Sunday, May 18, 2014

Steam: A Neuralgic Chokepoint

I think most gamers would agree that Gabe Newell's Steam has been a boon to PC gaming.  In just a few short years, this digital distribution service has managed to become the Walmart of PC gaming - an incredible bazaar of often discounted digital entertainment options for the gaming enthusiast.  But it is also more than just an elaborate store as Steam has also become a beloved home for gamers, a mega-community where gamers can not only chew the fat, but also a place where aspiring game designers can get their prototypes "green-lit" by the community, potentially providing an invaluable boost to a fledgling title that might otherwise languish in obscurity.  With this in mind is it any wonder that Mr. Newell has become something of a rock star in our gaming subculture?

Nonetheless, despite all the good will Steam has garnered over the years, I still come across a vocal minority that simply distrusts any service that requires the gamer to be at the mercy of a digital distributor.  "Why can't I just have a physical DVD?" some of these gamers ask.  "What if something happens to Steam?  Will I be cut off from my games?"  This is not an inconsiderate question, especially in the wake of the chaos caused by the shutdown of the GameSpy gaming service.

In fact, it is an issue I am dealing with right now, along with lots of other Steam users.