Buying Games From Steam

I’ve noticed that I get a fair few views from people Googling queries about buying from Steam, and that almost all of the PC games I review are available from Steam. This post is dedicated to answering some of the most common questions people ask about Steam.

What is Steam?

It’s the largest and most popular digital distribution service online, except maybe the App Store. Valve run it and it’s the only place you can buy their games like Half-Life 2 and Portal online.

What is digital distribution?

Simply put, buying a game over the internet and downloading it to your computer or smart phone. That Angry Birds you got from the App Store? That was digital distribution. Note though, that Steam is PC/Mac only. No smart phone support.

Do I keep games I buy on Steam?

Yes, you buy it you own it. So long as that account’s still active, you won’t have to re-buy it. If you get a new computer, just install the Steam client on the new computer and reinstall the game.

Do I keep my saves when moving to a new computer?

Sadly, that’s game-by-game basis. Some have a feature whereby you can access your saves from different computers, others don’t. Check out the game’s page on the Steam Store to find out, though having this feature is definitely the exception rather than the rule.

How do I get Steam?

Simple, go to the Steam website and download the Steam client. It’s a small file, and having it is required. From the client program, you can see all your games, install or uninstall as you see fit and access the store and community sections. I’d recommend actually using a proper browser to do that though, the Steam client’s never loaded those well for me.

What kind of stuff can I buy on there?

Most big titles available on the PC are available from Steam, including the DLC. It also has a number of older games like Broken Sword or Monkey Island. They also scout out a decent array of indie titles, and sell them relatively cheap. It’s the main way I find cool indie games. Valve games are only sold through Steam or physical sales, and you need Steam to play the free and very cool Team Fortress 2.

Steam often hosts sales too. Whether it’s cheap preorders, cut-price bundles, themed around a genre or franchise, the summer sale, midweek madness or whatever, something’s going cheap.

So it’s got a great library, good prices and lets me support the developers. What else does it do for me?

Well, it has its own forums, you can join communities and it offers demos and achievements. Really, Steam is a great service. Valve really listen to what gamers want and treats the consumer like people rather than walking wallets to plunder.


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