Think of the most moronic, stupid, unpractical and underdeveloped system of digital game distribution. What comes to your mind? Well, I have no idea what comes to YOUR mind, but I know what comes to mine, and it spell something like:
S T E A M
You all know Valve, right? Half Life, Half Life 2... You'd have to be blind and deaf at the same time to miss them. As you probably know, Valve invented this neat digital distribution / DRM thing called Steam. You can become a member, create an account, pay for games and download them without the unnecessary trip to the nearest game store. Great idea and lots of fun for everyone.
I had nothing against Steam let's say... two years ago. I always liked good protections and Steam sure seemed to be one of them. Before it came out that is.
Steam has some nice features, like popup news you don't want to read and Steam friends list, even though I'm sure most of us don't have any Steam friends to add to that list. I know I don't.
But the main feature of Steam is of course protection. At least I understand it that way. The only problem is, in my case, Steam protected the games from a person who actually bought them. When I got Half Life 2 I didn't have an internet connection at my place and I didn't read the fine print on the box [since I ordered it online and the jpeg they give you to look at was too smal even for the medium print to be readable.]. As I found out later, each and every single game that uses Steam, requires you to go online and register the product. As if the CD key and the fact that you actually bought it wasn't enough.
I had access to internet at work though, so I checked a few things only to find out that there's no way in hell you can get the game running without connecting to the internet. There are no cracks, fixes, programs that make your 4.XX gigabyte of data you just installed on your HD into a working game.
No cracks and no fixes. No way around it. One hell of a protection I thought. But what's with the fully functional Half Life 2 and other Steam games on torrents and other P2P? Wait. Doesn't that mean you actually can crack this protection and make the game into a fully functional product in all of its pirated glory? Some brainiacs registered a game, got the unlocked files and then made the thing into a full package. Working on every computer. No internet connection required. The only thing you'll miss out on are the news popups and your essential Steam friend list.
I emailed Valve several times about their Steam. Among other things, I asked them what will a game owner do in say ten years time, when Steam activation may not be avalable. I got no more and no less than zero replies. I would actually be happy if I got less than zero replies, since that's impossible and Valve is an expert on impossible things. Untill I came in contact with them, I thought it was impossible to protect the game against a legitimate user.
Steam. A protection already bypassed with every Steam game already out there for everyone to illegally download. A protection that may render the software useless in the future. A protection that protected the game content from me. In several cases. Half Life 2, Half Life Anthology, Half Life 2: Episode 1, SiN Episodes: Emergence...
I have internet at my place now and guess what. It took me 6 hours to get the Half Life 2: Episode 1 game running. Why? Because the game, besides decrypting the files, has to download some additional ones, and this takes time, when the download constantly stops or runs at 1.XX KB/s.
I really hope that all the upcoming Steam titles will be cracked and Valve will realise that it's just not worth it. Time and effort goes into their Steam engine and not much comes out.
I bought Quake 4, I bought F.E.A.R. Both games had just a simple CD Key. I installed them, played them and that was that. Recently I got Psychonauts. The game doesn't even have the CD key. It just wants the disc to be in the drive. I guess some people understand that if the game scores high, there's no protection on earth that will guarantee it won't be illegally distributed.
Screw you Valve. You and your Steam.
I guess the only way to make sure you will be able to play the games you paid for in say, 10 years time, is to download the illegal cracked copies. They work just fine without Steam and I somehow can't imagine Valve releasing some kind of fix if their precious solution would someday be offline [because, even though good programmers, they're a bunch of assholes. I mean they must be. They were the ones who invented the Steam crap].
Just take a look at my pile of Steaming games. These are the titles I had to spend a DAY AND A HALF installing. And I'm not done with all of them yet. As you can see, CSS is still downloading some crap, and the list is about 60% complete, since I haven't "Steam activated" some of the games I own [and wasn't able to play untill now] yet.
If you really want to play Half Life 2, you can always get a copy for the regular Xbox. HL2 came out for the Xbox some time ago, and concidering the console hardware limitations, the port is remarkably good. So now I'm stuck with Steam whether I like it or not. At least the servers for online play are good and you get the constant updates for your games [basically whether you like it, or not. Steam just updates "itself" and you can't do a single thing about it]. This further confirms that Steam sucks. And while others run around and play, I sit and contemplate [This is an actual screen of my Half Life 2: Deathmatch gameplay].
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