Rrrr! I hate valve now that they made Steam their update/verification client! Grrrr, now I have to download their tiny application and use its vastly superior front end interface to launch my Valve games!
Really, what is wrong with steam? I don't get it. The way I see it: whenever you buy a "steamy" product at the store, you get a cd key. The cd key allows you to set up steam, which gives you a steam id. Your CD key is then tied to the steam id. Future games, whether bought from stores or downloaded via steam, will be added to your steam id, allowing you to play any of the games associated with it.
The benefits? I don't know specifically how Valve will set this up, but here's some things they COULD do...
1) Since your Steamid stores all your keys, losing games, keys etc is no problem. Log on to steam and redownload the game. They know you bought it legit. Just don't lose your steam id/pass!
2) Once you have a steam id, (and maybe before) you can cut out the middle man (well, two middle men at least - the publisher and the game store)... I'm guessing this will result in lower prices. At the very least, you won't need to drive to a store.
3) Ensures matchmaking for old valve games will still be supported. So long as they are still using steam for new games, the old games will have a matchmaking client.
4) Integrated cheat protection (I think...?) that is updated with all the newest games. Like detonator drivers, this may ensure continued anticheat support for old games as new games are updated.
5) Automated patching. Nothing special, but when I tried steam, I was very impressed by its "smart" bandwidth usage. Every time I tried to play a HL movie it was already downloaded, but whenever I'm playing online games/downloading, steam doesn't get in the way (you can monitor its bandwidth usage).
6) They said it will be peer2peer soon. Decentralized d/l = good.
There are probably more that I can't think of immediately... Again I don't know which of these will really be supported, but if even a few are, it seems worth it to me. What are the disadvantages then?
1) You can't "share" keys as easily. All the keys are tied to your steam id, and with a unified steam server this probably means only one instance at a time. Well, then. Just buy the game, d00d.
2) You have to download the steamy client. That's about 500k!!! Omg we don't all have T3s you know. Some might have to wait in upwards of 3 MINUTES!
3) You have to run steam to play. Well, right now you have to run Half-Life to play Half-Life (or Cs, ns, whatever)... Its just a different front end. Fortunately its a lot better than Half-Life's front end (how many times have you lost sound due to an IM, message, accidental press of the "windows key" etc...).
4) Some people say they can't connect. Well, I can't comment, since this never happened to me. If it is a big problem than that could be a pretty serious disadvantage.
6) Privacy issues. Well hrm. It is a violation of your privacy to run a valve program on your computer that communicates to a master server...? Wow just like Half-Life does! I guess that's a violation too huh? You won't have to run steam unless you want to start HL... I don't really see a difference.
7) Hrm... can't think of anything else...