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Why is Steam suddenly bad?


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Posted on Mar 13, 2009 12:44:41 PM PDT
R. J. Satori says:
I just realized something. The topical question of this thread is "Why is Steam suddenly bad?"

The answer is obvious!

Until recently, Steam hardly handled anything that was not a Valve game or similar to Valve games. So there weren't a lot of new people running afoul of the system. And those who did, it was maybe just that one game and they moved on. But now lots of publishers are signing on with Steam, with a broader array of games.

So, suddenly, lots of people are speaking up all at once. Nothing to do with Spore or SecuROM at all.

Posted on Mar 13, 2009 1:09:13 PM PDT
Chef Sean says:
I don't think steam is all bad. If you know what it is and what it does and that's what you want then go nuts! I quit using it because it stopped working whenever I did a system restore. I would have to uninstall and reinstall to get it to work again, losing all my save games in the process. Steam's tech support did not respond to my questions and "defrag and do a virus scan" was the best advice I got off the forums. In theory it's a great idea but I found it to be buggy and unreliable and entirely lacking in tech support. That and I like to hang on to my old games and play them from time to time. I don't like the idea of steam going under and losing all the games I paid for. I know all companies say they will release a patch to make their games playable without their online drm "solutions" should they go under but are they legally bound to do so? I don't think so. Sounds risky to me.

Posted on Mar 13, 2009 2:17:06 PM PDT
N. Diamon says:
I don't mind Steam when it is used to support a game (like HL2, TF2 or L4D) and offers an actual service along with the DRM. It's when Steam is completely superfluous that it angers me. What benefit does Steam offer me when I play Fallout 3? How does Steam enhance my experience with DoW2?

In both cases, it's just intrusive and annoying.

Posted on Mar 13, 2009 4:04:22 PM PDT
R. Spencer says:
R. J. Satori, I think you are correct regarding the topic of why Steam is suddenly bad. It wasn't until recently that AAA titles such as F.E.A.R. 2, Empire Total War, and Warhammer Dawn of War II were released requiring Steam. I had put up with Steam before, regarding it as a necessary evil if you wanted to play Valve's games. I grumbled, but the games were good enough to put up with some aggravation.

The only third party game I have that required Steam was Lost Planet which came free with a video card purchase. In the past month or two there has been a surge of third party games requiring Steam's DRM even if you buy the retail box. It's not limited to people playing FPS games anymore, so other gamers are being exposed to it for the first time.

I think some of it is the backlash against Securom and DRM in general. I never had a problem with earlier versions of Securom, for instance on Diablo II or Warcraft III. It's when they started limiting the number of installs on the newer versions that I took issue with it.

Posted on Mar 14, 2009 5:07:45 AM PDT
Burr says:
One of the great joys of life - choice. If you are so angry and bitter about DRM and online activation, guess what? You don't have to play video games. You want a perfect system in an imperfect world... well that's not going to happen.

If you want to keep playing video games though, then you better change with the times.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 14, 2009 7:44:47 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Jul 2, 2011 8:42:39 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 14, 2009 1:24:37 PM PDT
binkinsect says:
I bought a Valve title (on CD or DVD) a couple of years ago and had lots of problems wth Steam. I was only playing in single-player mode, but the Steam software created additional PC overhead on bootup, and checking for updates, etc.

I ended up having to reformat my PC to fix the Steam related problems and have since never purchased another title using Steam.

I disagree with DRM, but understand the choice some publishers make. However, if they do implement DRM, it should not interfere with the functioning of the PC, and should remove itself completely if the software is removed. This does not appear to be possible.

Games can succeed (in fact, thrive) in the absence of DRM. Look at Sins of A Solar Empire - that has at times been the best-selling game, despite no DRM.

Posted on Mar 15, 2009 5:37:25 PM PDT
R. Spencer says:
I have been a computer gamer since 1982 when I bought an Atari 800. In that time, I have put up with all kinds of copy protection schemes. In the early 80s they used bad or unformatted sectors on the disk. When the disk read head hit those it made a loud grinding noise as it attempted to read it. I was afraid it would damage the drive it was grinding so noisily. Later on looking up a word in the manual became a popular copy protection, and I still remember the original Sim City which had their copy protection code printed with black ink on brown paper so you couldn't photocopy it. You could barely read it either, but that was beside the point. 10th Frame Bowling used a dongle inserted into the joystick port. Dongles, CD Keys, CD checks, hidden device drivers and more have been tried yet none have prevented unauthorized copying, only adding issues for the paying customer while the pirate bypasses all of those inconveniences.

The newest to come along is Steam and Securom. I find them more invasive than the old forms of copy protection. The main difference is that before the methods were to prevent unauthorized copying. Now they are more about imposing limitations on what you can do with your purchase. You can't give it away, sell it, transfer it and may only be able to install it a limited number of times or on a limited number of machines. In many ways it sounds like more of an attempt to kill the second hand market than actually preventing piracy.

Posted on Mar 18, 2009 11:50:30 AM PDT
Dreaming.. says:
I only buy games from the steam on the weekend sales. $40+ is outrageous for new games with no physical work of whatsoever, and that can't be sold second hand later. But, per example, 5-10 bucks, is much more reasonable.

If people get their act together and stop buying these new games, even before their release date, at full price, companies would have to lower their prices. Steam is not bad most of the time, but could be better, why the heck do I have to activate a game I *just* bought from their online store???

Posted on Mar 18, 2009 9:47:27 PM PDT
M. Farris says:
The anti-Steam folks are stuck back in 2004 when HL2 was released when STEAM was a mess of a service. Either that or folks in Iraq.

Posted on Mar 19, 2009 9:27:47 AM PDT
H. Le says:
M. Farris,

Please check out the reviews and forums for Empire Total War, Dawn of War 2, and Fear 2. Steam service was good for a while, but it seems that its infrastructure is not prepared for simultaneous multiple releases.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 19, 2009 11:58:36 AM PDT
Because the game FEAR 2 sucks...

Posted on Mar 20, 2009 8:53:05 AM PDT
R. Toncray says:
I have been using Steam for years now and haven't had a single issue. In fact, I make it an effort to buy games through Steam - automatic patching, no need for discs, and the community section all make for a really solid gaming experience. Plus, if you get a new computer, you have but to install Steam, log in, and redownload the games in your account. The VAC-secure servers keep out hackers, and honestly, the only potential negative to Steam is that the program itself uses some system resources that could be devoted to the games you're running.

I usually don't agree with DRM, but Steam is more like XBL than anything else. Games with Steam are a selling point to me, and I should hope that consumers would realize the difference between Steam's uber-flexible DRM and EA's garbage DRM. It is a misconception that Steam is as bad as SecureROM, and it's far better than Games for Windows Live (which initially required an XBL-like subscription to play online).

Posted on Mar 20, 2009 10:04:05 AM PDT
Desjay says:
I don't use Steam, so I have an honest question.

If you lose your Internet access for a few days, Can you play your Steam Games?
Or do you have to be connected in order to play?

OK, it was two questions

Posted on Mar 20, 2009 10:23:10 AM PDT
Art Franklin says:
I find all these anti-STEAM perspectives to be interesting. I was skeptical of the service myself, and didn't join it until the Orange Box tempted me. I have to say that gaming these days is a joy THANKS partly to Steam! You see, I play PC games with my girlfriend and we have two PCs and a gaming room stuffed with boxes and old discs and manuals (because most games we need two copies of). I am sick to death of all the old copy-protection nonsense that require you to keep perfect track of every disc, manual, CD-Key, etc.

Last year a friend sent me a trojan on a CD that wiped my hard drive. Every time I want to re-install an old game, it has been an absolute pain to re-enter every CD key AND try to figure out which key belongs to my copy of the game and which belongs to my woman. Total PITA. Meanwhile re-installing the Steam games was a simple matter of logging in and letting games download whilst I slept. Thank you Steam for freeing me from the tyranny of the CD-key! Keeping track of the copies I mentioned gets even more difficult when a game has many expansions. That's why it took me a couple of painful hours of installing off of discs and entering "proof" of ownership to get all of my Dawn of War expansions re-installed. Then I bought the Soulstorm expansion off of Steam for $15.00 (one copy for each of us) and we installed the rest easy-peasy.

Off course I would prefer less-invasive delivery methods, but I hate thieves as well. I blame them for copy-protection and licensing nonsense. I thank Steam because now when I go online a ton of my real-life friends are there and we can easily join each others games because we are ALL ON THE SAME PATCH (another PITA issue from the CD days) and we even set up a chat room for non-voice games and use Steam as sort of a free Ventrilo solution. We also gift each other with games constantly. I was quite pleased when we got a X-mas gift of two copies of Left4Dead and 1 copy of Bioshock from a friend at a time that I could not afford them. Later on there was a 50% off sale on Left4Dead so I was able to pay the favor forward by gifting a copy each to two other friends. To be quite honest, we would be sending these gifts far less often if we had to go to a store and send them through the post. It's hard to go to an online store and gift someone with a $7 game when shipping is almost as much money. Also, once we install the gifts, we can more easily use them with friends instead of painfully trying to coordinate schedules through e-mail. With Steam, it's "hey, look who's online!"

I do have privacy concerns, and there are times that I wish I could play a Steam game while still showing as Offline. But on the whole I have decided that the pros outweight the cons.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 20, 2009 10:36:30 AM PDT
Art Franklin says:
I have to rebut to some extent these horror stories as well. I believe them of course, and feel bad for the innocent parties, but I have horror stories myself. I have bought crap games like Mage Knight Apocalypse from Best Buy for $50 only to find out the game is broken and the company (Bandai?) was already finished supporting said game. Since PC companies are lazy about debugging games before release it is messed up when that happens.

I haven't had any experiences like that with Valve's first or second-party games. Any games released through that partnership are playtested through the community because bugs would create an uproar. Bandai had no such community pressure and were able to release a horrible game and then fire the development team and run for the hills with the cash. So it is easy to find horror stories with all PC game formats, but I can see good sides as well.

Except when a poor soldier is suddenly unable to play his single-player HL2 overseas. That sucks. You should have the right to play an outdated version of a game if you wish.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 20, 2009 10:36:55 AM PDT
R. Toncray says:
You can still open Steam in offline mode and play your games (I just tested it out with DoW: Soulstorm and Left 4 Dead). Good question - I'd been meaning to try that myself!

Posted on Mar 20, 2009 11:19:11 AM PDT
H. Le says:
Art Franklin,

Please be sure that I am not here encourage a Steam boycott since I am OK with Steam overall. Just a couple suggestion to all the old school gamers out there who may have problem managing the game discs (in regard to your statement)

"Every time I want to re-install an old game, it has been an absolute pain to re-enter every CD key..."

-Even though I keep the boxes and manuals for all of my game, I use a fine tip sharpie to write the CD-Key on the game disc. If the print on the disk is too dark for the sharpie, I use a small sticker. The time it takes to take care of your games will payoff in the long run, as it is much shorter than the the time it takes to talk to customer sercive/support from any publisher/developer - even Steam (I called them before).

As for Steam, a suggestion: For those Customers who bought the hard disc version of the game, Steam should be used to validate and activate the game only, as that should be enough for a DRM compromise between Customers and publishers (pirates already stole the game regardless). That is, the Steam programs and service should be an OPTION where the Customers have a choice to download and run Steam - or not. A useful service Steam may be, but it is clear that some Customers do not want to be forced to use it.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 20, 2009 11:38:38 AM PDT
M. Lewis says:
"AND try to figure out which key belongs to my copy of the game and which belongs to my woman."

CD keys are NOT tied to a specific copy of a game. Any valid key for a game will work with any valid copy of that game.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 20, 2009 12:06:06 PM PDT
Art Franklin says:
M. Lewis:

Yeah, UNTIL we try to play together multiplayer and the server won't authenticate one of us because I used the wrong CD-key!

H. Le:

It is true that managing old manuals and discs and keys is easier when you have good ... management skills. However, I am picturing the piles of game boxes that have been moved during spring cleaning from a shelf to a storage box etc. and having to track information down becomes daunting.

Interestingly enough, when it comes to purchasing music and DVDs, I am extremely anti-virtual. I'm a musician without an iPod for example. It really took a lot for me to embrace this software delivery system. Part of it was the sheer logistics. It is much easier to store and manage music and movies, which can also be pirated but do NOT force us to jump through hoops, than it is to manage PC games. If I had to punch in a 16-digit passcode every time I popped a CD into my car stereo, I would listen to radio far more than I do currently!

So, I blame software protection practices over the years rather than singling Steam out.

Posted on Mar 22, 2009 3:14:53 PM PDT
R. Spencer says:
What happens if Steam goes out of business? Before you say that will never happen, look at how many companies are in the headlines today that are going bankrupt that you never would have expected to suffer that fate. Valve has said that they will unlock the games and make them where they do not require Steam, but that might not be allowed to happen. If a company is going through bankruptcy will the creditors allow them to do so? Unlock the one thing that might allow them to recoup some of their losses? What about third party games? Valve says they will unlock theirs, but with all the third parties using Steam now, how can you be sure that they will honor the same promise? I would also imagine that unlocking games would not be a high priority when shutting the doors and many of the programmers have already left.

Another thing I rarely see mentioned in discussions about Steam's DRM is obsolescence. I tend to replay a lot of old games. For example one of my favorite games that I revisit occasionally, System Shock II, will not run on XP right out of the box. Valve has dropped support for the Windows 98 Steam client but it really didn't matter much at the time since there wasn't any third party games using Steam DRM. What if System Shock II had been locked up with Steam DRM? With the Windows 98 client no longer available I might no longer be able to play it, and the DRM might prevent me from using the patch to allow it to run on XP. Ten years from now and a few more versions of Windows, will the games I purchase on Steam today still run or be allowed to be patched to work with the new OS? Will I be able to run them in an emulator such as I do with DOS games and DOSBox today?

I do think digital distribution is the way of the future and Steam is one of the most successful of the current systems, but that doesn't mean that there isn't a better system coming or that Steam itself can't address some of the concerns mentioned by many in this discussion topic.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 23, 2009 6:38:12 AM PDT
Nanohead says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 23, 2009 1:26:07 PM PDT
L. Torres says:
Excellent post ... I too rely on the one and two star posters to make better informed buying decisions especially with respect to games. While I am all for paying a fair price that supports game developers, etc IMHO the corporate gaming industry itself is so corrupt it makes those who engage in pirating look like angels by comparison.

Posted on Mar 26, 2009 7:09:47 AM PDT
R. Spencer says:
This new initiative from Stardock/Impulse sounds like it could be a viable alternative and on the surface seems to address many of the concerns mentioned in this discussion topic. A lot depends on how it actually works in practice, and how many developers that they can get on board with their system.

http://www.impulsedriven.com/news/1214_Stardock_throws_GOO_on_DRM

Posted on Mar 28, 2009 8:59:02 AM PDT
David says:
I went to the store and bought my copy of Empire: Total War. Even when I buy digitally I usually pay extra to have the actual game box and disc's mailed to me because I prefer to have a copy on-hand and not simply stored on some company servers somewhere. It's easier and usually faster to install from a disc than have to download the game when I decide I want to play again or on another PC.

But not with ETW. Want to install from the disc's? Spend a while hitting up Google to find the workaround and then hit up Google again (and again) to find one that actually works.

The ETW box says, "Requires internet connection and free Steam account to activate." When I read that in the store I thought to myself, "Well, some account on a website I sign up for isn't the end of the world. I'll just do like I usually do and use my junk Gmail email address."

But wait! The free Steam account comes from having to install the free Steam software! And you need that software to even install the game! The box didn't say anything about that. Had the box said I needed Steam software on my PC I would *not* have paid the $50 for it.

I don't chat with online friends while gaming, I don't usually play multiplayer with random folks, and I'd rather patch a game myself since I usually keep all copies of patches on a DVD somewhere.

Perhaps I'm in the minority here and not the market Valve is aiming for... but I do pay cash for the games I buy versus downloading them off a torrent somewhere and using a crack. I talk to my friends in real-life who game and offer up suggestions on what they should/shouldn't check out. My $50 might not mean much, but that's $50 less the next company that puts out a game requiring Steam to even install will be getting from me.

Dave
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