A screenshot of the Steam home page.

For the longest time, Steam has always been our go-to online video game store for us to buy the latest PC games. With more than 132 million registered users around the globe, its services are proven and reliable.

But, what exactly makes Valve’s (the developers’) digital video game distribution platform so likable and trusted?

Generally, many of us prefer Steam because of these reasons:

  • Huge library of video games (including indie games)
  • Simple user interface (UI)
  • Frequent sales & discounts
  • Fast game downloads
  • Supports in-game modding (Steam Workshop)
  • Localized for many regions
  • Optimized in-game overlay

Since games bought from Steam are digital, they remain permanently linked to our profile, so we don’t have to rebuy them in the future once uninstalled from the computer. For long-time PC gamers with more than a hundred beloved games under their belt, this is extremely important.

Plus, with more video game developers/ publishers expanding their game releases to mobile/ handheld environments, Valve has also taken the initiative to release its own handheld console, the Valve Steam Deck [affiliate link].

The Steam Deck is designed specifically for PC gamers to play their favorite titles on the go, logged in to their accounts regardless of where they are. With more cross-play releases being introduced as well, Steam is likely going to be even more popular as the years go by.

Is Steam Gamer-Friendly?

With such a large following, Valve has an unspoken obligation to ensure Steam’s services are convenient and easy for us to use. So, is Steam actually gamer-friendly?

Yes, Steam is very consumer-friendly and simple to use, sharing tools and features that add value to our gaming experiences, such as lenient refund policies, and open modding communities under Steam Workshop.

Arguably, the two (2) most compelling reasons many of us stick with Steam are:

  • Unbelievable price discounts (particularly during seasonal promos)
  • Catalog of older-generation games (both AAA and indie)

There are always the occasional issues, like unsatisfactory admin responses to queries, or limited Steam wallet options (depending on region). Still, these don’t hamper the overwhelmingly positive experiences many PC players have of the platform.

For one, Steam is entirely free, and payments are only charged for video game purchases or in-game downloadable content (expansions, mods, etc.). These are mainly done by adding funds into our Steam accounts first, usually bought via e-wallet, coupon, or card payments.

In many countries, Steam downloads are incredibly fast, letting us sit back on a Dowinx Gaming Chair [affiliate link] while we play Apex Legends, waiting for another game to be downloaded in the background.

As a happy Steam user, I can personally vouch for the platform, evidenced by my packed video game library comprising more than 100 titles overall!

Does Steam Help Game Developers?

While Steam continues to hold a big sway on gamers in the market, is it any better for developers who choose to release their games via its services? Does it help them achieve better sales, for example?

Yes, Steam does help game developers reach a large segment of the player base worldwide, but it comes with its caveats. Like some platforms, such as GOG, Steam takes a somewhat hefty commission from the revenues generated by game sales, which is a 30% cut.

The remaining 70% is then given to the developers, which seems like a healthy amount of money made, right? Well, unless a game makes tons of revenue by being one of the best free-to-play games on the PC, many video game studios don’t actually see much profit until later in their products’ life cycles, particularly solo/ small indie developers.

In the end, it’s all about business strategy and risk-taking, and Steam does offer the most realistic chance for newly-released games to be sold due to its proven market presence.

Plus, there’s also Steam Direct – a remodeled partnership program improved from the now-defunct Steam Greenlight – that helps promote new game entries created by indie game studios, but its entry requirements are now stricter than before.

Game development is rougher and more competitive these days, and many aspiring individuals might find it even more difficult when digital distribution channels, like Steam, are putting more barriers to entry. Still, it does trim the number of ‘bad’ games being released on its platform, keeping gamers’ selections more relevant and reliable.

Is Steam Important for Gaming?

Steam isn’t perfect, but its abundant features, like cloud saves and early-access games, make it miles ahead of its closest competition. Some might say its added tools are revolutionary, so does this make Steam important to the gaming industry in general?

Yes, I believe Steam plays an important role in PC gaming, becoming the benchmark for other digital distribution sites to adapt to and learn from. Despite its faults, Steam’s staggering daily numbers of active players cement this.

Without Steam, many indie games won’t get the spotlight they deserve, limiting the growth of new game developers and studios. Many of us won’t have the seamless interconnectivity that we enjoy while using it too, such as dedicated forums and account sharing.

Granted, we can still play PC games without Steam, but this is mainly restricted to offline, single-player games. Eventually, we’ll find ourselves booting it up again to play multiplayer games, or just chat with friends online.

For many of us, Steam is considered a PC gaming hub, especially when physical game sales are slowly declining in number. When opened on a large SANSUI 27-inch Gaming Monitor [affiliate link], the platform is even more pleasant to the eye, with its minimalistic UI and clean in-game overlay keeping us engaged while gaming, minimizing distractions.

Are There Other Platforms like Steam?

Although Steam might be the most talked-about digital gaming service in the PC-gaming industry, are there other close alternatives to it?

Yes, there are other digital PC-gaming platforms other than Steam, such as Epic Games Store, GOG, GamersGate, and many more. Some exclusive games can only be bought from their respective channels too, like Starcraft II from Blizzard.net.

Competition is always good for consumers, ensuring every company/ brand is always improving itself to outmatch its closest business rivals. In this case, the existence of different gaming distribution sites limits Steam from monopolizing the market, even though it’s far superior to all of them.

Unfortunately, some distributors might have restricted access to certain countries, resulting in unsatisfactory user experiences, such as slow game downloads. Suffice it to say, if you’re playing games on a trusted gaming laptop, like the ASUS TUF Gaming F15 [affiliate link], you’d want the best gaming experience possible.

As such, I firmly believe Steam is still the best option for many of us thus far, at least until another company manages to usurp Valve’s platform from its unshakeable standing.

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