I have a couple of video game reviews in the works but I figured I should first make a quick post about my favorite place to buy video games, Steam.

Steam is a digital download service created by the American software company Valve. You may know Valve from their extremely popular video games Half Life, Portal, and Team Fortress.  Steam offers an enormous selection of PC video games both old and new which can be purchased and downloaded direct from the internet.  There are a lot of great things about Steam which I will list here for any who might be interested in checking it out:

1. Huge Selection

As I mentioned already, there are a lot of games available from the late 1990s to today that are available for purchase.  Many of the old games have been configured to work on modern computers although they often require a few tweaks in order to make 100% playable.  The games are not just restricted to Valve titles either as virtually every major publisher makes their games available on Steam.  During the last year or so, independent developers have been given access to the service allowing some real gems to find an audience.  The only big exception is games by EA.  While most of their games are available through Steam, EA recently launched their own digital download service Origin and there has been some fierce competition between the two (although Origin hasn’t made much of a dent in Steams dominant position).  Because of the rivalry between the two services, EA has pulled a few titles from Steam or made them exclusive to Origin including Dragon Age 2 and Battlefield 3.

2. Easy DRM for multiple computers

Every gamer knows that one of the biggest inconveniences associated with PC gaming is Digital Rights Management or DRM.  DRM is supposed to prevent digital piracy but more often than not it just makes life difficult for those who actually purchased the game by hogging computer resources, adding layers of authenticity checks that take time and don’t always work properly, add spy software to computers without owners knowledge, and make it impossible or difficult to have a game installed on more than one computer at a time.  The irony is while it creates all of these problems, DRM seems to do little to actually prevent piracy.  Steam on the other hand makes DRM easy.  When a game is first purchased, it is authorized to the Steam account that made the purchase (or attached to the account when first installed for Steam enabled discs).  After that, the game is only authorized for the one account and can only be installed on computers that have also been authorized for that same account.  The only catch is that no two computers can be logged into Steam at the same time with the same account.  That’s it.  No need for obnoxious software programs or layers of protection.

3. Steam Sales

Other than the convenience of the service, the thing that makes me a big fan of Steam are the sales.  Every day a game goes on sale with anywhere from a 10% to 80% discount.  There are also weekday sales (one or two games on sale from Tuesday to Thursday) and weekend sales (one or two games on sale from Friday to Monday).  Steam also has bigger week-long sales a few times a year where half a dozen or more games will go on special discount for a day, with new games going on sale the next.  I’ve picked up some games that normally sell for $30 or more for as little as $5.  This makes gaming a lot easier for those of us on a tight budget

Steam boasts a host of other features and perks like community channels, forums, news items, friends lists, mobile app, etc. that make the service more than just a place to buy stuff.  I don’t use many of those features so I wont go into them here.  Steam is also not just for PC as it can be installed on Macs and Playstation 3 consoles although most publishers don’t make Mac compatible games and I have no idea what is available for PS3.

If you own a PC and are a fan of video games, I highly recommend Steam.  It is not only a convenient service but can save you a lot of money if you are willing to wait for sales.

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