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Thursday, October 25, 2012

5 Reasons Why 'Steam' Works

In 2003 there was this program released by Valve which has revolutionized PC gaming forever. Since then it has only gotten better. However, there is another big program like this which I'm going to be focusing on in comparison to this that recently came out. It's this little program called Origin. For all intensive purposes, this should be doing as well as Steam is doing but for some reason it isn't. People keep talking about how foreign it is or how unusual it feels. This post is specifically for EA and all other companies who make these systems to show how this program should be used.
If you didn't know already, Steam is program you can download on your PC. It is completely free, no strings attached and is pretty easy to use when you first start. Now, Origin has the same things that makes Steam really a nice program (games to download on a program that can be purchased through an easy to use payment system and these games will show up for you to download them again easily should you delete the game or change computers), but it fails in some ways.

1) Attention  to detail.
What does this mean? Well simply put, keeping everything simple and accessible while keeping a user friendly format for people to use. When I start up Steam, I am immediately put into my account because I have been remembered and it goes directly to my library of games. Simple, right? Origin starts up with a login screen. No matter how many times I say "remember me" it always starts with this screen. Sometimes, it already knows my password and email yet still I need to confirm it to work. That doesn't make any sense to me. When I turn on my Xbox, it already remembers my gamertag, it starts up on the same screen every time and (if I so please) I can also make it so a certain account immediately signs in when I start.
2) Accessibility.
With Steam, all of my games are right on the left hand side of my screen in my library. From there I can download games I haven't already downloaded and play games I currently have. On top of that, in the middle of the screen is some recent news from the internet pertaining to this game. Whether it's that there's a sale going on for this or mod content I can download right there. If I don't like this, I can change the look and choose from three different choices from how to view these games. On top of that, any games I have purchased but not downloaded are seen slightly differently (yet noticeably) than ones I have.
3) Keeping fans happy.
Valve is a pretty awesome company by all standards. I haven't seen a bad game made by them and if they're taking time making a game (Half Life 3 or Half Life 2 Episode 3) you know it's because they're crafting something awesome. Like I said above, I can get my games just about whenever I want. All I need is to be on the internet and I'm there. I haven't been a member since it was made but I haven't heard any complaints from people who have been long time users. Simply put: don't fix something that isn't broken.
4) Free to play games.
I love things to be free and free to play games are right up my alley. Truthfully I don't play them as often as I should but its awesome that I have the choice. Right now I think Steam has about 95 different of these games and that's pretty cool. They have some recent ones developed by decent sized studios like DC Universe Online or ABP, and some that have been created by random people or smaller companies. And some of the games you have to purchase to play like Rock of Ages and Left 4 Dead 2, sometimes get these things called free weekends, which basically means you can play this game for free until a certain date. How awesome is that? This happens with a bunch of different titles, both semi new and pretty old. And they're not games that are terrible or you would hate. By the way, those two games I mentioned up above are actually free to play till about Sunday right now.
5) A Vast Community.
Before I mentioned mods that you could play. Most programs/companies wouldn't dream of allowing mods for their games but Steam makes it easy to put mods into your game. Now these aren't things that will help you win more or something that will break the game but more like if someone said "You know what would be fun?" and just put that into the game. Its really easy to find these things too. I just have to click on my 'Community' tab and then go over to game hubs or workshop. When The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim came out, a guy I personally admire, Todd Howard, said he really wanted for people to mod the game or create their own content, and that wasn't an empty promise. Skyrim has eleven thousand player created items, quests, worlds etc and that's not even the biggest. But that's not even the half of it. I can also go into a type of Forum built directly into the program (what a concept) and easily get information. After that, I can see when my friends get online and maybe even jump in a shared game with them. After that I can check news on a broader range of games via a simple tab. And there's this new thing called Greenlight. Greenlight just came out but it's a really awesome concept that allows people like me to create games and then submit them to Steam. After that, the entire community can vote whether or not to add my game to the list of buyable games on Steam. I will get the proceeds from that game as well. This not only get my name, my game and basically my resume out there if I want to be a professional game maker. The final thing is a bit harder to describe. I don't know how long it's been around but there's this cool thing called Humble Indie Bundle. Basically I can pay whatever I want for a bunch of games and I can choose where that money goes whether it's a charity, to the developers of the games or to the people who made Humble Indie Bundle. Where it goes into Steam is when I buy these games, I have the option to transfer them to my Steam account so I can use them forever. What a concept that I can be able to play my games for as long as I want and then come back to them later.

I don't know what else to say more other than Steam is just awesome. I was never a PC gamer because of the hassle of what I had to go through with PC games (ie. loosing them, codes that aren't usable over and over again or even not having enough hard drive space at the moment) and now I spend even more time messing around on my computer. Thank you Valve for this awesome program.

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