that the game is not what you thought you bought :-/
Originally Posted by Sombrus
But I can see it was likely a mistake to get into another discussion on the merits of steam.....
Edit: And btw while I don't neccarily agree with what the iphone does, is not at all accurately tracking your location, all it records is what towers you are connecting too as you travel around. So they can only tell what part of the city X you are in, I'm not sure what marketing value that has at all, it's not like they can tell what stores you prefer to shop at....But don't let facts get in the way of your rant :P