Steam: the Savior of PC Gaming?

There is no shortage of people who believe that the PC game market is dying. The debate over whether consoles have killed computer gaming has been going on for too long now and it’s about time we accept the fact that PC gaming is here to stay. That’s not to say that the PC gaming market is prospering, but it is staying alive. In recent years, PC gaming has started to evolve into something that may well flourish once again. This stems from the increasing popularity of digital gaming platforms such as Steam and it may well be that the future of PC gaming is in the cloud.

For those of you who don’t know, Steam is a digital distribution platform developed by Valve to distribute PC video games and media. It allows users to download and back up games directly to their computer through the virtual library associated with the user’s Steam account. In other words, Steam provides cloud storage for computer games purchased through it. Steam also offers community features that give users the functionality of creating groups and events; it also gives users the ability to communicate with others in the community.

The reason for me to go into such detail on Steam is simple: I believe that the future of PC gaming is in the cloud and that Steam is going to lead us into that future. Before you pound me for saying that, take a look at the statistics. Steam has over 1800 games available and over 40 million PC gamers have an active Steam account. The reason behind the success of Steam is that it does the basics right — it provides a user friendly experience and enables users to engage with each other. Additionally, games can be purchased for the same price, if not cheaper, as retail distributers. The only difference is that you don’t get a physical copy of the game; instead, you get a Steam product key, which allows you to download and install the game. Even if you uninstall the game, it will remain in your virtual software library in Steam.

Now, to add fire to the ongoing debate of console gaming vs. PC gaming. Yes, consoles are easily accessible, provide ease of use, and are much cheaper than building a gaming rig. But are these advantages enough to topple what PC gaming brings to the table? Most definitely not. Gaming on a computer has several advantages; not only does it give full control to the gamer, but it also offers better graphics. Not to mention the fact that PC gamers are usually first in line to try out a wide range of new and upcoming games.

While it may be difficult for some to take in, digital distribution of PC games is likely going to be the dominant form of video game distribution in coming years. For many, a physical copy of a game is like a trophy or a collection item that just wouldn’t be the same in a digital capacity. However, technology is forever advancing; as such, it is only a matter of time that physical game discs are replaced by digital media. This really isn’t a bad thing as digitally distributed games provide a more user-friendly experience. For instance, games automatically update through Steam and can be easily backed up. Additionally, your stats never get lost as they are connected to your account and best of all Steam provides a unified gaming experience between console gaming and PC gaming.

From the popularity of gaming platforms like Steam and Origin, it is clear that PC gaming isn’t about to die anytime soon. If anything, gaming on computers is changing in such a way that its future is linked to cloud-based platforms. There is one unique aspect of PC gaming that no console can match, and that is the fact that PC gaming keeps up with technology. While consoles only get updated once every few years, PC gaming is constantly evolving and since computer hardware can be upgraded pretty much every few months, the graphical quality of PC games is unmatched by consoles. What is your take on this issue? Do you think that gaming on a computer is better than console gaming?

CC licensed Flickr photo shared by Robert Couse-Baker

Article Written by

Zuhair is a passionate freelance technology writer who specializes in social media, cloud computing and business management. He is currently studying Business Administration and aspires to be an online entrepreneur. In his spare time he enjoys working out and is an aviation enthusiastic.

  • http://www.twitter.com/rothsothy Roth Sothy

    I see Killing Floor! :D/

  • Byron Slabach

    i freaking love steam. everything about it! i recently switched from console to pc, and im happy to say, i will never go back. i love the ease of mind, the simplicity, and the fact that older games prices Actually drop as opposed to stores.  

  • ffinder

    No console or PC can touch PC gaming when experienced with:
    NVIDIA 3D Vision true stereoscopic 3D ! !

    ff

  • Spazenania

    PC Gamming is so much better, because you no longer have to pay the exuberant prices of games and game systems!

  • Jack

    “…it provides a user friendly experience…”
    Evidently, you have never used Steam. D:

    • http://twitter.com/MrTechz MrTechz

      Nearly 2000 hours of gaming on Steam spanning over 2 years. I’ve used it a bit. ;)

  • Jon-Luc Holmes

    Well I think PC gaming is better than console gaming. Yes consoles are cheaper and easier to access. Xbox 360 costs to play online, PS3 doesn’t but has less features for multiplayer. PC has everything and more. My main game, game I play most, is World of WarCraft, an MMO, an MMO  would never ever work on a games console. blizzard entertainment would be stupid to put it onto consoles, I know they are trying to get it onto high end smartphones and tablets but that is the future, and tables are technically a PC. I also play a lot of Valve games which are getting ported over to Linux in a recent article. EA have also struck a deal with with Canonical for some commercial games. I play a wide range of PC games, I don’t really like Windows. Maybe Ubuntu becoming the new gaming OS due to Valve and EA working with Canonical to create a Linux distribution that the games are designed to work best on. Yes Canonical are moving away from this whole fully open source Linux movement but for Linux to be successful it has to happen in such a way. I’d really like my games, most of them I play through Steam, on linux. As Steam becomes the most popular choice of DRM of games, over Games for Windows Live and other systems, could we see a Canonical and Valve making Ubuntu + Steam the worlds possible best gaming platform. I hope so.

  • Gph456

    Origin= Ehhhh
    Steam= Yes!!!
    Steam>Origin

  • http://twitter.com/rogerhoyt Roger Hoyt

    I think that PC gaming is great.  While Console games are somewhat portable, minus the Laptop PC games give more options and allow for better game play.  However, controllers are better for certain games.  I find it difficult for example to play 2D and Side Scrolling games on the keyboard.  Would much rather have a controller for those.  

  • bv

    I wouldn’t call having a digital library “cloud gaming.” You still save the game data and installation on your local system.

  • http://profiles.google.com/jacquesshellac Jacques Shellac

    STEAM has actually killed PC gaming for me, as least as far as buying new titles. I won’t buy a game that requires STEAM running on my machine to function, and since every single new game from a major publisher and practically all new games by indie publishers require STEAM, I’ve simply been sticking to my old titles. I can’t avoid it by going to brick-and-mortar shops either, as even new games on DVD require a STEAM account.

    On the bright side, it means that I’ve been able to save a lot of money. I used to spend $300-$500 on games a year, but now I only buy new DS cartidges for my nieces every so often. But it would be nice to play something made after 2009 someday.

  • Tenchidbz

    I started using Steam on: Member since:August 17, 2005 (copy and pasted from my steam account)