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File:Steam logo 9107.gif
"Oh, yeah, I love Steam! I just hate the pipes..."

Steam is the most popular Digital Distribution platform for PC games. Created by Valve Software in 2004 to distribute and integrate their own games cheaply, it has grown from its shaky and buggy beginnings into the service that PC gamers can use for their online middleware needs. (Provided you have a decently fast internet connection and a way of buying online.) It also features a messaging system, an online multiplayer platform, Achievements, and an in-game Web browser, making it something like the PC equivalent of X Box Live, except free, and marketed at an older demographic. And like Live, it has since gone cross-platform, supporting MacOS X in addition to Windows.

All of Valve's PC games since Half-Life 2 have required Steam and the retail versions come with it. The service is free to download as well, and allows gamers to integrate their games into the service, as well as download games that support the service natively.

Having the full support of pretty much every major publisher that makes PC titles except Blizzard, Maxis (except for Spore and Sim City) and recently Electronic Arts, the service makes it easier to just download and play PC games, due to having over one thousand titles available for download, many of which are classic games in their own right-and now it boasts more than 30 million unique users. Not bad for a company that made its first game 12 years ago.

Of course, we have a Steam Group, here. Feel free to join.

The program has its own Hatedom, partly thanks to the service's self-imposed DRM, but also due to surprisingly high prices, which Steam circumvents by offering weekly discounts on specific products. Further, as Digital Distribution has become more popular, some of the ways Steam does things have proven unfriendly to competition. Ironically, the reaction to Electronic Arts' digital service Origin was highly negative, with a ton of people wishing they just stuck to Steam, though this is largely in part due to majority opinion that Origin is not only a vastly inferior service for a variety of reasons (it can be argued that Steam's success is because it provides a variety of useful services nobody else provides), but also due to Orgin's highly controversial terms of service.

In 2010, the interface underwent a major overhaul, designed to coincide with the release of Steam for the Mac. Opinions are mixed.

Not related to water vapor. That will never happen.

Games and series for download from Steam include:

  1. Except Battlefield 3 (which EA has made exclusive to their competing Origin service) and a few gimmick titles.
  2. as part of the Classics bundle only
  3. as part of the Classics bundle only