Devs Respond to Steam Exploitation Claim

As a PC gamer, it's hard to find problems with Steam. While it is a propriety distribution system, it's one that works and has provided good service to both developers and end-users.

Old time PC games industry veteran Randy Pitchford said in an interview with Maximum PC that Valve's online games delivery service isn't all sunshine and rainbows are some may believe.

"There’s so much conflict of interest there that it’s horrid. It’s actually really, really dangerous for the rest of the industry to allow Valve to win. I love Valve games, and I do business with the company. But, I’m just saying, Steam isn’t the answer," said Pitchford. "Steam helps us as customers, but it’s also a money grab, and Valve is exploiting a lot of people in a way that’s not totally fair. Valve is taking a larger share than it should for the service its providing. It’s exploiting a lot of small guys. For us big guys, we’re going to sell the units and it will be fine."

While the argument exists that Valve makes it own games that may compete with the products that it can sell on Steam, many small developers were given exposure larger than they could ever manage on their own thanks to the service. President of Tripwire Interactive John Gibson responded in an opinion piece regarding all the nice things that Steam has done for him and his company.

"Ask the Tripwire Interactive employees if they feel exploited, as they move into their new offices paid for by the money the company has made on Steam," Gibson wrote. "Or me, as I drive away from the company that was built from the royalties we made on Steam, in my sports car paid for by the royalties we make on Steam, to the home that I pay for with the royalties we make on Steam."

"If that's exploitation, I'll take a little more," Gibson added.

Find out what other small PC developers are saying about this at Rock, Paper, Shotgun.

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • hellwig
    I agree that giving solitary control to any single company or entity is a bad idea. However, there are always costs involved with distributing a game. Maybe they look at the prices Sony and Microsoft charge for their XBox Live and Playstation Home services, and just think Steam should lower their prices? If the developers think Steam is too expensive, they can try the old fashioned way of cardboard boxes and brick-and-mortar stores. Or maybe they should band together and create their own game download service?

    No one is forcing game producers to use Steam, and as John Gibson explained in his comments, not everyone thinks Steam is bad for producers. I know I've bought plenty of games on Steam's weekend deals that I had never even heard of before. Any sale has to be better than no sale, right?
  • ryanegeiger
    Steam has caused me to legitimately purchase many games I would have otherwised... you know... not.
  • ram1009
    As near as I can tell Steam charges the same or less than the same game bought from local vendors in a box. You can play your games from any computer but only one computer at a time. They do take a little time to download but so what. What's not to like?
  • fuzmorten
    Since I have had a Steam account I have had noting from them in the way of service or the ability to use their service. In over a year I have had only one instance of being able to connect and that was thru another connection not my home ...their only customer service is to tell you to disable and remove all antivirus /anti spam applications and run naked ...they have SORRY service and don't care to fix problems with their software!
  • sailfish
    Steam prevents me from easily giving my game away to someone else after I'm through playing it. This is a significant feature loss and, as so, they should either be charging significantly less for the games or offer to buy back my game after I'm finished with it.

    The fact that I can play the game on any piece of hardware, anywhere, is kind of a joke considering how large they are and the time it takes to download them. And, since the size of games are only going to get increasingly larger as content balloons with larger cut scenes and higher resolution maps, soon this won't even be a viable option at all.
  • toxxel
    Compared Ign's Direct2drive and Steam, prices, deals, distribution. I myself use Steam but I do hate the client my only problem it can be a resource hog. Steam isn't the only company that offers online purchasable games but maybe they are the most popular.
  • bertschkid
    Yeah, defiantly a problem on your end fuzmorten.

    I have been using Steam since 2004 and have never had any major issues besides a few minor ones with CoD4.

    The line "In over a year I have had only one instance of being able to connect and that was thru another connection not my home" goes to show it is probably a problem on your end. Make sure all the correct ports are open on your router and make sure your software firewall, if any, is not blocking the Steam connection.
    its hard for my to find PC games at store i buy most of my games on steam because i dont have to worry about losing my CD i can just Redownload the game if my house burns down or theres a flood :D also they have awesome prices!
  • Regulas
    Even though I own a copy of the Orange Box and think HL2 is probably the best straight shooter game, ever, I don't approve of requiring me to activate a game online to play it off-line, DRM. I also will not download other games through their service.
    I like to have my boxed product and a disk on my shelf.
    Steam is not a bad experience though and is the best of it's kind. I did experience MS and their copycat of Steam called Games for Windows Live (GFWL), talk about a piece of shit. Never again will I use that service and I uninstalled GFWL off my machine as soon as I used up my points on Fallout 3 expansions.
  • Ryric
    Steams largest problem has been its incompatability with standard distribution versions (retail) and patches creating a backlog and delay in the release of content and patches on Steam while the retail copies are functioning and patched.

    Additionally Steam's often slow response to changing prices and the market leave games people would otherwise purchase at uncompetitive prices which is sad. It does take some system resources but on a multicore machine that is likely not a real issue today.

    I don't like DRM, I don't like online activation and I don't like propreitary software that is often little more then bloatware. But if I have to suffer those evils, Steam makes it as easy of process as possible, plus it doesn't impose ridiculous download expirations of software I paid for like EA Link and others.

    I will say that IGN direct2drive gets more of my money via direct downloads however, better deals...