How Steam Improved Over The Last 5 Years

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The premier storefront/library for PC games doesn’t deserve its celebrity – but it’s slowly getting better. Well, the software is at least.

PLEASE NOTE: Most of these pics are from random Steam games.

Anyone who read the previous article (and also this very sentence if I ever finish it) will be aware that the author isn’t a big fan of Steam.

However, the author is a fussy wangster who hasn’t made an alternative game storefront/library (Storebrary? Storebrary) himself, so maybe he should just shut up about it or say something nice.

Join me, the author, who is definitely not padding out their word count with superfluous crap, as I discuss a few of the ways that Steam has improved over the last 5 years.

Steam Improved But First It Had To Exist

Some of the feedback received on the previous article was various versions of the phrase ‘What is Steam and why should I even care?‘ Well, I can answer the first part of the question, and anyone curious about the second part should check out this older article about it.

Steam is a piece of software that PC game developers use purely to irritate one person, me. They also sell games, but that’s just a side gig.

(Liam, you’re fired – The Editor)

UGH – FIIIIIINE.

Let’s see what Wikipedia has to say on the matter:

Steam is a video game digital distribution service by Valve. It was launched as a standalone software client in September 2003 as a way for Valve to provide automatic updates for their games, and expanded to include games from third-party publishers

So, it’s literally a glorified patcher. If you’re not a gamer, patches are software updates. They’re also software updates if you are a gamer, so that was a weird way for me to word that sentence.

All jokes aside, having your games library online is very convenient in a number of ways: You don’t need to worry about where your game discs are or what condition they’re in, you don’t need to worry about your grumpy dad growling at you about putting the discs back in the wrong case, and also probably some other third thing.

The downside to this is that many game developers have used the Steam storebrary to enforce stupid things in gaming, like online-only single-player games or making gambling-based lockboxes easily available for people that have issues with gambling.

But this article is supposed to be about how Steam has improved, not what they’re still doing wrong.

Steam Improved: Valve Will Happily Refund Games Now

Well, I mean, ‘happily’ might be a bit of a stretch, but since my Steam account was restored to me, I’ve been given literally every single refund I’ve asked for.

Before you go and try to refund all your games though, there are a few caveats.

If you’ve played your game for over 2 hours, you probably won’t get it refunded.

If you have a recent history of refunding games, you’ll probably need to make a good case for your refund.

And it’s going to be a LOT easier if you live in Australia. This is because it’s illegal to not allow refunds in Australia for certain things. Some of these things are: False advertising, products that don’t work as intended, and so on.

Some of these things are not: Because I don’t like the game, because the maker of the game was rude to me on the forums, because I was drunk when I bought it etc.

But generally, no matter where you live, as long as you state your case using phrases such as ‘not what was advertised’ or ‘I meet the minimum specs on the storefront and yet the game still doesn’t run properly for me’, you should be fine.

For instance, a lot of people were able to get their copy of Hellgate: London refunded because on some systems the game slows down to a literal slideshow even though the graphics are literally over 10 years old. Or maybe because they’re literally over 10 years old, I don’t know these things.

(LIAM, STOP LINKING BACK TO YOUR HELLGATE ARTICLE, IT’S NOT EVEN THAT GOOD! – The Editor)

Steam Improved: It Will Now Show Games In Your Local Currency

As an Australian (as I am one) it used to frustrate the crap out of me that Steam only showed the price in US dollars. Well, it was that way in Australia – maybe other nations got to see how many Euros Batman: Arkham Sociopathic Billionaire would cost them, I don’t know these things.

This meant that buying a game wasn’t as simple as just buying a game.

No, we’d have to do – UGH – math.

Just real quick, without using the calculator on your mobile phone in your pocket (OUR MATH TEACHERS LIED TO US) or any other device, work out the following puzzle:

Bertrand has $30 AUD in his bank account. He wants to buy a game which I’m certainly not just making up purely for this puzzle, a game called ‘Strontium Dingo: Welcome Back To Rantville’. He goes to the Steam page for the game and sees that it costs $21.99 USD.

The question is: Can Bertrand afford this game?

I wouldn’t ask you to do anything I wouldn’t do myself, so here goes. Depending on a number of factors (mostly boring international finance stuff), USD is usually roughly an extra third over AUD. Therefore, by my math, the game will cost just under $30 AUD – so Bertrand can buy the game.

Let’s see how I went:

DAMMIT.

Well, don’t worry Bertrand – maybe the international currency conversion rate will be different tomorrow because that’s totally a fair way to determine the price of a damn game.

WHAT A BUNCH OF HASSLE JUST TO BUY A GAME.

So isn’t it good that we don’t have to deal with that crap anymore?

Because Steam now displays the prices in AUD. FINALLY.

This has had a surprising effect on the Steam store: Some game devs haven’t gotten around to telling Valve their Australian prices, so the games are literally unavailable to purchase for Australian users. Still, at least that’s progress.

Speaking of progress…

There’s One Area They’ve Barely Improved In.

I had already finished this article. I was about to hit ‘Publish’ when I thought to myself ‘Self, maybe that other thing you hated about Steam has changed. You should check and find out.’

There are two words that nobody under any circumstance can justify using in public in 2020. We all know what words I’m talking about. So imagine my surprise when I did a username search for those words and saw this:

Well, that’s hardly ideal but at least Valve clearly isn’t tolerating racial slurs in their usernames now. Look at that number of users with it in their username – last time I did this test it was well past 11,000.

Man, Steam really is leading the way here with inclusivity!

Now to just check for the other word, and I can rest easy knowing that Valve cares about social issues which affect many of their users:

GOD. FUCKING. DAMN IT.

I can’t believe I just typed this whole article praising Steam.

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