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Why is Steam suddenly bad?


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Initial post: Feb 15, 2009 7:55:52 AM PST
RichPowers says:
CS, DoD, TF2, The Orange Box, Portal, HL2, etc. all require Steam. None of them can be resold once activated. Yet they've sold millions of copies on the PC (many of them digitally) and no one's one-starred those games solely because they use Steam.

But when FEAR 2, Dawn of War II, and Empire Total War use Steamworks (essentially the same thing used in Valve's games), you have the one-star brigade attacking with their useless two sentence "reviews." (Not to confuse them with the reviewers who intelligently and informatively mention Steam, its problems, and its benefits within a review of the actual gameplay.)

I'm not trying to be inflammatory, but I'd like to know why Steam is suddenly a problem? Half-Life 2 and Portal are both offline games and yet people still buy and play them using Steam.

So why is Valve allowed to use Steamworks, but not other publishers? Put another way, if you give FEAR 2 a one-star review solely because it uses Steamworks, why not do the same for Portal? Or Half-Life 2?

Posted on Feb 15, 2009 8:38:55 AM PST
H. Le says:
Rich Powers,

To begin with, STEAM is not "suddenly a problem"; there are a small number of Customers who have banned STEAM for years since Half Life 2 hit the street. Thus, you are clearly incorrect to state that no one rate down HL2, Port (and The Orange Box) because of STEAM (please check the reviews to verify this). On the other hand, ***I totally agree with you that 1-sentence reviews are never helpful regardless of the number of stars attached***

As an anti-DRM Customer myself, I need to clarify and reiterate that the level of DRM tolerance varies with each individual Customers. Some Customers, like myself, only boycott a game if the DRM is overreaching to the point of insulting - such as SecuROM and limited activation.

Why does FEAR 2 PC receives 1-star rating so quickly after release ? I believe that is due to the heightened DRM awareness brought on by the EA DRM debacle - especially in Spore. As a result, Customers are now on the lookout for DRM information; and somewhere further down the road, STEAM is seeing the ripple of the shock wave created by the EA DRM/PR disaster.

Admittedly, I was not happy with STEAM when I found out that it seems to violate the First Sale Doctrine. However, I must also admit that I am satisfy with the STEAM's method of games distribution. Over the years, I have come to regard STEAM as a gaming service provider - and a good one at that now that STEAM discloses 3rd party DRM (good job STEAM) - and have accepted STEAM for what it is.

In conclusion, I believe that STEAM is still not the right form of DRM, but it is far more acceptable than SecuROM and limited activation. As is, the ONLY thing that I want to see for STEAM only games is that "STEAM required to play" printed clearly on the box, and clearly stated in the product description by online vendors.

Posted on Feb 15, 2009 9:07:12 AM PST
RichPowers says:
There's a difference, I think, between giving a game one star because of a legitimate problem you've had with Steam and giving one star *solely because it uses Steam*. If just having Steam in the first place = one star, then you should be honest and give ALL Steam games one star. That's what I'm getting at. Simply having Steam didn't lead to one star reviews, legitimate problems with Steam did. (For the record, I've used Steam since 2003 and am pleased with the service.)

I fully agree that retailers and game boxes should tell you if the game requires Steam.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 15, 2009 9:16:39 AM PST
H. Le says:
Rich Powers,

Thanks for the reply. Please remember that the violation of the First Sale Doctrine is serious offense depending on Customers' opinions. After all is said and done, stars are still given based on opinion. You and I can certainly agree or disagree with basis for those stars, and we can always encourage Customers to write more thoughtful reviews, but it would not be proper for us to try stopping other Customers from expressing their opinions - even if we can.

Please rest assured that critical and informed readers are never easily swayed by opinion.

For the record, I have also used STEAM since HL2.

Posted on Feb 15, 2009 3:07:44 PM PST
R. Spencer says:
Steam is fine as long as there is no problems. It's when you run into a problem that the frustration with it starts. My son was stationed overseas and had the Orange Box installed on his laptop. Near the beginning of his tour, the Steam clientregistry.blob file got corrupt. If this file is corrupt you can not play offline. You can rename it and the next time you log in it is recreated and you will be able to play offline again, however he had no Internet access for months.

A coworker bought Left 4 Dead. When he went to install it, Steam said the key was already in use. The package was sealed with no evidence of any kind of tampering. Their inefficient tech support would not help in resolving the issue even when he offered to fax the receipt and scans of the original cd key, and the big box store he bought it from would not take it back due to their policy regarding opened software. He was out $50 for a legitimate software purchase that he was unable to use.

I don't agree with posting 1 star reviews based only on the DRM used, though I do like to see it mentioned in the review. The music industry is moving away from DRM with Amazon leading the way, and the FCC is now investigating it in games and other uses, so maybe the tide is turning. I do not like to see the developers efforts go unrewarded due to rampant copyright infringement, but as an end user I often find that the DRM gets in my way of using the product.

Posted on Feb 16, 2009 1:37:49 PM PST
waterbowl says:
I never liked or used Steam. I will never buy a game that requires online activation. Even so, Steam does pose a problem for me. And they do deserve a one-star if they are deceptive about it.

The only problem with Steam for me, is that they don't always let me know it's required for the games I buy. I was looking to buy a game a while ago, and the only way I could find out it required Steam, was that I had to email the developers to find out. There was nothing, nowhere on the internet, that mentioned it needed Steam.

If Steam is required, it should be labled on the box and in the descriptions "Steam and online activation required to play single-player and multiplayer". If they don't label it, the game deserves to get a one-star rating for being deceptive.

"Empire Total War use Steamworks (essentially the same thing used in Valve's games), you have the one-star brigade attacking with their useless two sentence "reviews."

I don't know what everyone else is doing, but I will say this. If you look on the Empire Total War page on amazon, there is no mention of it anywhere in the description or requirements that Steam and an internet connection is needed to play. For this, the game deserves a one-star. Now if you look on the World of Warcraft page, it says in the requirments that an internet connection is required to play. So why does Empire Total War hide this fact that it needs Steam and an internet connection? As well as the other games not mentioned. And I realize that World of Warcraft is an mmo, but needing an internet connection to play, is needing an internet connection to play.

"***I totally agree with you that 1-sentence reviews are never helpful regardless of the number of stars attached***"

I disagree with that statement.

If someone writes a one sentence review, and it lets me, as a consumer, know what I am buying, then I am glad for that one sentence review. Companies and people don't always say what is on their products, I'm glad some people are out there that do, one sentence or no.

It doesn't really matter to me what kind of DRM is on them, just label what is on your games that I am buying. Playing the guessing game and having to return a game after I buy it is getting old.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 17, 2009 8:01:13 AM PST
Brian W. says:
Steam-DRM is like iTunes-DRM. It worked fine for a while until people started demanding songs with no DRM. And now look how iTunes is now selling DRM-less songs!

Posted on Feb 26, 2009 8:12:33 AM PST
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Posted on Feb 26, 2009 9:43:50 AM PST
I have no experience with Steam except for now when I tried to install a preordered DVD copy of DOW2 to my notebook PC in sunny Iraq. Oh, I paid 49 for the game, 20 for it to be shipped to Iraq, and ... oops, can't play it. I respect a developer's right to protect their products from piracy, but do they have to do it by forgetting about the ones who sacrifice time, blood, their families and sometimes their lives to protect their freedom to do so? I suppose that's not important to some people.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 26, 2009 11:19:17 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 26, 2009 1:37:25 PM PST
Brian W. says:
Not only is it disrespectful to people who paid for the game, it's simply un-American! "You can only install it once...or only as many times as I say you can.......you can't modify it...you can't play with it........you can't play it between the hours of 11:00am and 2:00pm..." All of that goes directly against the American spirit of tinkering with stuff to make it better, learn more about it or how the system interacts with it, or simply just for the sake of tinkering!

Whatever man, I'm going to do whatever I want with this product, including modifying it and installing it as many times as I please for any reason or even no reason at all. If I get warm-fuzzies from uninstalling and reinstalling my apps every weekend, what business is that to you?

Posted on Feb 26, 2009 1:16:07 PM PST
J. Libhart says:
I hate Steam because it just makes it a gigantic pain in the butt to play HL2 in the single player campaign. You have to jump through hoopps to get to it. It keeps trying to put me into online matches and crap. I got so annoyed with it that I never bothered to finish the game. I will most certainly not buy another game that requires it.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 26, 2009 7:04:58 PM PST
Brian W. says:
And just think, they can ban your account for any reason at ANY time and you'd lose all of your games! And if they ban you because they think you did something, how do you go about proving your innocence if you didn't do it?

Their answer: buy the game(s) again! How fair is that??

Posted on Feb 26, 2009 7:44:37 PM PST
M. Lewis says:
I recently bought Dawn of War 2. Great game and I love it. I hate Steam and Games for Windows Live packaged with it though.

Steam autoupdates the game, even when I had no problems anyway and wouldn't have chosen to update, and even when I had UNCHECKED the option to autoupdate. 3 days ago, Steam installed a large patch. 2 days ago it installed another large patch. The update news said it was the SAME PATCH. Turns out that the game makers intended to have a very small patch 2 days ago but Steam screwed it up. I didn't get to even play that night because the update servers were swamped. I prefer to download and install patches on my own. With Steam I have no choice. A few years down the road if I don't play the game anymore I can't sell it. It becomes useless trash instead.

Games for Windows Live is mostly unobtrusive. It is extremely odd and annoying that I have to log to play a single player game but I have tested and I can still play single player without an internet connection. I was worried about that at first as I am about to spend 3 months away from an internet connection and would still like to play. Supposedly GFWL is for multiplayer. I don't play online multiplayer. I play LAN or single. Can I choose not to use it? No. Another odd quirk about GFWL is the preorder bonus codes that one got from various retailers had to be activated through it. Accessing through the game though takes you to the XBOX live website where the codes don't work. One has to use the program installed on the computer instead, outside the game. At least the official game forum knew that. THQ support though referred people to GFWL live support for problems with bonus code redemption. The only phone number on the GFWL support site takes you to XBOX live support. Their "techs" are extremely stupid. After explaining that I didn't own an XBOX and exactly how I was referred to them and why I was calling, I was still asked no less than 5 times what kind of XBOX I had before I hung up. That's what you get for outsourcing to India.

Lastly, I'll close with this comment. What is the point of DRM? Does it stop piracy? Does it even slow it down? It appears not as there were pirated copies of DOW2 out before it was officially released. What's more, it was reported that these pirated copies in some cases worked better than the retail copies. Users who were experiencing frequent crashes on the retail game were able to play pirated copies flawlessly. It seems that not only did DRM not do anything to curb piracy, in this case it also introduced other problems. All DRM does is hurt the honest users who just want to play a game. Why should we like it again?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 26, 2009 9:35:25 PM PST
J. G says:
What are you talking about? Steam has always sucked!

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 27, 2009 8:10:52 AM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Jul 2, 2011 8:42:39 AM PDT]

Posted on Feb 28, 2009 10:10:24 PM PST
Noliving says:
Personally me I like Steam. I no longer have issues with Steam but I remember one of the biggest issues I had was the 26% Steam update problem, that was a pain.

The primary Issues I would say for new users and for some veteran users, but I primarily mean new users, for steam is that it requires an internet activation right off the bat before you can begin even playing the game and then after that you have too update to the latest version, you can see that issue with Paul K. Griffen right there, and the other for new users but also veteran users is that you can't sell your games either. I would say a lot of the negative views of steam are from the hl2 activiation problems it had on launch day which have never happend again thank god for any game on that scale. As for J. Libhart's problem I just don't get, in fact I think this person is making it up, how can you be put into a mutlplayer game when there is no multiplayer option for hl2 when you launch hl2, hl2 death match is a seperate game and seperately sold game for that matter.

Personally me I'm not one who sells my games so that used game sale thing isn't an issue for me. I know some people who love videogames but once they beat it they don't replay games so they just sell the game too someone. When Steam first came out I absolutely hated the idea of having too activate a single player game online just to play it. But since I have a dedicated high speed internet connection the activation is really a one time thing that takes less 3 seconds to do if your buying a retail copy of a steam activiated game, now if you buy the game digitally the game is activated as soon as you hit the purchase button.

Brian W they don't just ban/disable your account for any reason, they are very specific what the reason is, read their faqs. How do you challenge it? By doing a Steam support ticket. If your talking about a VAC Ban you can still play those games even with a VAC Ban you just can't play the game on VAC enabled servers, which most are because the server hoster's doesn't like cheaters.

The problem I have with your post R. Spencer is this part "Their inefficient tech support would not help in resolving the issue even when he offered to fax the receipt and scans of the original cd key, and the big box store he bought it from would not take it back due to their policy regarding opened software. He was out $50 for a legitimate software purchase that he was unable to use."

According to steam on th issue of "CD key in use" this is how you can solve it: https://support.steampowered.com/kb_article.php?s=1ae9d2caa6344bc2444e11fab7d1e658

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 28, 2009 10:50:17 PM PST
I love Steam. Keeps all my games organized and allows me to play any of them without fooling around with finding a disk or downloading patches on any PC, anywhere. Plus it's VAC secured to help catch and ban cheaters. It's a win/win for me.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 1, 2009 12:36:03 AM PST
As long as companies like Stardock exist PC gaming will never die

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 1, 2009 6:21:19 AM PST
R. Spencer says:
Noliving, thus my remark that their tech support is inefficient. It appears that you easily found a link with a procedure while their OWN tech support could not and was telling him that he was out of luck. As stated in my original post, he had even offered to take those same steps as in the procedure and was brushed off.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 1, 2009 6:42:35 AM PST
lizrdfishr says:
I am personally grateful for all the one star reviews that impacted EA games and a slew of others. Those reviews kept me from buying several games with nasty DRM.
I am extremely dissatisfied with Bioshock and Half Life2. I won't play them. I won't play them because of the DRM. Unfortunately, I paid $50. each for them because I had no idea they included facist DRM like Steam until after I had installed them.

I feel ripped off by these purchases.

Until the one-star reviews happened, I had no way to voice my opinion nor warn others of my findings in any meaningful way. Valve simply will not listen to their customers complaints about DRM any other way.

If the games stated clearly on the box and in the online description that your rights are limited by this type of DRM, one-star reviews would not be necessarry.

Since Bioshock, I now fully research games online before I buy (I will never pre-order again) specifically looking for the DRM info. My best resource is the one-star reviews.

Because of the one-star reviews, I was able to make more intelligent decisions about games this year and saved over $1,000. I bought several games that did not include this DRM junk and skipped buying the big PC upgrade needed to play the games that do include this garbage.

Thank you reviewers, all of you. I appreciate those who helped me avoid the nasty games by posting one-star reviews and those of you who posted multi-star reviews on games that do not include Steam or SecuROM.

Games I didn't buy because of one-star reviews:
Dead Space
Fallout3
FarCry2
Call of Duty WAW
Crysis Warhead

Posted on Mar 2, 2009 9:11:34 PM PST
Noliving says:
Here is the problem I'm having Rspencer, he offered to fax them it, why fax when it clearly states a digital photo/scan of it, how many technical support for computer games take faxes?

It isn't that hard to go too a public library and do a scan of it if he doesn't have a digital camera or scanner.

lizrdfishr, the reason why valve "isn't" listening too their customers is because those customers complaining about Steam are in a very tiny minority, the vast majority of their customers have accepted steam and in a lot of cases think it is great. In fact one of most common questions they ask is when is this game coming too steam or if I get a retail copy can I add it too steam.

Steam sales have been doubling each year for the past 3 years according to valve. The reason why there isn't much outrage against steam is because of the fact that all it really is is just online activation and considering the vast majority of their customers have a dedicated highspeed internet connection, it only takes 3 seconds and then its done, after that they can play in offline mode.

Posted on Mar 3, 2009 4:00:24 PM PST
R. Spencer says:
Noliving, my mistake. He had offered to email a scan for Valve. It's Blizzard/World of Warcraft that required me to fax them the cd key when I had account issues.

Myself, I never had any problems with my Steam account but know others that have. I am sure it is a relatively few people that have real problems but when they do there is no recourse. I know my son sat for months on a ship in the middle of the Persian Gulf unable to play the previously activated and working single player games in the Orange Box on his laptop because Steam decided he should no longer be allowed to play offline until he reauthenticated. Out of the blue one day they quit working until he was able to connect to the Internet months later.

Look around on the net or even Steams own support forums and you will see quite a few people that do have problems. Steam is acceptable DRM to many, but just like any DRM scheme, some are going to have issues due to the DRM itself such as my son did. I personally know some developers and want to see them get paid for their efforts and I absolutely despise the rampant peer to peer piracy, but in the game of cat and mouse between the distributors and pirates too often it is the paying customer that gets caught in the middle.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 3, 2009 6:44:34 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 3, 2009 6:50:15 PM PST
Brian W. says:
Noliving,

First of all, your link to how to solve "CD key in use" doesn't work.

Second, Valve says that they can disable your account for buying, selling, or trading your Steam account. How exactly will they prove that you did any of those things? And furthermore, once banned how will you ever prove that you did NOT buy/sell/trade an account? I can see how a Steam employee would run across a "Steam account for sale!" on eBay, but you get banned for trading?!? What about *borrowing* a friends account? Will Valve ban you for letting a friend log into your account to play a game that he doesn't want to buy?

I'm with lizrdfishr in that I've been EXTREMELY grateful for the tsumani of 1-star reviews. I almost bought Crysis Warhead--and would have too on launch day--if it wasn't for my fellow gamers looking out for others by slamming that game with 1-star reviews. Now I hit up the Amazon PC game reviews before buying any PC games from anywhere to find out what kind of restrictions a company will put on the newest game. It totally sucks that I can't just go out and buy a game now...I have to seriously research for virus/rootkits first.

It's completely unbelievable too! EA has single-handedly made the "pirates" (as they call them) into digital Robin Hoods. EA has turned the digital "terrorists" into digital freedom fighters. I and many others trust the "pirates" more than the biggest game publisher in the WORLD! That's TOTALLY INSANE!!!!!

And Steam is only slightly better. Now that the people are starting to become aware of PC game DRM in a major way, ALL DRM is look upon with disdain and they are realizing that Steam doesn't "help" them, it restricts them in many ways.

Posted on Mar 4, 2009 6:35:12 PM PST
Mark Lahren says:
I also now check Amazon first, before buying ANY computer game, as those reviews are sometimes the ONLY place I can find out about online activation easily. Why can't Amazon (or the game publishers) simply put "Internet Connection" among the system requirements, since it is, after all, a requirement? I can accept the fact that activation is the "new way of doing things", and that it is here to stay. It makes me sad, but I accept it. And I have to admit to the side-benefit that it has saved me several hundred dollars in games I would have otherwise purchased. The only big drawback for me is that I won't be playing some great games. But, hey. I'll live.

Yes, the game companies have to watch out for their pocketbooks these days. I understand that.
But I have to watch out for mine as well.
And since I am not rich, looking out for my own pocketbook comes first, for me.

Posted on Mar 4, 2009 9:02:22 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 4, 2009 9:03:22 PM PST
R. J. Satori says:
What's very strange to me is the folks who join these discussions and go out of their way to defend everything Steam does. They go hunting around for links to solutions and try to solve everyone's problems as if it's their job. What did Valve ever do to buy that kind of loyalty?
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Discussion in:  PC Game forum
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Initial post:  Feb 15, 2009
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