Introduction to Steam

While I’ve gamed on various consoles, from the PS1 to the 360, I’ve never really been a PC gamer . I tend to find trying to do anything fast-paced or involving shooting on a PC doesn’t go to plan, so I’m not very good at most of the games I like to play on consoles. However, I spent some time checking out Steam when I heard about The Stanley Parable demo being released (more on that one soon) and came up with a plan.

For anyone who hasn’t yet been converted to Steam, I’ll explain what it is first: the best way of describing it is as the iTunes of gaming. Set up by Valve in 2003, it was originally intended to be a system for updating Valve’s PC games more easily, and a way they could  put functional anti-cheating and DRM (Digital Rights Management, aka copy-protection) measures in their games. It was also originally an optional extra for customers until issues with handling thousands of user simultaneously were fixed.

When Half-Life 2 was released in 2004, Steam became a compulsory install, and in 2005 third-party games also began to use the system. Originally the compulsory install caused complaints about intrusive DRM, but now Steam is often regarded as one of the least invasive measures- often termed “DRM done well”, as compared to the rootkit-inducing or overly-strict measures put in place by companies like Sony and EA.

Steam is now the largest digital distribution network for games, and it also provides other services such as cloud saves, a modding community and workspace for creating and trialling mods, and discounts on music, art and game creation software. To rival Xbox Live, there are also social features, achievements, and microtransactions.

Also, the Steam sales are legendarily good, meaning I can pick up a good few PC games for the price of one new Xbox game.  This suits me quite nicely, as there are a lot of games that I’ve had in mind to play for ages, and now will finally have the time to play once I’ve finished uni.

My plan for now is to keep action games to the Xbox, until the patch for Windows 8.1 to accept controller support is ready. But, I’m going to start playing some more narrative/casual games on Steam, as well as the weirder  “art games” that I’ve been curious about. This also means I can try out some of the old games I’ve read about online but never got to play, like Psychonauts.

So this is more like three birds with one stone… Let the gaming commence.

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