Tuesday, November 10, 2009

why I avoid Steam

I have used Steam on occasion, but only in response to exceptional bargains. In general, I avoid Steam, instead opting for services like Direct2Drive. The reason is that I can only play a game purchased through Steam if I'm online, so Valve can constantly verify the legality of my game copy. Why is this a problem?

Imagine that you buy a ball. Now imagine that the store you buy the ball from demands that you always play within view of the store, and that you return the ball there for keeping whenever you're not using it. Is it accurate to say that you completely own the ball? Or are you just renting/leasing it, albeit courtesy of a one-time fee?
  • having to run a 3rd-party program whenever I play
  • having to remain online to access offline features
  • having to re-register every time I reinstall (because of temporary hardware/software problems, because I needed the drive space, or because I simply lost interest for a while and later want to play again)
These are requirements which diminish my ownership of a game. It's not like a solid, self-contained product that I can box up in a closet and return to years later. It's not something that can be loaned or traded, transferred to another operating system or passed on when I'm done with it. No, it's something under contract. It's a lawyer's loan -- here today, gone tomorrow; ever under restrictions, the threat of change, and the threat of revocation.

When I buy a game with online features, I do not expect a guarantee that those features will be supported for free or forever. But I do expect that all offline gameplay be available to me as long as I possess the code on a disc or on any other storage device. I expect a finished product which I can use whenever and however I wish in my own home.

I don't deny that Steam is an admirable service in many ways, but I avoid it mainly for this reason. How about you?

As for Steam's recent deal with Infinity Ward to exclusively handle Modern Warfare 2's servers, I support D2D, Impulse, GamersGate and others in their response. It's obviously unreasonable to expect a retailer to sell a product that requires the consumer to use that retailer's competitor... and not just once, but every time that consumer uses the product.


  1. I'm just the opposite. I like Steam and since I have broadband I'm always automatically online anyway if the PC is on. Steam does have an Offline mode, by the way, which lets everything work as long as you do check in online periodically.

    Steam is like a PC version of Xbox Live to me. It handles game patches automatically and it provides an integrated friends list and a chat overlay so I can chat with friends while playing without alt-tabbing to a third-party IM window. It also has integrated VOIP which, similar to XBL isn't the greatest quality compared to TS/Ventrilo, but at least it's there and is a no-brainer to operate.

    I've only used D2D once for World in Conflict. All things considered, I didn't care for their handling of putting the game into two files and complicating the install procedure a little. It wasn't difficult to figure out, I just prefer things to "work" and not need me to work or jump through hoops first. If I wanted to jump through hoops to game I'd still be using Linux, after all. Though I'll freely admit one of my primary reasons for avoiding D2D is they're part of IGN, which I dislike on general principle. I've been doing computers since the 8-bit days, and have tweaked until I'm blue in the face. It's nearly 2010. Programmers have had 20+ years of the same problems and if they'd bother to learn from past mistakes this shit would have been figured out long ago. I expect things to "just work" now, even though that expectation is still rarely met.

    What I do find offensive is the use of additional third-party services. Buying Borderlands through Steam still requires the use of that shitty Gamespy client and all the associated manual tweaking of your firewall just to play online, for example. Buying Dawn of War 2 over Steam still requires the use of the Games for Windows Live client, and so forth. Granted, this is the fault of the developers and/or publishers not Steam, just as Modern Warfare 2 (I think that's the game all the controversy is over?) is being boycotted by D2D, Stardock, etc. because IW decided to use Steamworks.

    If developers want to start making a tiny impression when they delay PC releases by a week for "polish" (which really just means they want the cash-grab for the more expensive console version) they should make the Steam version only use Steam, have Steam achievements, integrate with the overlays, etc. and non-Steam versions not have any integrated Steam software libraries. And that goes for GFWL, etc. as well.

    But I've taken the conversation on a tangent. Me? Nahhh, that never happens...

  2. I use Steam fairly often. For me, the convenience offsets all your issues (none of which I disagree with). F'rex, when I recently did a clean install of Windows 7 all I had to do was d/l the Steam client, install that, then have it install & patch all my games. The only thing I had to back up were my saves.

    For me, this was more convenient than digging through the closet looking for disks, then chasing around downloading patches and installing them.

    I'm not worried about what'll happen years down the road... last time I cleaned that same closet I tossed out a ton of old games that were on floppy disks... no way to install those even if I had an OS that would still run them.

    On the other hand, I'm starting to feel like Steam is getting a bit too monopolistic. I think I might try Impulse next. I did buy some $5 games from Direct2Drive when they had that big sale a while back, and that seemed to go well, too.

    So I'm glad there're alternatives and I plan on using them, but generally I've done ok with Steam.

  3. I've only used it for plants versus zombies and it seemed reather ridiculous to requiere me to log in all the time for offline product. There are no updates right? So why log in? It did once help me get in touch with my cousin though right before he was coming to town anyways so some good did come of it I suppose. Still I don't see why they don't just let you unlock your game through steam once and them stop making you check back in. Its rather dumb.

  4. I agree with you Aaron. I will never purchase another game using Steam. Your analogy of the ball is perfect, and you hit the nail head on. Long ago I purchased Half Life 2 for $50 retail. I played the game for a few days and decided I really didn't like it so I uninstalled it. I wanted to sell the game, but quickly learned I couldn't. I couldn't even give the game away or trade it. So, in essence, I just threw my $50 away because I'm never going to the play game again. I've been a major supporter of PC Gaming, but I almost feel game publishers and DRM restrictions are going to kill it off. I find myself wanting a console to be done with all this BS required to play a game on a PC. Not to mention, some titles I would like to play on a PC are no longer available for a PC, such as Madden. It's becoming clear that if I want to play games, I'll have to end my boycott of gaming consoles.

  5. I used Steam when it first started since my favorite games where on it. Day of Defeat and Counterstrike. After a bit my old hardware and operating system could not run steam properly and I stopped using it.(I had some unkind thoughts and words about STEAM at the time). Just recently I was reminded about steam (was checking out status of the Natural Selection mode, only runs on steam). Anyway I installed on my new PC an wow all my games are still there. There is even a way to play offline if I want. Just google it there are tutorials on how to do it. I purchased some new games for 5-10 bucks each. Now I compare the cost to a movie ticket, if at some point Steam disappears well how many hours of play did I get for my money? I think it is worth the chance for the ease of use and connection for online play. Nothing lasts forever. I have to say that playing the WEE or PS3 is loads of fun, but there is a lot of expense in hardware that wears out and even game cartridges/CD/DVD disks get messed up. As for DRM, its built into the console, you can't use the software you buy with any other hardware. At least if I change PCs I can still use STEAM, even if it is a bit of a pain to do it. Also I know between moves and friends who "borrowed" games I have lost at least a 1/2 dozen copies of various games, at least with STEAM that does not happen. On the other hand STEAM still can be improved, some things still don't work at all or as well as they should. So for the moment I am content. And someday I may just give it all to my one nieces or nephews.

  6. I agree, I hate having something (steam) rammed down my throat that I neither bought, nor wanted. I have enough junk running on my computer now, and I need another one like I need a hole in my head... To make a person load a 3rd party application before they can run a game is dirty pool in my book, and I won't be a party to it. I bought 2 games, one by square enix, and the other by infinity ward, both require steam to play them. Needless to say, I've played neither, and I'm attempting to secure a refund. I'm sure I won't be successful in getting a refund, but screw them. I for sure won't buy another product from either of them again, unless it's steam free.

  7. My steam acount was based on an email address I have had for years but because of this time passing can't recall the information to retrive it from. The hardrive has since friend and steam has sent many password retrival tech support emails to there when I asked them and told them about my situation. No access is available to me to this acount please help me in another manner.

    I got nothing, the three games I have now are dead weight and a waste of my time and money. I will never use steam again or anything (product service) associated with steam ever again. I will also get my friends family to be in the know about how I got ripped off. Steam isn't necessary.

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  9. I am now waging war against Steam, or any other drm related spyware! After suffering from some weird compatibility issue in win7 x 64 that wasn't even checked off in the first place, steam forced me to have to remove it to fix the issue.

    This is why we pirate games because we get stuck with games we have no access to unless we follow some jacked up protocol that's totally unnecessary. The problem is with steam not my computer.

    Jacking around people like me who buy more than 12 games a year is good business for me, because in the long run you're not only saving me money, but in the process hurting yourself.

    I am done supporting you retards. I build computers, you don't think I cant download a game and get around your rip off spyware? Good luck on your war against honest consumers, you should be ashamed of your tactics.

    If I cant buy a disc and install, play it off that disc without the internet then its not worth buying. If I need internet for it I can freaking get it for free you pricks!


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