The Steamonopoly, how we eagerly give cash for electric bytes.
When steam first came out, many people including myself felt it was a stupid, ridicules thing. I had a very low end computer which in some games had nearly the bare minimum system specs. This means each MB of memory counted. Now here comes along Steam which required it to run in the background to play your games, preposterous! My memory is near used up! I could not afford to have that running in the background! What a stupid idea!
No more then a couple years later my computer upgraded in all ways available, RAM was less required and in mass enough I did not fear the dreaded lockups. Steam now was my main gaming platform, and my collection grew.
Many and I mean many people felt Steam had one very daunting limit. You need a internet connection to download your game. CD/DVD’s had made it possible that without a network connection you would be able to download with easy. Steam on the other hand required an internet connection, and in fact required it for play unless you setup for offline play for the games. This too caused people to be worried. I would say this almost is the precursor to online required DRM. In fact I am shocked how much people fight this requirement when they now-a-days still have the same requirement for steam. This is probably why other companies are sort of shocked about the backlash they get for setting it up.
Of course as Steam does not have to make copies or control copies of physical disks they can in fact sell low, Steam sales are now part of a fact of life as much as Thanksgiving or any other Holiday. We willingly spent more money on these digital copies then we do any other time. And just that, it’s a digital copy, we own no rights, we only are holding the game. For some we collect games as we use to collect comics, in numbers we can’t play or we will get back to. Others of course can control themselves more and pick and choose, wisely I say.
Now Steam is also a game company as well, Valve. They brought us Half Life, Left 4 Dead and many other games. We still eagerly wait for their next game, but hints of greed are still creeping up, little by little. One of the major problems I had with Left 4 Dead 1, was that they promised a great deal of future updates and future benefits, they would build upon the first. No more then half a year later we instead got Left 4 Dead 2. This jump caused a great stir. Many unhappy customers felt left behind by promises made before. I think this may have been Steams/Valves first probe how far they could go and still contain the back lash. It worked, very well. Then they introduced in their golden egg, hats and the hat store introduced to Team Fortress 2. Once more they watched for the backlash, and again it was contained. Then they added boxes which can only be opened from bought in store items. Once more the backlash was contained.
To shorten this, their most latest probes of choice seems to be the also on their golden egg, The Coop, now not only have they split the community, latterly requiring money to play a game to be on a main server (which before hand had been free and part of normal process) or play community game (boot camp? This almost feels like a physiological attack). For those who tried the “normal game” they noted 1000 servers waiting to support those paying players. Yet when looking at the “Boot Camp” there was 40-70 servers available. The funny thing is that it seems they “fixed” this, but in fact all they did was SHOW the main servers as part of the total for those who are playing in “Boot Camp”. I fear these are in fact the first steps in Steam/Valve’s steps towards more money.
Now I have been lucky enough not have to deal with those hacking problems others have had. As well the fear of ever being banned from Steam (which will mean not allowed to even touch any games bought) which EA has been attacked for the very same reason. I feel we as people might have placed all our hopes in a company that is slowly showing signs of Monopoly plays. I fear we are all setting ourselves up willingly to our future Steamonopoly problems.