May 6th, 2010
Call me old-fashioned, but I still like owning things you can hold. You know, something like a PC game pressed to disc. Unlike my digital music collection, it's really nice to know your other stuff won't disappear when the electricity goes out. That alone keeps me in the "this guy still likes to buy tangible goods" category.
But I'm also a fan of the "gimme, gimme" nature and convenience of downloads. And if you want to sample, explore, download, and install PC games under one roof, nothing beats Steam, the most popular service of its kind.
First released in 2003, the platform really started to take off two years later, when other game-makers starting releasing games. From there, the service started gaining, um... steam, including the addition of more games, friend lists, persistent voice chat, matchmaking, and the ability to save a single game's progress across multiple computers.
But I really like the latest menu update (pictured), released last month, which makes the program that much easier to use, thanks to better organization. On second thought, strike that. I love the new Steam. Not only was it engineered by gamers for gamers, but it was obviously designed by someone who knows how to keep someone clicking and interacting with software (dare I say "fun").
In short, Steam just works. Yes, there are still discrepancies in regional pricing and occasional authentication hiccups -- two things that understandably frustrate gamers. And sometimes you just want to buy physical wares.
But for anyone even remotely interested in playing games on PC, Steam flat-out rocks. It features everything from cutesy little puzzle games to the grittiest action games. Once you buy a game, you can install it as much as you want and wherever you like. And you never feel like you're being nickled and dimed by the service, thanks to regular discounts and free add-ons that consoles often charge for.
No wonder Steam is used by 25 million gamers, which is more than Xbox Live can say.
DISCLOSURE: No this message wasn't "brought to you by Valve Corporation," the makers of Steam. I just really like their product. You should too, provided they keep doing good work.
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