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Why is Steam suddenly bad?


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In reply to an earlier post on Mar 5, 2009 2:35:38 AM PST
What did Valve ever do to "buy" that loyalty? They didn't buy anything, they just provided an awesome service that has increased my enjoyment of playing PC games. From pain-free updates to the universal friends list to downloading games without ever leaving my house, I've loved my entire experience with Steam.

I just don't see why people are so resistant to change. The only real negative complaint I've ever agreed with when it comes to Steam is their policy of not refunding games. At any time, I believe people should be able to, with a click, "Refund" their game for whatever the current cost is for it. You can't resell the game since the CD key binds to your account, but you should at least be able to "resell" it essentially back to Valve.

Posted on Mar 5, 2009 10:10:53 AM PST
It's interesting to read a discussion about how Steam is "Good" or "Bad." I agree that DRM, Internet Connections, and any type of additional programs (Steam, LIVE, etc.) should be clearly labeled as a minimum system requirement. For some people, a failure to do so will violate deeply held principles and demand a one star review. For others, it really doesn't matter ("I've got an internet connection and have no idea what happens in my computer anyway, I just want to shoot some zombies.") - those people will give a content based review (if any review at all).

I just want to add one "Good" thing about Steam. It helps save the environment. Seriously. The amount of pure waste packaging avoided by using Steam is a good thing.

Posted on Mar 5, 2009 11:54:57 AM PST
I am not a fan of DRM at all, but I can see why the gaming industry is desperate to at least slow down piracy. I can't tell you how many people I know that think its ok to copy computer programs, songs or anything else they can. It is stealing, plain and simple. However, I don't go crazy on the DRM and say I would never buy a game with it. I would have missed out on:
Fallout 3 (great game)
COD: World at War
Farcry 2

And just about any other game from the past few years! So you hate DRM? Join the club. Unless some great game developers decide not to use it and I can move my gaming dollars in their direction, it really isn't an option to avoid. I don't plan on stopping all computer gaming because I dislike DRM.

And for anyone who says they trust the computer game pirates.... a pirate is a THIEF. Call it what it is. Copying computer programs that you did not pay for is STEALING.

That being said, some DRM are worse than others. For instance, Rockstar's setup for GTA IV was the worst set of hoops to jump through I have ever seen. Now that I have it installed and running, I really like the game. But it should not take me several days to wade through every fix to make it work. Fallout 3 was not bad. I am not happy about having to activate online, as I will have to plug in my laptop to do it, but its hardly the end of the world. I do feel, however, that if you have a physical disk, you should be able to install and run with just a CD key from a manual.

That's my 2 cents, which should depreciate to 1.5 cents by the end of the week with the way the economy is going.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 5, 2009 5:20:17 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 6, 2009 7:59:50 AM PST
Brian W. says:
Michael,

"Fallout 3 was not bad. I am not happy about having to activate online..."

You don't have to activate Fallout 3 or World at War (do even really have those games?).

"And for anyone who says they trust the computer game pirates.... a pirate is a THIEF. Call it what it is. Copying computer programs that you did not pay for is STEALING."

That's what I'm saying. It's totally INSANE that I trust some pirates more than the company that MADE THE GAME!!! When I found out about EA infecting Crysis Warhead with activation-ridden SecuROM, I waited a week, bought the game used off of eBay (so no money went to EA--yes, that's how peeved I was) and used the cracked EXE to bypass SecuROM, which was provided....by the PIRATES!

But you know what, that's SecuROM and retard EA and this discussion is about Steam. Yes, Valve did do DRM "right" with Steam, but EA ruined it for everyone *including* Steam. So to the original poster who asked why Steam is suddenly bad, it's because of EA.

Posted on Mar 5, 2009 9:55:40 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 8, 2009 11:44:02 PM PDT
R. J. Satori says:
Steam games are sold on CD & DVD in conventional packaging. And even a Steam supporter would have to be an idiot (or a child with a credit card but not transportation) to buy games through the Steam service, because there is a price differential of 60% and upwards for almost every title. Give it a month or two, even the newest game will be selling for a fraction of the price at the mall.

Crackers themselves are not necessarily pirates. Often, these are just young programmers with an interest in computer security and a bit of righteous indignation about how software companies are treating their legitimate customers. Pirates may use the no-cd and DRM removal patches crackers provide in order to distribute pirate software, but they're usually two different entities (the pirate typically being some kid with access to a high-speed connection and/or shell account but minimal technical knowledge).

Posted on Mar 6, 2009 8:15:56 AM PST
I have had good experiences overall with Steam. I've waited and bought many games when they are 25-75% off, or if I found out one of my friends could make it over and I wanted to set up some multiplayer game immediately. I admit that I have a bit more to spend ( I'm OLD, well oldish) than kids would, so I can make impulse purchases like that. I buy off Steam, Amazon, E-Bay, Direct 2 Drive, and in stores, so I've had a chance to experience the good and the bad of each of these. I currently have 3 Steam accounts so I can have seperate copies of games running at the same time for multiplayer on two of my desktops and one of my laptops, so I have a bit of experience with using them.

If there is a really bad DRM that makes just running the game a chore, and someone PAYS for the game and uses some crack just to run their own legitimate copy and not give it away to friends, then I don't have a big problem with that. But once you download the game for free or give it away, its no longer an anti-DRM thing, its stealing. Saying that the software companies deserve to have it stolen because they have the DRM you hate is like me saying that because a sports car came with some negative features, I have the right to steal one and then modify it to take out the features I don't like.

Of all the ways I've seen DRM done, Steam's setup for Left 4 Dead or Empire:Total War are some of the more benign. Most games I've bought there were very easy to get going. GTA IV was a nightmare to get going (I bought two disk versions in stores because I wanted a multiplayer option at home for drop-ins), and I heard that Steam was actually offering refunds to customers who couldn't get it running . It would be great if we lived in a world where developers could trust everyone to do the right thing so they could just forego any DRM whatsoever.

My ideal DRM would be typing in a CD key at the start and having that be it. Any multiplayer would check for CD keys in use to prevent just giving it away. Yes, it will only stop very low level pirating, but it at least makes it a minor task to illegally copy. I agree with anyone who thinks if you buy software you shouldn't have install limits FOR YOURSELF, but if the industry feels otherwise, then I will either put up with it and purchase the software anyway (highly likely) or just not buy any computer games anymore (extremely unlikely).

I also agree with people who think the DRM on a game should be CLEARLY posted on the box or the game description online. Even if I won't stop buying games entirely, I am likely to steer my purchases to more "user friendly" DRMs. I don't think there could be any DRM that won't upset some (or even a lot) of people, but what do you think would happen to the gaming software industry if there were absolutely no controls? I suspect they would lose even more sales to piracy, but I cannot say that is certain. This is a very thorny subject, and it will be interesting to see what the industry is doing 5 years from now.

Posted on Mar 6, 2009 8:39:07 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 6, 2009 8:39:46 AM PST
Brian W. says:
Michael asked: "I don't think there could be any DRM that won't upset some (or even a lot) of people, but what do you think would happen to the gaming software industry if there were absolutely no controls?"

Answer: http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2008/09/solar-empire-moves-500-000-units.ars

Posted on Mar 6, 2009 4:48:41 PM PST
R. Spencer says:
Sins of a Solar Empire is always used as the poster child for no DRM, but it really had a lot going for it besides that. It had very little competition; there hasn't been a similar game since Master of Orion III years ago. The developer actively promotes the game with a steady stream of new content and updates for the registered user which makes it a worthwhile investment. The newest Prince of Persia was also released DRM free, but I don't think it fared as well. I believe if you make a great game people will buy it. Oblivion just had a simple CD check, no DRM or physical on-disk copy protection and it was one of the best selling games a couple years ago.

The problem I have with any DRM scheme is that it only puts added restrictions on the legitimate buyers of the product while the pirates are enjoying it without those restrictions. The pirates already have you beat on price, when they start beating you in usablity too you have a real problem.

Posted on Mar 6, 2009 6:39:43 PM PST
D. Pike says:
That is the whole problem with DRM. It does nothing to prevent piracy at all; but it does harm the legitimate users; who only want to play a game. It restricts and violates legal rights(http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#117; the right to privacy), and in some cases (Starforce, http://www.glop.org/starforce/) will damage or destroy hardware and open massive security leaks into a system.

I regard all forms of DRM beyond a simple CD check or CD Key check as viruses, and the companies that sell these virus-ridden games as nothing more than criminal cartels. If I do not want a program on my computer, I will not have it, and if that means "losing" out on another piss poor port of a console game, then so be it. I'll got with legitimate developers like Stardock, or other independent developers. If none make games like I like, I'll damn sure write my own.

In an addition, I think that at a certain point (when the game or software isn't even available on the market), then releasing it as freeware should be considered; this would be a huge PR hit, and provide momentum for future titles in those series. HOMMV would have had a solid boost had the original, unavailable through retail HOMM1 and 2 were freely released. It worked for Rockstar. Sadly, they've decided attacking their customers is in their interests, so no more GTA for me.

On the topic of Steam, I used it once. Had two FPS games for a time that were online only. There was nothing good about Steam then; it was buggy, and slow. It basically made logging on a chore to do. But the biggest issue with those games was that the servers were populated by only bots. So that is not why I stopped using it. I won't buy anything on Steam now, however.

Posted on Mar 6, 2009 11:40:16 PM PST
M. Nelson says:
I miss the days of the old go to the 43rd page in the manual and what is the 3 word of the 5th paragraph. Those were the days of how to check to make sure you owned the game.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 7, 2009 3:43:57 PM PST
Mark Lahren says:
"M. Nelson says:
I miss the days of the old go to the 43rd page in the manual and what is the 3 word of the 5th paragraph. Those were the days of how to check to make sure you owned the game. "

Yep, and it actually worked.
A pain in the butt, but I'll take that any day over what we've got now.
At least you knew that if you took good care of your stuff, it would still work whenever you needed it to.

Posted on Mar 8, 2009 6:19:35 PM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Dec 17, 2010 3:52:41 PM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 9, 2009 12:28:40 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 13, 2009 5:51:48 PM PDT
R. J. Satori says:
Hey, Michael, I'm also old-ish (mid-late thirties), will also admit buying the latest game at full retail despite knowing that the price will drop significantly in a matter of weeks... a few times, and even though I'm stuck out the boondocks on a dialup connection, I've also bought games digitally from certain companies (mainly Koei of late, because their games are unique, awesome, and not available any other way). But if those weren't rare exceptions, I'd have to admit being an idiot. ;)

Not necessarily an age thing.

My personal experience has been that even some of the most notorious anti-piracy/DRM menaces are fairly innocuous... for me. For others they've clearly been a hellish obstacle, often to the point of being unable to use legally purchased software, along with untold sums of time and money never to be reclaimed. In my case, it was Steam that caused such grief, and lots of it. But in no case should such treatment of legitimate customers be accepted.

If you're running around defending these companies because you haven't personally had problems with them, you're just encouraging more of the same and it will eventually come around to YOU.

Speaking of those games that used the manual for anti-piracy, I just re-installed Ultima 6 last year (under Vista, no less) and found myself hunting for the manual again. Actually did find it... I'm such a packrat. Also found a couple of old games with code-wheels, but the floppy disks don't work anymore. :/ More recently, Mat Dickie (MDickie.com) used this method in the CD versions of his games, and it seems to have been effective. Too bad the Softwrap digital versions of his games (without the in-game packaging/manual references) wound up getting pirated almost immediately.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 9, 2009 6:33:49 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 9, 2009 6:35:29 PM PDT
J. Mckinney says:
@ R. J. Satori:

Make great games. That's what they did to earn that loyalty. Do I think DRM can go too far. Yes. Do I think steam is too far. No.

Posted on Mar 10, 2009 3:42:36 AM PDT
Ben Udashen says:
wow, you anti steam folks are crazy. Steam offers an easy way to buy games, play online, have community features, and organize your games and have access to them from any computer! The only problem with it i can see is the issue for gaming cafes, an issue i know very little about. but for your average consumer (like one who buys games), steam is as effective a retail model for pc gaming as there is. As much as I love stardock, its a tough road ahead to completely get rid of any kind of drm. I view steam like how Winston Churchill described democracy "Its the worst form of government, except everything else." Its not perfect, but its the best we got.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 10, 2009 3:43:17 AM PDT
Ben Udashen says:
they offer a good service. Shocking, I know!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 10, 2009 4:41:48 AM PDT
R. J. Satori says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Mar 10, 2009 11:12:50 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 10, 2009 11:46:28 AM PDT
H. Le says:
Ben Udashen,

As I mentioned in my earlier post, I do agree that Steam does offer a good service overall to the gaming community for the reasons that you pointed out ( "easy way to buy games, play online, have community features, and organize your games and have access to them from any computer"). This is precisely why I viewed Steam as an effective gaming service provider.

On the other hand, I am skeptical that "steam is as effective a retail model for pc gaming" due to the possible violation of the First Sale Doctrine - where Steam does not allow transfer of activation code from one owner to another (unless Steam explicitly permit it, such as in the case of HL2 - if one buys the Orange Box). Therefore, in effect, Steam is also all about limiting and demolishing the second hand PC gaming market. However, it does it in a much more tolerable manner - and certainly a whole lot less intrusive and insulting - than SecuROM and limited activation.

In short, I started out hating Steam. But over the years, I do regconize Steam for the positive aspects that it brought to PC gaming as a service provider. As is, I still support Steam by buying Steam games - but not at full retail price - a proper compromise IMO. At any rate, whether one is for or against DRM, I think that it is good that Customers are keeping the DRM discussion and awreness alive as they will force publishers to think about the mutual benefits of Customers and publisher/dev - not the pirates - when implementing DRM schemes in the future.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 10, 2009 11:42:41 AM PDT
H. Le says:
M. Nelson and Mark Lahren,

I realize I am going off topic here, but since you guys mentioned games manual:

What I really missed terribly about those good old manuals in the good old days was the fact that, in a pinch, you can always effectively use them as weapons. That is, those manual are so thick and so substantial (remember Baldur's Gate 2 or Falcon 2.0) that the term "manual" is actually warranted.

Nowadays, if you are lucky, you will get a printed 'manual' that consist of approximately ten pieces of paper that is folded in the midlle and held together by no more than two standard staples... OK that's all; I am dome reminiscing about video gaming's good old days - for now.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 10, 2009 1:05:26 PM PDT
M. Abernathy says:
The reason why the vast majority of their customers have a dedicated high speed connection, is because those of us who do not live in a place where broadband is available, can't play the games that require Steam. Last I checked, only 40% of American homes have a broadband connection. By requiring a broadband connection, they are alienating 40% of their market. I bought HL2 not realizing the Steam requirements. It took HOURS to install Steam and updates! And then, every 3 months or so, it requires me to let it go online again for no reason other than to authenticate my copy of HL2, that I spent hours installing before! I will not purchase another game requiring Steam ever again, even though I would like to play F.E.A.R. 2, Crysis Warhead and Orange Box. The game makers lose out on my sales and I miss out on some games I would like to play.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 10, 2009 2:13:17 PM PDT
D. Keeth says:
I think you did your math wrong - by your logic, Valve should be alienating 60% of its customers, not 40% (100-40=60). And what percentage of American households have PCs? Probably most. How many are PC gamers? Probably a lot less than 40%. Just because 60% of households don't have broadband doesn't mean that they are all alienated by Steam - the ones that have computers probably don't PC game anyway. :)

Posted on Mar 12, 2009 6:14:52 PM PDT
we are two says:
I love Steam. Been using it for over a year with no problems. Downloaded several games and activated the retail version of The Orange Box. Far less invasive than SecuROM and it has great community features. The auto-patching is occasionally annoying, but it's only ever actually interfered with one of my games once or twice, and it's good to always have the latest version.

As for why Steam fans are constantly trying to help others with their Steam problems, it's that we're enjoying the service quite a lot and want to help others derive the same pleasure from it. For us, anyway, the service works great, and Valve's games are great.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2009 3:27:19 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 13, 2009 3:34:16 AM PDT
R. J. Satori says:
"As for why Steam fans are constantly trying to help others with their Steam problems..."

I'll admit that there are a handful of helpful types in the Steam community. But what I was referring to is not this kind of altruism. No, check those Steam forums, or other places like this, and you'll see that the more common response to complaints is to shout down and denounce the heretic, to deny the problems and/or blame them on the person complaining somehow.

My theory is that any time a Steam loyalist sees a complaint they panic. After all, most of you guys have already invested hundreds of dollars into the games on Steam. So, even though you realize the problems are real and the company is abusing their customers, you don't want them to ever get shut down or fail. That would mean losing access to all those games you paid for yourself, because the system ensures that you will not be able to use YOUR games anymore if anything ever happens to Valve/Steam. So, dedicated to this sick and possibly unlawful codependency, the Steam loyalist sees anyone speaking out against Steams's methods, or having irreconcilable problems because of Steam's system, as a threat, and someone to be silenced.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2009 9:42:06 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Dec 30, 2009 7:08:47 PM PST]

Posted on Mar 13, 2009 10:18:01 AM PDT
Patrick says:
It is because of DRM programs that I find myself buying older games lately. I love video games, they help me escape from reality for a little while. Being in Iraq...again, I'll take any escape I can get. I've never had a problem with Steam, I still think it's incredibly wrong to limit the amount of times a product I spend my HARD earned money on.
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Discussion in:  PC Game forum
Participants:  260
Total posts:  4212
Initial post:  Feb 15, 2009
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