Exactly ten years ago today while in a local Target store I picked up a slick looking game called Half Life 2. I never played the original and really didn’t know much about it, but I installed HL2 along with a required third party application called Steam. Little did I know at that time how this single purchase would completely change my video gaming life. Gone were the old purchasing habits to be replaced by a new retail model that I was initially slow to embrace.
Ten years later and I rarely if ever purchase a game in a store anymore (the last being DCS: Black Shark 1 from a Game Stop several years ago). I have since repurchased that game (as well as many others) on Steam sales as it is much more convenient to reinstall and manage the games when they are all centrally located on a unified platform. Today I own almost 150 games on Steam, dabbling in some here and there, having never even played a great deal many others.
I am a card carrying Steam Whore in that I will wait for a game to be deeply discounted before making a purchase, and then usually wait for one of the major annual sales to pick up a ton of games for the price of a single game at a big box retailer. The last full price game I purchased on Steam was XCOM Enemy Unknown at $49.99 US and it currently is the most played game in my library, so I more than got my money’s worth out of that title.
Steam is not without its quirks though. For the longest time there was scant representation of wargames that I liked to play, until very recently when Matrix Games began peddling their product on this platform. For almost five years I would purchase only from Matrix and Steam, and now that the vast majority of the Matrix catalogue is on Steam (or soon to be), I can dump the titles in my wish list and wait for a price drop (as the Matrix site was notoriously stingy on any game discounting, only recently moving to a deal of the week model).
There is also the issue with Steam selling games that are broken (think buying Battlefield 2 Complete just to find out the servers are shut down, there is no single player campaign, and the only thing you can do in the game is play bots on the lowest map setting – all for $19.99). Steam has improved their communication of these issues on a game by game basis to the point now where it is pretty clear rather quickly what limitations a specific title has.
While not all games are on Steam (I would like to have played Battlefield 3, 4, and 5 when it is released) there is a sufficient enough offering and current quantity in my existing library to keep me busy for perhaps the rest of my gaming life.