Stardock

The state of Steam in 2012

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

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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 6, 2012 8:48:25 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

@ Lonemessiah

I was outlining my experience of Steam TBH I don't care if you think the they are 'ill informed opinions stated as facts' - I clearly indicated it was my point of view based on my experience. If I've experienced these issues then others will have had similar issues too.

You say 1,2, & 3 is restating the same point about having to download games via Steam - I kept them separate because they are inconvenient for 3 different reasons. You say that 'if done correctly'  you can install games from the CD without downloading from Steam - I tried to do that on many occasions when I was installing Skyrim and I felt I was blocked at every turn as it was constantly forcing me to go through steam download - it may be possible, but I couldnt figure it out at the time and I shouldnt have to be a tech egghead to work around it so I can install from the CD

With regard to 4 I was contacting them about issues to do with Steam (wouldn't let me log in) and a second time about Civ 5 cutting out after about 30 seconds of the intro. The first definitely falls on Steam although I accept the second question maybe should have been sent to Firaxis. The thing is I had installed and ran Civ 5 before and it ran fine lots of times but then it started screwing me around when I came back to it 3 months later - I hadnt uninstalled/reinstalled the game I just hadnt used it; this made me suspect Steam (rightly or wrongly) - in any case they should have replied - their customer service is poor (my opinion not stated as fact)

I also use forums to find answers to problems but there's often so many threads and posts that it's hard to find the info I require and the point is I shouldnt have to do this - it comes down to basic customer support

With regard to point 5, no it's not a good thing - I have his username and password and I have purchased games on his account using my own card details - we basically share games on the same account - it's a natural family thing to do but because of the rigid awkward way the accounts are set up they don't take account of this and it periodically blocks me FOR NO REASON - the password is correct and the username is correct - it's just Steam being A holes

Point 6, I don't view Valve as a benign company - I don't view them as evil either though, but I do think they are taking advantage of their position to provide shoddy customer support

 

Edit:

@Heart shaped man

Thanks for the reasoned response, I've kind of outlined what I wanted to say already but just in response to Steam accounts not being designed to be shared, to me this is an example of what's going wrong with the gaming industry - surely they are aware that people like to share games (it's easy enough with console games) but now you can't. People are using anti-piracy regs now as a smokescreen to attack people who want to share games - frankly why can't I pool my hard earned cash with my brother to share games? You can share most things that you purchase but not PC games - seems sucky to me

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June 6, 2012 8:55:06 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

My problem with Steam is its effect on the marketplace. They provide a good service to the majority of gamers. But always online discriminates against poor kids whos parents cant afford an internet connection. Its already hard enough to find a good selection of videos games in a store. Sooner or later games in stores wont exist at all..and that will unfairly box out a section of gamers.

Steam is an irresponsible choice for the future of gaming.

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June 6, 2012 8:59:13 AM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Quoting Lord Xia,
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.

Question:  How do you play the game offline?  Where do you go to do this?

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June 6, 2012 9:06:56 AM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Quoting enoeraew37,
My problem with Steam is its effect on the marketplace. They provide a good service to the majority of gamers. But always online discriminates against poor kids whos parents cant afford an internet connection. Its already hard enough to find a good selection of videos games in a store. Sooner or later games in stores wont exist at all..and that will unfairly box out a section of gamers.

Steam is an irresponsible choice for the future of gaming.

 

What?   Are you serious. Oh please. So Steam is "evil" because it is doing somethng that is popular with most gamers at the "expense" of the few who don't have internet access.  So your solution is to cater to the lowest common denominator and to hell with everyone else. 

 

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June 6, 2012 9:12:06 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

IIRC

Start Steam online (yes I know this is the sucky bit, you have to authenticate your account online before you can take it offline).

In the options top right select restart in offline mode.

Steam will now be offline until you restart in online mode, including when you restart that computer.

If this doesn't work you need to make sure you account name and password are saved with the check box when you log in.

 

Using this you should be able to load an entire computer with all your games, take it offline so it then doesn't interfere with you online account when it is running. I have done this around my mum's so that i can play all my games when i visit.

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June 6, 2012 9:17:16 AM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Quoting Lonemessiah,
IIRC

Start Steam online (yes I know this is the sucky bit, you have to authenticate your account online before you can take it offline).

In the options top right select restart in offline mode.

Steam will now be offline until you restart in online mode, including when you restart that computer.

If this doesn't work you need to make sure you account name and password are saved with the check box when you log in.

 

Using this you should be able to load an entire computer with all your games, take it offline so it then doesn't interfere with you online account when it is running. I have done this around my mum's so that i can play all my games when i visit.

Ok thanks I'll try that when I get home today.

 

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June 6, 2012 9:30:49 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Steam is a pretty good service but there is still much that annoys me. I still occasionally get offline issues where I can't play a game without an internet connection and the number of times Steam has automatically updated a game to a new patch that contains bugs or that is incompatible with my save game is really annoying (I know I can turn automatic updates off but you have to remember to do this when you install the game and even then it seems to not always stick, I distinctly remember turning auto updates for Crusader Kings 2 off and it still upgraded to 1.05e without asking). It also seems to spam me with quite a lot of game advertising these days and there have been some good times when it decided that my newly installed game suddenly needed a 9GB patch (Civ 5).

And of course there are the major concerns of what would happen if Steam went out of business/closed down/got bought out by EA, etc. Or even if their servers had a spaz and decided to ban me for no reason. It isn't comfortable giving someone that much control over games which I have supposedly purchased (or at the very least I have purchased the rights to play if you subscribe to the licenced vs sold argument).

So Steam is just acceptable but only because I have to accept it. In general I still prefer to buy games which don't use Steam.

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June 6, 2012 9:32:17 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Actually it is top left, not top right!

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June 6, 2012 9:40:16 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting JamesMoriarty123,
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.

That is very naive. Private companies are bought and sold all the time. Maybe Gabe doesn't want to sell it now but one day that will likely change (or Gabe will eventually die from old age!). At that point anything could happen... I guarantee EA would love to buy Steam if they could work out a way of buying it without having everyone knowing and abandoning it because of EA's severe image problems!

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June 6, 2012 9:50:59 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

When I thought of buying a game through Steam for the first time, I was really hesitant. Like, I didn't really trust it. But then, living in Argentina where importing physical games cost twice as much (if not more) of what Americans or Europeans pay for them and getting to play weeks later, I really had to give it a chance. And I don't regret it one bit now. If it wasn't for it, I would have been forced to buy less games or maybe resort to pirates (which is something that I just won't do now).

 

That, coupled with the great services and discounts it provides and well... for me, it's difficult to not love it.

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June 6, 2012 10:08:23 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

When Steam first came out I hated it. It caused me pain on my PC, deleted files, technical glitches, horrible.

Now I use it all the time and have lots of games on it, mostly bought on sale. I impulse buy almost anything if the price is low enough. It is, from a usability perspective, my platform of choice. I want developers to use it, and support it. Where I have bought a game partly direct and partly from Steam, things can be a bit not-worky. 

Their regional pricing model sucks badly. Civ V expansion was US$30 less 10% or US$50 less 10% if you were in Australia. For a digital product, that seems to be taking the piss. But I still bought it...so there you go.

I had to install Desura in order to play COE3. It is quite sucky, but a bit like Steam a few years ago, it will get better. Of course, some level of competition is good.

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June 6, 2012 10:34:29 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

You can get COE3 on GamersGate, but you have to re-install (over) it when you get a new version.

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June 6, 2012 11:01:00 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I voted would never buy a game that supports Steam, but to be fair, I own two games that "requires" steam. I have never used steam though, and have managed to play both using cracks normally reserved for pirates. In a sense it gives the game-cracks a legitimate reason to exists, but seriously I avoid Steam-only games like the plague, and only buy them if I know a reliable crack is available.

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June 6, 2012 11:12:04 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I like and enjoy Steam. However, I also find the 'online required' aspects to be a major issue. I am often overseas with limited or no internet, sometimes without losing connection with no warning. The current 'offline mode' is very cumbersome. If that feature was improved, I would have no issue with Steam. As it stands, I use Steam quite often, but would like to see some improvement.

 

If putting Stardock games on Steam helps Stardock and helps promote great games, I am all for it, especially if there are options for those that do not like Steam.

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June 6, 2012 11:34:09 AM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

I for one have given up on all DD systems except GOG.com.  I've left the multiplayer scene and only play offline/single player modes.

The only game I have that uses Steam is Skyrim and it has been a PITA from my perspective.  With RPG's (or with any game for that matter), I prefer to apply patches/mods before I start a new game.  Even though I tell Steam not to patch the game, someone, Steam or the publisher can override my settings and force the updates.  I can get around this by using the offline mode, but it can take several weeks for me to play out a character.  If I log into Steam during that time to check out the latest mods available and there's an update available, Skyrim is locked out until it updates...whether I've told it not to update or not.  Once it does update, my save games are hosed post patch in most cases.  I get everything from broken missions to blue screens until I start a new game.  Mods update automatically as well.  If there's a way to prevent them from updating, I haven't found it.

I for one am not willing to give up that much control over my PC.  It's my computer.  I should have full control over when and if something gets updated.  Skyrim was my first and last foray into Steam games.  

Impulse is tolerable since you can turn it off, but from here on out, its GOG only for me.

IMO, Steam is becoming a virtual Walmart.  As more and more games implement Steamworks, there is less and less reasons for consumers to buy from anywhere else.  Similar to Walmart moving into an area, and the local businesses start to go under because they cannot compete.  Steam is not there yet, but it won't be long.

Pet peeve #2, I've got:

Steam installed
Impulse installed
GFWL installed
Origin installed

With the exception of Impulse, all have to be running to play various single player games I play.  Once I tire of those games, I'll get half my harddrive back when I remove those 'viruses'

No, from here on out it's GOG only for me.

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June 6, 2012 12:18:29 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

If the Walmart comparison was true Kickstarter would not be as successful as it currently is. There will always be a place where gamers make games for gamers. For example Wasteland 2 recently raised just shy of $3million in donations to help fund it.

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June 6, 2012 12:33:28 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Steam is a good thing because it allows me to purchase games cheap enough that it's not a big deal should I lose access to them somehow.  That being said, if I do lose that access, I will be trying to find a way around it because I love some of the games I've gotten there.  Company of Heroes ($3!!), The Guild 2: Rennaissance ($5!), etc.  They're really good games that I love to play even after having them for a while, though it ebbs and flows.  I've spent maybe $30-$50 on Steam and have way more games than the 1 I could get for that at a store.

 

Edit:

Never mind the fact that I have kids now, who don't take care of CDs at all... so many Wii/XBox/PS2 games lost... PC games lost... it's a travesty!  With Steam, no CD.  It downloads, I play, Steam's happy, I'm happy.  Though I will consider using offline mode now...

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June 6, 2012 12:39:00 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting enoeraew37,
My problem with Steam is its effect on the marketplace. They provide a good service to the majority of gamers. But always online discriminates against poor kids whos parents cant afford an internet connection. Its already hard enough to find a good selection of videos games in a store. Sooner or later games in stores wont exist at all..and that will unfairly box out a section of gamers.

Steam is an irresponsible choice for the future of gaming.

A lot of the games on Steam wouldn't exist without it. Retail distribution is expensive. Profit per game is a lot lower. Expenses are higher. Stores are picky about what they carry. That was all true before Steam existed, and it hasn't gotten better.

Games like Recettear, that I love? It was only made available at all because of platforms like Steam. In a retail only world it simply couldn't exist because there's no realistic way to make a profit on it. Retail is rapidly becoming AAA or bust, while Steam is where indie games shine.

That's a future for gaming that I love.

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June 6, 2012 1:06:22 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

When you place your games on Steam do what Sots 2 did. You only need to use it for installation, and updates. You don't need steam to run with the game.

I like to use steam to keep in touch with my friends while we game. Ya I buy from where ever games got the best deals.  

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June 6, 2012 1:24:05 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thread....starting to spiral...

This was to find out who does (not) use Steam and why.  Not to change people's opinions.

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June 6, 2012 1:41:12 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

If I had to guess, I would say that I'm in the majority when I say that I buy games from wherever I can get them and don't really care that much if it's Steam or not. I guess I end up buying from steam quite often since it's so accessible now that I have an account there.

 

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June 6, 2012 2:21:42 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


I voted "no I will never buy games that require it".

I've thought about it long and hard with several games before coming to this decision, so I shall explain:

Reason #1: Will steam/impulse/etc be around forever, garenteeing my ability to play the game I've purchased in the future? That's a big gamble. I love going back to games I've previously played....Master of Magic comes to mind. I'd hate to FINALLY get Master of Magic 2 in the form of Fallen Enchantress, play it for 5 years, and then find out that the service is no longer going to be supported forcing me to go back to Master of Magic 1.

Reason #2: Internet connection is dynamic over time. Things are changing with the way the world accesses the net. In the forseeable future, you have will have to purchase per gig instead of per month. That will directly increase the cost of playing online games. I MUCH rather keep the game disconnected, only downloading the patches as needed.

Reason #3: Playability of the game when I want. I want to be able to load the game and play..barring my computer being able to boot of course. I don't want to have to rely on a third party to ensure that the server is up and running in order to play the game.

Recent Examples:

Diablo 3 and Starcraft 2: Blizzard has chosen to go the route of battlenet in order to play their products, focusing on the multiplayer side of the game. This has resulted in less effort being put towards the excellent plot and storyline that there earlier predecessors had. Very unfortunate imo, and after demoing the games, I chose not to purchase them for the reasons above. Blizzard has lost a customer.

Skyrim requires steam to run and I have yet to bother playing the game. After reviewing the product, it seems that it's predecessor, Oblivion, is the better game. Steam downgrades the ability to get the most out of your experiance with a game if you have a computer that can handle it.

 

End result...

If FE were to go the route of steam/impulse, before purchasing the game I would look for a mod to enable me to play without the requirement of the server. If no such mod is possible (like in the case of Diablo 3), I will not purchase the game, much to my great disappointment...

 

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June 6, 2012 2:28:15 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I have had steam since they started out and I just love it.

Never had any big issues with them either, nothing but great things to say about steam.
As others I was very very skeptical about steam and Impulse but they both have been very good, GOG.com to!

I had this idea in my head that steam would suck and I would never use it, but im so glad that I smacked myself across the head and said "GROW UP AND GIVE IT A DAMN TRY!! STOP BEING IGNORANT OF SOMETHING YOU HAVE NEVER TRIED!"

Really enjoy steam now and im glad I gave it a shot. The only issues Ive had are very small (ARMA2 when it first came out made me download the whole game against). Steam started off it was not the best, but years later its fantastic.

Also OFFLINE MODE works fine. A month ago our internet went down for 2 weeks. I thought my games would nto be able to be played, but I turned offline mode on a year or two ago to try it out and now it worked fine. I could play ARX FATALIS, Total War Shogun2 and Legend Of Grimrock perfectly fine in offline mode. I dont understand all the complaints about offline mode on steam, if you use it properly its perfectly fine. Just make sure you start up in offlien mode atleast once.

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June 6, 2012 2:29:32 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting GFireflyE,

I voted "no I will never buy games that require it".

I've thought about it long and hard with several games before coming to this decision, so I shall explain:

Reason #1: Will steam/impulse/etc be around forever, garenteeing my ability to play the game I've purchased in the future? That's a big gamble. I love going back to games I've previously played....Master of Magic comes to mind. I'd hate to FINALLY get Master of Magic 2 in the form of Fallen Enchantress, play it for 5 years, and then find out that the service is no longer going to be supported forcing me to go back to Master of Magic 1.

Reason #2: Internet connection is dynamic over time. Things are changing with the way the world accesses the net. In the forseeable future, you have will have to purchase per gig instead of per month. That will directly increase the cost of playing online games. I MUCH rather keep the game disconnected, only downloading the patches as needed.

Reason #3: Playability of the game when I want. I want to be able to load the game and play..barring my computer being able to boot of course. I don't want to have to rely on a third party to ensure that the server is up and running in order to play the game.

Recent Examples:

Diablo 3 and Starcraft 2: Blizzard has chosen to go the route of battlenet in order to play their products, focusing on the multiplayer side of the game. This has resulted in less effort being put towards the excellent plot and storyline that there earlier predecessors had. Very unfortunate imo, and after demoing the games, I chose not to purchase them for the reasons above. Blizzard has lost a customer.

Skyrim requires steam to run and I have yet to bother playing the game. After reviewing the product, it seems that it's predecessor, Oblivion, is the better game. Steam downgrades the ability to get the most out of your experiance with a game if you have a computer that can handle it.

 

End result...

If FE were to go the route of steam/impulse, before purchasing the game I would look for a mod to enable me to play without the requirement of the server. If no such mod is possible (like in the case of Diablo 3), I will not purchase the game, much to my great disappointment...

 

Valve has already said in the past that IF steam goes down foe what ever reason, THEY WILL make all the games still available to the customers.

So no worries on that front.

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June 6, 2012 2:39:16 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'm not a big fan of steam, I've only used it for a couple games that had steamworks. In both cases the games were purchased from Amazon well after release and at large discounts. I like digital distribution done right (see GOG.com). I have also purchased from Impulse in the past, but not lately.

My order of preference is: GOG.com, Humble Bundle (not a true store currently), or directly from the developer. If its a developer I've had experience with and trust I would purcase from them first given the option. At this point Amazon, Impulse, and Steam only get my business once a game hits the bargain bin.

I can see why people could like steam, but it's not for me. I prefer the freedom of not having to connect and/or activate something I purchased once it's downloaded.

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