Steam – The most essential thing to have on your gaming PC
Want to know where the best games are? Steam is your one-stop solution and you should check it out
10 Feb 2015
If you're a PC gamer one of the very first things you should download and install is Steam. Created by Valve, the developers of the legendary games Half Life, Portal and Team Fortress, Steam is a one-stop-shop for your gaming needs.
What is Steam?
Steam does two main things. Firstly, it works as an online store that allows you to buy and download games. Once the games are downloaded, they are conveniently stored in your Steam Library where you can browse your collection and launch the games. Any free updates or downloadable content you buy are automatically downloaded and installed, so you're always playing the latest and best version.
But that's not all. Steam also offers you a place in a huge community of other gamers where you can make friends, discuss strategies and exchange hints and tips. Steam also offers series of achievements for completing certain goals in games, which can earn you trading cards, badges, avatars and the like. Some of these may also provide you with discounts on games or other benefits.
The latest games, before they're released
One of the most interesting developments Steam has helped pioneer is the concept of "early access". This allows gamers to purchase a title, often at a reduced price, well before it's officially finished and on sale. You are then able to play the game, help shape its development and iron out bugs by giving feedback to the creators. While this isn't for everyone, it's proved very popular with titles such as Kerbal Space Program and Prison Architect receiving much acclaim.
Want a game to be made?
Steam has expressed its dedication to helping the future of games development. Steam Greenlight lets developers showcase the titles they are working on. You can then vote for the ones you want to see made. A number of highly successful and acclaimed titles have been created this way, such as Broforce, Escape Goat and Sunless Sea. Steam has stated they want to evolve Greenlight into something new so it's even easier for new developers to publish on Steam.
More game for your money
One of the best things about PC gaming is the ability to "mod" games. This allows you to modify the game with new graphics, levels or other features. Steam has a built-in feature that allows you to browse and select the mods you want, and can automatically install and update them.