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PG Game Downloads: To Steam, Or Not To Steam?

Updated on February 3, 2011

Steam is a platform that allows gamers to purchase a multitude of games online, usually for something of a significant discount compared to what they would pay in-store. Instead of purchasing physical copies of the game, Steam allows you to purchase electronic copies, records of which are stored on their servers and can be re-downloaded at any time should you suffer an event of massive data destruction.

Steam has undeniably revolutionized the way we buy games. Indeed, it has been credited with curbing a great deal of piracy over the years. Being able to instantly purchase titles without having to visit a physical store is much more convenient and undoubtedly encourages consumption.

I should point out at this juncture that I've used Steam for several years and have over 20 titles on the platform. Recently however, I've begun to notice a few issues with Steam, issues that are making me question whether or not I'll bother buying games on the platform in the future.

First and foremost on the list of issues is the fact that Steam quite often releases games that are outright broken. Case in point, Munch's Oddysee, which was released during the 2010 / 2011 Steam Holiday sales or thereabouts. Steam gamers flocked to buy the X Box title only to discover that the port left much to be desired. For a significant portion of users, it flat out didn't work until a patch was released almost a week after the game first went on sale. Releasing broken games and charging for them with the promise of making them work at some undetermined time in the future doesn't strike me as good buisiness practice. If this were a one off occurrence, it could be understood, but it is not. A quick search of steam + broken games reveals a story that's not particularly good for Steam's business model.

Clunkiness. Over the months, Steam seems to have become increasingly process intensive and more and more users are reporting problems with the application actually launching at all. It's not uncommon for Steam to hang for minutes at a time or even not work at all. Given that Steam needs to launch in order for ones to access one's games, it suddenly seems to be much less convenient than its supposed to be.

Even if the application itself opens, that doesn't mean you're out of the woods. Occasionally Steam won't launch a game just for the sheer heck of it. In that instance the loading screen will imply that something is about to happen for indeterminate periods of time until you give up and do something else.

Finally, Steam reserves the right to ban users in the event of them cheating or engaging in other nefarious behavior. That would be sort of okay if it wasn't the equivalent of having your mean older brother breaking your entire collection because you annoyed him. A ban can = no more access to your account, which means that all the money you spent on games is effectively wasted. Granted, you usually do have to cheat in order to earn yourself a ban, but I'm not sure that cheating should result in loss of property, electronic or otherwise.

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