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Steam是由威尔乌开发的数字发行平台，向用户提供数字版权管理（DRM）、多人游戏、流媒体和社交網路服務。Steam向用户提供游戏安装和自动更新，社区功能则有好友列表、云储存、游戏内语音和聊天功能。软件设有免费应用程序接口Steamworks，供开发者将Steam的功能内置到他们的产品中，诸如网络、配对、游戏成就、微收费和Steam Workshop的用户创造内容。软件最初为Microsoft Windows操作系统开发，MacOS和Linux后来也发布了。连接主软件功能的流動應用程式后来在IOS、Android和Windows Phone设备发布。
Steam平台是公认的个人电脑游戏最大分发平台，据2013年10月Screen Digest估计占据了75%的市场份额。2015年，据追踪网站Steam Spy的估计，用户透过Steam或第三方零售商提供的Steam密钥购买的游戏大约价值35亿，占据全球电脑游戏销售额的15%。到2017年年底， 服务注册账户达1.5亿，最高同时在线用户1750万。Steam平台的成功，推动了Steam Machine微主机生产线及SteamOS操作系统的开发。
|2002||Revealed to public|
|Beta period begins|
|2005||First publisher partnership|
|2007||Steam Community launched|
|2010||MacOS client released|
|Translation Server opened|
|2011||PlayStation 3 Steam integration|
|Steam Workshop launched|
|2012||Steam mobile apps released|
|Steam for Schools launched|
|Steam Greenlight launched|
|Big Picture Mode launched|
|Productivity software added to catalog|
|2013||Linux client released|
|Family Sharing launched|
|2014||In-Home Streaming launched|
|Steam Music launched|
|Discovery 1.0 update|
|2015||Broadcast streaming launched|
|Steam Machine released|
|Movies/TV purchases/renting added to catalog|
|Discovery 2.0 update launched|
|2017||Steam Direct launched|
2009年前，在Steam上发行的大多数游戏采用传统的反盗版手段，例如分配和发行产品密钥以及支持SecuROM等数字版权管理软件工具或无恶意的Rootkit。2009年3月，Steamworks软件开发工具包更新，威尔乌新增“用户可执行文件生成”（Custom Executable Generation）功能，消除对其他功能的需要。该技术为指定用户生成一个独一无二的游戏可执行文件加密副本，允许他们多次和在多台设备上安装，为他们的软件备份副本。一旦软件下载并安装好，用户随后必须通过认证，解密可执行文件玩游戏。该动作通常在用户凭证认证后连接到互联网时完成，但一旦曾经登录过Steam，用户便能指引Steam在特殊的离线模式下启动，没有连上网也能玩他们的游戏。开发商们并没被该功能限死，可能会选择其他数字版权管理和其他认证服务，比如育碧发行的作品需要用到自家的Uplay游戏服务，此外直到2014年关闭，其他作品使用了Games for Windows - Live，然而其他作品已经过渡到使用Steamworks的CEG办法 。
2008年9月，威尔乌新增Steam Cloud服务，支持自动将存档文件或有关的客户端文件储存到威尔乌服务器，用户从任何运行Steam客户端的机器可访问这些数据。要想使用Steam Cloud，游戏必须采用Steamworks的合适功能。用户可以根据每款游戏和每个账户的基础禁用这个功能。2012年5月，服务新增用户从计算机和移动设备等远程客户端管理游戏库的功能，如果Steam客户端目前活跃且在运行，用户可以引导其下载安装所拥有的游戏。一些从零售渠道取得的游戏，输入软件内的产品代码便被赎回到用户的游戏库中。至于并入Steamworks的游戏，用户可以从其他零售商购买兑换码，在Steam客户端中赎回这些作品，将他们新增到库中。Steam还为游戏销售和分发可下载内容提供框架。
Steam客户端包含数字店面Steam Store功能，方便用户购买电脑游戏。游戏买好后，软件许可证便永久联系到用户的Steam账户，允许其在任何可便携设备上下载软件。某些情况下，游戏许可可以给其他账户。内容利用专有文件传输协议从国际服务器网络分发。根据用户所在地，Steam销售产品时以美元、加元、欧元、巴西雷亚尔、卢布、人民币、印尼盾和卢比结算。2010年10月起，客户端支持在欧洲、中东和亚洲许多国家流行的Webmoney支付系统。2016年4月开始，Steam开始接受比特币支付，根据用户的地理位置定价，由BitPay处理交易。然而，威尔乌在2017年12月放弃了使用比特币的功能，声称价值变动颇大，服务费用昂贵，用起来“站不住脚”。Steam的店铺会验证用户的地区，购买游戏可能会由于发行日期、游戏评级或发行商协议在特定地区受限。2010年起，“Steam翻译服务”（Steam Translation Server）向Steam用户提供客户端、店铺和Steam选定库游戏的协助翻译，多达27种语言。Steam允许用户为游戏购买可下载内容以及《絕地要塞2》等游戏内部的增值物品。2015年2月，Steam开始为第三方游戏的游戏内购启动类似的选项。
Steam店铺还使得用户兑换商店的产品密钥，将软件增加到他们的库中。这些密钥由Humble Bundle（其部分销售额会退还到开发商获分销商）等第三方供应商出售，作为实体版发行的一部分激活游戏，或是作为推广赠予用户，经常用来分发Kickstarter和其他众酬回馈。密钥存在灰色市场，信誉较低的买家大量购买一款游戏的Steam密钥，以低价出售，之后再抬高价格转售给用户或其他第三方网站，从中获取利润。这造成部分第三方网站，如G2A被卷入这个市场。发行商可以让威尔乌追踪特定密钥使用的地区，将其冻结，从用户的库中删除产品，使得用户向他们购入密钥的第三方追索。其他合法店铺，例如Humble Bundle设立获取Steam密钥的最低价，阻止进入灰色市场的大量购买。
2013年，Steam开始开放用户评价游戏。其他游戏可以随后评价这些评论饰有帮助的、幽默的或还是没帮助的，有用的评论会在Steam店铺页面上醒目展示。Steam还会聚合这些评论，使得用户在浏览店铺时依照这些反馈甄别产品 In May 2016, Steam further broke out these aggregations between all reviews overall and those made more recently in the last 30 days, a change Valve acknowledges to how game updates, particularly those in Early Access, can alter the impression of a game to users. To prevent observed abuse of the review system by developers or other third-party agents, Valve modified the review system in September 2016 to discount review scores for a game from users that activated the product through a product key rather than directly purchased by the Steam score, though their reviews remain visible. Alongside this, Valve announced that it would end business relations with any developer or publisher that they have found to be abusing the review system.
During mid-2011, Valve began to offer 网络游戏免费模式 games, such as Global Agenda, Spiral Knights and Champions Online; this offer was linked to the company's move to make 絕地要塞2 a free-to-play title. Valve included support via Steamworks for microtransactions for in-game items in these titles through Steam's purchasing channels, in a similar manner to the in-game store for Team Fortress 2. Later that year, Valve added the ability to trade in-game items and "unopened" game gifts between users. Steam Coupons, which was introduced in December 2011, provides single-use coupons that provide a discount to the cost of items. Steam Coupons can be provided to users by developers and publishers; users can trade these coupons between friends in a similar fashion to gifts and in-game items. Steam Market, a feature introduced in beta in December 2012 that would allow users to sell virtual items to others via Steam Wallet funds, further extended the idea. Valve levies a transaction fee of 15% on such sales and game publishers that use Steam Market pay a transaction fee. For example, Team Fortress 2—the first game supported at the beta phase—incurred both fees. Full support for other games was expected to be available in early 2013. In April 2013, Valve added subscription-based game support to Steam; the first game to use this service was Darkfall Unholy Wars.
In October 2012, Steam introduced non-gaming applications, which are sold through the service in the same manner as games. Creativity and productivity applications can access the core functions of the Steamworks API, allowing them to use Steam's simplified installation and updating process, and incorporate features including cloud saving and Steam Workshop. Steam also allows 遊戲音樂 to be purchased to be played via Steam Music or integrated with the user's other media players. Valve have also added the ability for publishers to rent and sell digital movies via the service, with initially most being video game documentaries. Following 华纳兄弟 offering the 衝鋒飛車隊系列電影 films alongside the September 2015 release of the 疯狂麦克斯 (2015年游戏), 狮门娱乐 entered into agreement with Valve to rent over one hundred feature films from its catalog through Steam starting in April 2016, with more films following later. In March 2017, Crunchyroll started offering various 日本动画 for purchase or rent through Steam. With the onset of Steam Machine, the Steam storefront also includes the ability to purchase Steam Machine-related hardware.
In conjunction with developers and publishers, Valve frequently provides discounted sales on games on a daily and weekly basis, sometimes oriented around a publisher, genre, or holiday theme, and sometimes allow games to be tried for free during the days of these sales. The site normally offers a large selection of games at discount during its annual Summer and Holiday sales, including 遊戲化 of these sales to incentive users to purchase more games.
The popularity of Steam has led to the service's being attacked by 黑客 (计算机安全) in the past. An attempt occurred in November 2011, when Valve temporarily closed the community forums, citing potential hacking threats to the service. Days later, Valve reported that the hack had compromised one of its customer databases, potentially allowing the perpetrators to access customer information—including encrypted password and credit card details. At that time, Valve was not aware whether the intruders actually accessed this information or discovered the encryption method, but nevertheless warned users to be alert for fraudulent activity.
Valve added Steam Guard functionality to the Steam client in March 2011 to protect against the hijacking of accounts via 钓鱼式攻击 schemes, one of the largest support issues Valve had at the time. Steam Guard was advertised to take advantage of the identity protection provided by Intel's second-generation 酷睿 processors and compatible motherboard hardware, which allows users to lock their account to a specific computer. Once locked, activity by that account on other computers must first be approved by the user on the locked computer. Support APIs for Steam Guard are available to third-party developers through Steamworks. Steam Guard also offers 多重要素驗證, risk-based authentication that uses a one-time verification code sent to a verified email address associated with the Steam account; this was later expanded to include two-factor authentication through the Steam mobile application, known as Steam Guard Mobile Authenticator. If Steam Guard is enabled, the verification code is sent each time the account is used from an unknown machine.
In 2015, between Steam-based game inventories, trading cards, and other virtual goods attached to a user's account, Valve stated that the potential monetary value had drawn hackers to try to access user accounts for financial benefit, and continue to encourage users to secure accounts with Steam Guard; when trading was introduced in 2011. Valve reported that in December 2015, around 77,000 accounts per month were hijacked, enabling the hijackers to empty out the user's inventory of items through the trading features. To improve security, the company announced that new restrictions would be added in March 2016, under which 15-day holds are placed on traded items unless they activate, and authenticate with Steam Guard Mobile Authenticator.
ReVuln, a commercial vulnerability research firm, published a paper in October 2012 that said the Steam browser protocol was posing a security risk by enabling malicious exploits through a simple user click on a maliciously crafted
steam:// URL in a browser. The report was taken up by various online publications. This was the second serious vulnerability of gaming-related software following a recent problem with Ubisoft's copy protection system "Uplay"; the German IT platform "Heise online" recommended strict separation of gaming and sensitive data, for example using a PC dedicated to gaming, gaming from a second Windows installation, or using a computer account with limited rights dedicated to gaming.
In July 2015, a bug in the software allowed anyone to reset the password to any account by using the "forgot password" function of the client. High-profile professional gamers and 流媒体 lost access to their accounts. In December 2015, Steam's 內容傳遞網路 was misconfigured in response to a 阻斷服務攻擊, causing cached store pages containing personal information to be temporarily exposed for 34,000 users.
Since November 2013, Steam allows for users to review their purchased titles and organize them into categories set by the user and add to favorite lists for quick access. Players can add non-Steam games to their libraries, allowing the game to be easily accessed from the Steam client and providing support where possible for Steam Overlay features. The Steam interface allows for user-defined shortcuts to be added. In this way, third-party modifications and games not purchased through the Steam Store can use Steam features. Valve sponsors and distributes some modifications free-of-charge; and modifications that use Steamworks can also use VAC, Friends, the server browser, and any Steam features supported by their parent game. For most games launched from Steam, the client provides an in-game overlay that can be accessed by a keystroke. From the overlay, the user can access his or her Steam Community lists and participate in chat, manage selected Steam settings, and access a built-in 网页浏览器 without having to exit the game. Since the beginning of February 2011 as a beta version, the overlay also allows players to take 截圖s of the games in process; it automatically stores these and allows the player to review, delete, or share them during or after his or her game session. As a full version on February 24, 2011, this feature was reimplemented so that users could share screenshots on websites of Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit straight from a user's screenshot manager.
Steam's "Big Picture" mode was announced in 2011; public betas started in September 2012 and were integrated into the software in December 2012. Big Picture mode is a 10-foot user interface, which optimizes the Steam display to work on high-definition televisions, allowing the user to control Steam with a gamepad or with a keyboard and mouse. Newell stated that Big Picture mode was a step towards a dedicated Steam entertainment hardware unit. SteamVR, a 虚拟现实 (VR) Big Picture interface, was introduced in beta in January 2014. The SteamVR mode enables the user to operate the Big Picture mode and play any game in their Steam library with a virtual theater displayed through the VR headset, the equivalent of looking at a 225-inch television screen, according to Valve. The mode was first introduced in beta for the Oculus Rift headset and later expanded in March 2015 to support the HTC Vive, a VR unit developed jointly with Valve, with the feature to be publicly released shortly after the Vive's public launch in April 2016. In-Home Streaming was introduced in May 2014; this allows users to stream games installed on one computer to another—regardless of platform—on the same home network.
The Steam client, as part of a 社交網路服務, allows users to identify friends and join groups using the Steam Community feature. Users can use text chat and 對等網路 網際協議通話技術 with other users, identify which games their friends and other group members are playing, and join and invite friends to Steamworks-based multiplayer games that support this feature. Users can participate in forums hosted by Valve to discuss Steam games. Each user has a unique page that shows his or her groups and friends, game library including earned achievements, game wishlists, and other social features; users can choose to keep this information private. In January 2010, Valve reported that 10 million of the 25 million active Steam accounts had signed up to Steam Community. In conjunction with the 2012 Steam Summer Sale, user profiles were updated with Badges reflecting the user's participation in the Steam community and past events. Steam Trading Cards were introduced in beta in May 2013 and were fully supported by June 2013. By playing specific games, players would earn virtual trading cards, which they could trade with friends and use towards gaining rewards on the service such as game discounts, downloadable content, or in-game items, and customize their user profile page. In 2010, the Steam client became an OpenID provider, allowing third-party websites to use a Steam user's identity without requiring the user to expose his or her Steam credentials. In order to prevent abuse, access to most community features is restricted until a one-time payment of at least 美元5 is made to Valve. This requirement can be fulfilled by making any purchase of five dollars or more on Steam, or by adding at the same amount to their wallet.
Through Steamworks, Steam provides a means of server browsing for multiplayer games that use the Steam Community features, allowing users to create lobbies with friends or members of common groups. Steamworks also provides 維爾福反作弊系統 (VAC), Valve's proprietary anti-cheat system; game servers automatically detect and report users who are using 游戏外挂 in online, multiplayer games. In August 2012, Valve added new features—including dedicated hub pages for games that highlight the best user-created content, top forum posts, and screenshots—to the Community area. In December 2012, a feature called Game Guides, where users can upload text and images detailing games and game strategies in the same manner as GameFAQs was added. Starting in beta in December 2014 and publicly released in January 2015, the Steam client allows players to 流媒体 to the public or Steam friends while playing video games.
In September 2014, Steam Music, a built-in music player, was added to the Steam client, allowing users to play through music stored on their computer or to stream from a locally networked computer.
Valve offers Steamworks, an 应用程序接口 (API) that provides development and publishing tools to take advantage of Steam client's features, free-of-charge to game and software developers. Steamworks provides networking and player authentication tools for both server and peer-to-peer multiplayer games, matchmaking services, support for Steam community friends and groups, Steam statistics and achievements, integrated voice communications, and Steam Cloud support, allowing games to integrate with the Steam client. The API also provides anti-cheating devices and digital copy management. Developers of software available on Steam are able to track sales of their titles through the Steam store. In February 2014, Valve announced that it would begin to allow developers to set up their own sales for their games independent of any sales that Valve may set. Valve added the ability for developers to sell games under an early access model with a special "Early Access" section of the Steam store, starting in March 2013. This program allows developers to release functional but yet-incomplete products such as beta versions to the service to allow users to buy the titles and help provide testing and feedback towards the final production. Early access also helps to provide funding to the developers to help complete their titles. The Early Access approach allowed more developers to publish games onto the Steam service without the need for Valve's direct curation of titles, significantly increasing the number of available titles on the service.
Developers are able to request Steam keys of their products to use as they see fit, such as to give away in promotions, to provide to selected users for review, or to give to key resellers for different profitization. Valve generally honors all such requests, but clarified that they would evaluate some requests to avoid giving keys to games or other offerings that are designed to manipulate the Steam storefront and other features. For example, Valve said that a request for 500,000 keys for a game that has significantly negative reviews and 1,000 sales on Steam is unlikely to be granted.
The Steam Workshop is a Steam account-based hosting service for videogame user-created content. Depending on the title, new levels, art assets, gameplay modifications, or other content may be published to or installed from the Steam Workshop through an automated, online account-based process. The Workshop was originally used for distribution of new items for Team Fortress 2; it was redesigned to extend support for any game in early 2012, including modifications for 上古卷轴V：天际. A May 2012 patch for Portal 2, enabled by a new map-making tool through the Steam Workshop, introduced the ability to share user-created levels. Independently-developed games, including Dungeons of Dredmor, are able to provide Steam Workshop support for user-generated content. Dota 2 became Valve's third published title available for the Steam Workshop in June 2012; its features include customizable accessories, character 虛擬商品, and announcer packs.
As of January 2015, Valve themselves had provided some user-developed Workshop content as paid-for features in Valve-developed games, including Team Fortress 2 and Dota 2; with over $57 million being paid to content creators using the Workshop. Valve began allowing developers to use these advanced features in January 2015; both the developer and content generator share the profits of the sale of these items; the feature went live in April 2015, starting with various mods for Skyrim. This feature was pulled a few days afterward following 遊戲模組. Six months later, Valve stated they were still interested in offering this type of functionality in the future, but would review the implementation to avoid these previous mistakes. In November 2015, the Steam client was updated with the ability for game developers to offer in-game items for direct sale via the store interface, with Rust being the first game to use the feature.
Steam for Schools编辑
Steam for Schools is a function-limited version of the Steam client that is available free-of-charge to educational institutions for use in classrooms. It is part of Valve's initiative to support gamification of learning for classroom instruction; it was released alongside free versions of 傳送門2 and a standalone program called "Puzzle Maker" that allows teachers and students to create and manipulate levels. It features additional authentication security that allows teachers to share and distribute content via a Steam Workshop-type interface but blocks access from students.
In general, up through 2012, Valve would manually select games to be included on the Steam service, generally limiting these to games that either had a major developer supporting them, or smaller studios with proven track records for Valve's purposes. Valve have sought ways to enable more games to be offered through Steam, while pulling away from manually approving games for the service, short of validating that a game runs on the platforms the publisher had indicated. Alden Kroll, a member of the Steam development team, said that Valve knows Steam is in a near-monopoly for game sales on personal computers, and the company does not want to be in a position to determine what gets sold, and thus had tried to find ways to make the process of adding games to Steam outside of their control. At the same time, Valve recognized that unfettered control of games onto the service can lead to discovery problems as well as low-quality games that are put onto the service for a cash grab.
Valve's first attempt to streamline game addition to the service was with Steam Greenlight, announced in July 2012 and released the following month. Through Greenlight, Steam users would choose which games were added to the service. Developers were able to submit information about their games, as well as early builds or beta versions, for consideration by users. Users would pledge support for these games, and Valve would help to make top-pledged games available on the Steam service. In response to complaints during its first week that finding games to support was made difficult by a flood of inappropriate or false submissions, Valve required developers to pay 100美元 to list a game on the service to reduce illegitimate submissions. Those fees were donated to the charity Child's Play. This fee was met with some concern from smaller developers, who often are already working in a deficit and may not have the money to cover such fees. A later modification allowed developers to put conceptual ideas on the Greenlight service to garner interest in potential projects free-of-charge; votes from such projects are only visible to the developer. Valve also allowed non-gaming software to be voted onto the service through Greenlight.
The initial process offered by Steam Greenlight was panned because while developers favored the concept, the rate of games that are eventually approved by Valve is very small. At the time, Valve acknowledged that this was a problem and believed it could be improved upon it. In January 2013, Newell stated that Valve recognized that its role in Greenlight was perceived as a bottleneck, something the company was planning to eliminate in the future through an open marketplace infrastructure. On the eve of Greenlight's first anniversary, Valve simultaneously approved 100 titles through the Greenlight process to demonstrate this change of direction. While the Greenlight service had helped to bring more and varied games onto Steam without excessive bureaucracy, it also led to an excessively large number of games on the service that make it difficult for a single title to stand out, and as early as 2014, Valve had discussed plans to phase out the Greenlight process in favor of providing developers with easier means to put their games onto the Steam service.
Steam Greenlight was phased out and replaced with Steam Direct in June 2017. With Steam Direct, a developer or publisher wishing to distribute their game on Steam needs only to complete appropriate identification and tax forms for Valve and then pay a recouperable application fee for each game they intend to publish. Once they apply, a developer must wait thirty days before publishing the game as to give Valve the ability to review the game to make sure it is "configured correctly, matches the description provided on the store page, and doesn't contain malicious content."
On announcing its plans for Steam Direct, Valve suggested the fee would be in the range of $100–5,000, meant to encourage earnest software submissions to the service and weed out poor quality titles that are treated as shovelware, improving the discovery pipeline to Steam's customers. Smaller developers raised concerns about the Direct fee harming them, and excluding potentially good indie games from reaching the Steam marketplace. Valve opted to set the Direct fee at $100 after reviewing concerns from the community, recognizing the need to keep this at a low amount for small developers, and outlining plans to improve their discovery algorithms and inject more human involvement to help these. Valve then refunds the fee should the game exceed $1,000 in sales. In the process of transitioning from Greenlight to Direct, Valve mass-approved most of the 3,400 remaining titles that were still in Greenlight, though the company noted that not all of these were at a state to be published. Valve anticipated that the volume of new games added to the service would further increase with Direct in place. Some groups, such as publisher Raw Fury Games and crowd funding/investment site Fig, have offered to pay the Direct fee for indie developers who can not afford it.
Without more direct interaction on the curation process, allowing hundreds more games on the service, Valve had looked to find methods to allow players to find games they would be more likely to buy based on previous purchase patterns. The September 2014 "Discovery Update" added tools that would allow existing Steam users to be curators for game recommendations, and sorting functions that presented more popular titles and recommended titles specific to the user, as to allow more games to be introduced on Steam without the need of Steam Greenlight, while providing some means to highlight user-recommended games. This Discovery update was considered successful by Valve, as they reported in March 2015 in seeing increased use of the Steam Storefront and an increase in 18% of sales by revenue from just prior to the update. A second Discovery update was released November 2016, giving users more control over what titles they want to see or ignore within the Steam Store, alongside tools for developers and publishers to better customize and present their game within these new users preferences. By February 2017, Valve reported that with the second Discovery update, the number of games shown to users via the store's front page increased by 42%, with more conversions into sales from that viewership. In 2016, more games are meeting a rough metric of success defined by Valve as selling more than $200,000 in revenues in its first 90 days of release. Valve added a "Curator Connect" program in December 2017. Curators can set up descriptors for the type of games they are interested in, preferred languages, and other tags along with social media profiles, while developers can find and reach out to specific curators from this information, and, after review, provide them directly with access to their game. This step, which eliminates the use of a Steam redemption key, is aimed to reduce the reselling of keys, as well as dissuade users that may be trying to game the curator system to obtain free game keys.
Valve still recognizes it has a problem with what it calls "fake games", those that are built around reused assets and little other innovation, designed only to generate profit from unsuspecting users. To help assist finding and removing these games from the service, the company plans to add Steam Explorers atop its existing Steam Curator program, according to various YouTube personalities that have spoken out about such games in the past and with Valve directly, including Jim Sterling and TotalBiscuit. Any Steam user is able to sign up to be an Explorer, and are asked to look at under-performing games on the service as to either vouch that the game is truly original and simply lost among other releases, or if it is an example of a "fake game", at which point Valve can take action to remove the game. Valve also made changes to the trading card system in May 2017 to prevent abuse by "fake games". Valve found that some of the "bad actors" that released these games with trading card support then distributed game codes to thousands of bot-operated accounts that would run the game to earn trading cards that they could then sell for profit; these games would also create false positives that make these titles appear more popular than they really were and would impact games suggested to legitimate players through their store algorithms. Subsequent to this patch, games must reach some type of confidence factor based on actual playtime before they can generate trading cards, with players credited for their time played towards receiving trading cards before this metric is met.
In June 2015, Valve created a formal process to allow purchasers to request full refunds on games they had purchased on Steam for any reason, with refunds guaranteed within the first two weeks as long as the player had not spent more than two hours in the game. Prior to June 2015, Valve had a no-refunds policy, but allowed them in certain circumstances, such as if third-party content had failed to work or improperly reports on certain features. For example, the Steam version of From Dust was originally stated to have a single, post-installation online DRM check with its publisher Ubisoft, but the released version of the game required a DRM check with Ubisoft's servers each time it was used. At the request of Ubisoft, Valve offered refunds to customers who bought the game while Ubisoft worked to release a patch that would remove the DRM check altogether. On The War Z's release, players found that the game was still in an alpha-build state and lacked many of the features advertised on its Steam store page. Though the developers Hammerpoint Interactive altered the description after launch to reflect the current state of the game software, Valve removed the title from Steam and offered refunds to those who had bought it. Valve also removed Earth: Year 2066 from the Early Access program and offered refunds after discovering that the game's developers had reused assets from other games and used developer tools to erase negative complaints about the title. Valve stated it would continue to work on improving the discovery process for users, taking principles they learned in providing transparency for matchmaking in Dota 2 to make the process better, and using that towards Steam storefront procedures to help refine their algorithms with user feedback.
Valve has full authority to remove games from the service for various reasons; however games that are removed can still be downloaded and played by those that have already purchased these titles. 俠盜獵車手：罪惡城市 was removed from Steam in 2012 because of a claim from the 美國唱片業協會 over an expired license for one of the songs on the soundtrack. Near the launch of Electronic Arts' (EA) own digital storefront Origin (电子游戏平台) during the same year, Valve removed 末日之戰2 and Dragon Age II from Steam because the terms of service prevented games from having their own in-game storefront for downloadable content. In the case of Crysis 2, a "Maximum Edition" that contained all the available downloadable content for the game and removed the in-game storefront was re-added to Steam. Valve also remove games that are formally stated to be violating copyright or other intellectual property when given such complaints. In 2016, Valve removed Orion by Trek Industries when 动视 filed a 數字千年版權法 (DMCA) complaint about the game after it was discovered that one of the game's artists had taken, among other assets, gun models directly from 使命召唤：黑色行动III and 使命召唤：高级战争.
Other actions will prompt Valve to remove games. In one example, the developer Digital Homicide Studios had issued a lawsuit against 100 unnamed Steam users for leaving poor reviews of its games; Valve subsequently removed their games from the storefront "for being hostile to Steam customers", according to a response written by Valve's Doug Lombardi. Digital Homicide later dropped the lawsuit, in part due to the removal of the games from Steam affecting their financial ability to proceed with the lawsuit. In another situation in September 2017, Valve removed 170 games developed by Silicon Echo (operating under several different names) that they had released over a period of a few months in 2017, after the implementation of Steam Direct. Valve cited that these were cheap "fake games" that relied on "asset flipping" with pre-existing Unity (游戏引擎) assets so that they could be published quickly, and were designed to take advantage of the trading card market to allow players and the developers to profit from the trading card sales. In February 2018, after discovering that the CEO of Insel Games had requested the company's employees to write positive Steam reviews for its games as to manipulate the review scores, Valve removed all of Insel's titles from the service and banned the company from it.
On March 8, 2010, Valve announced that Steam was developing a client for MacOS. The announcement was preceded by a change in the Steam beta client to support the cross-platform WebKit web browser rendering engine instead of the Trident (排版引擎) of Internet Explorer. Before this announcement, Valve teased the release by e-mailing several images to Mac community and gaming websites; the images featured characters from Valve games with 蘋果公司 logos and parodies of vintage 麥金塔 advertisements. Valve developed a full video homage to Apple's 1984 (广告) Macintosh commercial to announce the availability of Half-Life 2 and its episodes on the service; some concept images for the video had previously been used to tease the Mac Steam client.
Steam for OS X was originally planned for release in April 2010; it was launched worldwide on May 12, 2010, following a successful beta period. In addition to the Steam client, several features were made available to developers, allowing them to take advantage of the cross-platform Source engine, and platform and network capabilities using Steamworks. Through SteamPlay, the OS X client allows players who have purchased compatible products in the Windows version to download the Mac versions at no cost, allowing them to continue playing the game on the other platform. Some third-party titles may require the user to re-purchase them to gain access to the cross-platform functionality. The Steam Cloud is cross-platform compatible. Multiplayer games can also be cross-compatible, allowing Windows and Mac players to play with each other.
Valve announced in July 2012 that it was developing a Steam client for Linux and modifying the Source engine to work natively on Linux, based on the Ubuntu distribution. This announcement followed months of speculation, primarily from the website Phoronix that had discovered evidence of Linux developing in recent builds of Steam and other Valve software. Newell stated that getting Steam and games to work on Linux is a key strategy for Valve; Newell called the closed nature of Windows 8, "a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space", and that Linux would maintain "the openness of the platform". Valve is extending support to any developers that want to bring their games to Linux, by "making it as easy as possible for anybody who's engaged with us—putting their games on Steam and getting those running on Linux", according to Newell.
The team developing the Linux client had been working for a year before the announcement to validate that such a port would be possible. As of the official announcement, a near-feature-complete Steam client for Linux had been developed and successfully run on Ubuntu. Internal 軟件版本週期ing of the Linux client started in October 2012; external beta testing occurred in early November the same year. Open beta clients for Linux were made available in late December 2012, and the client was officially released in mid-February 2013. At the time of announcement, Valve's Linux division assured that its first game on the OS, 求生之路2, would run at an acceptable frame rate and with a degree of connectivity with the Windows and OS X versions. From there, it began working on porting other games to Ubuntu and expanding to other Linux distributions. Linux games are also eligible for SteamPlay availability. Versions of Steam working under Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux were released by October 2013. By June 2014, the number of Linux-compatible games on Steam had reached over 500, surpassing over 1,000 by March 2015. A year later, this number doubled to over 2,000.
At E3 2010, Newell announced that Steamworks would arrive on the PlayStation 3 with Portal 2. It would provide automatic updates, community support, downloadable content and other unannounced features. Steamworks made its debut on 電子遊戲機 with Portal 2's PlayStation 3 release. Several features—including cross-platform play and 即時通訊, Steam Cloud for saved games, and the ability for PS3 owners to download Portal 2 from Steam (Windows and Mac) at no extra cost—were offered. Valve's 反恐精英：全球攻势 also supports Steamworks and cross-platform features on the PlayStation 3, including using keyboard and mouse controls as an alternative to the gamepad. Valve said it "hope[s] to expand upon this foundation with more Steam features and functionality in DLC and future content releases". In October 2016, Valve announced plans to provide controller customization features similar to what Steam offers for the Steam controller for other third-party controllers, starting with the DualShock.
The Xbox 360 does not have support for Steamworks. Newell said that they would have liked to bring the service to the console through the game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, which would have allowed Valve to provide the same feature set that it did for the PlayStation 3, but later said that cross-platform play would not be present in the final version of the game. Valve attributes the inability to use Steamworks on the Xbox 360 to limitations in the Xbox Live regulations of the ability to deliver patches and new content. Valve's Erik Johnson stated that Microsoft requires that new content must be certified and validated before distribution, which would limit the usefulness of Steamworks' delivery approach.
Valve released an official Steam client for IOS and Android devices in late January 2012, following a short beta period. The application allows players to log into their accounts to browse the storefront, manage their games, and communicate with friends in the Steam community. The application also incorporates a 多重要素驗證 system that works with Steam Guard, further enhancing the security of a user's account. Newell stated that the application was a strong request from Steam users and sees it as a means "to make [Steam] richer and more accessible for everyone". A mobile Steam client for Windows Phone devices was released in June 2016.
Prior to 2013, industry analysts believed that Valve was developing hardware and tuning features of Steam with apparent use on its own hardware. These computers were pre-emptively dubbed as "Steam Boxes" by the gaming community and expected to be a dedicated machine focused upon Steam functionality and maintaining the core functionality of a traditional video game console. In September 2013, Valve unveiled SteamOS, a custom Linux-based operating system they had developed specifically aimed for running Steam and games, a console input device called the Steam Controller, and the final concept of the Steam Machine hardware. Unlike other consoles, the Steam Machine does not have set hardware; its technology is implemented at the discretion of the manufacturer and is fully customizable, much like a personal computer.
Valve reporting that there were 125 million active accounts on Steam by the end of 2015.[a] By August 2017, the company reported that there were 27 million new active accounts since January 2016, bringing the total number of active users to at least 150 million. While most accounts are from North America and western Europe, Valve has seen a significant growth in accounts from Asian countries within recent years, spurred by their work to help localize the client and make additional currency options available to purchasers. As of November 2017, more than half of the Steam userbase is fluent in Chinese, an effect created by the explosive growth of 絕地求生 during 2017.
Valve also considers the concurrent user count a key indicator of the success of the platform, reflecting how many accounts were logged into Steam at the same time. By August 2017, Valve reported that they saw an maximum of 14 million concurrent players, up from 8.4 million in 2015, with 33 million concurrent players each day and 67 million each month. During a cou During the November 2017 sale, a record of 17.5 million concurrent players was observed, with about 6.9 million of those actively participating in a game. By January 2018, the concurrent online player count had reached 18.5 million, with over seven million playing a game.
Steam has grown significantly since its inception in 2003. Whereas the service started with seven games in 2004, 截至2016年12月[update], it now sells around 11,180 games, with over 4,200 of those games added to the service in 2016 alone. The growth of games on Steam is attributed to changes in Valve's curation approach, which allows publishers to add games without having Valve's direct involvement enabled by the Greenlight and Early Access models, and games supporting new virtual reality technology.
Valve does not release any sales figures for its Steam service; it only provides the data to companies with games on Steam, which they cannot release without permission because of a non-disclosure agreement with Valve. However, Stardock, the previous owner of competing platform Impulse, estimated that as of 2009, Steam had a 70% share of the digital distribution market for video games. In early 2011, 福布斯 reported that Steam sales constituted 50–70% of the 4 billion美元 market for downloaded PC games and that Steam offered game producers 毛利率s of 70% of purchase price, compared with 30% at retail. Steam's success has led to some criticism because of its support of DRM and for being an effective monopoly. 自由软件基金会 founder 理查德·斯托曼 commented on the issue following the announcement that Steam would come to Linux; he said that while he supposes that its release can boost GNU/Linux adoption leaving users better off than with Microsoft Windows, he stressed that he sees nothing wrong with commercial software but that the problem is that Steam is unethical for not being 自由软件 and that its inclusion in GNU/Linux distributions teaches the users that the point is not freedom and thus works against the software freedom that is his goal.
In November 2011, CD Projekt, the developer of 巫师2：国王刺客 revealed that Steam was responsible for 200,000 (80%) of the 250,000 online sales of the game. Steam was responsible for 58.6% of gross revenue for Defender's Quest during its first three months of release across six digital distribution platforms—comprising four major digital game distributors and two methods of purchasing and downloading the game directly from the developer. In September 2014, 1.4 million accounts belonged to Australian users, this grew to 2.2 million by October 2015.
Steam's customer service has been highly criticized, with users citing poor response times or lack of response in regards to issues such as being locked out of one's library or having a non-working game redemption key. In March 2015, Valve had been given a failing "F" grade from the 商業改進局 due to a large number of complaints in Valve's handling of Steam, leading Valve's Erik Johnson to state that "we don't feel like our customer service support is where it needs to be right now". Johnson stated the company plans to better integrate customer support features into the Steam client and be more responsive to such issues. In May 2017, in addition to hiring more staff for customer service, Valve publicized pages that show the number and type of customer service requests it was handling over the last 90 days, with an average of 75,000 entered each day. Of those, requests for refunds were the largest segment, and which Valve could resolve within hours, followed by account security and recovery requests. Valve stated at this time that 98% of all service requests were processed within 24 hours of filing.
From its inception in 2003 through to nearly 2009, Steam had a mostly uncontested hold over the PC digital distribution market before major competitors emerged with the largest competitors in the past being services like Games for Windows – Live and Impulse, both of which were shut down in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Sales via the Steam catalog are estimated to be between 50 and 75 percent of the total PC gaming market. Steam’s critics often refer to the service as a 垄断, and claim that placing such a percentage of the overall market can be detrimental to the industry as a whole and that sector competition can only yield positive results for the consumer. Several developers also noted that Steam's influence on the PC gaming market is powerful and one that smaller developers cannot afford to ignore or work with, but believe that Valve's corporate practices for the service make it a type of "benevolent dictator", as Valve attempts to make the service as amenable to developers.
As Steam has grown in popularity, many other competing services have been surfacing trying to emulate their success. The most notable major competitors are 艺电' (EA) Origin (电子游戏平台) service, 育碧's Uplay, 暴雪娛樂's 暴雪战网, and CD Projekt's GOG.com. Battle.net competes as a publisher exclusive platform, while GOG.com's catalog includes many of the same titles as Steam but offers them in a DRM-free platform. Upon launch of EA's Origin in 2011, several EA-published titles were no longer available for sale, and users feared that future EA titles would be limited to Origin's service. Newell expressed an interest in EA games returning to the Steam catalog though noted the situation was complicated. Newell stated "We have to show EA it’s a smart decision to have EA games on Steam, and we’re going to try to show them that." Ubisoft still publishes their games on the Steam platform, however most games published since the launch of Uplay require this service to run after launching the game from Steam.[來源請求]
Steam's predominance in the gaming market has led to Valve becoming involved in various legal cases involving Steam. The lack of a formal refund policy led the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to sue Valve in September 2014 for violating Australian consumer laws that required stores to offer refunds for faulty or broken products. The Commission won the lawsuit in March 2016, though recognizing Valve changed its policy in the interim. The ACCC argued to the court that Valve should be fined 3 million 澳大利亚元 "in order to achieve both specific and general deterrents, and also because of the serious nature of the conduct" prior to their policy changes. Valve argued that from the previous court case that "no finding that Valve's conduct was intended to mislead or deceive consumers", and argued for only a A$250,000 fine. In December 2016, the court ruled with the ACCC and fined Valve A$3 million, as well as requiring Valve to include proper language for Australian consumers outlining their rights when purchasing games off Steam. Valve sought to appeal the rulings, but these were thrown out by higher courts by December 2017.
In December 2015, the French consumer group UFC Que Choisir initiated a lawsuit against Valve for several of their Steam policies that conflict or run afoul of French law, including the restriction against reselling of purchased games which is legal in the European Union. In August 2016, 英國電信 filed a lawsuit against Valve stating that Steam's client infringes on four of their patents, which they state are used within the Steam Library, Chat, Messaging, and Broadcasting. In January 2018, Valve filed for a "special leave" of the court's decision, appealing to the High Court of Australia.
In 2017, the 欧洲联盟委员会 began investigating Valve and five other publishers—万代南梦宫娱乐, 卡普空, Focus Home Interactive, Koch Media and ZeniMax Media—for anti-competitive practices, specifically the use of geo-blocking through the Steam storefront and Steam product keys to prevent access to software to citizens of certain countries. Such practices would be against the Digital Single Market initiative set by the European Union. The French gaming trade group, Syndicat National du Jeu Vidéo, noted that geo-blocking was a necessary feature to hinder inappropriate 产品密钥 reselling, where a group buys a number of keys in regions where the cost is low, and then resells them into regions of much higher value to profit on the difference, outside of European oversight and tax laws.
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