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LONG BLOG

F*** Steam

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Steam is a complete and utter blight on the gaming community and its popularity has only brought on more casuals into gaming without being terrible well regulated. AKA it’s terrible and users should find better alternatives than saying it’s the best thing out there.

Seriously though screw Steam, it literally has been the best and the worst thing to happen to PC gaming in the last few decades. I say that because if we went back three we would have people asking why are referring to a half-life as a video game and not about the system of measurement in which particles degrade.

 

To sum this up I think we cannot get around Valve. Because Valve made Steam, and effectively became Steam after 2012… I have to now address the fact that Valve is Steam and nothing more.

So WTF was STEAM?


Steam was basically Valve’s answer to Counter Strike. In that such a multiplayer game needed updates regularly to provide new content, better hit boxes, quick balancing, and ANTI CHEAT PATCHES.

All it was a system to keep updates regular, and make sure people were not cheating. Since it was all digital anyway they made it possible to download the games from the store.

This is the first issue that started with STEAM… As it was never really meant for single player games. Yeah sure, you could download your single player games and stuff, but there really was not much of a reason to do so considering you games worked from the disk……………….

This is the first great downfall of PC gaming. For years and years disks had value and disks could be used to run games… But then PC Software makers decided that piracy was too high… So they decided that CDs needed a key to run. Which then lead to people cracking CD keys… So then PC Software makers decided that you had to start making an account online… DRM… Digital Right Management… And there was no way to access the game without doing crazy patches… but yeah basically forcing you to have an online connection to run a single player game.

 

Which would not be a huge issue, but it’s the way that shifted the market that ultimately made PC SOFTWARE WORTHLESS in the long run. See before 2002, a lot of second hand video game stores allowed people to re-sale old PC games because they all worked out of the box without codes.

Soon after the “success” that “STEAM” was because basically… Valve forced all of the serious Counter Strike Players to migrate to the new system if they wanted to still play in pro games. Which was a “huge” success because they effectively forced millions consumers to migrate or loose access to latest content.

Then they made the Orange Box… Which was a collection of HL2, TF2, and Portal.

Which basically cemented Steam as being Valve’s only distribution source.

But in the code fucking revolution, it made PC game disks worthless in the long run. Good luck re-selling that PC game cause the DRM makes it so that only your account is valuable and good luck not wanting to have all of you PC games in one spot.

So basically STEAM and other systems like it are the reason why PC games are worthless and only games pre-DRM are even worth anything. Which is a total shame because the one glorious chance I was able to be in a second hand computer video game store I was met with hundreds of titles that I would have never found anywhere else and it was just really terrible to think that PC gamers could have had the same system as console gamers but PC software distributors suck and rather force consumers to buy more.

 

Which killed my single love of the industry: Manuals.

Manuals are wondrous pieces of paper. Some have letters of love, hidden secretes, Easter eggs, and really cool art. Some games before the DRM revolution came with maps… Note pads… really cool packaging… Mini-companion story.

 

After Steam, FUCK… “You want all of that? You have to pay for it… Cause we don’t want to do that anymore…” – Every PC Software Publisher

 

Maybe not quite to that standard for every PC release but even then its hard to justify it to investors to spend money on an item that packages a game disk the user will likely only use once… So yeah…

Sadly enough even consoles are now basically going the same way as PC software and I only have one billion dollar company to blame about making such a system popular.

So there you have it Valve single handedly killed the video game manual and ruined it for the console realm too as even my Wii U and Vita games have no physical manuals anymore. Fuck them.

STEAM MADE THE INDUSTRY LESS CREATIVE.

 

Basically, having every game having DRM meant that game disks have no value… So packaging and design became an all time low. Generally games came without manuals, and you were lucky if you got something that did not resemble a cheap DVD case.

Not only in that sense. Lets talk about space, not the final frontier, but how much space a video game could take up on a hard drive. Before DRM and downloading games. A video game maker had to optimize their engines to run on whichever medium they had available: Cassette Tape, Floppy Disks, CDs, Zips, or DVDs.

However terrible it was to number crunch all of that to get a game to fit on those mediums that basically limited a video game to hardware of the time. Being that a video game could not out do the bandwidth of a Hard Disk Seeking because ram was kind of limited in the past. Even the most basic of computers back in the day could run relatively new games simply because these mediums forced a form of optimization into the developers.

Steam put a big fuckign wrench in that.

 
not this one

Games can be huge, unoptimized mess with little to no literature on how to fix them.

So basically Crysis was only possible by digital distributors like Steam.

Hey kid you want our huge video games? Well buy it online, you get the same packaged mess…

I have to say I liked Steam a lot before third party companies were allowed to publish on there too. Because there for a while it was simply my Valve account and nothing more. It was simple, but it was not enough for Valve. Since they were the only one to have a good digital distribution system, they fell for the easy quick and shameful money that spelled DOOM for classic Steam.

 

See Valve for the most part was a mature Video game maker, hence where there was a Valve coming out of someone’s eye and head in their newish logos. Once they opened up the STEAM shop for third parties they crossed a line they could never undo.

First it was large publishers, which was okay because then we all got to see what trash EA is at making PC ports. But legally it opened them to the full range of all developers and they had to make a way for every game maker to get their products onto their online store. Other wise they would get sued by everyone to get that sweet sweet HL2 money.

 

Before there was a sense of QC or Quality Control because all of the game were fucking Valve games, and for the most part all of Valve games were pretty good.

 

Then all these no name developers started pouring in and putting their shovel ware onto the store. Some of it I enjoy, but for the most part it made it really hard to find new AAA games or games that actually had a budget… But it made the Store really un-organized. So much to the point that they though it would be a good tool to have you scroll down indefinitely as the store tries to find games that you library of 200+ games might be similar to.

So basically a huge clusterfuck.

Not that, variety is bad. But what was once a lean and mean software DRM application bloated really fast into a huge mammoth with no sense of direction. Steam is not elegant or as nearly as neat as it was. Nore will it ever be since the fan base is not the people that originally wanted/needed it. (No, we are just the people that put up with the rest of you looking for your next porn puzzle game.)

Sure I would totally be down with putting up with the casual consumers, but they have made a huge distraction for Valve, and I think its one that they never really ever will recover from.

I have to say that Valve is a casualty of Steam.

 

With Steam being so successful. Valve took a back seat to the investors. Sure they kept making games, but the time quality and quantity all dropped. I don’t think I have to mention that its 2016 and we still have people asking for Half Life 3 and the original writer is now retired. So we are in writing limbo with a developer that has yet to really release much in the last 4 years… unless you count app that are not FPS video game.

 

So what are they doing? R&D for technology… Video games? Nope Source Engine successor? Nope…

There was several times in the last 2 years they could have made a huge announcement but instead they have kept out of the lime light and focused on distribution and making more platforms available and new hardware internally. Which I totally understand that diversification is important but when does the company continue with what is left of Valve?

I know that a lot of that sounds like PC elitism, but it is completely clear that Valve is not the company they use to be because of Steam and its taken a really good developer and benched them.

 

So yeah Fuck Steam

 

LETS TALK ABOUT THE DEALS

 

In the first year whine third parties were dabbling in digital sales. The deals were fantastic. $5 for Mass Effect when it came out the year before good. (Sure the port sucked) Now, you get “deals” every day.

I say “deals” because they are working really hard to get people to spend $15-$40 on Steam games. Because digital cuts the middleman in ROI, return on investment.

Digital sales generally cost $1.50 for data transfer. Which means selling a game online for $15 is almost as good a selling Pepsi or Coca-Cola in high volume. Once companies understood they could get 1.5:60 or at minimum 1:10 vs 5:10 on physical games they decided to bring prices down initially. But given 2 years later they got greedy and started making games have a minim cost of $10 online regardless of age or legacy.

 

EA still charges $20 for Mass Effect on Steam, you know the version that is clearly broken without fan modifications on the game’s engine to add… High res textures that are higher than 512mb… Fix model faces…. Fix engine crashing bugs… to make it use both of your CPUs… to force higher resolution for your screen… to force testation…


I am not even talking about the in-game problems… But they still charge $20 for a game I bought on sale in 2008 for $5…

Because they are not actually having to makes something… Not actually spending money on fixing the game… and the charge is still $1.50 they still get about 2x amount of money for decades old game than what food service people get for distributing sodas… Which is why the gaming industry blew up in 2008 when people/publishers understood this.

 

Not to mention Steam is a fucking addicting service. It’s really easy to spend thousands of dollars of period of a couple of years. Then to never actually play them because they are in a mess of a library that you really have no actual reason to play.

Turns out having hundreds of options to play, actually dilutes the total experience as there is no clear direction and there is nothing there to hold the consumer back from their own ambitions. Which physical media restrictions of space actually keep people much more in line?

Steam is a video game online hording system. There is no way to get past that. You bought into it. You cannot sell the items. But you are supposed to get enjoyment out of those items. But it’s possible to never complete all of the items. With no clear direction or goal it leaves consumers lost in the modern mass art of the digital age where even worse than the physical mass art that digital numbers have absolutely no value as there was no challenge to even clamming the item.

Which again at least getting a physical copy kind of requires a trip.

 

STEAM sucks so many balls compared to GOG

 

I cannot say that Good Old Games is immune to digital consumerism but they do an amazing job in making a platform that is flexible as to how a user wants to use their games.

Steam has an overlay on every fucking game. At first I thought this was a really cool thing because I could surf the Internet while playing a game. But soon this became part of the Steam API and became a requirement for games that had been built for the Steam API. Which basically mean the developers were too lazy to code their own voice chat system, lobby system, or friend system and used the Steam Store to do that. Which in theory is great cause everything is in one place. But then you have the issue of online games that require you to be in Steam Overly mode or else they will not function.

Which would not be a huge deal except that the overlay takes up resources and if that is the difference between 5-10 more FPS on dated hardware that becomes more of a liability than a neat feature.

GOG has their own DRM software program Galaxy, but instead of forcing you to put everything into one place. It searches your computer for your software and creates links and then manually updates things without forcing all of the software into itself.

So basically, it’s an optional updater that does not force you into running it. It has a nice organized list of games on your PC and your library. Or you can go to the actual location of the game in your computer’s software and launch it. It does not pop up and verify things after you launch the software without it.

Which is a very nice hand off approach that is much needed in Steam.

GOG is not perfect and yes you can get your fun puzzle henti games on that platform too, but for the most part the organization is much easier to use and the focus is on video games and seamlessly limiting the amount of shovel ware on the platform.

 

So I guess this has been a really long blog and you probably skipped everything cause it was too long. I don’t want to be abrasive with my findings but the facts are quite clear when it comes to Steam and how it changed the market.

Also if you are embracing the digital age I just have one piece of advice. Don’t trust one service, or have loyalty to one service. Steam might have been the first big online digital video game store out there, but that by no means it’s the end all to be all of digital storefronts.

I have to think that is the only reason why such people would go to great lengths to attack other people that had some constructive feedback or past bad experiences. Which is simply not acceptable.

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About Retrofractionone of us since 5:01 PM on 08.24.2009

I play really old video games and enjoy them.

My parents bought an NES and MM6 and Metroid and that is how I got into gaming.

You could say I am a Nintendo fan boy, but I am starting to get off of that train as of recent.

Anyway hope you enjoy my blogs and feel free to leave a comment.

Read more at https://www.destructoid.com/blogs/Retrofraction#4qsKE0ZCdVS243Wk.99