Without more direct interaction on the curation process, allowing hundreds more games on the service, Valve had looked to find methods to allow players to find games they would be more likely to buy based on previous purchase patterns. Curators can set up descriptors for the type of games they are interested in, preferred languages, and other tags along with social media profiles, while developers can find and reach out to specific curators from this information, and, after review, provide them directly with access to their game.
This step, which eliminates the use of a Steam redemption key, is aimed to reduce the reselling of keys, as well as dissuade users that may be trying to game the curator system to obtain free game keys. Valve has attempted to deal with "fake games", those that are built around reused assets and little other innovation, designed to misuse Steam's features for the benefit only to the developer or select few users.
To help assist finding and removing these games from the service, the company added Steam Explorers atop its existing Steam Curator program, according to various YouTube personalities that have spoken out about such games in the past and with Valve directly, including Jim Sterling and TotalBiscuit. Any Steam user is able to sign up to be an Explorer, and are asked to look at under-performing games on the service as to either vouch that the game is truly original and simply lost among other releases, or if it is an example of a "fake game", at which point Valve can take action to remove the game.
In July , the Steam Labs feature was introduced as a means of Valve to showcase experimental discovery features they have considered for including into Steam, but seek public feedback to see if it is something that users want before fully integrating that into the storefront. For example, an initial experiment released at launch was the Interactive Recommender, which uses artificial intelligence algorithms pulling data from the user's past gameplay history, comparing it to all other users, as to suggest new games that may be of interest to them.
In June , Valve created a formal process to allow purchasers to request full refunds on games they had purchased on Steam for any reason, with refunds guaranteed within the first two weeks as long as the player had not spent more than two hours in the game. For example, the Steam version of From Dust was originally stated to have a single, post-installation online DRM check with its publisher Ubisoft, but the released version of the game required a DRM check with Ubisoft's servers each time it was used.
At the request of Ubisoft, Valve offered refunds to customers who bought the game while Ubisoft worked to release a patch that would remove the DRM check altogether. Though the developers Hammerpoint Interactive altered the description after launch to reflect the current state of the game software, Valve removed the title from Steam and offered refunds to those who had bought it. Valve has full authority to remove games from the service for various reasons; however games that are removed can still be downloaded and played by those that have already purchased these games.
With the launch of Steam Direct, effectively removing any curation of games by Valve prior to being published on Steam, there have been several incidents of published games that have attempted to mislead Steam users. Starting in June , Valve has taken actions against games and developers that are " trolling " the system; in September , Valve explicitly defined that trollers on Steam "aren't actually interested in good faith efforts to make and sell games to you or anyone" and instead use "game shaped object" that could be considered a video game but would not be considered "good" by a near-unanimity of users.
In addition to removing bad actors from the service, Valve has also taken steps to reduce the impact of "fake games" and their misuse on the service. In May , Valve identified that there were several games on the service with trading card support, where the developer distributed game codes to thousands of bot-operated accounts that would run the game to earn trading cards that they could then sell for profit; these games would also create false positives that make these games appear more popular than they really were and would impact games suggested to legitimate players through their store algorithms, affecting Steam's Discovery algorithms.
Subsequent to this patch, games must reach some type of confidence factor based on actual playtime before they can generate trading cards, with players credited for their time played towards receiving trading cards before this metric is met. Valve plans to use the same approach and algorithms to identify these types of games, limiting these games to only one thousand total achievements and discounting these achievements towards a user's statistics.
Other actions taken by developers against the terms of service or other policies have prompted Valve to remove games. Valve has also removed or threatened to remove games due to inappropriate or mature content, though there was often confusion as to what material qualified for this, such as a number of mature, but non-pornographic visual novels being threatened. For example, Eek Games' House Party included scenes of nudity and sexual encounters in its original release, which drew criticism from the National Center on Sexual Exploitation , leading Valve to remove the title from the service.
Eek Games were later able to satisfy Valve's standards by including censor bars within the game and allowing the game to be readded to Steam, though offered a patch on their website to remove the bars. However, Valve later rescinded its orders, allowing these games to remain and telling the developers Valve would re-evaluate the games and inform them of any content that would need to be changed or removed.
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In June , Valve clarified its policy on content, taking a more hands-off approach rather than deem what content is inappropriate, outside of illegal material. Rather than trying to make decisions themselves on what content is appropriate, Valve enhanced its filtering system to allow developers and publishers to indicate and justify the types of mature content including violence, nudity, and sexual content in their games.
Users can block games that are marked with this type of content from appearing in the store, and if they have not blocked it, they are presented with the description given by the developer or publisher before they can continue to the store page. Developers and publishers with existing games on Steam have been strongly encouraged to complete these forms for these games, while Valve will use moderators to make sure new games are appropriately marked.
Until these tools were in place, some adult-themed games were delayed for release. Dharker noted that in discussions with Valve that they would be liable for any content-related fines or penalties that countries may place on Valve, a clause of their publishing contract for Steam, and took steps to restrict sale of the game in over 20 regions. In March , Valve faced pressure over Rape Day , a planned game described as being a dark comedy and power fantasy where the player would control a serial rapist in the midst of a zombie apocalypse.
Journalists questioned how the hands-off approach would handle this case; Valve ultimately decided against offering the game on Steam, arguing that while it "[respects] developers' desire to express themselves", there were "costs and risks" associated with the game's content, and the developers had "chosen content matter and a way of representing it that makes it very difficult for us to help them [find an audience]. Steam originally released exclusively for Microsoft Windows in , but has since been ported to other platforms.
Steam on Windows also relies on some security features built into later versions of Windows. Steam support for XP and Vista were dropped in While users still on those operating systems are able to use the client, they do not have access to newer features. Around only 0. Steam for Mac OS X was originally planned for release in April ; but was pushed back to May 12, , following a beta period.
In addition to the Steam client, several features were made available to developers, allowing them to take advantage of the cross-platform Source engine, and platform and network capabilities using Steamworks. Some third-party games may require the user to re-purchase them to gain access to the cross-platform functionality. Valve announced in July that it was developing a Steam client for Linux and modifying the Source engine to work natively on Linux, based on the Ubuntu distribution.
The team developing the Linux client had been working for a year before the announcement to validate that such a port would be possible. From there, it began working on porting other games to Ubuntu and expanding to other Linux distributions. In August , Valve released a beta version of Proton , an open-source Windows compatibility layer for Linux, so that Linux users could run Windows games directly through Steam for Linux, removing the need to install the Windows version of Steam in Wine. The software allows the use of Steam supported controllers, even those not compatible with Windows.
It would provide automatic updates, community support, downloadable content and other unannounced features. Several features—including cross-platform play and instant messaging , Steam Cloud for saved games, and the ability for PS3 owners to download Portal 2 from Steam Windows and Mac at no extra cost—were offered. The Xbox does not have support for Steamworks.
Windows Software on Mac & Linux with CrossOver | CodeWeavers
Newell said that they would have liked to bring the service to the console through the game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive , which would have allowed Valve to provide the same feature set that it did for the PlayStation 3,  but later said that cross-platform play would not be present in the final version of the game.
Valve's Erik Johnson stated that Microsoft required new content on the console to be certified and validated before distribution, which would limit the usefulness of Steamworks' delivery approach. Valve released an official Steam client for iOS and Android devices in late January , following a short beta period. The application also incorporates a two-factor authentication system that works with Steam Guard, further enhancing the security of a user's account.
Newell stated that the application was a strong request from Steam users and sees it as a means "to make [Steam] richer and more accessible for everyone". On May 14, , a software-only version of the Steam Link technology was released in beta to allow users to stream games to Android phones. Prior to , industry analysts believed that Valve was developing hardware and tuning features of Steam with apparent use on its own hardware. These computers were pre-emptively dubbed as "Steam Boxes" by the gaming community and expected to be a dedicated machine focused upon Steam functionality and maintaining the core functionality of a traditional video game console.
Steam Link is a platform that allows Steam videogames to be played from various other digital devices via a wireless LAN connection. Valve reported that there were million active accounts on Steam by the end of Valve also considers the concurrent user count a key indicator of the success of the platform, reflecting how many accounts were logged into Steam at the same time. By August , Valve reported that they saw an peak of 14 million concurrent players, up from 8. Steam has grown significantly since its launch in Whereas the service started with seven games in , it had over 30, by , with additional non-gaming products, such as creation software, DLC, and videos, numbering over 20, Though Steam provides direct sales data to a game's developer and publisher, it does not provide any public sales data or provide such data to third-party sales groups like NPD Group.
In , Valve's Jason Holtman stated that the company felt that such sales data was outdated for a digital market, since such data, used in aggregate from other sources, could lead to inaccurate conclusions. Developers and publishers have expressed the need to have some metrics of sales for games on Steam, as this allows them to judge the potential success of a title by reviewing how similar games had performed. This led to the creation of algorithms that worked on publicly available data through user profiles to estimate sales data with some accuracy, which led to the creation of the website Steam Spy in The change broke the method Steam Spy had collected data, rendering it unusable.
Some have asserted that Valve used the GDPR change as a means to block methods of estimating sales data,  though Valve has since promised to provide tools to developers to help gain such insights that they say will be more accurate than Steam Spy was. Because of Valve's oversight of sales data, estimates of how much of a market share Steam has in the video game market is difficult to compile.
Steam's customer service has been highly criticized, with users citing poor response times or lack of response in regards to issues such as being locked out of one's library or having a non-working game redemption key. In March , Valve had been given a failing "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau due to a large number of complaints in Valve's handling of Steam, leading Valve's Erik Johnson to state that "we don't feel like our customer service support is where it needs to be right now". Of those, requests for refunds were the largest segment, and which Valve could resolve within hours, followed by account security and recovery requests.
Greenlight expanded this to about 70 per week, and which doubled to per week following the introduction of Direct. Following the launch of Steam Direct, allowing games to be published without Valve's curation, members of the video game industry were split on Valve's hands-off approach. Some praised Valve in favoring to avoid trying to be a moral adjudicator of content and letting consumers decide what content they want to see, while others felt that this would encourage some developers to publish games on Steam that are purposely hateful or degenerate of some social classes, like LGBTQ , and that Valve's reliance on user filters and algorithms may not succeed in blocking undesirable content from certain users.
From its release in through to nearly , Steam had a mostly uncontested hold over the PC digital distribution market before major competitors emerged with the largest competitors in the past being services like Games for Windows — Live and Impulse , both of which were shut down in and , respectively. As Steam has grown in popularity, many other competing services have been surfacing trying to emulate their success.
1. Good Old Games (GOG)
Upon launch of EA's Origin in , several EA-published games were no longer available for sale, and users feared that future EA games would be limited to Origin's service. Newell expressed an interest in EA games returning to the Steam catalog though noted the situation was complicated. Steam's predominance in the gaming market has led to Valve becoming involved in various legal cases involving it. The lack of a formal refund policy led the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission ACCC to sue Valve in September for violating Australian consumer laws that required stores to offer refunds for faulty or broken products.
In December , the French consumer group UFC Que Choisir initiated a lawsuit against Valve for several of their Steam policies that conflict or run afoul of French law, including the restriction against reselling of purchased games , which is legal in the European Union. In , the European Commission began investigating Valve and five other publishers— Bandai Namco Entertainment , Capcom , Focus Home Interactive , Koch Media and ZeniMax Media —for anti-competitive practices, specifically the use of geo-blocking through the Steam storefront and Steam product keys to prevent access to software to citizens of certain countries.
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Video game platform. List of languages. Content delivery Digital rights management Social network service Video streaming service. Main article: Steam Machine hardware platform. Main article: Steam Link. Main article: Steam VR.
The 7 Best Steam Alternatives
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As a result of this, many people who love video games on Linux have had to go without. This list offers five good alternatives to Steam? For those looking for a solid alternative to Steam, this is it. In more than one way, Itch. For starters, they have a pretty good desktop client for Linux. Additionally, unlike Steam, Itch. This means open source fans will be able to play video games just like Steam users.
Lutris is a video-game management tool that allows users to unify their video games from multiple platforms. This program is good for users that want the type of game management that Steam offers without all the DRM. Gnome Games is a product of the Gnome project meaning that users can expect the same quality as with other Gnome software. Photon is a lot like other pieces of software on this list. Results exclude some products based on your preferences. Free To Play. Early Access , Indie , Strategy , Adventure.
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