Valve Releases Steamworks

Valve announces the release of Steamworks free of charge, offering developers and publishers the game publishing tools used for Half-Life 2 and The Orange Box. Steamworks allows for copy protection, stats tracking, auto-updates, voice communication, and more:
January 29, 2008 - Valve, creators of best-selling game franchises (such as Half-Life and Counter-Strike) and leading technologies (such as Steam and Source), today announce Steamworks, a complete suite of publishing and development tools - ranging from copy protection to social networking services to server browsing - is now available free of charge to developers and publishers worldwide.

Steamworks, the same suite of tools used in best-selling PC titles Half-Life 2 and The Orange Box, is available for all PC games distributed via retail and leading online platforms such as Steam. The services included in Steamworks may be used a la carte or in any combination.

Specifically, Steamworks offers:

    • Real-time stats on sales, gameplay, and product activation: Know exactly how well your title is selling before the charts are released. Find out how much of your game is being played. Login into your Steamworks account pages and view up to the hour information regarding worldwide product activations and player data.

    • State of the art encryption system: Stop paying to have your game pirated before it's released. Steamworks takes anti-piracy to a new level with strong encryption that keeps your game locked until the moment it is released.

    • Territory/version control: The key-based authentication provided in Steamworks also provides territory/version controls to help curb gray market importing and deliver territory-specific content to any given country or region.

    • Auto updating: Insures all customers are playing the latest and greatest version of your games.

    • Voice chat: Available for use both in and out of game.

    • Multiplayer matchmaking: Steamworks offers you all the multiplayer backend and matchmaking services that have been created to support Counter-Strike and Team Fortress 2, the most played action games in the world.

    • Social networking services: With support for achievements, leaderboards, and avatars, Steamworks allows you to give your gamers as many rewards as you would like, plus support for tracking the world's best professional and amateur players of your game.

    • Development tools: Steamworks allows you to administer private betas which can be updated multiple times each day. Also includes data collection tools for QA, play testing, and usability studies.

"Developers and publishers are spending more and more time and money cobbling together all the tools and backend systems needed to build and launch a successful title in today's market," said Gabe Newell, president of Valve. "Steamworks puts all those tools and systems together in one free package, liberating publishers and developers to concentrate on the game instead of the plumbing."

"As more developers and publishers have embraced Steam as a leading digital distribution channel, we've heard a growing number of inquiries regarding the availability of the platform's services and tools," said Jason Holtman, director business development at Valve. "Offering Steamworks is part of our ongoing efforts to support the needs of game developers and our publishing partners."

Steam is a leading platform for the delivery and management of PC games and digital content. With over 13 million active accounts and more than 250 games, plus hundreds of movie files and game demos available, Steam has become a frequent destination for millions of gamers around the world.

For more information regarding Steamworks, please visit www.steamgames.com/steamworks. To find out about more about Steamworks contact jasonh@valvesoftware.com

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ankara nakliyat
May 4, 2008, 14:29
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127.
 
Re: Whew.
Feb 5, 2008, 13:11
Re: Whew. Feb 5, 2008, 13:11
Feb 5, 2008, 13:11
 
Your edit doesn't change my answer though. What I wrote is still correct.

Actually, nowhere did you post a definitive correct statement in that argument either. Again, consider the point of argument and it's merit against yours.

You know, you're just a voice on the internet, you have yet to prove any credentials you have here.

126.
 
No subject
Feb 5, 2008, 12:54
No subject Feb 5, 2008, 12:54
Feb 5, 2008, 12:54
 
God Riley get a life...

125.
 
Re: This is getting tiring...
Feb 2, 2008, 05:08
Re: This is getting tiring... Feb 2, 2008, 05:08
Feb 2, 2008, 05:08
 
But you aren't willing to take the exact same steps of preparation here and then you follow it up with bitching about having to do it.

Hypocrite, comes to mind.

I guess I didn't make it clear. I suppose I could have preloaded HL2 and if that's what I wanted to play and set it up for offline mode somehow, but that's not what I was trying to do.

I was thinking it would be nice to play HL2 EPISODE 2 and possibly Portal and even Bioshock when I was in the store at the time that I didn't have an internet connection.

It's impossible as far as I know. Or maybe it wasn't and I was just led to believe that from reading these forums. It doesn't matter now as I have an internet connection so I don't really care.

Eventually I'll get around to playing both of those games but at the moment I'm absorbed in a few other games. I don't have anything against Valve or whoever makes Bioshock, I'm just saying that they made it impossible for me to play their single player games when that was the only option I had at the time, to play single player games.

Avatar 19418
124.
 
Re: This is getting tiring...
Feb 1, 2008, 01:58
Re: This is getting tiring... Feb 1, 2008, 01:58
Feb 1, 2008, 01:58
 
Just recently I knew I was going to be without an internet connection for about a month (it was actually three weeks) so I loaded up a few old single player games, and downloaded patches for some others that I had and burned them to disk. So I was okay.

Knowing you were going to be without a net connection, you were willing to take the extra steps of preparation here to be able to play those games all patched up.

The last time I played HL2 it took hours of downloading before I could even play so how does this help me?

But you aren't willing to take the exact same steps of preparation here and then you follow it up with bitching about having to do it.

Hypocrite, comes to mind.

----------------------------------------------------
Currently fragging in The Witcher, Burnout Paradise, COmpany of Heroes, Team Fortress 2

Join the "Blues News" Steam Community Group. http://steamcommunity.com/groups/bluesnews/
123.
 
Re: This is getting tiring...
Feb 1, 2008, 01:46
Re: This is getting tiring... Feb 1, 2008, 01:46
Feb 1, 2008, 01:46
 
Just recently I knew I was going to be without an internet connection for about a month (it was actually three weeks) so I loaded up a few old single player games, and downloaded patches for some others that I had and burned them to disk. So I was okay.

I went to the store one day and had money to burn so I got Sam & Max Season 1 for thirty bucks and wanted to play the new halflife episode and Bioshock but I was pretty sure that they were internet only, even though they are single player games.

I got Quake 4 instead for $15 and something else.

I also played quite a bit of Gothic 3.

How does Steam help me play these single player games? I'm not sure. I'm on some shitty sattelite connection now. The last time I played HL2 it took hours of downloading before I could even play so how does this help me? The last time I tried patching my Half Life 1 CD to current was only available through steam and it preallocated 2GB of empty space on my completely full laptop drive. I'm not sure what the advantage of using steam HL2Ep2 is over say, popping in The Longest Journey CD and just playing it.

How many hoops do I have to jump through the next time I want to play a video game? For some it's a convenience, for others a pain in the ass.

And I'll have to agree, I traded in Sam and Max (I only play adventures once) and Q4 and something else for an old copy of Interstate '76 (which I haven't gotten running yet). But could I do that with HL2 or Bioshock, which are brand new games? Nope. For one, I wouldn't be able to play them, and two I wouldn't be able to trade them.

For me, in this case, it seems like a retarded business model, preventing people from playing your games because of a wire. Well, eight wires.

Avatar 19418
122.
 
This is getting tiring...
Jan 31, 2008, 17:30
This is getting tiring... Jan 31, 2008, 17:30
Jan 31, 2008, 17:30
 
How many is actually irrelevant because it's not a random occurrence or determination. Anecdotally speaking I've read the stories online of Steam users who have lost their accounts due to Valve's "zero tolerance" policy. And, if you peruse the official Steam forums, you'll frequently come across posts from users who either have had Valve terminate their accounts or appear to have. So, regardless of the frequency, if it has happened to even one user, it can happen to you because the rules are Valve's rules, and it enforces them without tolerance or redress.

Wait, so it's NOT random? So, people are basically breaking rules, and then losing their accounts. This, although I will agree is a little strict, makes sense to me. You know very well going in to the contract (you especially) that your account will be banned if you cheat, or break any rule they list out. If you don't agree to these rules - DONT BUY THE GAME!

What you apparently are arguing (for real) is that Valve is too strict in their policy of enforcing no-cheating. It's like in the MMORPGs where if you get caught cheating, your account is cancelled. In this case, your account is attached to the game you purchased and the subscription fee you pay. So, lets consider purchasing WoW (World of WarCraft). You spend $50 to buy the game, then you pay the $15 a month for a year. So you essentially spend $180 + $50 = $230 of YOUR money. Then, you get frustrated, download a hack of some sort, and then lose your account. In order to get back in to the game, right where you are, you have to pretty much be willing to shell out another $230. People from the MMORPG only have problems with this if they cheat. The rest of the intelligent people who know the consequences will weigh out the benefits vs consequences before hand and then make the decision to breech contract. You're arguing that people shouldn't have to pay for their consequences.


Well you should be worried because it's Valve NOT you who makes the sole determination of the cause. What you think isn't a justifiable cause doesn't matter. Only Valve gets to make the rules and enforces them with "zero tolerance" for infractions.


Duh - That's part of an interaction with any company. When I go to the movies and buy a ticket for "Juno," It doesn't matter if I think I should be able to go and see "Bucket List" or "Rambo" if I want. You enter in to a contract with the company, and you basically agree, or disagree. If you disagree, you don't get the ticket, or in this case, the game.


No, fool, it isn't the standard way of things even for PC game purchases. Consumers of other entertainment media products usually have much more choice, control, and flexibility in the selection and use of those products. For example with music if a consumer wants to buy a particular song or album, he can choose from several formats: He can buy the song on a CD, he can buy a downloable version of the song with DRM, or he can buy a downloadable version of the song in an unrestricted format like MP3. That is choice that is more than simply buy the song or don't. With many if not most PC games, consumers get some choice in delivery/format and DRM. They can buy a retail-boxed version with media-based DRM or in some cases no DRM, or they can buy a downloadable version with more restrictive and inflexible DRM that is tied to their PC's hardware and/or relies on Internet activation like Steam. Even most third-party games on Steam are also available in releases that don't require Steam. That is at least some choice. It is basically only Valve which shoves Steam down its customers throats by not offering releases of its games which don't require Steam or where Steam is optional. That same lack of choice also extends to the use of game which require Steam. With Steam the customer can only play his game when and where Steam says he can play his game, and then he can only play the game the current way that Steam says he can play his game because it forces all available updates upon the game. The customer can't choose to play an older version of the game or to go ahead a play it when Steam says he can't. THAT is lack of real choice.

So, you still have the choice "Do I buy the game on Steam or not?"

What you want is the following "Do I buy the game with Steam, or No Steam? Or Not at all?"

Sorry, can't have that if Valve doesn't want to produce it because they are afraid of losing revenue. Get over it already.

I don't because that trend has already started. Last year Bioshock incorporated Sony's internet activation feature of SecuROM. Future AAA PC games from Take 2 will like require it as well. Microsoft's recent games like Halo 2 and Shadowrun also incorporated Internet activation in them instead of media-based copy-protection. It is certainly quite possible that if consumer don't complain en masse in the not too distant future, all games will use such inflexible Internet activation and be delivered digitally instead of on physical media. Then consumers will no longer be able to lend and sell their old games because they simply will have nothing tangible to show for their purchases.

You do make a good point here, and I am persuaded - it does seem that games are going the way of Steam distribution. But, is this really such a big deal? This reminds me of the argument I have with my girlfriend's little sister (Lets call her N). N thinks mp3s need to go the fuck away, because there is no tangible object to hold. While, this is only a matter of preference (personally, I don't like to clutter my shelves with old cds, and I rather like the idea of a pure digital age), I think that companies will always produce some sort of tangible copy. Especially because the delivery of a cd straight to the hard drive is still loads faster then a 15 hour download. But yeah, I see your point in the fact that the days of "trading games" or something of that sort are more then likely going to disappear. You are then correct in saying that, if the mass doesn't get angry about this - these days will indeed disappear. But then again, it IS up to us, the people right? So if more people are like me in the sense that we don't really mind (since it, again, is a preference thing - there is no real objective "right vs wrong" way to think in a situation like this) then you are getting frustrated for no reason, or at the least, you're getting frustrated at something you have no control over - my advice: get over it.

That's because you are ignorant and inexperienced.

What? Does that make sense to you? You know nothing about me, yet you claim that I am ignorant? Ignorant of what? I am well aware of the conditions of the EULA. Inexperienced? What?! I've played games most of my 21 years of life on this planet - I'm well aware of what things USED to be like, and what things ARE currently like.

All you really got for your $50 was a subscription to use one three year old game and four short gamettes so long as Valve lets you.

Via their contract, I have nothing to fear so long as I don't break the rules. I don't have a problem with this.

Of course since those gamettes are so short and lack much content there is a good chance you will have finished them before Valve can take them away from you.

What reason do you have to even assume they will just "take them away" from you? I've never had any of my subscriptions cancelled "Just cause," or, as the contract says "convenience."

I also happen to believe that Valve, being a GOOD company will indeed refund me if they do cancel some subscription for convenience. - Within reason of course.

In contrast I regularly buy game bundles at retail which have more games or content than the Orange Box for less money.

For example EA and Vivendi are good about bundling several of their older (but still fairly recent) games together for a real discounted price. Last Christmas I bought the 2007 collection of five EA sports titles for $20, and I paid $30 for the F.E.A.R. bundle with the three F.E.A.R, games.

Cool, I too bought some old games bundled that Steam doesn't offer - for example I bought StarCraft and Broodwar for like 20 bucks. Awesome stuff.... what does this have to do with Steam again?

In years past I have paid $30 for the complete Battlefield 2 collection when that compilation was released, $20 for the complete BF1942 collection, $30 for the complete Medal of Honor Collection, and $20 for a collection of five Need for Speed games.

There is a reason retailers often bundle old games --- to get RID of them because they are OLD and are rarely played.

Those bundles were all bought new at major retailers when I purchased them, and they all contained complete games with more content than the Orange Box for less money.


Yeah, but how many of those games are moddable? How many free games do you pick up from a retailer? How many <$10 games do you pick up at a retailer? It's easy for me to find some great games on Steam for really cheap, and provide hours of fun. The alternative is to scour the internet in search of such things.



In contrast just as it did with Half-Life 2, Valve will still be charging full price for the Orange Box on Steam even a year or two after its release.

It even still charges $10 for the old Ricochet mod for Half-Life 1 that used to be free with any Half-Life purchase when Vivendi was the publisher.


I will agree with you that Valve can be pretty rotten with their pricing. Brick and Mortar places have shelving space to worry about so they will often just shove things off the shelves at ridiculous prices to make room for the new stuff, so Valve has that 'luxuory' of making you pay the full price for something since they aren't running out of space any time soon. You can of course just refuse to purchase it en masse and hope they see the impact.

We have to remember though, as long as people are happy, Valve has no reason to change, and if you are just one of few people who are unhappy with the service (and trust me, you are) then nothing is going to change. So you either go with the flow, or die trying to change peoples minds.

This comment was edited on Jan 31, 17:31.
121.
 
Re: ...
Jan 31, 2008, 13:02
Prez
 
Re: ... Jan 31, 2008, 13:02
Jan 31, 2008, 13:02
 Prez
 
Honestly, Riley - this is getting a little sad. Don't you think you're taking this stuff a wee bit too seriously? Lighten up a bit, will ya?
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
- Mahatma Gandhi
Avatar 17185
120.
 
...
Jan 31, 2008, 12:57
... Jan 31, 2008, 12:57
Jan 31, 2008, 12:57
 
Riley, you should really find something better to do with your time. Most people have hobbies or friends to spend their time with. Instead you find it necessary to constantly attack Valve in every topic related to them, as well as anyone that dares to question you. You have proved yourself thoroughly unreasonable at nearly every opportunity and continue to think yourself justified in your ranting.

This is a post about a service that Valve is offering, at least in part, for free. There has been no mention of any cost, whether rightly or wrongly - therefore you are simply speculating, which is worthless considering your anti-Valve campaign. The features they are offering are some of the best in the industry, with an encrpytion system that has protected some of the biggest game launches to date. Yet all you're doing is trolling.

Now if you would kindly stop being a cunt and leave this site we would all be much obliged.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Founder of the "I Hate Smiley Fitz" society

Remember: Riley has autism. He has trouble communicating, and in an overstimulating
environment, he can get frightened and run away, leaving his parents frantic. - Auburn
"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."
Avatar 22891
119.
 
Re: Whew.
Jan 31, 2008, 10:47
>U
Re: Whew. Jan 31, 2008, 10:47
Jan 31, 2008, 10:47
>U
 
As you'll notice in my edited post
Sorry I didn't catch it as I was busy replying to the rest of your post. Your edit doesn't change my answer though. What I wrote is still correct.

But I'm curious how you know the jewel case release won't include Ricochet.
I read the packaging thoroughly. It said it requires Steam, and that it is single-player only. The list price was also the same as the listing on Steam, so that retail release is the same single-player-only version as that Steam one just on a CD-ROM. In addition Valve also sells (or sold at that time) another retail SKU for twice the price which bundled Half-Life 1, TFC, Ricochet, and Deathmatch (but no Counterstrike) just like an identical bundle on Steam. If the jewel case release of Half-Life included the multiplayer mods too like Ricochet, there would be no need for that additional retail SKU. (There was also a third SKU which was a bundle that included Counterstrike and Condition Zero too that was even more).

This comment was edited on Jan 31, 11:14.
118.
 
Re: Whew.
Jan 31, 2008, 10:41
>U
Re: Whew. Jan 31, 2008, 10:41
Jan 31, 2008, 10:41
>U
 
Lending games to others or using a game loaned to you (which is what playing with someone else's Steam account technically is) are not allowed in other EULAs.
Actually it depends on the EULA. All EULA's are not like that. Some specify that games can be transferred or sold so long as copies are not retained by the seller/transferring party.

The fact that many gamers do it doesn't mean it's allowed by the company that made the game. Steam just gives Valve better ability to enforce its EULAs.
Actually it's not just "better" ability. It's a case of with DRM systems like Steam developers and publishers can actually enforce the EULA through technical means and without systems like Steam they can't. To me as a consumer that is more than just an academic or trivial difference because the EULA might not even be legal and even if it is, as a practical matter I don't give a damn what it says if the company that wrote it doesn't have the technical means to enforce it. Consumers should be allowed to use the video game software they buy with the same freedom that they can use other media like music, movies, and books. If they buy a copy of a work, they own it and can use and transfer that copy as they wish according to copyright law. The content creators including those of video games shouldn't be able to usurp consumers' rights under the law using a EULA's as they do now.

You could make the argument that you're still able to do certain things that violate EULAs for retail games (such as lending a game), but then you might as well ignore CD protection because it can be overcome with a crack, or ignore Steam's restrictions because they can be overcome with a hacked Steam client.
That is a specious comparison because first, circumventing copy-protection/DRM is a definite violation of coptright law under most circumstances whereas not adhering to a EULA may be legal such as when the EULA is unconscionable. Second, any consumer can ignore a EULA. It takes no technical knowledge or skill to do so, and it can be done with absolute certainty. For example I can lend you the original media for a game whose EULA forbids lending without having to know or do anything special. However being able to bypass copy-protection or DRM takes at least some technical knowledge or skill and is far from a certainty. Yes, popular PC games tend to have their copy-protection and DRM broken by hackers, but the availability of such cracks for every game and every version of a game is no certainty at all. So, there are big differences between ignoring a EULA and circumventing copy-protection/DRM from both a legal standpoint and a practical one.

It's the ability to easily enforce the EULA that makes Steam different.
As a practical matter that makes all the difference in the world, and it is the heart of my criticism over the technical aspects of Steam.

This comment was edited on Jan 31, 12:08.
117.
 
Re: Whew.
Jan 31, 2008, 10:17
Re: Whew. Jan 31, 2008, 10:17
Jan 31, 2008, 10:17
 
The Valve releases of Half-Life 1 on both Steam and at retail in the jewel case since 2004 do not include any of the official multiplayer mods including Ricochet. They all cost extra.
As you'll notice in my edited post, I mentioned that the Steam version will not include Ricochet. But I'm curious how you know the jewel case release won't include Ricochet. Since it's a Valve release of Half Life, it must require Steam to play, correct? Since you refuse to buy Steam-only games, how do you know this jewel case version doesn't include Ricochet?

116.
 
Re: Whew.
Jan 31, 2008, 10:13
>U
Re: Whew. Jan 31, 2008, 10:13
Jan 31, 2008, 10:13
>U
 
Just to let you know, Ricochet is still free if you have a Half-Life CD key.
That is only true for an old Vivendi-published version of the game like yours. The Valve releases of Half-Life 1 on both Steam and at retail in the jewel case since 2004 do not include any of the official multiplayer mods including Ricochet. They all cost extra.


115.
 
Re: Whew.
Jan 31, 2008, 10:07
Re: Whew. Jan 31, 2008, 10:07
Jan 31, 2008, 10:07
 
Than consumers will no longer be able to lend and sell their old games because they simply will have nothing tangible to show for their purchases.
And, yes, even using someone else's Steam account with that person's authorization is a bannable offense according to Valve which is one reason why I speak out against such draconian policies.
Lending games to others or using a game loaned to you (which is what playing with someone else's Steam account technically is) are not allowed in other EULAs. The fact that many gamers do it doesn't mean it's allowed by the company that made the game. Steam just gives Valve better ability to enforce its EULAs.

You could make the argument that you're still able to do certain things that violate EULAs for retail games (such as lending a game), but then you might as well ignore CD protection because it can be overcome with a crack, or ignore Steam's restrictions because they can be overcome with a hacked Steam client.

If you're comparing retail games with Steam based on the EULA, Steam is no more restrictive than traditional retail game EULAs in most areas, and only barely more restrictive in others. It's the ability to easily enforce the EULA that makes Steam different.

It even still charges $10 for the old Ricochet mod for Half-Life 1 that used to be free with any Half-Life purchase when Vivendi was the publisher.
Just to let you know, Ricochet is still free if you have a Half-Life CD key. I registered my original Half Life GOTY CD key on Steam a few years ago (I think it was right after Steam was released with Half Life 2, but it might have been as recently as 2005), and Steam listed Ricochet in my games list. If you buy Half Life on Steam, it's true that Ricochet will not be included. But Steam does allow you to use a CD key from a retail copy of Half Life, and in that case it gives you the same benefits you had before Steam, plus the ability to download the game instead of installing from the CD.

This comment was edited on Jan 31, 10:15.
114.
 
Re: ...
Jan 31, 2008, 10:05
>U
Re: ... Jan 31, 2008, 10:05
Jan 31, 2008, 10:05
>U
 
I get fed up of Riley spreading shit.
You're one of the ones spreading shit here not me. Unlike you I backup what I post with details and sources. All you do is sling pathetic insults, ignore the truth you don't want to accept, and grossly mischaracterize and distort my positions simply because you know I am right, but don't want to swallow the bitter pill and admit it.

This comment was edited on Jan 31, 10:06.
113.
 
Re: ...
Jan 31, 2008, 09:52
>U
Re: ... Jan 31, 2008, 09:52
Jan 31, 2008, 09:52
>U
 
Could you clarify this statement, in relation to the following statement?
I use a borrowed Steam account or PC depending upon the circumstances when I need something more than a demo game to test on Steam, e.g. for game updates, etc. And, yes, even using someone else's Steam account with that person's authorization is a bannable offense according to Valve which is one reason why I speak out against such draconian policies.

112.
 
Re: Whew.
Jan 31, 2008, 09:45
>U
Re: Whew. Jan 31, 2008, 09:45
Jan 31, 2008, 09:45
>U
 
Why?
You've not been paying attention. For starters read my posts in this thread.

I'm not the least bit worried that my account is about to be terminated without cause
Well you should be worried because it's Valve NOT you who makes the sole determination of the cause. What you think isn't a justifiable cause doesn't matter. Only Valve gets to make the rules and enforces them with "zero tolerance" for infractions.

how many people out of the millions that use Steam have had this happen to them?
How many is actually irrelevant because it's not a random occurrence or determination. Anecdotally speaking I've read the stories online of Steam users who have lost their accounts due to Valve's "zero tolerance" policy. And, if you peruse the official Steam forums, you'll frequently come across posts from users who either have had Valve terminate their accounts or appear to have. So, regardless of the frequency, if it has happened to even one user, it can happen to you because the rules are Valve's rules, and it enforces them without tolerance or redress.

You mean I don't have a choice outside of buying a game, or NOT buying a game? Gee, what a shocker... oh wait - NO it's not. This is sort of the standard way of things
No, fool, it isn't the standard way of things even for PC game purchases. Consumers of other entertainment media products usually have much more choice, control, and flexibility in the selection and use of those products. For example with music if a consumer wants to buy a particular song or album, he can choose from several formats: He can buy the song on a CD, he can buy a downloable version of the song with DRM, or he can buy a downloadable version of the song in an unrestricted format like MP3. That is choice that is more than simply buy the song or don't. With many if not most PC games, consumers get some choice in delivery/format and DRM. They can buy a retail-boxed version with media-based DRM or in some cases no DRM, or they can buy a downloadable version with more restrictive and inflexible DRM that is tied to their PC's hardware and/or relies on Internet activation like Steam. Even most third-party games on Steam are also available in releases that don't require Steam. That is at least some choice. It is basically only Valve which shoves Steam down its customers throats by not offering releases of its games which don't require Steam or where Steam is optional. That same lack of choice also extends to the use of game which require Steam. With Steam the customer can only play his game when and where Steam says he can play his game, and then he can only play the game the current way that Steam says he can play his game because it forces all available updates upon the game. The customer can't choose to play an older version of the game or to go ahead a play it when Steam says he can't. THAT is lack of real choice.

I happen to think it is unlikely that ALL commercial games will go the way of Steam
I don't because that trend has already started. Last year Bioshock incorporated Sony's internet activation feature of SecuROM. Future AAA PC games from Take 2 will like require it as well. Microsoft's recent games like Halo 2 and Shadowrun also incorporated Internet activation in them instead of media-based copy-protection. It is certainly quite possible that if consumer don't complain en masse in the not too distant future, all games will use such inflexible Internet activation and be delivered digitally instead of on physical media. Then consumers will no longer be able to lend and sell their old games because they simply will have nothing tangible to show for their purchases.

See, the problem with that is a lot of us are extremely pleased with deals like the Orange Box which is something that I (personally) have never seen before from any other company - I got 3 games, for the price of 1!
That's because you are ignorant and inexperienced. All you really got for your $50 was a subscription to use one three year old game and four short gamettes so long as Valve lets you. Of course since those gamettes are so short and lack much content there is a good chance you will have finished them before Valve can take them away from you. In contrast I regularly buy game bundles at retail which have more games or content than the Orange Box for less money. For example EA and Vivendi are good about bundling several of their older (but still fairly recent) games together for a real discounted price. Last Christmas I bought the 2007 collection of five EA sports titles for $20, and I paid $30 for the F.E.A.R. bundle with the three F.E.A.R, games. In years past I have paid $30 for the complete Battlefield 2 collection when that compilation was released, $20 for the complete BF1942 collection, $30 for the complete Medal of Honor Collection, and $20 for a collection of five Need for Speed games. Those bundles were all bought new at major retailers when I purchased them, and they all contained complete games with more content than the Orange Box for less money. In contrast just as it did with Half-Life 2, Valve will still be charging full price for the Orange Box on Steam even a year or two after its release. It even still charges $10 for the old Ricochet mod for Half-Life 1 that used to be free with any Half-Life purchase when Vivendi was the publisher.

I have never had an issue with Steam before, and so I have NO REASON to "wake up and demand more," sir, I am satisfied - please, give me a better reason as to why you feel I shouldn't be satisfied.
I have already given you plenty of good reasons why you shouldn't be satisfied and should demand better of Valve. You simply refuse to read and consider them. If you don't care enough to read the Steam Subscriber Agreement, Valve's Privacy Policy, Steam's Code of Conduct, and Valve's other restrictive policies for Steam and be outraged or at least deterred by them, if you don't care enough to read about and empathize with the plight of those Steam users who have have lost the Steam games they purchased because Valve terminated their accounts, if you think it's alright for Valve to put advertising in your games and track you while you play them, if you think it's alright for Valve and other game companies who use Steam to force you to download and put up with changes to your games that you don't want, and finally if you think it's alright that Valve and NOT you gets to ultimately determine when, if, and how you play your games, then you either have more money than sense or your head is buried too far up Valve's ass to be able to listen to me and be convinced otherwise.

Why? (I have never heard of StarForce, so please excuse my ignorance, but I am assuming it's similar to Steam)
That's a whole other can of worms I'm not going to re-open because this post is too long already. Use Google if you want to know more about it.

I believe that carried its own set of problems though, unique to music and music players. Am I wrong?
Yes, you are wrong. The MP3 files they now offer through Amazon, Yahoo, and elsewhere will play on any music player.

Are there any companies that you wish Valve was more like? Or rather, is there a standard out there that you are happy with?
While no game developer or publisher is perfect, there are certainly some game companies to which I prefer to give my business because they give consumers much more choice and latitude over their games than Valve does. Generally speaking any company which doesn't employ or later removes copy-protection or DRM from its games is definitely a notch above the others in my view. Both Epic and id are very good historically about doing that. id gets extra credit in that department because not only do they remove the copy-protection from their games, but they also have released the entire source code to their games under the GPL after a certain amount of time. Epic typically does a somewhat better job than id and other developers when it comes to providing lots of content in their games whether in the box or after release. But, with both of those companies, I usually feel I get good value for the money I spend because there's plenty of game content, there's plenty of tools and source code for game editing and modification which I like to do, and I don't have to put up with any overly restrictive copy-protection/DRM bullshit in the game. So, I can play the games as I want to play them whenever and wherever I choose in virtual perpetuity. Sure, id and Epic aren't the only game companies I prefer, but I'm not writing a book here (although it looks like I've come close). Almost any companies' games (including EA's) can be a good value for the right price so long as they can't keep me from playing the games whenever, wherever, and however I choose.

Speaking of historic game values, I still consider the UT2004 Collector's Edition (which included the mod tutorial DVD-ROM and Logitech headset in the box) that I purchase from my local Best Buy for $30 a couple of days before the official release date to be the greatest new-release game bargain I have ever gotten. I didn't have any special connections to get it at that price or early. I simply saw it in the weekly ad and went in the store on Sunday and asked for it. By the time Epic stopped working on UT2004 a year and a half after its release, UT2004 had more official game content and gameplay modes than any single game I have purchased before or since. So, it was more than enough game for the money. And, given their quality I would have paid $30 for just the tools tutorial DVD and the headset themselves. Even at the list price of $50, that collector's edition was a great value. And, given that the game only has a basic CD key check for online play and utilizes Gamespy as the official backup master server in addition to Epic's own server, even if Epic eventually stops supporting UT2004's online play, I can still play the game online and offline on every PC I own whenever I choose until hell freezes over. Even if Gamespy went under too I wouldn't be out of luck, because the game is designed to still function if it fails. That is the kind of DRM flexibility I can live with.

This comment was edited on Jan 31, 12:30.
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