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
+1105

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?

464 Replies +2
Search this post
Subscription Options


Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
June 5, 2012 11:06:30 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Heaven help everyone, when Electronic Arts buys Steam ...        

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
June 5, 2012 11:38:39 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I am old school.  I like getting a box with disc and stuff.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
June 6, 2012 12:16:51 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

steam is pure evil.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
June 6, 2012 12:41:29 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'm a huge fan of steam. I find it easy to use, the sales are great (and agony to my wallet) and its social features are pretty much the only way I play with friends online. The people I play with exclusively now are people I met playing games on Steam and I give any game that comes out that isn't on Steam a period of time before I buy in hope that steam will add it to its catalog. I know I come off as a huge fanboy, but I have yet to find any reason not to use it.

 "Imagine a special fridge that could get turkey sandwiches delivered right to the crisper."

Thats how I imagine Steam.

(edit) the quote is from penny arcade, I'm not that clever.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
June 6, 2012 1:12:41 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I hate Steam and don't buy any game which needs it.

Reason is simple: no one may have more rights on my computer than me.

Steam can do whatever it wishes with your games without your approval.

No way! 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
June 6, 2012 1:36:51 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I love Steam, it is the best thing to happen to PC gaming in the last decade IMO.  I was reluctant at first, and only signed up because Dawn of War 2 was a Steamworks game.  Yes, sometimes there is the odd issue with connectivity but the positives far outweigh the negatives.

That being said, I do like getting my games retail since I like having a box and it's usually cheaper for new releases (in the UK).  If a game is Steamworks and uses Steam wherever you get it I'm very happy.   It's just makes everything easier, namely updates and multiplayer. 

The community features are also great but they're not forced upon you.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
June 6, 2012 2:54:57 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I try not to buy stuff from steam. Their prices are always higher than the lowest and there are the obvious implications of having only one major content deliverer on the net.

That said, everything I see as a customer from their Steam service and also Steamworks DRM works really well for me. That is, no hassle, no twists, no surprises. Just works. I play a lot of different types of games so every now and then I get a bit "burned" by DRM interfering with my gameplay. D3 being the latest, of course (always online requirement). It really gives good perspective on how Steam's DRM scheme is a market leader with the least possible pain for the customer on the market right now.

 

 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
June 6, 2012 3:18:18 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting OrionM42,
Heaven help everyone, when Electronic Arts buys Steam ...        

 

That's the beauty of it, as far as I know Valve isn't a publicly trading company. They cannot be "bought out" and don't have to fold to shareholder pressure, because there are no shareholders.

 

The only profit margins they need to hit are the margins that Gabe Newell and Co set for themselves. Valve is a wonderful example of how (imho) a games company should exist. The abortion that was Dragon Age 2 for example, would have been great if Bioware were still just Bioware.

 

But yeah, I love Steam, easily the best DD service going, in fact I'm of the opinion that everyone should just sell their stuff on Steam. It's easy, convenient and they always have great deals on.

 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
June 6, 2012 3:21:20 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

I have a few problems with Steam, that became all the more real when I actually tested it, when I was planning on avoiding it like the plague.

About this time last year, I bought a non-Steam copy of Supreme Commander Gold through Impulse, but I only installed Supreme Commander at that time, because I wanted to get a feel for Supreme Commander since I had only played the demo, I knew it pushed the limits of my computer in the first place, and Forged Alliance was a rather large download I wanted to hold off on until I had evaluated Supreme Commander. All was fine and dandy until a few months ago, when I discovered that near the beginning of the year, THQ had replaced my non-Steam version of Supreme Commander Gold with the Steam version without telling me!

I learned that the reason for the change was to continue multiplayer support, since GPGNet was recently discontinued, but I would rather sacrifice multiplayer for true DRM-free gaming.

I eventually decided that I should at least test Forged Alliance, since I did pay for the game, though one without any third party entanglements. Steam and Forged Alliance were as bad as I thought they would be, the game isn't physically installed on my computer like a disk or most digital downloads would, because the game is on the cloud, totally controlled by Steam. I know this isn't how all Steam games work, just the ones that use all aspects of Steamworks, unless I am mistaken. Which makes me feel like I am just renting the game, not purchasing a physical or digital copy that I can do whatever I want, without being tied to the service, within the confines of the law. What does everyone else think about all of this?

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
June 6, 2012 3:29:03 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

They're not publicly traded, but they can still be sold by their owners. There's no guarantee they'll stay with the current owners or their business plan.

Quoting JamesMoriarty123,
Valve is a wonderful example of how (imho) a games company should exist.

I disagree, the company has practically no transparency. As a consumer, no transparency is always bad.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
June 6, 2012 4:54:15 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


I use Steam for Civilization 5. The positive thing is how easy it is to arrange multiplayer games via the Steam group No Quitters. This is primarly a Civ group, with ca 700 members now, but with a working MP for fallen Enchantress I'm sure we'd like to play Elemental FA as well. I think going Steam will give Stardock a huge market potential. We will advertise the game to our steam friends/group buddies and if they can find the game right there at Steam they will buy it. Especially if it is to be able to play multiplayer with your friends.....

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
June 6, 2012 6:07:54 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I love Steam. I think it has been a major part in the resurgence of PC gaming. I love the fact that they cater for all levels of gaming, but still have a quality procedure before they will allow a game to be released on their client.

I think the main anti-Steam people are just misinformed or like to fight a cause. The amount of opinion spouted out as fact against Steam is ludicrous. The idea that somehow Steam is responsible for making games licences only, this has pretty much always been the case. Read the TOA of any hard copy you have!

If you don't want a game to automatically patch, you can select an option for it not to.

If you want to play offline, just switch to offline mode. Just make sure you have you password details saved so that your login is already authorised.

I even once saw somebody start spreading the rumour that there account got blocked because of a ban in the Forum, again this was proved to be nonsense, but still the rumour went on and turned into fact.

Sure there are a lot of problems with Steam, but if that is what we have to put up with to keep PC gaming alive I personally am willing to make that sacrifice. At least we aren't getting treated as bad as the consoles, they have to buy products with the most strictest DRM ever, it is actually hardwired into the console. Yet for some reason they think they have it easy.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
June 6, 2012 6:54:11 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I buy from steam, stardock, and Gamersgate.

 

So yeah...I'm into digital purchasing quite a bit and like them all.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
June 6, 2012 7:03:04 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Zeta1127,
... the game isn't physically installed on my computer like a disk or most digital downloads would, because the game is on the cloud, totally controlled by Steam. I know this isn't how all Steam games work, just the ones that use all aspects of Steamworks, unless I am mistaken.?

You are mistaken.  Steam isn't a cloud-gaming service like OnLive.  The game is on your PC.  The Steam cloud is just used for save games and screenshots, and that's only if you choose to.  Steamworks itself is just a generic term for a range of things that Steam can do; cloud storage as above, multiplayer services, DRM (obviously), mods (WorkShop), but not every game uses all the services.

Imagine a new Stardock game using Steamworks; with new mods/maps on the WorkShop, seemless multiplayer, built-in community features etc.  Steam can even distribute alpha/betas allowing you to opt-in.  I don't understand why FE isn't on Steam NOW with the beta for pre-orders.  Look how much attention Endless Space is getting, came out of nowhere and offered the Alpha for pre-orders.  There is a lot of buzz around it now.  I'm not sure how the finances work with putting your game on Steam etc, but just having it on there gives your title a huge push.  I still get responses of "... Eh?" when I mention Elemental, and these people are strategy gamers, not your average Joe. 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
June 6, 2012 7:07:12 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I love the functionality of Steam, hate the program.

It keeps my games centralized, up to date, easy to reinstall.  I've never run into any problems with it.  It has saved me time, an 'alot' of money, and I have found games and developers I never would have...and it costs me 1/2 hours wage.

The program, TEARS up my machine.  It likes to pop in the foreground (even though it's not 'really' there), tends to eat far more memory the longer I leave it on, and all around interferes with the normal operating of my machine.  Easy enough, I just turn it off...but it is far more of a bear than it needs to be.  Once I upgrade I'm sure most of the issues will be easier to gloss over...but I still know the software could use an entire optimization redux.

But, it's worth it.  I like Sins being on there.

Edit: It also feels like a good neutral party for developers.  It just seems like developers are more comfortable with their customers nowadays. Not necessarily Steam, but DD in general.  I see far more, "Hey, this game is cool too." from developers than I EVER say when games were in boxes.  This has also opened me to games that I never would even have considered would 'work' as a game.

Too many times I've played a really really good game and heard that a month later most of the people working on it were looking for a new job and having absolutely no clue where the money went.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
June 6, 2012 7:35:22 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I voted used Steam but prefer not to.  Steam won the DD war, they're a monopoly in my eyes.  Right now, a benevolent one.  However, gamers have proven over the years that they'll keep taking it over and over- they have no desire to enforce good practices in companies- what happens when/if Steam goes evil?  What happens when Gabe retires?

 

Will there be a viable alternative?  Impulse could have been that alternative, but Gamestop dropped the ball hard with a poor strategy for Impulse, and Stardock wasn't big enough to play ball with Valve despite having a good strategy.  

 

Gamers won't jump to a competitor they view as evil- which is another reason Impulse isn't working that well under Gamestop, and Origin has no chance- EA and Gamestop are just viewed too negatively.  Both companies regularly get into WCIA, that should say something.

 

The only thing that could cause Steam to have real competition is if Windows loses a ton of market share and someone capitalizes with a service that competes well with Steam , and the costs to make a legit competitor to Steam would be massive.

 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
June 6, 2012 7:35:57 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Brad, I can appreciate why you would like Steam on your end; they are a reliable distributor that pays up on time in full. But for me as a customer I get really fed up with them. The reasons being:

1) If I buy a disc in a shop I still have to spend hours downloading the whole game via Steam's servers - thats f'd up; don't they store the game on discs anymore? If you have to go through Steam anyway, why bother having discs at all?

2) Downloading games via Steam (or others) not only takes hours but it also costs me more money in hefty bandwidth usage

3) It discriminates against those who don't have internet/ don't have easy access to it/live in internet black spots - they cant just buy the CD instead cos the disc still needs to download through Steam!?

4) Contacting customer support is really hard, there is no direct phoneline or postal address (unnacceptable IMO), all they have is some lame email system where you send an email and pray they'll get back to you some time in the future - I've sent emails to them in the past regarding tech issues and had no response from them - they're customer support is very poor IMO

5) Tech issues - I share a Steam account with my younger brother but sometimes I log in using his account and it blocks me - the username & password are correct and he isnt on at the time but it still blocks me and doesnt even explain why!!   AAAAAAAAAAAARGH!

It also outright barred me from playing Civ 5 for ages by cutting me off in the opening intro - nothing I could do about it, although last time I checked I can access it now

6) It's never good to have a company cornering the market like Steam has - I try to avoid them but their damn logo is on pretty much every game I look at

 

Brad, what I like about you and your company is that you clearly care about and communicate with your customers - Steam does not and I hate seeing their logo on a box cos it means I'll have to deal with those spivs. I have to really want a game before I'll suffer the inconvenience of using Steam

 

I'm sorry if this has turned into a rant but I wanted to state my point of view. Steam has plenty of fanboys who shout about how wonderful it is and slowly but surely they seem to be brainwashing the gamer market so I've got no doubt that I'm in a minority here

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
June 6, 2012 7:37:39 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I like steam, but the only thing that concerns me is steam going out of business.

Fortunately their "DRM" is easily circumvented should it ever happen.

I am not happy with their differential region pricing, which is harder to enforce with boxed copies.

(Price is .au are often $30 more even when we had a stronger dollar)

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
June 6, 2012 7:54:55 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting DGB246,
Brad, I can appreciate why you would like Steam on your end; they are a reliable distributor that pays up on time in full. But for me as a customer I get really fed up with them. The reasons being:

1) If I buy a disc in a shop I still have to spend hours downloading the whole game via Steam's servers - thats f'd up; don't they store the game on discs anymore? If you have to go through Steam anyway, why bother having discs at all?

2) Downloading games via Steam (or others) not only takes hours but it also costs me more money in hefty bandwidth usage

3) It discriminates against those who don't have internet/ don't have easy access to it/live in internet black spots - they cant just buy the CD instead cos the disc still needs to download through Steam!?

4) Contacting customer support is really hard, there is no direct phoneline or postal address (unnacceptable IMO), all they have is some lame email system where you send an email and pray they'll get back to you some time in the future - I've sent emails to them in the past regarding tech issues and had no response from them - they're customer support is very poor IMO

5) Tech issues - I share a Steam account with my younger brother but sometimes I log in using his account and it blocks me - the username & password are correct and he isnt on at the time but it still blocks me and doesnt even explain why!!   AAAAAAAAAAAARGH!

It also outright barred me from playing Civ 5 for ages by cutting me off in the opening intro - nothing I could do about it, although last time I checked I can access it now

6) It's never good to have a company cornering the market like Steam has - I try to avoid them but their damn logo is on pretty much every game I look at

 

Brad, what I like about you and your company is that you clearly care about and communicate with your customers - Steam does not and I hate seeing their logo on a box cos it means I'll have to deal with those spivs. I have to really want a game before I'll suffer the inconvenience of using Steam

 

I'm sorry if this has turned into a rant but I wanted to state my point of view. Steam has plenty of fanboys who shout about how wonderful it is and slowly but surely they seem to be brainwashing the gamer market so I've got no doubt that I'm in a minority here

 

This is what I mean by ill-informed opinion being stated as fact

 

1) If done correctly the game won't be downloaded from Steam. I have installed many games from disc then activated them on Steam afterwards without needing to download the entire game.

2) Buy the disc then, see above

3) See above, seriously you make the same point 3 times. Civ 5 you could buy the disc, install the game, then activate it on Steam. Problems arrived if you activated it on Steam before installing the game.

4) Contact the publishers of the game if you have problems via forums etc. Steam is not responsible for in game problems. If it is a Steam problem you are having problems with try the forums, most answers are there. This is no different from when you buy a non-Steam game.

5) It blocks you from using someone else's account? Surely that is a good thing. And again the Civ 5 thing, isn't that more likely to be a problem with the game rather than Steam?

6) Fair point, but the reason it is cornering the market is because it is good. In that way it is like Apple.

 

You seem to have the opinion that Steam is a publisher, it is not it is a distribution service. Most of you complaints are the same as you shouting at the guy in the shops who sold you the game and blaming him for the game being buggy.

As I said, Steam has many problems, but the ones that get spouted the most aren't actually the problems it has. The main problems in my opinion are:-

1) We now all have to wait for the USA time before we can unlock our games, slightly annoying in the UK, very annoying in Austrailia.

2) The amount of updates games do now with no regards to size (dungeon defenders i am looking at you!). Daily updates to change nothing noticeable of 300mb+ is not acceptable. Yes i can turn off auto-update, but on online games that isn't really an option.

3) Too strict control on what is allowed to be released on their platform and how.

4) No secondhand games now

5) Too easy to release DLC

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
June 6, 2012 7:56:27 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I buy games on steam because they get discounted heavily at holidays (like $5 for Mass Effect 2). I have never paid full price for a game on steam except for Warlock: Master of the Arcane. I really hate having multiple programs installed on my computer, and I don't like having games spread over multiple services. 

I also use gog.com and humble bundle to buy games but rarely. I like that humble bundle gives steam codes which allows me to consolidate my library. The fact that even if I lost my steam account for some reason, I would still have access to the humble bundle is nice. 

If you think its worth being on steam for the extra audience in exchange for giving up a large cut of revenue, then go for it. I think you should still have your own service and promote that to all your fans. Maybe even give exclusive bonuses even if its just a PDF artbook or something minor.

I have been watching you work on elemental for 2 years now and I am ready to go ahead and buy it (when I have time). I will buy it directly from you to support the devs and cut out any middlemen. 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
June 6, 2012 8:04:52 AM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

I love Steam. I have never had any issues with them except for some games where you need to log into Steam to play this I don't like. If my internet is down or if I'm someplace with no internet I can't play thes games. Other than that I usally get most of my games through Steam.

I also have impuse but I don't care for it to much and it has really gotten worst since you guys sold it to Gamestop. I do get games through them but I usally check Steam first.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
June 6, 2012 8:08:38 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

1) If I buy a disc in a shop I still have to spend hours downloading the whole game via Steam's servers - thats f'd up; don't they store the game on discs anymore? If you have to go through Steam anyway, why bother having discs at all?

That's just devs using Steam to deliver day-one patches, complain to the devs.  Pretty common practice though these days, it can be a month between going gold and release day, there are bound to be updates they want to push on day one.  If it's downloading the whole game you're doing it wrong.

2) Downloading games via Steam (or others) not only takes hours but it also costs me more money in hefty bandwidth usage

Well downloading large amounts in a DD environment is pretty much a given.  This is more of an issue with DD in general, not Steam.

3) It discriminates against those who don't have internet/ don't have easy access to it/live in internet black spots - they cant just buy the CD instead cos the disc still needs to download through Steam!?

As above, you're not "downloading the CD" through Steam, these are day-one updates put through by the devs which can sometimes be large.  Steam does seem a bit weird when it comes to starting offline, not sure what is up with it.

4) Contacting customer support is really hard, there is no direct phoneline or postal address (unnacceptable IMO), all they have is some lame email system where you send an email and pray they'll get back to you some time in the future - I've sent emails to them in the past regarding tech issues and had no response from them - they're customer support is very poor IMO

Yes it is poor and not really acceptable for such a huge company and a service with ~30 million accounts.  I've never had to use it myself but to just offer a ticket system is bad.

5) Tech issues - I share a Steam account with my younger brother but sometimes I log in using his account and it blocks me - the username & password are correct and he isnt on at the time but it still blocks me and doesnt even explain why!!   AAAAAAAAAAAARGH!

For security reasons I imagine.  Steam accounts are not designed to be shared.

It also outright barred me from playing Civ 5 for ages by cutting me off in the opening intro - nothing I could do about it, although last time I checked I can access it now

How do you know this was a Steam issue?  Could have just been a technical issue with the game. "Cutting you off"?

6) It's never good to have a company cornering the market like Steam has - I try to avoid them but their damn logo is on pretty much every game I look at

Well, there are plenty of other DDs around that seem to survive well enough.  Yes Steam is the market leader but that's because they're the best at the moment. Someone has to be top.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
June 6, 2012 8:31:25 AM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Quoting OrionM42,
Heaven help everyone, when Electronic Arts buys Steam ...        

Don't scare me like that

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
June 6, 2012 8:36:46 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I hope Elemental games (including any possible RPGs in the Elemental universe) NEVER go Steam only.

Steam optional I have no problem with, but if the day came when an Elemental game became a "Steam exclusive" I would be extremely unhappy, especially since Elemental games have such a strong single player focus.

I'm fine with more multiplayer type games being Steam only, however I would feel disappointed if a primarily single player game such as FE or any other Elemental sequels, expansions or RPGs required Steam and I no longer had control of it on my own computer.

I am of the opinion that primarily single player games should always have the ability to be played without an internet connection.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
June 6, 2012 8:37:29 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I stayed away from steam for a long time.  I had heard a lot of steam bashing from gamers on online forums.  This was before I understood forum posters, so I actually listened to them without screening their bullshit.  I finally tried out Steam and I absolutely love it.  It's easy, doesn't cause me any problems what so ever, I can play the games offline, I can mod still, it has tons of great deals all the time, it has a large selection of games and is by far a better experience than trying to find a game in a store. 

 

I play Steam games offline all the time.  I have another older computer that I rarely have connected to the internet, and only connected it to put steam and download my steam games on it, and I play those games with no internet all the time.  If a game requires a internet connection, it's not STEAM that is requiring it.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
Stardock Forums v1.0.0.0    #108433  walnut3   Server Load Time: 00:00:00.0001125   Page Render Time:
Facebook Twitter YouTube Google+