|Support Methods||Forum, e-mail|
|Pricing Scheme||Steam itself is a free application; the games vary in price, and frequently are on sale. There is usually a weekend sale every week, and other sales come into play quite often.|
According to the Steam webpage, Steam is a nexus for gaming, keeping you in touch with your gaming friends (and facilitating the act of finding games through the community), allowing you to download the newest and best games at any time, anywhere, as many times as you want, and keeping those games updated. It also allows you to keep track of steam achievements, and backup your games so that you can have a local copy.
To be fair, it does all of this. But Steam is primarily a digital distribution and DRM platform. Everything else dovetails onto this purpose.Who is this app designed for:
This application is designed for the gamer that does not mind a little DRM in exchange for the convenience of not going to the store to purchase games, and not exchanging DVDs to play different games. You also give up a bit of privacy, since the application knows when and how much you game, and keeps track of your purchasing habits.The Good
Though Steam received it's fair share of criticism during the early days, and still does from privacy advocates and those who don't want DRM or any application between themselves and their game, it is now very mature, and does what it sets out to do well in most cases. There is no denying the level of convenience it conveys, and a lot of the features (the chat within games, the community, the achievements) help to build community and link you to friends.The needs improvement section
Because of the fact that first and foremost Steam is beholden to its content providers, a lot of concessions have been made to DRM. Most of these have been cleaned up; my worst criticism was the inability to play if you were suddenly disconnected from the internet, but I have had a chance to test this more, and as long as you've actually played the game, you can instantly go into offline mode and still play it. You can also do the same to escape the intrusive update process as long as it hasn't started. But you shouldn't have to go into a workaround mode to get around the application- IMO, the customer, not the content provider, is the key part of the service.
What is wrong with the app in its current state (the version being reviewed). Include bugs that might deter would-be users, any annoyances, etc. Also, Steam DRM should be enough- the fact that some developers use their own DRM is very off-putting and layering DRM seems to inconvenience paying users more than pirates; I don't think that any cracked software has come from Steam, but retail versions of the software. Customer service is also a bit lacking, and when things don't work right, you can be stuck without the game that you paid for for an untenable amount of time.Why I think you should use this product
If you are tired of non-universal DRM, and having to swap DVDs and keep track of stacks of DVDs and dealing with scratched media, then Steam makes all of these go away for the most part. The other aspects are just gravy- that's the primary use of the service.How does it compare to similar apps
Of the other Digital Distribution services, Steam seems the most well thought out, and most integrated of them all. The application is decently stable, and when everything works right, it's the best of the choices. Customer service is a bit lacking though, and when things don't work right, you can be stuck without the game that you paid for for an untenable amount of time.Conclusions
I'd give Steam an 8 out of 10. I was very much against Steam when it was first released, but this service, more than any other, has made me buy the digital download concept.