Up until very recently, Iíve always had some sort of Dell laptop. The first made playing Unreal Tournament 2003 (practically Lan party style in high school during lunch) extremely fun. However that was the extent of my knowledge of PC gaming, aside from You Donít Know Jack. I just never got into it, the lack of a controller made it seem like I wasnít playing a real game, just a computer one, in the way people play Bejeweled or Peggle. Even in my college years, I stuck exclusively with console gaming, and I had heard of Steam, I just didnít care about it. Remember how you first felt when you heard about Arrested Development before you watched it? I felt like that about Steam, it was probably good, I just had no motivation to try it.
Last September I bought a Mac, and really nothing changed for me. (Other than the hate I get for owning one, in which no good argument still has been given to me to make me think I shouldnít) I still did the same things I did with my Dell, just on a Mac. Console gaming was still my life, and life moved on with or without Steam. So with Steamís release on the Mac, my initial reaction was ďYeah...thatís nice donít care.Ē However when they said ďFree Portal!Ē I downloaded it immediately. (I was slightly beaten out by one of my friends who when told about this, flew like Lugia with A.D.D down the stairs to her computer to download it.)
The paragraph that everyone is expecting now is something that should essentially say ďSteam opened up a whole new world of gaming for me!Ē Well, it did and it didnít. Direct2Drive was always there and always had games, but those same games I could have bought on a console and had more fun with. Through a set of funny coincidences I ended up buying the Steam Indie Bundle with ďWorld of GooĒ, ďAnd Yet it MovesĒ, ďMachinariumĒ, ďOsmosĒ, and ďGalcon FusionĒ (the last of which still hasnít worked) for $20. At least this means that I donít feel like an incompetent Madden-loving idiot for not buying World of Goo, something the gaming media has constantly told me I was some sort of anti-game Leeland Yee type character for not purchasing. (if they find out I donít have Psychonauts, Yahtzee will personally come to my house and break my fingers with an army of pencils) And thats wonderful, I love what Steam is doing with Indie game development, which I should extend to the PC gaming (am I still allowed to call it PC gaming?) in general. While I love supporting the ďIndieĒ developer, I donít ever see myself buying a game I could buy on a console on my Mac through Steam, assuming their the same price, for several reasons:
In all honestly, my circle of gamer friends have done the exact opposite of the norms. Almost all of them own PS3ís, and most of them use the PS3 as their primary console. In every case within multiple console ownership, the 360 was purchased second, at a much later date, if at all. I know about four or five people with a Wii, and only one of them currently uses it. (Okay I guess thatís normal, but he has no other next gen console) Why is it that nobody I know has Steam? Most of my aforementioned friends despise Macs with the Passion of Joan of Arc and Kyle Broflovski combined so it isnít that they have Macs and couldnít use Steam, they all have consoles & PCís, and none of them use Steam. I am curious to see if Steam is an equal counterpart to Xbox Live however, though it doesnít seem like it. I am always looking for Steam friends though!
I canít stand not having a controller. Itís like sleeping without a blanket. it just doesnít feel right. Keyboards are great for MMOís iíd imagine because you need all the buttons, but going both by feeling and ease of use iíll stick with my controller. I am however quite aware that PC gamers can plug in their controllers and use them on PC games. To me, thats similar to bootcamp being used to run Steam. It is in no way more advantageous for me to play on a smaller screen when I have a TV almost double its size in front of me, which I could be using with the consoles and controllers to play the game.
Do you remember awhile back when the PS3 had this reputation of having too many updates? While I was fine with their amount of updates, Steam just has way too many updates for me. At least 75% of the time I run Steam, itís updating something, I have no idea what. But itís updating. This could be an issue with just Macís however, and not necessarily reflective of all of Steam. But if it is something that happens throughout Steam, is this not an annoyance to anyone else? The constant updating every time I open Steam just angers me before I even get to the game I want to play. There is also a downloading problem I had with that indie pack, where only four out of the five games I bought actually downloaded, however thats only a minor issue.
My last problem on my initial impressions of Steam is with Steamís need of an internet connection. To my knowledge, if I donít have an internet connection, I canít play my games on Steam. I had heard of this with Ubisoftís DRM, but I was unaware that this was the case with Steam as well. (For reference, I didnít have an internet connection and opened Steam in an offline mode to play Portal, in which it promptly said that it could not complete this action in offline mode) As a console gamer, Iím used to buying games and them working, internet connection or not. Both XBLA and PSNís games work fine without an internet connection, why is this a problem with Steam? And if there is a reason for it, is it really a necessary one?
Now lets turn to things that I think make Steam a wonderful program. First, there is the obvious portability. My Mac's height when closed is about the width of my thumb. Neither my PS3 or my TV or all the cords necessary to make them work are the width of my thumb. Portability of the computer is awesome, however usually I donít mind bringing my TV and console places, the console, games and cords fit in my bag quite easily and donít get damaged.
More importantly are the Steam sales. Steam has the best sales and package deals Iíve ever seen. They would probably be the driving force behind all of my purchases on Steam. These five (four) games for $20 were worth it even after only knowing World of Goo. In retrospect I wanted to spend it on Deadly Premonition, but this was faster. Still, Steamís sales are amazing and are absolutely one of the better points of the service.
Overall, Unless the sales drag me kicking and screaming to it, I probably wont use Steam very much. Though that does not mean that it is not a great service, just one that I donít ever see myself using. I think iíd be writing this even if I still had my old Dell when they said ďfree portalĒ iíd come running. Either way, Steam will be a great way for me to give good indie developers money, but I donít see it ever getting in the way of my consoles. Now Iíll return to wishing I could play Audiosurf.
Is there anything Iím missing that I should know about Steam?