Last Updated on October 9, 2018 by Michael Brockbank
Steam is one of the more popular outlets for games on the Internet. It also has a reputation for both good and bad practices from indie developers. But no matter how you slice it up, the system has great potential for both sides of the coin. So, why do people still use Steam?
For many players, it’s a love/hate relationship more than anything. And although I can’t speak for other gamers, I can point out the pros and cons to use Steam from my personal experience.[template id=”145″]
Do You Use Steam?
I was first turned onto Steam several years ago as my brother and I were trying to find the best way to play the DayZ mod for Arma II.
Over the years, the system has helped me develop quite a library of both free AAA games as well as smaller indie-developed titles.
Let’s dive into what makes the system both good and bad.
Pros to Support Steam
Let me start by naming five of the highlights to why I use Steam. You may have other reasons, but these are the ones that stand out for myself.
1. Games Often Go on Sale
I don’t have a lot of money to spend on gaming. And Steam gives me access to a variety of titles for cheap, especially during something like the Steam Summer Sale every year.
Since I am incredibly patient when it comes to gaming titles, this is ideal to expand my library when I don’t have the cash on hand.
You’d be shocked by what you can pick up for $100 inside a few days during one of these sales.
2. Access to a Vast Array of Titles
Developers of all kinds are welcome on Steam whether they are a multi-million dollar corporation or a couple of guys working out of a garage. Because of this, users have access to millions of titles on the platform.
It’s a great way to find long-lost titles, new releases or to support young developers looking to make a name for themselves.
In fact, I can safely say I have bought more games off of the platform than I ever did out of a brick-and-mortar store. Well, at least for PCs anyway.
I dumped a lot of money into Sega consoles between 1994 and 2001.
3. Games Are Account Based
One of my favorite features of Steam is how the games are all tied to your account. So if you have to build a new computer, you still have access to everything you purchased.
Just install the Steam app and re-install your games.
Of course if you lose your login information, it makes it more difficult to retrieve your titles. However, this is relatively easy to recover.
I also like the idea of complete digital copies purely because I have a habit of losing CDs and CD keys.
4. Unlockable Achievements in Games
I’m not a huge achievement hunter, but there have been a few times when I worked to unlock some of these in Steam. Currently, I am trying to unlock all of the achievements for Defense Zone 3…a tower-defense game I picked up for $3.
Even though I’m not a nut for achievements, I know plenty who are. And this has potential to engage the average player…as long as the developer doesn’t go hog-wild with them.
In reality, unlockable achievements is a good business strategy. Many companies put this to practice such as Microsoft, Blizzard and even Twitch. That’s because of the interest it generates for certain players.
5. Streaming and Social Elements
I’ve streamed my games a few times on Steam. However, I prefer to use the Twitch platform more. Still, you can’t deny the interactivity that comes from those who use Steam in the social aspect.
And it’s not just video content, either. Sharing screenshots, help forums, creating communities and more is wrapped into this gaming platform.
Currently, I am lending a hand at writing reviews for the games I play. It helps others while boosting my own reputation on the system.[template id=”505″]
Cons to Watch For
There is no such thing as perfection in this world. And although I use Steam and enjoy it, there are a few caveats which might dissuade you. It all depends on how you look at it.
1. Shady Developer Practices
One thing you need to watch for is shady developers. Some people will try to slap together content and sell it for the sake of making a buck. You might find yourself dumping money into a dumpster fire of a game.
Then you have developers who try to manipulate the system by forcing good reviews and banning comments from honest players if the review is bad.
This is why I often stay away from games unless I research the developer in full and they already have a good reputation.
2. Easily Manipulated Rating System
Rating systems in Steam are easily manipulated. Then again, just about any rating system on the Internet is. If a group of people are unhappy with a company’s policies, you can rest assured knowing their games are going to sink in terms of popularity.
For instance, Rockstar was having mod issues prior to when I bought GTA: V about a year ago. Even though the ratings were in the crapper and “overwhelmingly negative,” I still bought the game because I already knew what I was getting.
But what about the people who don’t know and base opinions purely on ratings? This becomes a political entanglement between support for players versus developers and enjoying yourself in a game.
At which point, it becomes purely personal preference whether you use Steam or not to buy the product.
3. Too Much Emphasis on Trading Cards
I never really got into the whole idea of trading cards on Steam. I know that some bad developers were trying to corrupt the system while making a lot of money on these.
In reality, I’m particular as to what digital collections I really care about. And “trading cards” in Steam really isn’t one of them.
Still, I have sold a few cards I had duplicates of for about $0.07 each…which really isn’t enough for me to rightly care.
However, there are a lot of people who put an incredible amount of emphasis on this aspect. I am just not one of them.
4. Lack of Company Involvement to Protect Players
Although Steam is getting better about protecting players from dirty developers, the business still needs to do more. Right now, it’s far too easy for “creators” to rip off the gaming populace with incredibly shady practices.
But what can you expect from a system that is purely online? It’s very difficult to enforce a lot of rules and regulations when there are so many ways around those elements.
Unfortunately, too many developers are more engaged with money than reputation. It’s foolish to focus on the quick buck than to establish a strong presence in the gaming community. But many scammers simply want the fast payout.
But like I said, Steam is starting to do more to reduce the impact these trash peddlers influencing the gaming market.
5. Better Search Algorithm
I cannot count the number of times I was searching for a game that I knew was on Steam only to come up empty. Most of the time, I had to search for it a different way.
The searching capabilities, when you use Steam, are not the best. It’s definitely not Google. And sometimes you need to be a bit creative to find what you’re looking for.
Eventually, you can come across your game. But not until after you spend way too much time trying to type it into the search box.
Why Do I Still Use Steam?
For me, the pros easily outweigh the cons. Especially since I am patient enough to wait for the summer sales or the end-of-the-year discounts to get some great games for cheap.
It all depends on how you view Steam in general. If you look at it as merely a platform to pick up games like GTA:V for 75% off, then its great.
It’s all about personal preference and what you’re able to get out of a system. I’m not saying that everyone needs to use Steam. But it’s really not all that bad if you look at it from a different point of view.[template id=”543″]
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