Not that long ago if you wanted to buy a new video game you had to jump in the car, drive to your local retailer and buy a shiny box with a disc inside. These days you’d be hard pressed to find a store that stocks PC games because of the rise of digital distribution. When internet speeds increased to the point you could download a game in minutes there was no need to leave the house anymore. You can find thousands of games you can buy, download and be playing in no time. It’s a great time to be a PC gamer. There are many platforms for buying video games online but the biggest and most extensive is Steam. It started off a simple platform for updating games but it’s now a complete gaming center. In addition to being a store it also acts as a social network, hub for aspiring game developers and of course a powerful software manager. There’s so much to Steam there’s no way I’ll be able to go into it all in one article. I’ll go through the basics so you can get started gaming with Steam and enjoying all it has to offer.
What is Steam?
Steam itself is an all-in-one gaming tool that started it’s life as a way for the Valve company to update their games. With the rise of digital distribution it evolved into so much more. It still manages games, applying updates for you automatically but now it’s a store, community and more.
Steam runs on your computer as a separate program and helps you organize all your gaming activity. It organizes your games, launches them and helps you organize all your gaming related activity. You get lots of benefits by using Steam to play your video games:
- Never Lose a Game: Games purchased through Steam are tied to your account and can be downloaded anytime on any computer. You never have to worry about scratched discs or losing the manual with that all important activation code.
- Steam Cloud: Game saves and settings can be saved to the Steam Cloud so if you want to play on multiple computers you’re always playing the same game and don’t lose a thing. This also allows you to uninstall a game for a time, come back to it later and never lose your progress.
- Always Up to Date: Steam keeps your games up to date with the latest patches direct from the developers. You don’t have to go to different sites and keep track of version numbers. Also, if there is any DLC or expansion packs for a game Steam will let you know. You’ll get the full game experience and never lose out on a thing.
- Friends: Keep in touch with your gaming friends and have the ability to chat, voice call and see what games they’ve been playing. You can also jump right into their games if they need help or just want some company.
- Huge Community: Steam has a complete social media setup, video streaming service, developer hub and news service for gaming information. All of it is available for any member to use and help you get your creations out into the world. If you’re into developing game levels or items you can use the marketplace to make some money!
The Steam Store is the ultimate marketplace for buying video games. It has thousands of titles available ranging from major studio releases to creative indie releases. The real benefit of using the Steam Store is the amount of money you’ll save on gaming.
Steam Store sales are legendary, offering insane discounts on popular games throughout the year. For the price you used to pay for a single game at a big-box retailer you can now get three, four or more titles. There is even a constant selection of games in the under ten dollar range with many of them major titles that are only a year or two old.
There is also a large selection of free-to-play titles you can check out. In fact you can do a huge amount of gaming through Steam for no money whatsoever. I’m not talking about little mobile type games either. Many big games these days are being released under the free-to-play model so your selection is vast. RPG’s, first person shooters, MOBA’s and more all available for your enjoyment.
Steam allows you to pay with Paypal, major credit cards and you can also load your Steam Wallet with cards purchased at retailers if you don’t like doing online payments. You even have a window to get a refund if a game doesn’t work or it’s just not what you were looking for. Steam also lets you gift games to your friends and sometimes has discounts on buying multiple copies so you can game together for cheaper.
So Much More on Steam
Steam gives you so much it’s impossible to mention it all in a single article. Steam has begun developing hardware and tools to turn your computer into the ultimate gaming system. Big Picture mode gives you a console like experience if you prefer to game with a controller. They’ve developed a unique controller for more demanding PC games and a special link device to wirelessly use your television to game in comfort.
They’ve also created the Workshop, where you can get user created mods, levels and in-game items for your games. If you want to get into some content creation yourself they’ll help you out by giving you tools and letting you post creations to the workshop with little hassle. You can even make money through the marketplace if people like your work.
You also get access to a mountain of game news, videos, walkthroughs, screenshot galleries and more. Through the Greenlight program you can help decide what new games are released on Steam and even submit your own games for release.
Steam is easily downloaded for free. There’s no reason not to have a Steam account if you do any type of gaming. Go to www.steampowered.com to get started by creating an account and download the program. It’s easy to setup and in no time you’ll be finding amazing games and content that you never knew existed.