Hey Steam! I Hate You!

So I was tooling around up at Best Buy today, picking up some stuff for work, and I stopped by the game section before I left.   And let me just say kudos to Best Buy.  I used to check Target for their low price clearouts, but Best Buy has become the king of the ten dollar games.   So several stood out to me, but I finally narrowed it down to one – Red Orchestra.  The package for it also included some of the mods and add ons.  I had heard great things about the game, so I was excited to give it a whirl.

I get it home, pop it in, click the install button…and the dreaded popup stares me in the face.  I am normally really, really good about checking games for that crap before I buy them, but I missed it, and with the game already opened, there was no returning it.   So ten bucks down the drain, which I am not happy about.

So let me just take this opportunity to say: I dont get it.  And apparently not because of what some other people say.  For example, there is a thread on the Red Orchestra forums asking why they use Steam and complaining about Steam’s speed and reliability.  It then devolves into a discussion about number of downloads.  One enterprising clueless person even compares using Steam to using Windows.  Apples to Oranges anyone?

Those, though, are not my concerns.  I’ve never used it, so I don’t know how reliable it is.  I didn’t know how many downloads or re-downloads you got, but I assumed it was unlimited.  I don’t have some beef with the digital age – I regularly use Direct2Drive and enjoy their service.  Some people have said that there were specific issues with Steam early on – and I’ve heard rumors of some of those, but again – I’ve had no direct involvement, so that’s not the point here either.

No, my beef is this:

NOTICE:  Product offered  to your acceptance of the Steam subscriber agreement (“SSA”).  You must activate this product via the internet by registering for a Steam account and accepting the SSA.

First of all, registering a product is a voluntary act.  Usually you do it to get a bonus like a warranty, or some Nintendo points, or to help out companies that you like.  Forcing someone to do it is onerous in and of itself.  We are not talking about firearms here.  I’m not going to be using it for any terrorist acts, not could it harm the public good.  So that’s a no-no in my book.  But even if it was required, I could probably get around that.  If that’s what a company wants –  to make it required rather than optional, well, I could see where, from a business standpoint, they may feel that this was beneficial or useful.

But secondly, the act of registering this product requires you to get into bed with a second product.  A product I have no interest in using.  Now you can say to me:  “Its a great service, I enjoy all that it does for me, and I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t want to use it too!”  And I would say to you – if its such a great service – why am I required to have it?  Why doesn’t it stand on its own merits?

And the icing on the cake is these two things taken together.  If Steam was the preferred choice for registering Red Orchestra, well, that’s their choice.  And I have no problem with them choosing a third party to help them with that process, if that is beneficial to the company.  But since its also required…now we have a problem.

However, here is my disclaimer…I am curious about this notice on the Wikipedia entry:

It is necessary to authenticate every Steam game online, whether purchased via Steam itself or installed via a retail disc, the first time it is played.  After the initial authentication, an offline mode allows games to be run without being connected to your Steam account.

If that is true…if I can install Red Orchestra, check down on the regstration, and then uninstall Steam from my computer and wash my hands of it…well then I can live with that compromise.  But that is not my understanding.  My understanding up to now has been that Steam is required to be on my computer so that it can continue to validate my software from time to time.   So if any of you can clear that up for me – go.

Until then…Tripwire: I’m sure your game is good, but its not that good.  Enjoy the money you made off of me today, you got lucky.

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15 thoughts on “Hey Steam! I Hate You!

  1. Man, that sucks. I’ve never used Steam, so I don’t really how the service is. But I have bought things only to discover onerous side agreements I didn’t notice on the box.

  2. I don’t use Steam, I don’t like “online registration and surveillance” no matter who is behind it (i.e. Ubisoft with their “single-player” games that require an internet connection to play).

    If I wan’t to play online, I’d play a real online game *eg*

    And now back to my good old games I bought decades ago, which are still starting up even with the original publisher long gone.

  3. I’ve used Steam for a while, and it’s really not that big a deal, to me. I feel it’s a good service; games that you buy on Steam are always available for re-download. A lot of newer games offer the ability to back up your saved games online. And they’ve had a lot of good deals on games lately – I picked up Front Mission Evolved and all the DLC for less than $18, Arkham Asylum for $7.50, every single game in the Jedi Knight series for $5… you can see where I’m going with this. And that doesn’t touch on the social aspects.

    Personally, I would say you don’t really have anything to worry about by registering for Steam, especially since Steam specifically provides for an offline playability mode.

    1. To clarify on the offline mode: if Steam is correctly configured to do so – and I believe it is by default – it will save your Steam credentials on your computer. If your computer cannot connect to the internet when Steam starts, it should come up with a dialog box asking if you want to start Steam in offline mode, thus allowing you to play your games. Additionally, Steam can be commanded to restart itself in offline mode. Steam’s knowledge base article on the subject is here.

    2. Just to clarify myself – you are in a different position when you start from there. I am not browsing Steams catalogue to use as a digital download service. I bought a game in a box in a store, and now I’m required to use Steam to play the game that I bought legitimately in a box in a store. This is not acceptable to me. And since D2D will match prices, Steam is welcome to lower them as low as they want, I can get them from a company that doesn’t require me to allow its program to squat on my hard drive and watchdog the games I bought legtimately from them. So there is no value there.

      The social media aspect is wonderul, I’m assured, and not just by you. But I don’t play with friends online, except MMO’s, where such a social component is not needed. So again, there is no value there for me.

  4. AyAitch

    “Its a great service, I enjoy all that it does for me, and I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t want to use it too!”

    It is a great service, and I enjoy what it does for me… but I totally understand not wanting to use Steam. If I have a choice and prices are the same, all other things being the same — I go with another seller. I don’t like feeling like I’m permanently renting my games, and I don’t like being required to be online to authenticate them (I’ve never set-up offline mode, terrible terrible me.) But I’m not principled (or rich) enough to always buy elsewhere.

    And I would say to you – if it’s such a great service – why am I required to have it? Why doesn’t it stand on its own merits?
    My response would have to be: you’re required because it’s the least-evil DRM that many game makers and most consumers have agreed to abide by.

  5. I hear you. When I said I downloaded, installed it, looked at it and uninstalled it within the same five minute period, I meant it.

  6. 2lost

    Hey man, on the Steam issue. I do not care for it, and i was broken hearted when i saw that i paid full price (long ago) for Half Life 2 that i needed to have steam. The one benefit to steam is that you can (and should) download the games straight off of the internet never needing your CDs. The draw back to steam is if they ever go belly up you are up a creek without a paddle, because you have to have the steam authentication to play the game (or get a hacked version of the game in which point there was never a reason to buy). The other issue with steam is that rather then having control of the path of your game you get the steam fored location for the games, and don’t get the actual play files to manipulate like you would do in the old days to adjust your mouse rotation and useful things like that that you used to have to do, or be easily able to save the control config file so that you don’t have to specify all of the controls each time that you install the game.

    1. Hey buddy! I need to drop by the forums and catch up with you guys! There are certainly some pros and cons to Steam. I think I’ve found that something like D2D gives me the pros I cna enjoy without the cons that make me nervous.

  7. Gabe Newell

    Steam- Why I hate it as an old vet pc gamer.

    1- They can afford to pay game developers the best money and do all the work of marketing and selling, making the game devs. fat lazy and half ass knowing their games will sell no matter what. Devs. will get used to making only the easier DX9-10 console versions which is 80% of steams market and can be pumped out quick and easy like clones.
    2- Mixing consoles and PC’s will never work until the console platforms match the supreme power of a PC and quit holding back the industry with 5 year old hardware no DX11 and limited key functions.
    3- No dedicated servers ever, COD4 and WAW still rule.
    4- No mod tools, no private map makers to make the game last or better. Steam dictates all, even how long they will support your game effectively turning them off when their no longer cash cows.
    5- Was able to hack 5000 steam accounts in one month with a free programs you can easily find on the net and use without ever getting caught. Once in hacked accounts I change the password for me locking them out, download an aim-bot hack and go in their multi-player games until I get them permanently banned by valve, making them look like the hacker and blacklisting that account forever. Punkbuster never did that, got to play a lot of steam arcade games I never would have purchased too. I’m just a rookie but still I could obtain credit card information easily, I will never trust a service like steam and only play non steam CD retail games, even EA has the same problem when you have to log in anywhere your vulnerable to account password hacker’s. What good is valve’s anti-piracy software when you open the door to account hacking?
    6- Steam is a dark company not traded on Wall Street ran by a disgruntled ex-Microsoft employee.

    *All games are created on a PC.

    MONOPOLY = When one company gets too big to the point they can control the media and use it to push sales of an inferior product.

  8. LoneStranger

    Amen to that! but gabe i thought you were the enemy?

    funny to see your account get hacked several times after opening your fat mouth.

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