Why Steam Beats Pirating, Hands Down

Valve’s Steam is by far my favourite method of digital distribution for gaming. It is simply so easy to use and it’s getting better too, with the new UI beta being a massive improvement on the previous version of Steam.

Why is Steam so good? In case you’re not familiar with Steam, let me run you through the process of buying and playing a game:

  1. Browse to the game on the Steam store
  2. Click “Buy”
  3. Enter payment details
  4. Wait for the download to complete
  5. Play.

That’s it. No complicated installation to go through; no waiting while the game downloads the latest updates; nothing. Compare this to buying a game physically, where you have to install the game (usually swapping discs halfway through), download the latest updates, make sure PunkBuster1 (or similar) is up to date and usually insert the disc every time you want to play a game.

Even compared to pirating games, it’s so much easier. Torrents are usually slow because of the amount of other users downloading at the same time (seeds:peers ratio is usually low), while Steam’s content servers have always been exceeding fast for me (2Mb/s compared to 40kb/s for a comparable torrent). Additionally, simply finding a torrent is usually 10 minutes of searching itself.

Steam’s ease of use shows. Of the past 10 games I’ve played (excluding free ones), 9 of them I bought from Steam, and the other was Modern Warfare 2, which uses Steam.2

Steam is an absolute win for gamers everywhere. The ease of buying, downloading and playing is fantastic. I’m not aware of any other distribution method for games that is as easy to use.

  1. Don’t get me started on how much I despise PunkBuster. VAC is so much better. []
  2. The only reason I bought it physically rather than via Steam is because I couldn’t be bothered downloading it. []