Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Steam Whine

Posted by Rampant Coyote on September 13, 2010

You know what would make Steam a whole lot better?

If it wasn’t actually there.

I don’t normally leave Steam running on my machine in the background. And I’ve found, recently, that I’ve got a little bit of reluctance to run a game on Steam simply because of the overhead involved in it loading Steam, serving up the “What’s New” ad (which takes FOREVER, it feels),  setting up its messenger service, and all the other garbage it wants to do.

This became noticeable to me this weekend when I found myself reluctant to buy Racettear through Steam – I gravitated towards buying it through  Impulse instead. Although I’d really prefer to buy direct from the developer, but that’s apparently not an option. I tried to examine my rationale, as I already own several games through Steam (those sales are hard to resist), and one of our awesome forum members works for Valve, but it kept coming down to me feeling an aversion for that extra, painful start-time and other annoyances.

Steam is kind of a pig.

But it’s a pig that everybody seems to be using these days, so I guess a bloated pain in the butt is really the way to go.

Filed Under: Biz, Geek Life - Comments: 21 Comments to Read

  • getter77 said,

    Eh, I put in my order on Gamersgate with no real issue—bloat isn’t the only way to go and the price was comparable and netted me some handy Blue Coins. A ways back, I had some annoying issues using GG from here in the states, but in recent times they’ve pretty well cleared everything up near as I can tell.

  • Simon Dufour said,

    Isn’t that a rant from 2003? Nowadays you should be able to keep it open without any hogging or slowdown. I use it as a main IM now because I’m in-game most of the time. You can also check out what games your friends bought or what they’re playing so you can either join them or ask them if the game is any good so you can buy it too.

    Back in 2003, ressource hogging was an issue, it’s not anymore. Steam is slow to load but isn’t ressource intensive in the background. Try it out.

  • Gary the Llama said,

    I agree with Simon. Just let Steam run in the background, it’s not a resource hog and makes it that much easier to start a game up. Plus, it’s nice to see when a friend starts playing a game so I can easily join in if I want.

  • Andy_Panthro said,

    I much prefer GamersGate, and use that instead of Steam or other distributors.

    Of course as you said, it’s always best to buy direct (so the developer gets the majority of the money).

    One of my problems with Steam is that the arguments for it tend to be based around multiplayer and various other services like achievements. Since I play single player games only these days, it’s something I can do without.

    My biggest beef with them is their exclusive games. Dawn of War 2, Empire: Total War, Civilization V, and others… they’re getting into a near monopoly with anti-competitive practices like this, which really worries me.

    I don’t want to see PC gaming become Steam gaming, where one company is the gatekeeper. Proper competition between distributors will give the customer the best deals and service.

  • Cameron Sorden said,

    I absolutely agree with you. Not with regard to performance, but I just don’t want the extra step and overhead of having to log into a separate client to use my games. It’s annoying (even if it does have handy features like chat).

  • Powercow said,

    I certainly agree here. If a game is similarly priced on all services, I will buy it preferentially from:

    1. Impulse, which has a nice service that updates games for me, but both the updates and running impulse are not compulsory.

    2. Gamers Gate, which doesn’t make me bother with a service at all but does make me manually patch my games.

    3. Steam, which is a bloated pig that wants to control my games.

  • Bad Sector said,

    Hmm… are we running the same Steam and Impulse clients? 😛

    I always found Impulse much heavier than Steam. I don’t mind leaving Steam at the background, although i don’t have it autostart. And i don’t think it takes too much to start – most of the time is spent trying to connect. This makes me wonder if your connection is at fault here (which is enforced by your comment on the “what is new” window).

    In any case you can disable both the IM and the “what is new” window (although personally i have it enabled because i’m really interested in it :-P).

  • Zeus said,

    Well, you don’t need to run Impulse to play games, which is the biggest draw for me.

    Steam is needy, Steam smothers you. If you go into Offline mode and double-click a game icon on your desktop, it still tries to connect to your account for… what exactly? I have no idea. When I go into Offline Mode in my web browser, it doesn’t stubbornly try to connect. Who knows what Steam’s doing. And it gets even worse if you have a game with Steamworks.

    “Woah! Dude! You’re not gonna be able to update them saves into the cloud bro, you should totally go online!”

    A well crafted program would allow you to tick a checkbox and never have to see that stupid warning again. But Steam? Not the most user friendly program out there.

  • Tesh said,

    I detest that Steam always wants to connect to the internet. Even in offline mode. Pisses me off.

    I purchased Recettear via Impulse, and it’s been a blast so far… and Impulse itself doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the Steam client.

  • Manny said,

    I love the sales and the easy distribution of some indie/old games that I wouldn’t be able to purchase otherwise.

    However, the fact that I will always need to have Steam running with a working internet connection in order to play is a huge putoff.

  • GhanBuriGhan said,

    Just wait until Apple decides to dominate the digital gaming market… What we need is a healthy competition between digital distribution platforms. Maybe Indies should get together and start their own service.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    It’s been tried several times – never gained much traction though. I was really plugging for Greg Costikyan’s Manifesto Games, but that one only lasted two or three years.

  • Jason said,

    Little known fact: Steam deletes your porn.

  • LateWhiteRabbit said,

    Impulse acts much more sluggish and bloated for me than Steam. It takes 10-15 seconds from the time I click the Steam icon until I can start a game with it. I never thought to see how many resources it consumes while running but I checked that too, and it hovers at 60 MB of RAM or a little less.

    I guess that is a bit of seemingly unnecessary bloat when running a game, but I have had 2 GB or more of memory since 2003, so it’s not really a big deal to me. I have 14 GB of RAM on my current machine. I do a lot of high res digital art and make next-gen 3D graphics – it’s my gaming/workstation both. So a program using 60 MB of RAM may as well be using 60 KB for all the difference in performance I see.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    The big difference (for me) has been that I haven’t needed Impulse running to play their single-player games. So I can generally ignore Impulse entirely. Steam insists on pretty much freezing my computer for 10-15 seconds while it loads the ads for the latest release and everything else.

  • Bad Sector said,

    Actually those 60KB are closer to what Steam will occupy while running the game, thanks to the wonders of Virtual Memory (which pages out unused memory parts, especially in times of need – for RAM :-P).

  • Dhruin said,

    I don’t really get the point of this post, Jay. You had a choice of vendor and you exercised that choice…and? You might just try clicking the Notify checkbox that disables the ads, by the way.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    Oh, I did. It’s probably good for the industry that I did – Steam needs competition. 😉 But that doesn’t stop me from complaining a little bit that Steam might make itself better for consumers than it is now.

  • Xenovore said,

    Steam can get obnoxious sometimes, especially if the games integrate Steam for DRM or whatever.

    That said, however, a LOT of games do not actually require Steam, i.e. you can run games directly from where they are installed; Steam does not need to be running at all, in these cases. (Fallout 3, for example.)

    So, if Steam is buggin’ ya, just try running the game executable directly…

  • hawk52842 said,

    i recently purchased recettear and it was downloaded from gamer’s gate….but all it does is show the intro and the characters and then reverts back to intro.this keeps repeating itself….any ideas?

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    It doesn’t use the mouse (I know, yes, in this day and age…) so you’ll need to use one of the keyboard commands to start the game. Other than that, I really don’t know what to tell you… I never ran into that problem.