The Steam platform: What does it really have going for it?


#1

Hopefully this won’t be a volatile topic to discuss but if it does end up like that I’ll ask GWs to nuke it - we can all do without repeats of those kinds of threads (fully acknowledging my part in those threads)

What I’m hoping to discuss is all centred around the ‘Platform wars’ that are kicking in to high gear with Epic making waves.

Steam has been the de facto for a long time now but I think we all might agree that its because they were both first to market and ahead of their time in many ways. I want to look at what we all think are the actual bits that Valve get right with Steam and what are the bits that they don’t that other platforms can capitalise on and do better on their own service?

Oh and what are the things that are just missing from every platform that are just waiting to be implemented?

Maybe using this format to get things started:

Positives
Negatives
Wish list

I’ll have a hard think and post mine up later on when I’m home.


Some initial thoughts:

Positives

  • The ease with which you can buy keys from outside of the platform to redeem on the platform - you can even register they keys from physical copies you bought that could be installed without steam if you want to, I spent a weekend doing that with my boxed PC library a few years back.
  • Cloud backups
  • Streaming. I haven’t used this too extensively, but its straightforward and seems to work reasonably well
  • Pricing can get silly, but it isn’t Origin or Uplay silly
  • Integrated modding features - just subscribing to what you want and being able to see the dependencies is nice. Not much else about it is though.
  • I actually quite like some aspects of the overlay and chat. Being able to shift+tab and open the chat or web browser is more convenient than alt+tabbing most of the time especially when you are playing a game that doesn’t react well to alt+tabbing
  • Refunds

Negatives

  • The Steam Platform. Its slow, clunky, often doesn’t load and generally just weirds out on me a lot.
  • The social aspect is clunky and a steaming dumpster fire of uncurated spaff
  • The store is turning in to the PC equivalent of the Play store on Android, being an equally firey bumpster of spaff
  • Integrated modding features - the convenience of installing and finding dependencies is nice as I said above, but finding what you want can be a chore, their forays in to paid stuff wasn’t great, curation is an issue with stuff just being ripped from other sites like Nexus by a random and uploaded to Steam with no credit.
  • The new friends thing just annoys me
  • Voice aspect of the chat is horrible

Wish list

  • A curated social space on both a friends list level and a wider user level - most of the social aspects like the activity stream (which @Jester clued me in to even existing back in the Gamestore days) are hidden away and clunky. Even if they just started by ripping off the Facebook stream that would be better than what it currently is.
  • Either learn from comms platforms like Discord or totally remove the chat/comms aspect. Don’t settle for half-baked rubbish. Even working with Discord, TS or whoever to allow it to be directly integrated instead of relying on janky overlays that often get in the way or don’t work.

#2

Steam got big because of centralised DRM, offered as a turnkey solution. Pure a simple. They could go to publishers (at the time when boxed games were still the main way of buying) and say “Are you fed up of programming inhouse DRM to protect your discs that can be hacked within weeks and make your game more pirated than sold? Yeah? - Let us take care of that for you…”

That’s all it was about. It’s why Steam codes exist in game boxes. It’s obviously grown beyond that now.

It is quite evident however, that now that most games are downloadable, it becomes financially viable for other software houses, publishers and developers to do their own thing. But from a Joe Public point of view - that’s a chore, having a billion different choices it feels now - all for specific titles.

Negatives:
In terms of Steam’s social aspects. They are utter bullshit. I hate the activity feed. The streaming is late to the party (although I have watched a few of you guys play occassional). It’s like Stream doesn’t care about the gamers… it cares about the publishers - their true clients.

Positives:
On one flipside however, the Steam Workshop is pretty awesome - allowing a tonne of custom made material to be easily accessible to your games - I use it mainly with Cities Skyline personally.

Just my 2c.


#3

volatile’s fine. we’re adults, we can handle volatility :rofl:

on steam, for me:
positives: they own most of my game collection
steam workshop is the best modding platform i’ve seen, when it’s supported adequately by devs.

negatives: their software, the amount of marketing, the amount of data being gathered and used/sold on to manipulate it’s users in the interests of sales figures, their terrible customer support, the new steampals, all the fake/trash games, the review system, the bullshit tokens/cards whatever it rants on about at every commercial holiday.

wish list: amazon run a storefront platform providing distribution and sales that puts all the others out of business (they’re big enough and widespread enough to manage it, and google abandon 90% of everything they try) before collapsing in on itself (okay google would be fine) and we abandon the idea until the ‘platforms’ convince us they’ve something to offer other than minor convenience. Or HL3. or HL2 episode 3.

Sadly i don’t believe consumers interest is at all considered. We buy our games from platforms, that’s all they need to know. Everything else is between devs/pubs/distributors and them deciding/gambling on how much money they can squeeze out of their ‘customers’ using marketing. By the time a game is actually available and everyone knows whether it’s any good or not most of the sales stuff has been decided so why would they care about the consumer or the product they sold them to get their money? We’ve evolved past the need for them, it’s the people selling us things that are keeping them around.

Valve have the money; if they wanted to, they could have bought Discord at any reasonable (and probably unreasonable) price. Instead steampals got a belated lick of paint and a dump of features to try to make it competitive, and Discord opened it’s own storefront/distribution offering. That’s not consumer driven, consumers would pick either a) buy discord and integrate it, or b) implement something as good as discord, not c) half ass something.


#4

Lets start by saying that I have had steam when it was still in Alpha.
I also do not care about a lot of the “features”.

So positives
-Just works. I have not had issues with it, the exception being when they updated the friends list and voice comms stuff. btw this seems to work well
-I can start my games and they sych the saves.
-There is a friends list

Negatives.
-Marketplace, as far as I’m conserned it has no place.
-Too expensive to get games from there
-I don’t care about the rest of the features and never use them as that just makes the app bloated. Hoping that Discord does not add too much more in to their app. (Long live TS!)


#5

Alternative(s)?


#6

im not to fussed with steam

positive:
i have most of my games there
most of ziip on there

Negative
price are wack yo
feels dated
review system is open to abuse.

i much prefer using GoG ( good old games) if i can since they have a good DRM policy. and i like the UI. UPlay is fine dose the job no real stand outs, Origin is balls slow and a pain to get updates to work. not used epic cba to look and Bnet is ok if you want 5 games and to pay top dollor for blizz games.