Newest Review: ... at the same time using one Steam account, is to run one PC using Steam in online mode and using one PC using Steam in offline mode, henc... more
Digital PC game distribution
Member Name: cognition
Date: 19/03/10, updated on 14/06/10 (270 review reads)
Advantages: Fast, efficient, instant gratification, unlimited downloads
Disadvantages: No discs or packaging
Steam is a system for online content distribution of PC games. It's a library of games from various developers and distributors that can be bought, paid for and downloaded instantly. You can access Steam from any computer, so you can access your games from any location with an internet connection
STEAM ACCOUNT AND STEAM APPLICATION
In order to use Steam you need to create an account. You need an e-mail address, a name for your account and a password. You can use these login details to log in on the Steam web site, but more importantly, there is a Steam application, and this is a necessary download in order to play Steam games.
The Steam application is a small download, only about 1 megabyte or so in size. You need to download and install this application on any computers you wish to use to access your games.
The application serves several purposes. It is primarily your graphical user interface and your portal when dealing with Steam and your games. It allows you to access your games, browse the Steam catalogue and buy new games.
You can browse or search through the Steam catalogue, either through the Steam application or online on the website. When you find something that interests you, add it to your virtual shopping cart, go to check out and pay by card. The game is now instantly associated with your account.
The next logical step is to open the Steam application, where you will find the game listed in your Games list. From here you can download the game to your computer and then launch it.
When you buy a game on a disc in a store there is usually some sort of copy protection. The most common ones are serial numbers that are needed in order to complete installation and a disc check functionality that checks that the game disc is inserted at all times. Steam avoids all traditional copy protection. In order to launch a Steam game you must log in to your Steam account, and you can only log in to your account from one location at any given time. If you log in from a new location, you are automatically logged out from your old location. However, you are not required to be online when you play a Steam game. Once you have downloaded the game to your computer, it is sufficient to log in to your Steam account, which can also be done locally offline. You simply need your username and password to start the Steam application on your computer.
Some games on Steam support the Steam Cloud and Achievements. The Cloud synchs your savegames to the Steam server every time you close the game, so that at all times, from all locations, you can always access your latest savegames. Achievements are comparable to the tophy systems known from video game consoles. When certain goals have been completed in the game you are awarded a trophy, and there is a full list of all trophies that can be won and which ones you have managed to get on the Steam web site.
Prices on steam are, generally speaking, competitive. They are often comparable to retail store prices, often a bit lower, sometimes a bit higher. However, Steam often have special deals for new games, such as getting another game for free or getting free additional content for the game when preordering. Steam have at least one item on sale every day. There is always a special deal. During holidays there are better deals. For instance, last Christmas, the entire Steam catalogue was reduced in price, and several solid games could be bought for as little as £1.
Steam allows you access to your online games collection from any location and there is no limit to how many times you can download your games. That is a huge convenience, particularly if you travel, live in more than one location, or if you like to play games during your lunch break at work. You don't get any packaging or discs, but that is both good for the environment, and also helps you keep your home tidy.
Summary: Have your games collection safe and organized online