Tag Archives: Steam

Steam Shows Us The Perils Of Summer

Get them while you can!

From June 24th until July 4th, Steam is having a massive sale on many games and game packs. 50% off Episodes From Liberty City, 75% off Resident Evil 5 and 27.99 for 5 Call of Duty games (including MW1). I just saved my wife some money and a trip to the store for my birthday! 🙂


Steam Does Not Have A Monopoly Over PC Gaming

I recently saw an article on Tom’s Hardware which asks if Steam has a monopoly over PC gaming. It should be noted that at in the headline of the article, Tom’s mentions that some “report” (I’m assuming it’s the linked Tech Radar article) says that Steam, “has a monopoly over PC gaming”. It points to preparation for a Mac version of Steam and explains that the eventual release twists the panties of conspiracy theorists and that fingers are all pointing at Steam saying, “You see! They did it!”

Tom’s links to this article in Tech Radar. While Tom’s declares that this “report” (again, Tech Radar?) says that Steam is a monopoly, Tech Radar merely poses to question to the reader while giving the POV of all sides. My take on this is simple, while Steam is the most successful PC game digital distribution platform, it’s not the only one. This already busts the myth without even mentioning that it’s fair to say that Steam does not control PC gaming. I say control, simply because this is what’s in the dictionary definition of a monopoly. I wouldn’t even be talking about this if Steam didn’t have competitors (like Games for Windows and Direct2Drive) and Valve was forcing game makers to allow it to distribute CDs and DVDs of the games it sells. Direct2Drive sells games for the Mac and PC yet no one will even mention monopoly because, simply, it’s just not as successful as Steam.

In other words, Steam is not a monopoly. So, go relax and have some dip.

Fear of a word

Over in the States, the fear buzzword of the day is Socialism. You’ll be damned if someone points their grimy little finger at you and shouts, “This one’s a socialist!” In the tech world, ever since the big anti-trust cases against Microsoft, if you are called a monopoly, you shit yourself. Just ask Google what it feels like when they become the target of someone’s monopoly rage. Of course, this is not limited to the tech world but my point is that if you repeat a word enough and sprinkle a dash of fearmongering, you’ll get any weak-minded sheep to believe whatever drivel you wish to spew from that hole in your mouth.

Free speech is a pain, ain’t it? 😀

iTunes == Steam?

It wasn’t too long ago that these same questions were being posed when talking about iTunes. Fortunately for Apple, they learned from the demise of the industry whipping boy (Napster) that you need to make deals with the Recording mafia err… Recording companies so you can sell digital files for mass consumption. You need to make it worth their while and you need to show them that it will work. Apple apparently did just that and they became the most successful digital distribution platform for music – and that was before they dropped the crappy DRM scheme!

If anything, people should be thanking Apple for iTunes because now other retailers have gotten their act together and are now selling DRM-free digital music. Places such as Amazon and CDON.fi here in Finland. I’ve purchased music from both iTunes and CDON. I believe the same thing will happen in the digital game area once companies get their act together and figure out how to compete against Steam. To call a more successful company a monopoly, when it doesn’t even fit the definition, is giving other competitors excuses and crutches.

Steam and I, Steam and you

So, am I biased about Steam because I use it? I don’t think so. I happen to believe that someone or something deserves a label when it actually fits the definition of that label. I have bought games from Steam and I have criticisms and questions that I do not believe have been properly addressed.

Some of the comments I read on the Tom’s article are a little silly. They refer to reasons why some do not use Steam:

“I don’t use Steam because I don’t want to re-download the games if something should happen to my computer and I have to reinstall everything.”

-You can make backup copies of your games you purchase from Steam by right-clicking on the game in the Games tab and selecting “Backup game files…” This will create a backup copy that you can store wherever you like. It also creates an installer which you can use to reinstall the game.

“Steam does not allow me to play games offline. I have to be online in order to play.”

-This has already been proven false for most games. This is the Steam support article addressing how to play games offline.

In closing

The whole point of this article was to basically say that Steam does not have a monopoly over PC gaming. In fact, the whole topic should not have even been addressed and it was ludicrous to have even suggested it. In my personal opinion (Read: not fact), both Tom’s and Tech Radar wasted everyone’s time writing fluffy, fear pieces intended to drive up traffic. While Tech Radar gets kudos for merely posing the question to it’s readers, Tom’s fails hard for a sensationalist headline that was not representative of the meaning behind the Tech Radar. Assuming, that is what Tom’s meant by the so-called “report”…


Tech Tidbits

A refreshing change of pace from the usual bitching and moaning. 😀

“There’s not enough free space to run Steam”

Are you getting this error message when trying to install Half-Life 2: Episode One from the DVD? I just did. Copy the contents of the install DVD into a temporary folder of your choosing and run the install program from the folder. Disco!

Windows 7 God Mode (LOL)

While some tech sites are referring to this easter egg (of sorts) as “God Mode”, I will just call it something cool and useful to know.

You can create a new folder, and name it “GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}”. This creates an icon that will link you to every single item under the Windows 7 Control Panel. A decent little trick. The problems is that this has apparently been around for quite a while and it is not limited to just the Windows OS environment.

Another fun fact about this is that what works the magic has nothing to do with “GodMode” but it has everything to do with what comes after it, “.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}”. In fact, instead of using “GodMode…”, I used “Control Panel.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}”. That worked just fine. Here’s a couple more hints via a commentator from the CNET article.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R… whuuuut?

Anyone play that funny little game called Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl? Awesome story and great concept until you run into bugs and bad programming. A while ago, a person named “Artistpavel” created a mod called STALKER Complete 2009. This greatly improves the quality of play and graphics in the game. Download it from here. This mod will automatically install into your Steam directory if you have the game via Steam. This will work in Windows 7 64-bit. Make sure you download and install the 1.4.3.2 patch!!

You will have to create a new game in order to use this mod within a game!

A couple of things about it. To use the black and white night vision instead of the crappy green night vision navigate to the anims folder in the gamedata folder which is in the root stalker shadow of chernobyl directory. You will see two files there: nightvision_bad.ppe and nightvision_good.ppe. Change the extension file extension of nightvision_bad.ppe from ppe to bak. Next copy the nightvision_good.ppe and paste it into the same folder (anims). Rename the copied file to nightvision_bad.ppe.


Valve/Steam Rambling

Over at Ars, there’s an interview Ars had with Valve’s Director of Business Development, Jason Holtman. In case you are unaware, Valve is the game development company that has brought us Counter-Strike, the Half-Life series and Left 4 Dead. Valve is also the company behind the downloadable PC game store, Steam. In the article, Holtman discusses Valve’s success with Steam as a platform for digital distribution of games.

Steam and DRM

I have been using Steam since 2005. At first, I didn’t trust Steam very much. I think I was a little apprehensive about what would happen to the games that I buy if Steam should ever close it’s doors. Steam distributes the games it sells with a form of DRM – a non-obtrusive form of DRM mind you. Some games you buy require you to have a connection to the internet to play. Most do not and you can choose to take Steam “offline” if you want to play a game offline.

It has been my experience, so far, that you can download and install games as many times as you want. Some 3rd party games still come with Activation Limits or Install Limits. However, some of these games also come with programs that you can use to deactivate a game before uninstall, thereby saving you 1 activation.

While I have become more trustworthy of Steam, I can’t help but wonder what the hell will happen if/when Steam dies? I think this is a question that has been asked far too many times and that has not had a clear, precise answer. Will this DRM that Steam uses keep us from enjoying these games we purchase should they go the way of the Dodo?

Purchasing games on Steam within the European Union

There is a lot of [obvious] convenience when it comes to buying games on Steam. You don’t have to go to the store or order games from another online site that will deliver the physical medium to your door. Steam used to charge in US dollars but changed that well over a year or so ago. Since I live in Finland, I have to purchase each game in euros. Fair enough, but the problem is that Steam seems to be charging the same number amount in both euros and US dollars. For example, Steam is currently having a 5-day sale. A couple of days ago, they were selling Left 4 Dead 2 for 25% off. The price in euros was 37,49€. I checked with some Steam users in the States and the price was exactly the same in dollars, $37.49!

Now, $37.49 does not equal 37,49€;  it equals 25€ and 37,49€ equals $56. Now, I can understand and expect some price increase if this were a physical medium I was buying the game in, such as a DVD or a CD. Since you have to import the game into the country and we are talking supplies, shipping costs and import taxes. However, this is not the case. What about VAT (Value Added Tax) you say? Here is the price for a game that costs $37.49 with Finland’s VAT of 22% :

  • Game in US dollars: $37.49 + $8.25 VAT = $45.74 or 30,55€
  • Game in euros: 25€ + 5,5 VAT = 30,50€ or $45.65

So, I have to ask what the heck is going on here? Why is Steam price gouging it’s euro-using customers in Europe?

Steam isn’t the only company engaging in price gouging here in Finland. Finns have been complaining about this since the introduction of the euro. Products and services apparently used to cost way less under the old Finnish mark. My concern here is that some foreign and Finnish companies importing, physically or digitally, products into Finland are keeping their prices at the same number as they are in the States. Counting on the ignorance of Finns who do not understand what is going on here, either because of language issues or they genuinely do not understand. Meanwhile, hoping that the Finnish government will keep ignoring the will of the people as they have been doing in recent years.

I’ll end this by asking asking one more question, where the hell is Half-Life 2: Episode 3??? 😀