You’re right. Steam is constantly receiving updates and Team Fortress
2 is all about hats and other crap that people can make off of the
game. DOTA 2 is similar and I’ll be surprised if the upcoming
Counter-Strike isn’t leveraged as a platform in some way. 1.6 was used
to help develop Steam and CS:Source was used to show off the source
engine. They tried to use Portal to help boost sales of the Razer
Hydra controller. Half-Life 2 Episode 3 and Half-Life 3 may only be
the carrot on a stick to keep people hoping for more.
Honestly, they may be turning into a platform house but it’s a bit
difficult to feel bitter about it. It offers an integrated gaming
environment (Steam via the friends list, auto-updates, library and
saves management, etc) and the company does cater to the community and
developers quite a bit. Their intentions may be to leverage them for
money but they aren’t being evil (or at least ‘as evil as others’).
You can mod many of their games. If I have to deal with drm then a
simple product key would be best but Steam’s method would be the next
best thing (besides no drm). Like you said, PC gaming thrived before
them and could do so with them gone. I wish that they would be more
forthcoming with their intentions. Are they going to eventually roll
out a Linux distro and Steam certified devices? Are they ever going to
increase the rate at which they develop and release games? The answer
to the latter is probably “no” since they don’t want to piss off their
partners on an open platform. I’m pretty sure that EA and others
dislike that they give Valve free advertising with their games by
bothering with their platform. Hence Origin.
I’m lazy, devs, pubs and other people are to an extent lazy too. If we
can just go to a single place, get all of our games and software with
a decent ui then I will use it. Companies like Capcom will scare a
person off from buying PC games. I bought the digital versions of Dark
Void Zero and Devil May Cry 4 from them a few years ago. The DMC 4
installer constantly failed in downloading the game but it did
eventually activate and install successfully. Dark Void Zero wouldn’t
activate which wouldn’t allow me to install it. I dealt with their
customer support many times off and on over the course of 1.5 years. I
still have not played or installed Dark Void Zero. I’ve seen people
buy and install DMC 4 from Steam and it was just as frictionless as
most of other Steam installs can be. They even got it for less than I
paid Capcom. I have to go through hell if I want to install it on
another machine. I’m willing to at least bother with Steam and a few
other services but I guess we’re mostly a sausage fest since
disinterested folks will not even bother with PC gaming due to the
barriers and shitty experience. I don’t even like World of Warcraft
but I appreciated how easy Blizzard made the entire installation and
trial process when I tried it last year. There were no weird issues
after an install, nothing else getting messed up on my pc. I’m a
system admin and even I don’t want to bother with crap when I’m trying
to entertain myself with my pc.
At grocery stores, they have these ‘self-checkout’ aisles which I loathe. I wondered why I loathed them until it hit me recently. With a normal check-out, you judge the company on their performance of checking out. But in a self-checkout, the company judges you on your performance of checking out.
When a company makes games, they offer their product to you and ask, “How do you like it?” But when the company makes platforms or User Generated Content, you get told what the company thinks of your usage (or other people get asked of other customers’ usage).
Imagine the Valve Corporation being a restaurant. Instead of cooking food, it would become a ‘platform’ and sell other people’s food (it would become a grocery store but still try to call itself a restaurant). Then, the Valve Corporation wants to expand in non-food products which, surprise surprise, focuses on products used to make food. So the Valve Corporation starts selling pans and cook books. No matter if people liked or disliked the Valve Corporation doing this, whatever you do, don’t call it a restaurant anymore.
The Valve Corporation is many things. But it is no longer a game company. It’s mutated into something more like Best Buy or Gamestop. And instead of seeking profits with used games, it is seeking profits with used gamers.