Originating back in 2003, Steam has continued to grow as a leading outlet for PC gaming. However, it didn’t become a success in the blink of an eye. It’s hard to imagine PC gaming without the implementation of Steam, and it’s even harder to imagine the powerhouse only providing a portal for games such as Counter Strike 1.6 through beta testing.
Today, we take a look at Steam’s history throughout the last 13 years, thanks to PC Gamer.
Valve had issues updating its online games, and issues with cheating in the game. Steam helped Valve with game patching and providing access to developer content. However, since access to broadband internet was only available to about 20 percent of American households, many gamers did not find Steam favorable since it required a steady internet connection. Steam’s authentication servers also provided many issues with keeping up with the demand of players, resulting in players not being able to access their games.
Half-Life 2 proved to be a beacon of hope for Valve. Since the game was developed by Valve Corporation, players had to sign up for Steam in order to play the beloved shooter. Half-Life 2 was the first single-player game that required product activation. The game’s success ignited the Steam that is in existence today.
Two games hit the Steam market, and they were the first that were not developed by Valve. Darwinia and Ragdoll Kung Fu showed the progression that Steam had, transforming it into a game store as opposed to just a download source. Both games can still be purchased on Steam.
Digital sales through Steam began to set a precedent of what was to come in the future of gaming. High definition videos and game demos also began to show up in Steam’s library, among its nearly 100 games.
A ton of new content and features have been added to Steam, including MetaCritic ratings, search filtering, and community forums. Players could now filter through Top Sellers and New Releases, providing a better sense of navigation through its growing library of games. The Steam Community also provided user friendly options, such as a friends list, voice chat, community groups, and stat tracking.
The Spotlight feature was added in, along with an image slideshow and banner ad on the software’s front page. This provided a great outlet for new releases since the community was growing to over 20 million users. The use of the Steam Cloud was also a huge hit, providing an ease of playing across multiple computers, along with syncing configuration settings and game saves.
Under $5 and Under $10 categories were added to Steam, providing a source for stocking up on games for a rainy day. Some may call it impulse buying, and other may call it hoarding. But if hoarding games is wrong, then I don’t think anyone wants to be right.
Bargain hunting became much easier, since discounts were now displayed as percentages on Steam. Mac games were also being added to the increasingly popular game outlet, showing Steam’s intent to expand past the Windows PC customer base. Players also got to see just how popular Steam was getting with the ability to view the Steam Stats activity graph.
Over 1000 games were available on Steam at this point, so a ‘recommended for you’ widget was implemented in order to narrow down some titles for its users. Steam Guard was also added in order to combat account fraud, which was continuously growing. The Steam Workshop also made its debut, allowing modders to integrate user created content into Steam.
A Downloadable Content filter has been added to the New Releases list, due to the increase of DLC available for games. DLC and Demo labels were added to game thumbnails. Steam Greenlight was also implemented, along with the launch of its mobile app. The app provided purchasing, chat, and the ability to install a game remotely.
The Steam Marketplace launched, allowing Steam Wallet funds to be used to buy and sell games.
Linux replaced Mac’s spot on the navigation bar, along with its own tab on the Featured Games widget. During this time, Steam attempted to infiltrate households filled with consoles by rolling out functions such as Family Sharing and Early Access. User profiles also gained some improvement, allowing players to level, trade, and post reviews.
The Recently Updated widget made its debut, while Linux’s spot on the navigation bar ceased. In Home Streaming provided another source of entertainment, and broadcasting was built right in as an alternative to the popular streaming platform Twitch. Family View options also provided ways to limit a child’s accessible content.
The end of the year introduced the Discovery Update, which debuted the design that is still in play today.
A hardware section of Steam supported the Steam Link, Steam Controller, and Steam Machines. 2016 brought about a VR category in order to accommodate the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vibe.
Not much seems to be planned for Steam, but with the various changes that it has gone through over the past 13 years, where they currently sit is nothing to be ashamed of. There are sure to be minimal changes and tweaks throughout the years, but it appears that Steam has found its niche and won’t be going anywhere any time soon.