View Full Version : Steam
10-29-2004, 12:26 PM
No. Not the Peter Gabriel song...
I was wondering what everyone here thought about Valves Steam service. It seems that whereever it comes up in conversation, there are people who either love the idea or hate it.
To me, it seems that Valve have hit on an idea that addresses the question that indie game developers constantly ask. How do I get customers to my website and retain them?
So, what do you think?
10-29-2004, 01:08 PM
I don't like it. Valve is collecting personal information, and requiring registration to play. It seems kind of rude to be that intrusive with your customer base. As far as indies go, it's also foolish to be rude; it's very easy to convince people to not buy your product! Valve might be able to get away with treating people like that, but I don't think a smaller company would.
That said, the idea of streaming content rather than buying it in stores is here to stay. And that is a good thing.
10-29-2004, 01:49 PM
... and some are insisting that they HAVE to do these things because they are such small companies. :) there is a hue and cry at the moment because the bishoujo game people (translated japanese erotic anime games) have decided to put in a new anti-piracy system that limits you to three installations, bans resale, and forces you to log into their net server to be authenticated every single time you launch the game. :)
(The game being, of course, entirely single-player, with no online components. And not downloadable either - $40 CD.)
10-29-2004, 02:01 PM
First impressions: I don't think Steam is something I would want to buy into.
Second impressions: Valve, after three separate emails where I got a different person each time and had to repeat my questions, never responded to me.
So I won't be playing Half-Life 2 or any Steam games because I don't want to deal with a company who assumes they don't have to talk to their customers.
10-29-2004, 03:48 PM
Maybe I don’t fully understand what “Steam” is, but it seems to me that this type of thing has been done before with varying degrees of success. From what I understand, the user installs the program and sets up a Steam account. Then when the user runs Steam it allows them to play Half-Life 2 and the sort against others players on the net. It also digitally distributes the game to their desktop (no CDs). It also collects user stats during registration and in the background while playing. I’m not sure if Steam sets itself up to be always active (resident), even when not playing Valve’s games.
This sounds really similar to WildTangent’s GameChannel. It’s a small program that stays resident on startup and it occasionally informs the user that there’s a new game demo available. It also collects some info (i.e. video card being used) about the user’s system (supposedly not personally identifiable info though). They also have been branded as “spyware” in some circles as they didn’t make it clear they were collecting these user stats, and there was no way to “opt out” of this. Steam may end up with that same branding if they aren’t careful.
Further, RealArcade is kind of like this as well. It’s a portal (in program form, instead of a web page) into the games they publish. It also alerts users to the latest top 10 games in their system. I’m not sure what kinds of user stats they gather, but the potential for abuse does exist.
As far as alerting customers to new content on your site, I think an “opt-in” newsletter fits that bill (especially for indies) just as well as any little program (like above) could. Maybe better as it doesn’t create privacy concerns like these others do.
11-01-2004, 06:11 AM
@unreason. I see what you are saying, but don't all companies attempt to collect at least some personal information about their customers? At the very least, an indie using an online payment system collects details about the customer. And, there are a few developers in this group who have newsletters for marketing purposes.
@papillon. Yeah, that system sounds pretty onerous. I don't think that I'd accept those sort of limitations either, not to mention that some of them may be illegal in some countries (resale rights). However, the steam system only asks a person to log in once to activate the game. After that an internet connection isn't needed (or so they tell us!)
@GBGames. That's just poor customer service, and given that Steam is somewhat controversial, it's a bad idea for Valve not to be bending backwards to make the experience as pleasant as possible. I know that I've walked out of stores in the past for bad service, and I've cancelled online purchases when they purchasing system has worked poorly, so I can see where you are coming from.
@Greg. So what you are saying is that systems like Steam are perceived as spyware, even if they aren't in practice? This has been my feeling on the whole debate. From what I've seen, Steam and the other systems you mentioned seem reasonably legitimate. It's just that the internet community has been so inundated by malware masquerading as legitimate applications, that when a legitimate app comes along that requires some personal data, people scream spyware! It's a real pity that a few companies have spoiled things for everyone.
I'll probably end up buying HalfLife 2 at the store. For AAA titles that I pay fifty or sixty dollars for, I tend to like to have a disk in hand. I'm not too worried about the activation. As long as I don't start getting spam from Valve or their 'affiliates' I dont have much of a problem (provided I remember to opt out on registration). Actually, I sort of like the idea of a system that will let me keep the game patched, and allow easy downloading of new content. As unreason said, the idea of streaming content is pretty cool.
In fact, I can see this is probably where things will end up going. Not just for games, but for all sorts of software. Microsoft require activation now for Windows and Office, and my guess is that there are already other companies out there that do as well. I know that the corporate version of Clearcase that I use, requires a licence server. Since nearly everyone will have an internet connection is the next few years, I can see activation becoming commonplace.
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