So another Steam Sale has come and gone. Given the bizarre and ungrateful reaction that the last one provoked in me (see the final Season 3 How To Murder Time Podcast for excessive whining on that), I mostly gave this one a miss. Besides, there’ll be another one along in a month I expect. I did briefly have a peek at the list and love what they’ve done with the new infinitely scrolling sales list; the session became positively Sisyphean at one point; scroll scroll scroll, must search for bargains….FOREVER!
On the whole though, the overloading stimulus of it all more or less convinced me to give up on the concept of “browsing” on Steam, and now, I’ll just stick to occasional checks on specific titles I’ve been waiting for, lurking for the inevitable £2.49 threshold to hit. The Wish-list approach seems the only way to sanely interact with Steam nowadays, but that might just be me.
It did all remind me of a good old chat we were having on Mumble a few weeks back, where the following was brought up and we all had a go:
Not a Valve site and I make no guarantees as to what they do or don’t do with any Steam Login or password you use there, but typing in just your Steam ID, selecting a currency and pressing Go will swiftly come back with precisely how much you’ve ever spent in Valve’s platform dominating digi-O-mart. It also works on other people, which is a bit worrying; presumably this is all publicly available API data which is just being used to do some simple calculations. Since you can easily find out anyway, I’ll save you a click and own up to £489 spent on 53 games.
Totalled up like that, it’s a bit alarming, but that was over 10 years, and I think I’ve probably got my money’s worth. I certainly wasn’t the biggest number when we all tried it and I’m pretty sure the Co-Host has a significant lead on me too.
I guess it’s only a problem if you aren’t getting value for the amount spent. In my case, the “Games not played” stat, a.k.a “The Pile Of Shame” is a bit worrying at 11 (21%), particularly given how disapproving of that I am in others, but much of it is the free bits of Half Life 2 and Counterstrike that everyone gets, and a couple are things that I know I’ve bought, but am Saving For A Rainy Day.
I do that, which is sort of the point I’m getting at. I often feel guilt at not being a good enough consumer, not supporting the industry appropriately. I take too darn long to play these games, never pay full price for any of it, never shell out for bonus figurines and whatnot, never buy stuff when they want me to, or nearly enough of it, and worse of all, I often develop hankerings to play these things again, years after they were in any way cool or fashionable. As a point, I currently happen to be playing Fallout 3, the first Puzzle Quest, and Guild Wars. One.
See for me, these games never go away, which is why I am often very cross about the whole abandonware thing. I’d happily pay someone for these old games, but no-one wants to earn my money a lot of the time! I’m also slightly furious when short-sighted game, OS and hardware designers refuse to give a toss about backward compatibility. Planned obsolescence is a sort of heresy in my world-view! Why make the same thing, badly and on purpose, over and over, when you could make a fine thing once, then make something entirely new next! Good things should last forever! A computer game is for life, not just 16 hours!
Anyway, it all goes some way to explaining why I’m such a flippin’ hipster when it comes to The New Things. It’s not so much that I liked it better before it was mainstream (i.e. commercially available), it’s more that I’ve not finished with the Things I Already Had Yet! And it only gets worse with each new game; a game which, if it’s even remotely good, I will continue to replay once every two to three years or so in rotation with all the others I still have, going back to Baldur’s Gate, System Shock and beyond. (“Anyone for a Lords of Midnight Hotseat Marathon?”) Adding in MMOs, which all seem to be free now and by design have no satisfactory ending, and I start to wonder if there won’t come a time, perhaps soon, when I Will Have Enough Games. Fin. The End. No more purchasing required. Ever.
It’s an odd thought.
Incidentally, that £489 is tied up in entirely non-physical goods, which effectively vanish if Valve turn off the 486 that runs Steam, which is chilling in it’s own way. I like to think that Valve’s last act on this Earth will be to throw the big “Deactivate the DRM” switch, releasing all our bought and paid-for games into our own custodianship, but I’m notably naïve. And anyway, in this giddy ‘Canticle for Lebowitz‘ type future I’m imagining for us all, we’ll probably be fighting each other with pointy sticks for the last pouch of Rad-Away, long before Steam’s absence becomes a problem.
I shall try to stop obsessing about Steam soon. Until then, don’t have nightmares!