Wednesday, August 12, 2009

More thoughts on Steam

Steam is a program/network started by game developer Valve, wherein PC gamers can buy PC games, downloading them instead of getting a disk. It's not just limited to Valve games. The greatest thing about Steam is that you can download any of the games you own to any of your computers, or even to a friends computer, if say you're visiting for a few weeks. The games are tied to your login name and password, if you're not logged in on the computer, those games can't be played. It's a straight forward DRM--you can only be logged in on one computer at one time, so instead of limiting the total number of computers you can install on, they let you install these games as many times as desired.

I'm a big fan of Steam, to the point where, if a game isn't available on it, I may not buy it. In fact, I'm shying away from consoles for the most part. I'd rather spend money on games I can take with me and play on my laptop. Not like I'm playing games in restaurants or anything, but it's nice for long trips and vacations.

There are some problems with Steam. I've written previously that my internet is slow, so downloading 8GB per game takes time. That's a problem for downloading to install in the first place, and also a problem for when I want to play the game, and it automatically checks to see if the game needs to be updated, then starts updating. No, stupid! I want to play the game, not install updates! Why not download updates and install them once I'm done? Why not constantly check for updates, or set up a schedule, check for and install updates between 2am-8am? There are also issues with automatic updating in general. What if an update breaks something? Can I undo it? Probably not. Although I haven't had that problem yet, it's possible.

Once I switch to a much faster broadband carrier, it'll be better, but even if it downloads lightening fast, I still have to wait for the updates to install. It is a good service, but I'm curious to see how it'll improve or depreciate over time. And I'm also curious to see if the whole Kindle 1984 scandal will cause people to start looking at services like Steam and Zune Pass with a lot more skepticism.


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