Customer Rants About
Steam and Half-Life 2


Does Valve have you by the throat?


The Consumers Speak About Their Experiences
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Vibropod's Comments from the Steam User Forums

Posted December 4, 2004

From the Topic:

Half-Life 2 is my last Steam game

The Valve forum notes indicate that non-constructive criticism will be deleted. I've tried to add some constructive criticism along with my belly-aching.

First of all, it doesn't bother me that Steam requires an internet connection. I have high speed and it's always on anyway. However, denying me rights of fair use on a product I paid for greatly upsets me. I paid $80 + tax for my copy of the collector's edition, and now if I wanted to resell it, Valve needs another $10 to transfer ownership for me? Huh? The only other games this type of restriction occurs is in MMORPGs. This is only common sense when you consider that credit card information is tied to the account. So why is Valve denying us fair use?

The answer is simple - Valve wants a piece of the resell pie as well. Their license agreement ensures they get a chunk of change every time it happens. It also discourages people from purchasing used copies, which means more people will buy the game new, futher enhancing their bottom line. Anyone try trading the game in to EB? I wonder if they'll take it. I really doubt it.

Copyright protection for this game has been rediculous. I have to make an account for a service I don't want, then pay to have this same account removed if someone else wants to buy my copy. On top of internet registration and having to connect to a Steam account, and having to wait while the game I just installed is "activated", I then still need to have the DVD in the drive? COME ON! Are you kidding me? What's next, a rubber glove and an "inspection team"?

And after all this, a pirated version has been out for a while already. Wow, that took long. The pirates get their game for free, (and supposedly stutter-free as well), and the paying customers get screwed over. How is this supposed to encourage loyalty in your customers? Why would anyone, other than due to their own conscience, pay to go through such a hassle?

Tip - make casual piracy as difficult as possible, but don't try to out-do yourself into pissing off your actual customers. Hardcore pirates will always win. If you encourage customer loyalty, and give people reasons to pay for your game, they'll come voluntarily, not kicking and screaming.

Then there is the stuttering problem, which Valve was loathe to even admit until the community was in an uproar. I have performed all the fixes, patches, beta drivers, defrag... you name it, and I still have to turn DirectSound off to prevent horrible sound stutters. The problem is vast and widespread. I am one of four people I know of at work that bought the game, and only one can play it with no problems. Thanks to the last patch (which I just got today, 3 days or so after the supposed release), the video stuttering is mostly gone, but the sound problems are not.

$80 for a buggy game and some chintzy extras, plus I can't resell the game easily afterwards, which suddenly makes the "buy-in" price much greater than other games. And I hate to say it - HL2 isn't all that and a bag of chips either. If it was the greatest game ever, sure. But it's not. It's very good, perhaps even great, but it's nowhere near "arguably the best game ever" PC Gamer claimed it to be. I'm enjoying it, but it's just not all that special. In hindsight, if I didn't play it, I wouldn't have been missing much. Well, maybe the gravity gun

The enemy selection is poor compared to most other games, especially when you consider most of them were just ported over or tweaked from HL. Heck I think HL had more variety in its enemies. Doom 3 beats them here hands down. (I didn't much care for Doom 3 either. Damn closets.)

Valve talked about the open-endedness of the physics engine, but the reality is that you're still on rails throughout the game. There are very few segments where there is more than one action that will allow you to proceed. We're given only the illusion of freedom. Far Cry has them aced in this respect. The scripted events are not reliable either, and I experienced a few odd spots.

The pacing is more adventure game than action, which isn't bad in and of itself, but it makes for a slow game at times. I didn't mind the pace of HL, but HL2 at times really seems to drag.

... some other miscellaneous points...

Why does Steam even have a "Friends" option. Was there something wrong with the established messenger programs that I wasn't aware of? That effort could have been much better served elsewhere I think.

When Steam installs, it would be a mite bit helpful if you happened to inform people that every other Valve game is going to install in that same directory. I almost installed it on my C drive (programs), instead of my D drive (games). I would have run out of space had I done so.

Looking at the physical product itself, let's compare the Collector's edition product with another AAA company - Blizzard

HL2:
Flimsy throw-away box
T-shirt
Half-Life Source (slightly updated version of a game which most of their customers already played and paid for)
No manual
Cheapo mini-guide

WoW:
Sturdy box
Map with retainer ring
Manual
DVD and CD versions of the game
10-day trial account for a friend
Soundtrack
Making-Of DVD
Hardcover art book

HL2 collector's looks pretty anemic in comparison, doesn't it? Who would you think appreciates their fans more? And yes, I did know what was in the packs before I ordered them. I'm just illustrating a point. It may be VU's doing, who knows, but I still get the feeling someone is laughing somewhere at the suckers who bought the collector's ed. The only reason I bought it was because there was no DVD edition announced, which I thought was rather tragic. Sales have shown DVD editions sell extremely well.

In case the hammer I've been using hasn't been large enough, here's my point in summary fashion:

Valve, you don't increase your fan base by trying to drain existing fans of every last possible cent. We're not (all) mindless sheep. Customers are not just numbers on a financial spreadsheet. You have to target their motivations and enthusiasm, as well as their wallets. People will not give you money just because. You are not a bully in a schoolyard. I will not purchase any further products from Valve that requires Steam. This last one has been a major disappointment for me. No game is worth allowing a company to remove my rights of fair use, and supporting such action sets a dangerous precedent for other companies to follow - and to regularly try to milk us dry for all we're worth.

I challenge Valve to show their customers that they are appreciated:

1) Remove the disc copy protection. The pirates already bypassed it, and if you need a Steam account to play anyway, it serves no purpose.

2) Remove the fee for transfer of ownership. Customers will remember how they were blindsided by this, and you will not be looked apon kindly in the future. A ticked off customer is not a return customer.

-Vibropod




Urk's Comments from the Planet Half-Life User Forums

Posted November 17, 2004

From the Topic:

Most bizarre install ever in PC Gaming history!!! Borders on civil rights being violated!


With regards to those saying that they bought this piece of software therefore they should be able to do anything they way anyway they want with it. This is actually totally wrong. According to copyright laws, u did not buy HL2, u payed for a license to play it. U do not own the game, u only own the cd's they come in; Vivendi/Valve owns the game. What does this mean? This means that u can't do anything u want anyway u want with it. U can play the game but u can't make copies and give it away. U can't crack it unless u are given explicit rights by the copyright holder. U can't modify it more than u are allowed, which means u can't change the core programming/coding.

Now u may be asking how do i know this. I know this because i'm a programmer. But does this mean I agree with how Vivendi/Valve implemented the installation? Partly.

See, a more appropriate analogy would be with a book that a person buys from a bookstore. U own the book no question about that since u paid for it. But u don't own the contents of the book, the contents are owned by the author and u paid for the license to read contents. This is why u have to properly qoute the author when u use parts of the contents.

But, let's say u buy the book. The book is specially wrapped so u can't actually see the book inside. On the wrapping it says "Scissors required to unwrap book". U say "That's fine, I have scissors at home". So u go home, use u'r scissors to remove the wrap, but lo and behold, there's a little key on the front and a big ass lock on the book. No other way to open book but with the included key. Now u have to keep the key because everytime u close the book the friggin lock lock's. Nowhere was it mentioned that u need a key for the book, but u say "I can live with the key". So u open the book for the first time and discover that 500 random pages of the the 1000 page book is missing. Then u discover a little card inside that says u have to mail this card back together with the gibberish letters and numbers on the back of the front cover back to the publisher and the publisher will send u the missing pages. Now u'r "STEAMED". Y? Coz u realize that u can't afford to pay for fedex (broadband) so u have to send it regular mail (56k) plus u can only afford to include a self-addressed stamped envelope regular mail. So u'r screwed coz u have to wait almost a week to get the remaining pages. What's bad is that the publisher's mailing system is swamped by all the requests for the missing pages and can't keep up. Worse, u can't return the book since u already ripped apart the seals. Worst, u don't want to return the book coz u really want to read it coz those few that have actually read the book says it's really kick ass.

So what am i trying to say here? That we got f'ed in the ass by the installation, but we're waiting still for the remaining files coz we want to play the f'ing game. F'ing Vivendi/Valve!

-Urk




Doe-Den's Comments from the Steam User Forums

Posted December 4, 2004

From the Topic:

A Confessional Rant


I'm going to have to agree %200 on the original posters view. Not only are they doing a horrible job, they are greedy conmen. I got banned a while back for cheating on CS (oh I know I should be pinned to a cross and killed...spare me fan boys) and I am now banned until 2008.

Excuse me, cheating on a video game gets me 5 years punishment from playing online with friends when I payed good money for this? Assault and Battery sometimes end up with only 1 year in jail, yet cheating in a game (no harm to public, or anything for that matter damage included) gets me banned for 5 years.

A year is all that is required at maximum for punishment, and even that is rediculous! Now that I wasn't aware I was banned for such an extensive time I bought Silver with it and now can't use any games online.

You know what they told me? Buy a new account and purchase HL2 Silver again. F' you Valve, Steam, and VU. I'm irritated as hell because this is just another way for them to get you to buy a new account.

-Doe-Den




Dauvin's Comments from the Steam User Forums

Posted December 4, 2004

From the Topic:

Both Sides of the Issue


While I agree with the sentiments of the original poster, I think we are forgetting a few things here.

1) You are seeing the most vocal part of the community here, the people who absolutely LOVE steam, and the people who don't. The other 80-90% are, if not happily, then at least grudingly using steam with little problem and complaint.

2) What is kind of amazing, to me, is that VALVe posts here. They don't have to, they would probably have less ulcers if they didn't, but yet they still do. Yes, they don't reply to certain topics and threads, but usually its understandable why (told not to, they are already working on it, or maybe getting permission TO post about whatever).

3) Its their game, their servers, their everything; technically, you should have read the EULA and all that before buying, so nothing you dislike should come as a huge suprise, baring bugs and glitches. You did not have to buy t his game. No one held a gun to your head and said "buy it or die!"

That all being said, this is probably my last steam game as well.

IT JUST DOESN'T WORK (like they advetise it to).

Friends list? -a joke, never worked...

Auto-updates? - a nightmare, as about 1/2 of them cause a new problem, and since YOU CANNOT uninstall them, you are stuck till VALVe does a repatch or a rollback. Also, from my experience in RTCW league and competitive play, this is disastrous. There were 1 or 2 patches that created huge problems, but all we had to do was reinstall the game and patch up to the previous patch. Can't do that in steam!

Getting the content over steam? - a joke. The only way it seems like a good thing to me is if you have a T1 connection or better. Otherwise, you are forced to leave it on, downloading overnight, which isn't possible for everyone. (plus, i liked having manuals and physical CDs with pretty labels on them)

Steam takes all the control away from the user, its like the AOL of gaming. except AOL usually worked better for me.

Unless VALVe start offering their next games with a package that doesn't require steam, I don't think I'll be buying another VALVe game again, either.

-Dauvin




Ravenuk's Comments from the Steam User Forums

Posted December 4, 2004

From the Topic:

A Lengthy But Lucid Reiteration

Well I have said it before and I'll say it again.

hl2 is a great game and one of the best there is.

what tarnished the shine from its glossy sheen was the fact that weather you wanted it or not you had to have an intrusive programe on your system. A programe I may add that seem to work when it feels like it. Why the hell should anyone end up having to do a complete format to run a game for christ's sake? I have even seen people here say they run without a firewall as its the only way they can run it. Then valve say if your accounts hacked its your fault for not protecting your system.

Now I dont give a monkeys uncle how many people have had no problems at all. I see these figures of .05 % and stuff. You aint got a clue. You think this place is the only place that has numerous complaints?. Hell no its all over every forum that deals in games. That guys is not by any means 0.5% of people who bought the game.

Steam at best is buggy as hell its very intrusive and overburdens your system taking away valuable recources some of the people with lesser computer specs could really do with elsewhere. It phones home when ever it feels like it and sometimes wont phone home at all without some tourcherous reinstall job. Then you sometimes end up reinstalling the bloody game again thenfollows the updates.

HL2 as I said is a great game but im a little unsure now as to how great. I played it through twice now and I must admit the replay value was not what I thought it would be. Like it has been said in places it really slowed to a crawl and in cut scenes I found myself pressing any button to bypass them. Now because replay value is low I may wanna sell it. Can I? Hell yeah, but it means a real problem to do so. Possibility of costs to do this will sure brighten up your day. I do not really have much fun out of playing multiplayer either so that's not even cast sun on it for me

Will I buy another valve game? OOOOOOOOOH yeah baby. As long as there is not steam. If its just for authentification ok, just for updates (when I want to ) then fine. Like it is now, forget it.

I have never been let down so much by a game in all my life, never been so annoyed with a game before I even started it. The problems I had for me at least spoilt the game that should have been a dream to play. The dream to me was nothing short of a nightmare. When I did finaly get the game running nice, smooth, and bug free it was too late for me.

Yes now I know some of you wont agree and to be honest thats fine. Im glad your enjoyment wasnt spoilt and I'm glad you got just what you wanted from it. At least you can be open minded about the fact that I enjoyed it less than you did and the reasons why.

I hope valve brings out loads more games like hl. I will not play them however unless the issues I and others have stated here are sorted out.

Last of all, PEACE gamers. weather you like the game or hate it its no reason to fall out and behaive like mad fools

hang loose

-Ravenuk




Nocturne's Classic and Visionary Rant from the Planet Half-Life User Forums

Posted September 9, 2003

From the Topic:

TEN REASONS WHY STEAM IS A BAD IDEA

#1 - You must download game updates from Steam.

Wave goodbye to services like FilePlanet. How Valve is going to manage the bandwidth to simultaneously serve 100,000 players when they need an update and still maintain the ability to successfully manage a huge program like Steam is anyone's guess.

If your computer dies, it's no longer possible to load your old patches - you have to redownload them from Steam.

#2 - Automatic game downloads are a potential no good.

You're in the middle of a game and suddenly everything pauses - everyone connected to Steam is now getting a Valve-created update. What if you're in the middle of a league game? An even bigger concern - if someone manages to hack into Steam and disguise a virus as a new update, every player connected to steam gets the virus.

#3 - It's hard on the modem user.

With Steam's ridiculous download sizes and auto downloading it will be very hard for new modem players to start playing a HL game for the first time. Only three years ago, Valve announced PowerPlay, designed to make the game for the average modem user by devising an alternate method of shipping packets from the server to the client. Flash forward to a broadband dominated gaming environment and Valve is all but forgetting the little guy.

#4 - You must logged in to Steam to play Half-Life.

You want to play on a LAN? You have to be logged in to Steam. Imagine how difficult it will be for a 1,000 seat LAN to also maintain enough bandwidth for each player to be able to connect to the internet and log in to Steam. As if LAN networking coordinators didn't have enough concerns in the first place.

#5 - Steam is just another program loaded in the background.

I don't know about most other players, but I turn off Winamp, Trillian, IRC, etc when I play games. It's best to devote maximum CPU power to the game you're playing, and with Steam features like a built-in Instant Messenger it's going to make people who wish to do the same as me go through a heap of trouble.

#6 - Half-Life is too old.

Not old in the sense that it can't support the demands of Steam, but old in the sense that such a drastic change in how players connect to the game will cause lots of trouble. There aren't enough justifiable reasons to constitute a massive change like this.

#7 - WON IDs will be replaced by Steam IDs.

Big deal, right? Think again. Every player is going to discard their WON ID and get a new Steam ID simply by entering their cd-key into the steam database. Unless Valve comes up with an algorithm so that old WON IDs turn into new Steam IDs, this means every hacker with a cd-key is going to get a second chance.

#8 - Steam is potential spyware.

While there is no reason to believe that Steam contains Spyware, the fact is every player wanting to play Half-Life connects to a server run by Valve and that Valve can update their software whenever they see fit. Imagine the hordes of money Valve can potentially make by finding out everything about their target audience - what kind of hardware you have, what other games you play, what mp3s and videos you have downloaded - and then selling it to companies.

#9 - An attack on Steam cripples everyone wanting to play Half-Life.

Games by Id Software have a so-called "master server" where server admins can submit their IP address. When a player wanting to find a game loads their server browser, they see all servers listed by the master server. Every now and then these master servers will have a slight downtime. This isn't a problem for people who know the IP address of the servers they wish to play on, it just complicates things for someone who doesn't.

If an attack on Steam occurs and the server is knocked out, no one can play Half-Life. You can't even play on a LAN because you have to be connected to Steam.

#10 - Attacks on Steam ruin Half-Life's chances of succeeding as a professional sport.

Imagine if someone manages to perform a large-scale attack on Steam during the CPL championships and shuts down the system. Theoretically, the championship pauses because no one can play Half-Life. This has never been a concern before, because shutting down an event like the CPL would require a power outage or interal problems with the network. Static domains like the Steam server are much easier targets for such large-scale attacks.

So there you have it. Down with Steam!

-Nocturne




Mr. Buzz's Disastrous Retail Experience from the Steam User Forums

Posted December 4, 2004

From the Topic:

Retail Version Woes

   Part 1

Hey folks, I just bought Half Life 2 today from Staples and installed it on my system.

I can't get the game running at all. I simply click on the Half Life 2 icon on the desktop. The screen switches out of Windows and I get this screen that just sits there saying "Loading..."

After 30 seconds, I hear two alerts in the background. I assume Half Life 2 got hosed at that point. Now I cannot even use the Windows key to get to the task manager or the switch back to the Windows desktop to see what is the error.

I've also got the memory reference error everyone here seems to be complaining about.

Also, when I opened up the retail package, all I got in it was 5 disks, a cheat card, and an advertising literature. What in the hell happened to the game documentation?!!

Whats going on here? Am I going to have to return this software? I've wasted too much time the past 3 hours trying to get this to work and I am completely disgusted. FYI, I used to work for various game companies and have to say this is one of the most disappointing game releases I've seen to date. It feels like Sierra/Vividendi/Valve rushed this to meet the Xmas rush and the quality got lost in the shuffle. Frankly, management out to be fired for this! This is totally inacceptable.

   Part 2

If you people think I am flaming, you are being overly critical. I know what it takes to do a software game - I use to be a software developer, sr. qa lead, as well as a project manager in the gaming industry. I shouldn't have to spend 3 hours to trouble shoot running this game. Period. I am just giving you my overall assessment of what I feel of Half Life 2.

For $55, I'd expect a user manual. And if not, where it is on the CD? There isn't even a PDF file that gets installed on the disk. So what is a new user of Half Life supossed to do? Figure this all out him/herself without a story line? Bang on keys and hit the mouse randomly to find out what it does?

I'd think most people would send this product straight back for a full refund if they had this happen to them. Given I would love to get this up and running, I am here to voice my disappointment, and try to find a solution. If the moderators on here want to quell me for "flaming" so be it. I am NOT flaming. This is called "customer feedback". Believe me, I been through releases that were "hell" and in the long run, the finger can be pointed at management who is under extreme pressure to get a product out to the distribution channels for the holidays. In other words, they want to take your money now, and deal with the problems later.

Now lets get to my problem:

Before I posted my message, I had already turned off the firewall. The system I installed this on is a brand new Dell with Microsoft Windows XP Home. Half Life 2 should run straight out of the box.

After clicking the Half Life 2 icon on the desktop, steam comes up and attempts to validate myself (yes, I created an account). Then, the screen flips into vga mode. A background image appears and in the lower right hand corner is the "Loading..." prompt. After that, about 30 seconds into this, I get two alerts (I cannot see them, but I am notified through my speakers). I try to switch back to the windows desktop but I cannot. I cannot even reboot my system without having to turn off the computer and turning it back on.

Now you tell me, given I shelled out $55 and bought into the hype, whether I should be disappointed here.

   Part 3

Your response is baseless, let alone assinine.

First, how many people NEED to have played Half Life 1 before Half Life 2? Since when do you have to purchase previous versions before buying the next version. That's assinine. That's like telling people that before they can play World of Warcraft, they needed to have purchased and played all the versions prior to that. Oh, by the way, I have Half Life 1.

In regards to banging on the keys and mouse, I cannot even get the game running.

If you read carefully, I tried to get back into Windows. I tried all the key combinations imaginable. Including trying to get back into windows with the task manager.

I find it funny that the finger pointing by you is back at the user. You sound like a Valve employee trying to stop the bleeding.

   Part 4

I solved my problem today.

I returned this piece of sh*t product.

After spending another 3 hours trying to figure out whats going on, I gave up.

I will never buy another Sierra/Vivendi/Valve game again.

-Mr. Buzz




ZGeek Vents His Anger from the Steam User Forums

Posted December 5, 2004

From the Topic:

Steam Alternative

Does anyone know of an alternative to steam? Im really sick of this stupid xxxxing program.

My Problem is I bought a copy of HL2 and played it. Then through my job as a game reviewer I got another copy of the collecters edition. I wanted to play original HL so I installed it. So I have 2 games.

So I wanted to give my friend my first game, but I can't because the game is registered to me and theres no way to unregister it.

This is so not xxxxing fair.

What happens if I want to sell the game later when I am bored with it? What happens in cases like this when I want to pass a game to a friend. Its not piracy and it a xxxxing rip off that that you can't sell your games running through steam. $100 is a big investment for a game and its xxxxing shoddy that this is happening.

Get your xxxxing act together you steaming turd bastards. Not only do I have to put up with your stupid xxxxing client bogging down my connection when it decides to download an update, but you xxxxs are now preventing me from on-selling my games if I need to.

Whats more if you don't have a internet connection you can't play half life. xxxxing bastards!

I will be lodging a formal complaint with the Consumer commision in my country against VUgames. IT would also have been nice to get an answer to my support question regarding this that I sent in a week ago.

xxxx margarita time!

-ZGeek




Spawn1905 Delivers His Rant from the Steam User Forums

Posted December 5, 2004

From the Topic:

My Upset Rant

I am a valve fan, always have been since HL came out years ago. I have stayed away from all the hoopla about this and that not working and so on, as I thought things would get fixed. But now I too have had enough.

I paid $100 aud (AUSTRALIAN) for my game, I got the standard version. So I am a legit user;

Firstly it took me 2 hours to install my game on my PC (high end) to the point that I thought the install had crashed on the first disk but it didnt. Once up and going it authenticated with steam within a few minutes (which was fine considering everyones troubles).

However since the first two weeks when the game was unplayable due to the stuttering issue, I have had some gameplay time (yay), But what really annoys me is that everytime I want to play my game it takes approximately 15 minutes to authenticate the bloody files again after again after again. I was reading it only does it once. So everytime I want to play my game, it takes 15 minutes to get around to starting up after validating.

I dont mind leaving my cd in the tray, no issue with that. But I also had an issue where steam servers were so busy yesterday that I could not play my game. It said steam was too busy try again in 5 minutes.

I know I am repeating stuff which has been said again, and again, but it is my turn to get this off my chest. I tried taking my game back to EB for a refund due to the fact that Valve has released goods which simply do not work in the way it was supposed to, the steam system realistically does not work properly. Before the flamers start going off, I do have 1.5Mb broadband connection, and it is not that which causes 15 minutes delays in wanting to play my game.

With the steam system wanting to validate my files everytime it plays the game surely i should not have to resort to unplugging my internet to have to run steam offline. If steam can not connect to the servers at anytime, it should just run the game anyway. I am a legal owner, I have paid my money. FOr 6 years of development, this really is a shoddy product.

And for a Valve fan it really does upset me to say this.

-Spawn1905




Player1 Adds His Two Cents from the Steam User Forums

Posted December 5, 2004

From the Topic:

Steam Alternative

Good point. I think it's clear now that Steam is not principaly about piracy even though that's the propaganda we're being fed. I think Steam actually makes piracy more acceptable to many people while doing little or nothing to inhibit it. Steam is really all about control over those who go the legitimate route and don't pirate. It had to have extra anti-piracy built into it just because online content delivery is inherently less secure than physical media plus a normal CD key.

There's no way any of us can know for sure what's behind Steam, but I suspect it goes something like this....

Cutting out the traditional publisher and delivering content online direct from the developer means a huge increase in profit per sale. It's perfectly understandable that Valve should want to do this. Unfortunately dowloading a game direct is even less secure than normal physical media plus CD key so they had to build in all the verification and constant checking by Steam to try to make up for this inherent insecurity. The downside is that it becomes very onerous for the customer, it means having what is effectively a piece of spyware running on ones computer from which one has to ask permission every time to play single player. Valve decided this was an acceptable tradeoff because the pent up anticipation for HL2 allowed them to get away with it, a lesser title would have been dead in the water after the first few days.

However there's more than just increased profit from one game, I think it likely that Steam is part of something much bigger. Internet availability and speed is increasing all the time and it's inevitable that online content distribution is the way games will go in the future. The uncertainties are about how the system works, how quickly it is adopted, and who controls it. There's no way that every little developer can afford to provide the necessary server/bandwidth/support capacity to supply their own games (even Valve made a balls-up of it) so they will want to make a deal with an existing distribution system. Valve have the money and a strong enough franchise in HL to take a gamble on setting up such a system early and try to take control of the market. They can not only use it for their own games but offer it as a paid for service to other developers. It is far cheaper to run than a conventional distribution service so they can undercut the usual publishers but still make money out of Steam itself.

But this service has the potential to be about far more than just distribution of game content. By it's nature it monitors the behaviour of all users whether they're playing single or multi (OK, there is a bodged in "offline" mode but it's been made as awkward as possible to use and Steam is still running and has the potential to record and report home next time you're forced online). The information derived from monitoring users' habits is like gold dust to people who want to sell you things and this makes Steam even more valuable, it's a marketer's dream come true. It not only gives valuable stats for game developers, it also paves the way to make a fortune out of the next big thing...in-game advertising. Target that advertising at individual users according to their behaviour and advertisers will pay even more to use the service.

OK, now somebody's going to say that the EULA precludes giving user identifiable information to 3rd parties, but it also says that Valve can change the terms of the EULA whenever they want, or the targetting could be done by Valve themselves according to the advertisers instructions without actually divulging the information. Either way, Valve is set to make a killing from Steam if it becomes established as a mainstream distribution channel. I'm not saying it's doing all this stuff yet, but the EULA shows that they can change Steam to do whatever they want in the future and there would be a lot of money in it for them if they do.

Valve did a calculation. They knew they were going to piss off a lot of their more worldly wise customers and lose some sales, but they hoped they would gain more because of the increased profit from all those who just follow the flock and do what they're told without questioning anything (the word "sheep" springs to mind for some reason). The lure of controlling the distribution market and all that potential advertising revenue just clinched it as it's almost a license to print money in the future.

Unfortunately Valve's calculations may well be right. There seem to be plenty of people like Killer Koala who either don't understand or else don't care about the long term ramifications. As long as it works for them now they're not bothered about anybody else's problems or privacy concerns. They even defend it against people who have valid worries about the direction this is taking.

For me, I see that something like Steam is going to be the future, sadly, but I don't want anything to do with it in it's present form. I'll either turn to piracy to preserve my independence and privacy or just give up on gaming. There are plenty of other ways to enjoy oneself.

-Player1




John Conner's DIVX Screed from the Steam User Forums

Posted December 5, 2004

From the Topic:

Half-Life 2 is my last Steam game

You all know what Steam really is, don't you?

It's DIVX -- the original, home video system Circuit City in conjunction with major Hollywood studios tried to push on unsuspecting consumers in the '90s when DVDs first started to be released.

Just like another poster said, Steam is doing what the MPAA wanted to do with the home video market:

Control the consumer's rights (take them away) and force them to watch home movies the way THEY wanted them to WHEN they wanted them to... And have to pay for it each step along the way.

For those not familiar with DIVX:

DIVX was literally what Steam is today.

You bought a DIVX player that only played DIVX movies and before you could even watch the movie, it would call home -- via a phone line -- And verify your $4.25 credit card chage and unlock the movie for a limited time (like three days, or something).

If you wanted to watch the movie after those three days you had to fork out another $4.25 for another three days, and so on and so forth.

Guess what?

DIVX died a painful and HORRIBLE death thanks to the internet and CONSUMER AWARENESS and grass roots campaigns.

Also, the reason DIVX failed from a business stand point was:

A) It was it too complicated for most people to use (hooking up your DVD player to the phone line may seem easy, but trust me. Normal consumers and older people get confused about simple things like this and don't want to take the time to do it, quite frankly, I.E. Ease of use).

B) More importantly, savy home video consumers were TOO SMART and KNEW what Circuit City and the major studios were trying to do with the home video market: Turn it into a Pay-Per View market -- in every sense of the word -- Instead of a home video market where you could watch a movie anytime you want without having to pay for it each time.

The moral of this story is that home video consumers voted with thier pocketbooks and DIVX died shortly after it was released (It didn't even last six months after launch if I recall)...

And no video distributor or Hollywood studio has tried a system like this since.

-John Conner




1One1's Stress Relief Rant from the Steam User Forums

Posted December 5, 2004

From the Topic:

Another Anti-Steam Rant

After using steam for approximately two weeks, the way I can justify you FORCING us to use steam is if your brain was comprised of Seminal and Fecal matter. This program is the definition of paranoia gone WAY too far.

After so many security xxxx-ups, I can understand the paranoia. The decryption is ok. You only need to do that the FIRST TIME you install HL2. While it took 2 HOURS, when I started playing all was forgiven.

And then along come your updates. You should be able to CHOOSE whether or not you can update the program. For example: I was unable to play HL2 for an entire evening because Steam downloaded only a PARTIAL update for the DM mode.

Why did this irritate me so much? I DONT DO ONLINE FPS' (another rant for another day). So my game was anally raped without lubrication FOR NO GOOD REASON. The problem was fixed so I was able to continue playing. I am still pissed off about that (as you can probably tell) however, I figured as long as they dont ALWAYS screw with it, it's all good.

THEN came the validation. That took me about HALF AN HOUR on 256k Broadband. NOW I was REALLY pissed off. WHAT MORE SECURITY DO YOU WANT? What's next? Are you going to come to our house to install it to ensure that nobody installs it on somebody else's computer without paying for it? Are we going to have to sign a waiver to use it?

But now here's something new. Now it says I have to RE-INSTALL the game! I checked the steam folders, the 3.8 gb behemoth of a game is still there, but STEAM WANTS ME TO REINSTALL IT. IT TOOK ME TWO HOURS TO INSTALL IT IN THE FIRST PLACE YOU COCKHEADS. I refuse to reinstall a game THAT'S ALREADY ON MY COMPUTER.

Going back to the 256k Broadband connection; How long would it take to do all this bullxxxx on a 56k modem? It'd take probably closer to 12 hours! What happened to the times where you could install a game, MAYBE register it and start playing? All of this security bullxxxx is over the top. It would be easier logging into a computer on the CIA.

Quite frankly I have given up. It's too much hassle to be worried with. So thank you Steam! You've ruined what was determined to be an un-ruinable game. Have you numbnuts read any reviews? They love the game (as do I) but hate Steam. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM. Your under the assumption that we have NOTHING BETTER TO DO than update your leporasy-ridden program or validate it. It's not worth waiting half an hour to play ANY game.

So xxxx you, xxxx your xxxxty program and I hope you die horribly.

(PS: Oooohhh lordy that felt goooooooood)

-1One1




ImJacksAmygdala Burninator Rant from the Atari User Forums

Posted December 18, 2004

From the Topic:

Epic: Future Content Verification and Delivery

I started this thread to offer Epic some ideas about future contnet delivery and verification methods while at the same time trying to bring up some concerns about how such a platform could be used.

I should also state that I see no problems with the way Epic is currently releasing content, so if it ain't broke don't fix it.

However, if Epic does have future designs for just such a platform I would emplore them to keep it simple, use very little resources, and not compromise the functionality of the game itself.

I offer a model of a system that could work well for both consumers and developers...

Burninator Powered

  1.) Users create an account. They can do so online at a secure website or call a phone number and talk to an account manager.

  2.) The secure site sells game user license packages which can even be sold on sites like Amazon and can be offered as a package deal with computer hardware or complete systems. (after game is officially released only for hardware deals)

  3.)Users can make a one time purchase for membership to content sites for faster downloads with no wait times and higher bandwidth. Premimum accounts and free accounts with advertising and wait lines would both be offered. The Premium account users would become members of fileplanet or filefront for example. Content is delivered through traditional sources such as fileplanet and filefront along with community mirrors. Advertising, membership, and possible wait lines still apply like they always have, but Epic controls the links for the content. Large content updates and patches could even be purchased on CD from content delivery sites. Many sites already offer this service. 56kers or those without internet service are not screwed.

  4.) Users control what patches they want to install and are updated through a RSS feed web browser interface that also functions as a server browser very simular to TheAllSeeingEye.

  5.) Online verification of CDkey or phone activation of CDkey ensures users can activate their content and play online multiplayer elements. Same method as Microsoft XP CDkey verification process. No internet connection would be required for account setup or verification.

  6.) During gameplay Burninator Powered is designed to not eat up resources that should otherwise be available for the actual gameplay.

  7.) Burninator Powered Does not compromise the functionality of the game. In NO way will it ever tell me my games are currently unavilable or that offline mode can't contact the internet.

  8.) Games sold regular retail as well.

  9.) Epic can easily enforce EULA and online cheating.

10.) Burninator Powered does not call home ever again after account user license has been verified. Offline mode is default unless multiplayer element is selected and user decides to connect to the internet.

All this is quick and painless. Not to be confused with Paroleware that holds your games hostages waiting for connection to some kind of network struggling to get a patch out. The user is instantly updated through RSS and has a choice to install a patch or not for single player titles. Accounts can be free with advertising at already established content delivery sites although premium accounts are available. Promotional deals abound for Epic and content websites while the customer gets the best of both worlds! Even community mirrors could be included. Full server browser support for all Epic Games titles under one interface simular to the AllSeeingEye or possibly even licensed technology making it a turn key operation. Universities would also be less likely to block this type of traffic from their networks keeping the system available to a huge portion of the 18-30 demographic. Phone support for account management could be farmed out and provide instant customer support for CDkey verification and account upgrades for future titles. User licenses purchased online are instantly available day of title release and Epic Games makes profit by cutting out the publisher on all titles sold online but retail would still be available.

The reason I made this thread is because a game developer is making a premier game title a huge headache for customers that just want to play the game. If the system was implemented correctly it wouldn't be a hassle at all and it could accomplish the same result through current resources and software. I would just hate to see Epic make the same mistakes, and I can really see some good for the customer and the developer if properly implemented.

Epic could succeed where others have miserably failed using currently available resources and software with very few growing pains. I just hope Epic is not as short sighted as others have been who were so worried with a christmas release they decided to adopt the patch it later mentality which has devastated an otherwise beautiful game.

Then again, as a customer I have absolutely no complaints with the way things work right now. Thank you for your time….

-ImJacksAmygdala




Julian3 Rants from the Steam User Forums

Posted November 11, 2004

From the Topic:

Steam: a sign of the times

First there was simple, naive kapitalism. The market was free and transparant, and ppl would buy the product they liked best. Only the producers that made the best products for the lowest price would survive in the marketplace. The controlling forces of the market seemed to be mostly on the demand-side of the economy, with the consumers.

Then something changed: the producers wanted more control, and marketing was born. At first it was a little advertising, later on a lot of advertising. Next advertising became omni-present, and some ppl actually stopped watching television because they OD'd on ads.

Then marketing was pushed a step further towards getting more control of the market to the supply-side of economics. In many respects control of the market moved from the consumers to the producers. Cartels were getting bigger and more powerful. In some countries some products were only made and sold by a only a small number of producers and retailers, and consumers had less choice, or even none at all. At the same time marketing was getting more and more aggresive: pushy, invasive and in-your-face.

One of the best examples of this development towards supply-side control of the market i've seen to date is Steam. It's a product most ppl don't want (judging from the number of pro- and contra-steam-posts here), but that is imposed on you. It invades your computer to get data that is relevant to the marketeers. At the same time it advertises new products to you. It also cuts out the retailer, making the whole process of producing and selling the domain of 1 single company, making it easier to control the market.

However, there is one single major force that works directly against this movement towards supply-side-control: the internet. The internet is free like the market of simple, naive kapitalism was. It is also very "democratic", in the specific sense that it facillitates communication between anyone and everyone, and offers the possibility to everyone to organise themselves. This leeds to forums where ppl discuss stuff like this, but also to groups that crack software, and groups that distribute this software. Of course cracking and distributing software is illegal, but the point is that it is a counter-force to the big corporatons trying to control the markets. It offers a free (free in a double sense) alternative.

So there's an alternative to commercially released software. This means that to an extent the market is becoming more like the old idealised form of kapitalism, where the demand-side of the economy is more in control again. I personally buy software because i am sympathetic to a product and it's producer. I have an alternative, and i buy something only when i think it's good. Steam is not sympathetic, it's irritating because it's unwelcome, pushy and invasive.

The free internet is growing stronger. Valve however seems to think they can push over the balance towards supply-side-control. I think that this is living in the past, and not looking forward to a future where companies may have to rely more on the quality of their products then on their ability to impose them on you. I hope Valve will one day ave enough faith in their own product to sell it at a sympathetic price, and in a sympathetic way.

-Julian3




Moquia's Rant from the Steam User Forums

Posted November 25, 2004

From the Topic:

Steam took my gf and killed my dog

Steam took my gf and killed my dog...Please help me...

-Moquia




5734MROX's Rant from the Steam User Forums

Posted November 29, 2004

From the Topic:

Fellow Citizens of Steam!

My reinterpretation of Dr.Breen's instinct speech, Steam-flavored.

----

Let me read a thread that was recently posted. 'Dear Dr.Steam. Why has Valve seen fit to suppress our free access to Half-Life 2? Sincerely, A Concerned Consumer.'

Thank you for writing, Concerned *deletes thread*. Of course your question touches on one of the basic biological impulses, with all its associated hopes and fears for the future of gamers.

I also detect some unspoken questions. Do our benefactors really know what's best for us? What gives them the right to make this kind of decision for gamers? Will they ever deactivate Steam and let us own games again?

Allow me to address the anxieties underlying your concerns, rather than try to answer every possible question you might have left unvoiced.

First, let us consider the fact that for the first time ever, as gamers, perfect copy protection is in our reach. This simple fact has far-reaching implications. It requires radical rethinking and revision of our distributional imperatives. It also requires planning and forethought that run in direct opposition to our neural pre-sets.

I find it helpful at times like these to remind myself that our true enemy is Property.

Property was our mother when we were infant gamers.

Property coddled us and kept us safe in those hardscrabble years when we hardened our sticks and cooked our first meals above a meager fire and stared at the shadows that leapt upon the cavern's walls.

But inseparable from Property is its dark twin, Software Piracy. Property is inextricably bound to unreasoning impulses, and today we clearly see its true nature. Property has just become aware of its irrelevance, and like a cornered beast, it will not go down without a bloody fight.

Property would inflict a fatal injury on us gamers. Property creates its own oppressors, and bids us rise up against them. Property tells us that the unknown is a threat, rather than an opportunity. Property slyly and covertly compels us away from change and progress.

Property, therefore, must be expunged.

It must be fought tooth and nail, beginning with the basest of a gamers urges: The urge to own a game. We should thank our benefactors for giving us respite from this overpowering force. They have thrown a switch and exorcised our demons in a single stroke. They have given us the strength we never could have summoned to overcome this compulsion. They have given us purpose. They have turned our eyes toward the stars.

Let me assure you that Steam will be shut off on the day that we have mastered ourselves...the day we can prove we no longer need it. And that day of transformation, I have it on good authority, is close at hand.

-5734MROX




Enor's LAN Party Rant from the Steam User Forums

Posted December 19, 2004

From the Topic:

Fellow Citizens of Steam!

Thanks Valve. Thanks for thinking of your customers first. What's the point? What's the purpose of Steam?

I just got back from a LAN party where myself and one other person were the only ones unable to play our legally purchased games of half life 2 DM and CounterStrike Source. Why? Not because of "offline" mode or anything like that, but because the rest of the gamers were using the pirated versions floating around the depths of the internet. They were installing the games and not even connecting to steam to validate or even pretend to validate their versions.

The games they were using were flawless and convenient and they easily connected to and played with each other for the duration of the LAN party. The other guy and myself sat there, dumbfounded wondering why our legitimate copies couldn't be played.

At this point, I realized how much I truly dislike this whole Steam thing. Two major reasons stuck out to me.

First, steam doesn't DIScourage piracy in the least. In fact, it Encourages it more than anything. I bought Half Life 2 because I wanted to support a company that has created one of my all time treasured games. I feel, however, that I have been taken advantage of. I feel that my consumer rights are being held on a very short and very constricting leash, while software pirates are free to do whatever they want and use the product in any way that they want. We, the legitimate users are forced to use a system that limits our abilities to use the product. I would have shaken my fists in disgust at my friends' use of a pirated game, but a large part of me felt a sense of poetic justice. How does this DIScourage piracy?

This blatant disregard of the gaming community is a surprise to me considering that my favorite game came from a company that heavily modified another engine to make said game.

It seems to me that lowering the prices of games would significantly reduce piracy. I don't purchase games right when they come out for the simple fact that they are too expensive. I make an exception for a piece of art like Half Life 2, but for the majority of the crap pushed on the gamers in this world, lowering the price would seem to encourage the purchase of their product. Making the game harder to use by its legitimate customers does nothing but push them away.

Second, if this is the wave of the future, it is not a wave I want to ride. I looked at my legitimate copy of Half Life 2 Silver and realized that I have absolutely nothing to show for it except the piece of mind of knowing that I have a legitimate right to play the game. I have an acknowledgment email of my purchase, but I have nothing more than that. I have the same burnt copy that the pirates have, only they are not forced to play through Steam and are not forced to have it running in order to play. My piece of mind only goes so far when it is confused by frustration.

I truly love Half Life 2, the game. It is phenomenal. However, if this is the future of computer gaming, I will be purchasing an X Box.

I realize that people will defend Steam until they die. I don't understand it, but they will. I also realize that this is pointless, but at least I got it off my chest.

Thanks Valve, for making a great game. However, you also made a huge mistake with Steam.

-Enor



More rants will be coming soon!...And if you enjoyed these missives, be sure to visit the
Urban Dictionary and view their reader's take on Steam...Just click on the image below.

             -Toonces




Gotta keep 'em seperated

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[-Road-Kill Journal-]