10 Ways Steam Has Changed the Gaming Industry
Oh, holy Steam, what all have you brought us?
There are certain companies that make you glad to spend your money on their products. And then there’s Valve: the only company that makes you feel grateful for opportunities to give them your money.
Valve has brought us many wondrous things. The biggest of these is Steam, the little application that could.
Steam is a program that is basically a hub for every computer game you could possibly want, which has changed the gaming industry in many ways.
Let’s take a look at 10 of the things that Steam has brought us...
1. A Customizable, One-Stop Hub For Everything You Need
Valve is always busy making new things for us to love forever.
One of the most important features of Steam is that you have a one-stop hub for everything you need—new games, updates, installations, and more!
Every time you open Steam, you get a handy little pop-up to tell you about updates and other news. You also have a little friends list box that you can check to see who’s online and what they’re playing. It even includes a little instant-messaging system!
Assuming you have auto-updates on, your games will automatically download and install the latest updates as soon as you log onto Steam. You can rearrange the order they download in, too.
If there are new games coming out or you want to look at the store to add more to your collection (more on that later), then you can find everything you need all in one place.
Steam provides a unique experience to each user, making sure to take care of what’s most important as a gamer. It’s a customizable, one-stop hub for shopping and playing your favorite games. What more could you ask for?
2. Super Sales
How do Steam sales draw you in so much?
Just about every sale, you’ll find at least one game that you really want to play. And hey, it’s 75% off! What could go wrong?
Everything. Everything could go wrong. You can’t handle the rabbit hole that is a Steam sale. You will buy everything you can afford—and then some.
In fact, Steam also brought us...
3. A New Meaning to Game Collecting
How many games do you have on your Steam account?
Now, how many of them do you actually play? Go on. Go count them.
You probably feel a little bit sick right now. Do you play more than 30% of the games you own on Steam? If so, color me impressed.
The 2011 Saxxy Awards for TF2
You don’t know why you own so many games. And you have no idea why you keep buying more of them.
There’s just something about collecting games that seems really appealing. And you do convince yourself that you’ll play all of these games some day.
But when will “some day” come?
Probably whenever GlaDOS stops being sarcastic toward Chell. Sooooo, never?
4. Variety of Games Larger than Traditional Stores
And of course, the ability to buy a ridiculous amount of games comes through the sales and the variety of games available in the first place.
Tags allow you to search for exactly the kind of game you’re looking for.
Steam is a great piece of technology because it works the way we’ve always wanted the Internet to be: easily navigated and full of everything we could hope to find.
You want to try a casual game? An action game? Steam has it all.
Want a scary game? Try the Five Nights at Freddie’s series.
5. Steam Greenlight
Mammoth Gravity Battles: a ridiculous game brought to you by Steam Greenlight.
In addition to bringing the hottest new PC games straight to you, Steam also gives you the chance to decide what the next big thing could be. It provides a simple platform for gamers to choose what they think should be fully developed.
Here’s the description according to the official “What is Steam Greenlight?” page:
“Steam Greenlight is a system that enlists the community's help in picking some of the new games to be released on Steam. Developers post information, screenshots, and video for their game and seek a critical mass of community support in order to get selected for distribution. Steam Greenlight also helps developers get feedback from potential customers and start creating an active community around their game during the development process.”
Steam Greenlight is innovative because it actually allows players to say “This is what I would like to see. You should make this.”
The projects are submitted in various stages of development, but you get to see the whole process of a game going from a twinkle in someone’s eye to a fully playable game that millions of users will get to experience.
A sample of some games that were approved through Steam Greenlight.
6. Advanced Wish List Functions
A screenshot of the main store front.
I’m not much of a wish list person, but I love the way the wish lists work on Steam. Each game’s store page obviously has an option to add it to your list, but it goes so much further than that on Steam’s wish list page itself.
Not only can you e-mail people your wish list, but you can also look at other people’s and send them games that they want to try but haven’t bought.
Going to someone’s wish list is a quick and easy way of finding out what they don’t own but would like to, and you can go to each item’s store page and choose to purchase them as gifts for your friend or whoever.
My favorite part of the wish list is that you can re-order the items on the list to show which games or other content is a priority for you. It only takes a simple click and a drag to choose where each item goes.
Aperture knows exactly what you should do for Valentine’s Day.
7. A Revitalization of the Dying PC Game Industry
Through innovative games like Portal and DOTA, Valve used Steam to draw attention to the fact that PC gaming doesn’t have to all feel the same.
It seemed like the PC gaming industry had really hit a standstill, but Steam re-popularized computer games by figuring out that gamers wanted something inventive, something that wasn’t the same as everything else they’d tried.
For a brief time, Portal was free because it was finally being brought to Mac users. This was an announcement for it.
Valve acknowledged that gamers were interested in new things and has done their best to continue to provide new experiences like never before.
And the statistics don’t lie: there are millions of gamers on Steam at any given point through the day or night.
That... is a lot of people.
But that’s not all!
8. Old PC Games Because Backwards Compatibility Isn’t an Issue
Something great about Steam is that computers, despite the amazing technological advances they’ve undergone, are relatively the same device as they were 20 years ago.
You can’t really compare a PlayStation 1 to a PlayStation 4, nor can you compare an original GameBoy to a Nintendo 3DS. They have the same general function, yes, but the methods of storing data—cartridges and disks—have changed drastically. Trying to put Pokémon Blue into a 3DS will only end in tears and frustration.
PCs still work via CD-ROMs for the most part, and storing data into the computer itself is pretty much the identical process used in a Windows 98 machine.
Therefore, it makes sense to be able to bring back older games and modify their format a little bit so they can be used on a modern machine.
Even better still, developers are actually even looking at their games and updating them. I don’t just mean in the sense of a reboot or a sequel—Tomb Raider: Anniversary is the same game as the original Tomb Raider, but it’s run instead on a modern, more high-tech engine. This brings back a fun game and gives it a new life, rather than completely leaving it behind.
9. Indie Developer Recognition
How do you hear about the majority of indie developers?
Is it through Steam? That’s what I thought.
Indie games are put up on the same level as any of the major gaming companies. You can buy a Sonic the Hedgehog game just as easily as you can buy something from a company you’ve never heard of.
Long Live the Queen’s main menu. The game is surprisingly complex and challenging.
There are so many good games out there that don’t have the funding of Nintendo or Sony. Steam gives them an avenue to find new customers.
Valve has also created a program called Valve Pipeline, which allows teenagers to work with them so they can learn about the gaming industry.
The Valve Pipeline promotional video
10. Lowered Game Prices
One of Steam’s many, many sale opportunities.
Okay, so we have huge sales and indie games available for purchase. How could anything else be affected in the realms of pricing?
Well, it’s simple. By providing short, simple games that only cost a few dollars, Valve has helped us question our definition of a game’s worth.
Is Alien: Isolation worth $60? $40? $15?
The pricing of console games has risen with inflation, for the most part. I still can’t imagine paying $50 for a Mario Party game.
Would you rather own 50 $5 games or 10 $50 games?
There’s no right answer to that, seeing as the 50 $5 games probably came from a major sale and may never get any playtime and $50 is not necessarily an indication of quality.
Only you can determine what you think a game is worth, and developers are starting to see that gamers are willing to pay less and less money as time goes on.
Games? More games? Yesssssssss..........