Steam is a game loader and DRM client and store. It was developed alongside Counter Strike and other now classic games.
Before implementing Steam, Valve had problems updating its online games, such as Counter-Strike; providing patches would result in most of the online user base disconnecting for several days. Valve decided to create a platform that would update games automatically and implement stronger anti-piracy and anti-cheat measures. Valve also recognized, through user polls at the time of its announcement in 2002, that at least 75% of their users had access to high-speed Internet connections. Over time that has grown to over 85%.
Stardock estimated that in 2009 that Steam had 70% of the game market for their Store, This grew to 75% by 2013. For that reason, publishers like EA and Ubisoft developed rival Stores and game clients to prevent Steam from becoming a monopoly.
The Steam client was first made available for public beta testing in January 2003 during the beta period for Counter-Strike 1.6, for which it was mandatory to install and use. At the time, Steam’s primary function was streamlining the patch process common in online computer games. Steam was an optional component for all other games.
In 2004, the World Opponent Network was shut down and replaced by Steam. The online features of games which required World Opponent Network ceased to work unless they were converted to Steam.
3rd party games started to become available in Stream in 2005 as Valve started developing digital distribution with the rise of content delivery network systems. Large developers like id Software, Eidos and Capcom have all flocked to Steam.
In 2010, the smash hit free to play Alien Swarm was released using Steam. Valve was able to increase the user base considerably. With more installed users, the store became a dominant vendor for games.
In 2012 Steam started offering software other than games. Blender is open source and it’s now available in Steam.
In 2015 its estimated that about $3.5 billion in games have been sold by Steam and 3rd party vendors. The represents about 15% of the total PC game market.
In 2016 it has been estimated that there are over 125 million active users. Recently active players can be over 10 million.
Steam expanded their client to included things like achievements and other badges. Steamworks is free for developers which has make it very popular. Steamworks provides networking and player authentication tools for both server and peer-to-peer multiplayer games, matchmaking services, support for Steam community friends and groups, Steam statistics and achievements, integrated voice communications, and Steam Cloud support, allowing games to integrate with the Steam client. The API also provides anti-cheating devices and digital copy management.
The Steam store offers comments on games. It now even counts the comments and considers whether the game is very positive or mix or mostly negative etc. Most are very short and more time is needed to read them to get a better sense of the opinions.
When Steam introduced trading in 2011 Valve experienced a 2000% increase in account hijacking. Steam has collectables etc that some users covet leading to the problem. In 2015 the password reset was borked and many high value accounts were compromised.
FAMILY SHARED GAMES
In September 2013, Steam introduced the ability to share most games with family members and close friends by authorizing machines to access one’s library. Authorized players can install the game locally and play it separately from the owning account. Users can access their saved games and achievements providing the main owner is not playing.
When the main player initiates a game while a shared account is using it, the shared account user is allowed a few minutes to either save their progress and close the game or purchase the game for his or her own account.
Within Family View, introduced in January 2014, parents can adjust settings for their children’s tied accounts, limiting the functionality and accessibility to the Steam client and purchased titled.
In June 2015, Valve created a formal process to allow purchasers to request full refunds on games they had purchased on Steam for any reason, with refunds guaranteed within the first two weeks and if the player had not spent more than two hours in the game. We have only every requested a refund once, The 99 cent game would not run at all. Obviously the developer needed more QA testing.
DVD TO AFFILIATE?
Steam has managed to destroy the retail store business for PC gaming. Worse they do not offer an affiliate for review sites to work with. They do not offer any discounted keys in bulk for electronic retailers etc. A few buy keys on feature and then try to sell them on eBay etc.
The may be a violation of competition laws. GIven that Steam operates internationally there is the possibility that more than one violation of law may be found.
Given there is no affiliate commission system, Steam is unlike every other internet retailer out there. This is why there may be a legal issue that needs to be investigated.
The Steam game downloads seem to be slower than ever. This redoubles the case for investing in more hard disks to backup game downloads. Desktop machines can have a secondary disk installed and games can be backed up and copied there.
Game downloads persist in the queue so it easy to see which games need to be backed up. By using the default folder, the avoids the steam backup from complaining of an existing backup. Steam has a button for the backup folder on the backup dialog, open it and copy the backups to the secondary disk. Overwriting the old backup will refresh the folder, steam uses the same naming conventions and simply adds more sequential file numbers.