Stardock

The state of Steam in 2012

By on June 5, 2012 6:47:22 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Frogboy

Join Date 03/2001
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steamLet me get this out of the way: I like Steam. I like Valve.

We have a poll up right now that asks whether you use Steam. Let us know please.

I’ve been in digital distribution since before digital distribution was a thing.  The very first computer game that was launched at retail and digitally distributed was Galactic Civilizations back in February 2003.

For us, digital distribution was a matter of life or death. Consider this, how many other independent (or heck, just non-publicly traded) game studios have been around 20 years? Go ahead. Count them up. Not many eh?

I incorporated Stardock back in 1993 from my college dorm room. And I can tell you, if it weren’t for digital distribution, we would have stopped making games a long time ago.  That’s because the more people that are between you and your customer, the more opportunities there are for theft. Not by players but by retailers, publishers, distributors, etc. 

One of the reasons why the whole “piracy” bellowing from publishers irritated me was because the biggest obstacle to getting paid for my work wasn’t from pirates. It was from the middle men.

In 1994, we released our first game. Galactic Civilizations for OS/2.  It was published by a company called Advanced Idea Machines.  The game was a huge hit. So I heard anyway. We didn’t get paid. And being a poor college student at the time, I couldn’t afford a lawyer.

So in 1996, we released Galactic Civilizations 2 for OS/2.  This time we released it ourselves. But our retail distributor, Micro Central, went bankrupt and didn’t pay us and our mail order distributor, Blue Orchards went out of business as well and didn’t pay us.

So then we moved to Windows and we released Galactic Civilizations for Windows, published by Strategy First….and again, didn’t get paid.

Do you see a pattern here?

What saved us was digital distribution.  With it, we could sell directly to customers, cutting out the middle man.

As you can imagine, when Steam came out we started to get a little nervous. Not because of the competition but because we feared the idea that we would one day need to sell our software through a third party and hence risk not getting paid…again.

As it had turned out, our fears have been unwarranted.  Impulse, now owned by Gamestop, pays like clock work and so does Steam.  By contrast, with a retail distributor you were lucky to get paid merely 90 days late. And that’s not counting the obnoxious and expensive RMA games they play. I like the service Steam provides. They’re easy to work with, they’re honest, and they’re passionate about what they do.  And most importantly, they let me, as a game developer, focus on what matters: making games.

Anyway, the point here being, what are your feelings on Steam these days?

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June 5, 2012 6:58:56 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I am a big supporter of Steam. 

 

There are some fears that I have should the Steam service ever be discontinued (I have about 100 games purchased since 2004) but it is a great service and gives me access to great games at competitive prices. Sins of a Solar empire was the game that got me to install Impulse, and despite the transfer to Gamestop, so far they have run the service adequately. 

 

The fact that Valve supports developers by paying them immediately places my support of Steam even higher, IMO.

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June 5, 2012 7:17:00 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I too am a big supporter of Steam, although I haven't purchased 100 games like the previous post, everything I've purchased over the last couple of years has been via steam unless Steam didn't offer the game immediately (like ME3, where I had to go with Origin).

Steam has been great about constantly keeping my games updated and when I have to make a fresh install of my OS, there isn't any looking for disks, entering license keys or sitting in front of the computer waiting for it to tell me to put in the next disk.

Now Steam will be offering pre-loading  for pre-ordered games so that when the game is released for sale, my game is turned on immediately.

I love Steam, which is something I didn't think I would ever say 2-3 years ago. 

 

 

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June 5, 2012 7:33:05 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I avoid Steam if I can, because it's far too DRMy for me. It's really annoying to have to logout of my low end PC and login to my Gaming PC on steam just because it gags if you're logged in on more than one system at once. That said, it's almost bloody impossible to completely stay off Steam, the new OTRSPOD game is exclusive to steam and xbox, for example. If a game is available on PS3 or Vita instead of Steam, I'll buy it there every time.

Impulse is better, but has problems with downloading games to new platforms sometimes. Luckily, that's pretty easy to workaround. Personally, I prefer sites like GoG where you get to download and store an installer from the website that doesn't need to phone home at all. If they were available on GoG, I'd probably buy all of the new games there. I think Direct2Drive is decent too, for the couple of games I purchased there.

I can't believe Strategy First didn't pay you... Makes me want to re-buy my copy of GalCiv so you actually get money from me buying it... I can't rebuy the OS/2 version though.

Did IBM pay you for that more limited version of GalCiv that they released for OS/2? (Star emperor?)

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June 5, 2012 7:34:25 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I have a lot of steam games.  A lot.

That said, I don't like steam that much. It works like a charm on my desktop, but when I use my laptop, even 3 years after first using it I am still fighting with the client whenever I go where there is no internet (fyi Elemental:FE better not require internet access on startup when out of beta). This was the primary reason I first looked into Impulse.

Below is my current routine for buying newly released games.

IF i like the game AND i like the developer THEN

make every attempt to buy game directly from dev/publisher, collecters edition in box if possible
IF UNSUCCESSFUL
Check for DRM free digital version and purchase if available
IF UNSUCCESSFUL
Buy on Steam

IF game was published by "AAA" publisher (Activision, ea, ubi etc) THEN   (Searching for drm free version is a lost cause)

Wait 6 months
Attempt to buy on steam for no more than $70 (AAA titles are usually region locked to US only on Impulse)
IF UNSUCCESSFUL  (Probable, everything costs more in Australia, even digital games downloaded from american content servers)
Wait for next steam sale and purchase then, but only if <$50  (again, this could take years)


Note that not once do I purchase a game retail locally.  This is because it is always cheaper to buy a new game online and have it shipped overseas to Australia, exceptions are few and far between.

To sum up:

DRM good, if it doesn't chuck a wobbly when I'm not online.

Excessive overlays bad. (Steam + GFWL comes to mind)

Will always buy as direct from the devs as possible if I like them/the game.

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June 5, 2012 7:36:03 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

voted use it and like it but the answer didn't fully fit. I do use it and like the simplicity and offers (and that indies are distributed) but some things I don't fully like all things about it (among them being the download speeds for larger games given my connection isn't the fastest in the world). Still rather on the like than dislike side with the way it currently is.
Like GOG a lot more on principle (also they have lots of games in their catalogue which I have very fond memories of) even though steam has better features overall (hope some solid competition to steam solidifies / continues to keep them on their toes and force them to continue developing in a good manner.)

Relatively new to digital distribution (used impulse before I used steam) as odd as it sounds in this day and age but the ease of use and the extremely good bargains won me over. Didn't like the regional limitations of it when it was still in your hands. Didn't touch it after I heard what gamestop did to it...

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June 5, 2012 7:36:21 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I like steam, but mostly for games that involve either A) Made by Valve or Involve multiplayer that I want to be seamless (Shogun 2, etc). Also C) Indie games that that support Steam to such a degree they give their Steam copies DLC you can't get anywhere else, like Defense Grid.

Lately, I've started buying single-player focused games off GOG.com if available. I do a lot of modding to Stalker, and it's wonky doing so with the way Windows 7 already does funny things with programs folder and then Steams sorting makes it more of a hassle. I'm sure I could find a easier way to do it if I researched, but I digress.

 

GOG.com is simple and absolutely no fuss, and I like that I can backup the games to a DVD or my GDrive and know I will have them available if I somehow log out of steam then can't get online for a while. I would buy Stalker for a third time if GOG.com would release it simply to make my modding life easier.

 

So if Multiplayer = Steam. Singleplayer = GOG.com

 

edit: Ages ago Frogboy mentioned doing a oldschool RPG game set in the Elemental universe. Assuming it's entirely single-player, I would absolutely want this through GOG.com

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June 5, 2012 8:00:27 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I've got no problems with Steam.  There are a couple of irritating things, but overall, it makes my life easier.  If it also means developers get paid regularly and well, so much the better.

 

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June 5, 2012 8:14:20 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Steam has a lot to offer for both Users and Developers (AutoPatching, DLC, Workshop, Voice-Chat, etc.) but the game will always depend on Steam.

 

If prefer GOG.com if a game does not need online-features.

 

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June 5, 2012 8:19:00 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


I'd rub asses with Gabe. Steam has never done me, nor anyone I know any wrong. In fact, I enjoy their services greatly. And they have Dota2. Mm..Dota... Though don't worry, I'm fully ready for the day when Skynet--er Steam shows its true colors. *Glares at computer tower*

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June 5, 2012 8:21:40 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


I don't like the idea of steam.    Too much central contral.    Having to be connectred just to play.

I was very happy with Stardock's previous Impulse system.    It distributed but did not try to control.    I also like GOG a lot.   Their distribution system is also high service, low central control.

Bottom line:    I have no intention of using steam.

Stardock is one of my favorite game companies.    The games are great, the interaction with the staff during betas is great.     However, I don't want to have to go to steam to get Stardock games.

 

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June 5, 2012 8:22:26 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I hate having to use any sort of shell program to access my games. While nine times out of ten it works well, the tenth time, the time I forget to go into offline mode when I shut down my computer and then go somewhere with no internet, when the client locks, and so on really really frustrates. 

 

That said, if Steam is the only option for direct purchase from developers, then I will use it. Like my coffee, I always go out of my way to make sure I am buying as direct from the people making the games as I can. If Steam facilitates it, I will swallow the bitter pill use it. 

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June 5, 2012 8:30:27 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

As mentioned above, I do have some reservations about Steam, should they ever go under. I'm a pretty old-school gamer and CD collector and the idea of not owning a THING so much as a LICENSE sort of makes me tweak a bit.

 

That said, I dislike the more overt versions of DRM that you get from cEartAin heavy handed publishers. My preference is for the totally drm-free, producer direct versions (thank you, Stardock), but I don't hesitate at all beyond that to give Steam my money. My only significant problems with their service so far is that pre-installed games through them NEVER work correctly. All else is good.

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June 5, 2012 8:51:07 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Steam the digital distributor is great.

Steam the DRM that requires a constant internet connection really, truly sucks and keeps me away from buying stuff through Steam whenever possible.

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June 5, 2012 8:56:15 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I hate having to load a program.... to load a program!!  That is really the only thing I hate about steam.  It wanting to load itself, and check itself for updates, before even thinking about loading the actual program I want to run, is downright annoying.

Other than that, steam is fine.

If they left it so that it had to be run once through their program to activiate etc, fine.  But having to load steam AND BE ONLINE for even single player games (some require online, some don't), is crappy. and slow.

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June 5, 2012 9:10:34 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I love steam, makes my life easier for finding new games, see I can really only exit my house once a week due to a terrible back and trouble in my foot (doesnt help my back that I have to walk funny) so digital distribution is my thing.
Also steam is the only  thing I have tried so far that worked perfectly for me

Sincerely
~ Kongdej

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June 5, 2012 9:15:56 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Kazriko,
I think Direct2Drive is decent too, for the couple of games I purchased there.

Direct2Drive was decent... until it got bought out by GameFly. Now it's pretty much a disaster. And in the process I (and many others) lost access to games we had purchased on D2D because GF doesn't want to support them. Kind of everyone's worst-case scenario for Steam or Impulse. Needless to say, GameFly will never get my business, given their piratical business model and the presence of much better options.

I do use and love both Steam and Impulse (I guess it's called GameStop Now these days). I also use GamersGate and GOG from time-to-time, depending on what deals are available with whom and when. There are things I prefer about the latter two - namely that they don't come with a client - but there are also thinks that I do like about the Steam and GameStop clients, like keeping my games organized and the ability (in steam) to transfer saved games across systems easily.

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June 5, 2012 9:44:16 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Initially didn't like the idea of Steam, but the sales were good enough that I bought one game, then another, and another.

In general, I decide on digital distributor by price point.  If someone has it on sale - Steam requirement or not - then I buy from them.  Most of my purchases are pretty evenly split between Gamersgate, Impulse/Gamestop, and Steam.

The DRM aspect of steam is less onerous than looking up answers from a game's manual, or keeping track of myriad CD keys.  I don't like it, but I've subjected myself to worse.

To this point:  Just last weekend I wanted to play Space Empires V.  I installed to my new PC, only to be asked for a CD key.  Years ago I compiled all of my keys in an Excel spreadsheet, but now can not find the file

 

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June 5, 2012 10:19:12 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Pretty big fan of Steam. Personally, don't find the DRM too obtrusive (I certainly understand that others' mileage may vary...), and by and large, they've taken pretty good care of me. Plus, they've got most of my stuff, and I'm really prefer to have it one place. Would I prefer a more robust offline mode or similar - sure - but no big issues, and the minor ones have been resolved. And they various seasonal sales are tough to argue with.

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June 5, 2012 10:31:08 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'm not a big fan of steam, not because I think they are evil and will take over the world, but because I like to have control of my games. I might want to not patch to the latest version due to some compatibility/problems (but do want some of the patches), or maybe I want multiple versions installed. Steam doesn't like that, so the feeling is mutual.

Also, am I the only one who plays games when I am OFFLINE? I understand internet access is readily available nowadays, but it's usually when I don't have it that I go looking for things to play.

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June 5, 2012 10:35:50 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I was slow to go with digital distribution.  I still have boxes of old games in crates.  But now that I've started using digital distribution I'll never go back.  Steam is probably my favorite followed closely by Impulse/gamestop, but I have used gamersgate, D2D, and GOG.  (GOG is awesome).

One thing though.  I rarely by my games at full price.  I know if I wait long enough Steam or someone else will have a big sale.

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June 5, 2012 10:43:03 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Steam is good when it works. Extremely annoying when it doesn't.

Steam makes it extremely easy to purchase games. And the crazy sales doesn't help the wallet either. I also love the "preloading" feature, where you can download a preordered game some time before launch.

However, the nature of Steam means that you need a constant Internet connection. While that is obvious for browsing and purchasing, it is really not required for playing. Once it's installed, I expect to be able to play my game without the need to connect to Steam.

Offline mode is broken. To enter offline mode, one have to be online, set it to offline mode, then go offline. Even this may not work all the time! If you forgot to do this, Steam will throw an error and not log you in, even if you tried offline mode. Some of the Steam games which do not use Steamworks DRM can still be played, if you know how to search for the executable in steamapps. Until offline mode is made trivial and transparent, like Steam client automatically enabling offline mode if you don't have a connection, allowing you to play Steam games in offline mode (not install, but just play), then I cannot support Steam wholly.

The only digital distribution site that I wholeheartedly support is GOG.com. Their two mantras of "DRM-free" and "single price worldwide" is exactly what I, as a gamer, need. Sorry Mr Wardell, but Stardock's "Gamer's Bill Of Rights" should only contain those two, and maybe a "Available worldwide" as a third. GOG.com also allows users to download and save installation files, without the need to validate the game installation with GOG at install time. This saves an incredible amount of hassle. It means that I can download it once, save to a backup location, and whenever I want to re-install and re-play it, it is immediately available to me, no internet connection is needed and GOG.com potentially does not need to spend money on bandwidth for me to re-download and/or "activate" the game.

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June 5, 2012 10:43:41 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Love Steam. There was a big moment for me in January of 2000 where everyday I would ask everyone I knew where I could buy a hovercar or at least the hoverboard from Back to the future. Where the hell is my god damn future? I asked that question alot until I found out in 2005 that I could buy games on Steam, play them, delete the local data, and replay them anytime I wanted to. No more scratched/lost/defective/ CD's? Hey guys, I found the future!

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June 5, 2012 10:55:03 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I use it, but I rather use Impulse/Gamestop, I dunno why, but it seems more user friendly.

One of the main reasons I do know, is that Steam makes you put money in your account, and THEn buy the game, unlike Impulse where you simply gave it your card info and it was done. I recently bought a Steam game for 11 dollars, now I have 4 dollars sitting there for no reason other than they allow me only to put money in my account in numbers divisible by 5.

 

Although in the end, I still worry about digital distribution a bit, with physical games, if the company ever goes under, I would still have my game here to play it (has happened) but with digital distribution, if Steam or Impulse/Gamestop ever goes under? there goes my whole game library...

Unlikely to happen, sure, but the possibility is still there.

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June 5, 2012 11:00:35 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I love Steam. But please, PLEASE make sure you have an option to play offline, even if I did not remember to select "Start In Offline Mode". What I mean is, if I am uses Steam, and suddenly I lose Internet without toggling the "Start In Offline Mode" option, please let me still run FE. Some games let you do this, and some do not. That is the only problem I have with Steam.

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June 5, 2012 11:03:17 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Supergulo,
I use it, but I rather use Impulse/Gamestop, I dunno why, but it seems more user friendly.

One of the main reasons I do know, is that Steam makes you put money in your account, and THEn buy the game, unlike Impulse where you simply gave it your card info and it was done. I recently bought a Steam game for 11 dollars, now I have 4 dollars sitting there for no reason other than they allow me only to put money in my account in numbers divisible by 5.

 

Although in the end, I still worry about digital distribution a bit, with physical games, if the company ever goes under, I would still have my game here to play it (has happened) but with digital distribution, if Steam or Impulse/Gamestop ever goes under? there goes my whole game library...

Unlikely to happen, sure, but the possibility is still there.

 

Steam doesn't work that way for me, I use my card.

I like Steam, I like GOG.com even better for older games.

When there is a game I want, I look in this order:

GOG.com

Steam

Impulse (They are usually the most expensive)

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