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Random thoughts/rumblings on recent developments on Steam.

By on April 25, 2012 5:41:26 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

DRM is not just a annoying tool for legit customers. Not just a useless method to go against pirates. Not just a features to calm down shareholders and execs.




It is, both unintentionally and intentionally create 'monsters'.




Like Apple with its stronghold on music industry.


Like Amazon which just had 90% share on Ebook market and 75% on all online physical book market a year ago (and fall down to 60%, and about to regain 90% figure again thanks to DoJ's lawsuit)


And we have Valve's Steam, which figures 50% to 70%, to even 90% depending on whom you ask.



The similarity of all three companies is that they both benefited from DRM, whether it was their intention or not. It's a really simple process. One company uses DRM that restricted the access to certain way. More people get locked in, more power and more leverage the company has, eventually killing and neutering competitions.


Apple killed Sony's walkman and prevented MS and other companies to enter the music market thanks to DRM tied with Ipods and Itunes.

Amazon destroyed Borders and put Barnes & Nobles into the corner while putting kindle with predatory pricing, which uses its own ebook format with DRM.

And we have Valve's Steamworks.... These days, with exception of EA's Origin, all of digital retailers sell games with Steamworks with DRM included, which installs Steam, ever expanding the influence on PC Game market. No surprise, the cost for using Steamworks is zero dollar, strongly reminding Amazon's predatory pricing tactics.


Obviously, we all know monopoly has never been good for customers. History tells us. Not to mention if you know the personalities of Jeff Bezos of Amazon, you really would not want Amazon to take too much power on online retail market. It is no secret we are now have problem with compression of audio files and following lower sound quality, and with "Mastered for Itunes" nonsense from music industry.


There are some efforts to fix the problems. Now music industry is using high-quality FLAC formats to regain hearts of core customers and top book publishers are already abandoning DRM on their ebooks (they actually acted faster than music execs did) when the deal with Apple went burst by DoJ.


Back to our dear PC gaming market, I really do not see strong resistance compared to other industries against Steam. Don't make mistake; I love Steam, and Valve one of few developers/publishers who cares about minor market (just read on their recent progress on Linux client and games. It's impressive to see Gabe himself is working on Steam on Linux), and do a lot of things that other companies just won't do.


But still, I fully acknowledge that any time, my access to hundreds of the games can be blocked and can be lost forever. It's DRM that forcing the royalty that annoys me no end. This is the reason I really loved Impulse when it was introduced (Impulse Reactor was one of could-be real competitor to Steamworks. Too bad Stardock sold Impulse to Gamestop, which has terrible reputation and no clue on how 'platform' works, and we all know Impulse is now forgotten).


Truth to be said, Origin actually offers much more flexibility and a bit more freedom regarding DRM. For instance, you can choose installation location which works wonderfully if you have SSD and running out of space. Other than some games, most of the games can be launched without Origin running (as far as I concern). I really like Origin that it gives some real competition. I also have looked Desura, which currently has very decent Linux client (and it works amazing. I really love it), and of course now begins to carry more recent titles and is possibly going into Linux as well. Yet, too many people are screaming "on Steam or I won't buy it", not knowing they are undermining themselves.


Gabe is a nice man, but humans change. It's investment 101 : you never put too much money on one thing. I know a lot of people hate Origin and EA, but for the sake of diversity and safety, they'd better exist for a long time as viable choice. Oh well, at least you can ignore Gamestop

+17 Karma | 2 Replies
April 25, 2012 7:05:58 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

I agree to some extent however i just count us pc gamers lucky that it is valve with the monopoly not GFWL or Game Stop. out of all the big corporations i dont trust Valve is to one i trust the most 

May 1, 2012 8:45:12 AM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

steam is a monopoly because it came first and remains the best. customers created steam's dominance, not valve. freedom of choice in action.

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