In this guide, you will learn all there is to know about Steam, the perfect platform for gamers, and how it works.
Steam is a digital delivery platform developed by Valve, a software house known for the Half-Life, Portal, Counter-Strike series and for other highly-played titles such as Team Fortress 2 and DoTA 2. Basically it is a huge store where you can buy editions digital video games, taking advantage of the many additional features made available by the platform itself, such as trading cards, unlockable achievements, pages dedicated to communities and more.
In addition to the sale of the games, Steam also takes care of the management of the digital rights of the same.
What is Steam?
The platform, first announced in 2002 and immediately released in beta, was created to solve a problem that had nothing to do with selling, at least not until online gaming became the primary one.
Valve wanted to allow users to automatically update Counter-Strike 1.6 and its other games, without having to release separate patches each time, which only ended up fragmenting communities.
At the time the client, which were gamers, was very different from how we know it today, lacking many functions.
The first Valve game to specifically request it to work was Half-Life 2, which sparked many protests from players, so it’s kind of funny to think that Steam is the dominant force in the PC market today.
Over the years, the Steam ecosystem has grown a lot, also embracing the sale of third-party games (the first were Rag Doll Kung Fu and Darwinia in 2005), opening up to other operating systems (Linux and Mac), becoming to all multi-platform effects thanks to hardware and dedicated applications that allow you to stream it to televisions and smartphones.
Steam’s catalog currently includes more than 23,000 video games.
How does Steam work?
Steam works in such a way that it allows you to purchase digital editions of video games by linking them to an account. This means that after the purchase, the client takes care of downloading the files from the servers and installing them on the computer, without the need to use physical media.
The purchased games are tied to the user, so you can uninstall and reinstall whenever you want. Once you have downloaded a content, it is Steam itself that takes care of keeping it updated, which goes back to its original function.
Steam has gotten smarter over the years, learning to recognize different configurations and update game files in accordance with them, avoiding unnecessary data.
How do you download Steam?
Downloading and installing Steam is really very simple. To reach the download page, click on the link below.
You will find yourself on a page describing Steam and its functions. At the top of it, clearly visible, there is a large green button that says “Install Steam now”.
Click on it to start the client download. Once the download is finished, click twice with the left mouse button on the file obtained (or right click on the file, then click on the execute command) to start the installation.
In no time the process will be completed automatically.
How do you use Steam?
Understanding how to use Steam is super simple and takes a few moments and skills.
1. Create an account
Go to the main page of Steam, click on the Login button at the top right , then on the Enter Steam button under the Create item.
Enter a valid email address twice, specify your country, enter the control code that it is used to verify that you are not a bot, accept the license agreement by clicking on the checkbox “I accept and declare that I am at least 13 years old” and then on “Continue”.
Open the email address you registered with on Steam and click on the account confirmation link. Go back to Steam and click Log in again, then enter your registration email in the new user field, and your password in the appropriate field.
If you want, you can make Steam remember you on the computer you signed up from, so you don’t have to log back in every time.
2. Purchase content
Four types of content are available for purchase on Steam: video games, applications, hardware and videos.
To buy a video game, an application or a video, the system is identical. Once you have found the product you want, click on the Add to cart button.
When you have finished searching, you can click on the shopping cart button at the top right to check the products you are about to purchase and, if necessary, remove them. Then you have to click on the green button “Purchase for me”, if the product is for personal use, or “Purchase as a gift”, if you want to give it as a gift.
The choice of products to buy is completely individual. However, consider that Steam provides a lot of information for buyers: at the top there are gameplay videos and images; on the right column you will find general information (number of players, supported languages, single or multiplayer, recommended age and so on), while in the central part there is the product information sheet , with the details provided by the manufacturer. Finally, at the bottom of the page there are user reviews, which help to get an idea of the quality of what you are about to buy.
Once you have chosen what to buy and how to do it, you need to enter your payment details. Once you’ve selected the one that’s right for you, click Continue.
If you have purchased the product for yourself, it will be immediately linked to your account and can be downloaded immediately. If, on the other hand, you have chosen to give it to a friend , you will first need to choose the lucky one from our Steam friends list and set the time and date of delivery of the gift. If you want, you can also write an accompanying message.
The difference of buying hardware on Steam compared to other products lies in having to consider the shipping costs and the waiting time for delivery, because obviously not the hardware is not downloadable digitally.
3. Install the contents
After purchase, in case you haven’t started the download immediately, open the Steam app and click on the Library tab. A list of all the contents you own will appear on the left column.
Look for the name of the purchased product, click twice on it with the left mouse button to start the installation process which, in addition to downloading and installing the files, allows you to: choose the installation folder, create a shortcut on the Desktop, create a link in the start menu. Having made your choices, click Next and accept the license agreement.
The content download will be faster or slower depending on your connection.
To monitor its progress, click on the “In Download” button at the bottom, or select “Download” from the drop-down menu immediately above the library column.
From the settings menu you can also limit the download speed, in case you don’t want Steam to take up the entire bandwidth.
When the download is complete the game will be installed automatically and the entry in the Library will be coloured white. It will then be sufficient to click on it twice to start the content.
4. Activate non-Steam content
If you’ve bought content outside of Steam, but it requires Steam to play, you’ll need to activate it. It is very easy.
Your purchase should have provided you with a serial code . Write it down. Open the Steam client, click on “Games” from the menu located in the header. Then click on ” Activate a product on Steam “. Click Next, then click Accept.
A field will appear with “Product Code” written on it. Enter the serial code you wrote down, click on Next and that’s it.
How do you get free games?
In the Steam catalogue there are many free games , which can be divided into three categories. To find them, select the “Free-to-Play” or “Demo” item from the Steam “Games” menu. Free titles are associated with your account like all other content.
- Free-to-play: Free-to-play games that however involve forms of in-game monetization, such as microtransactions or the release of specific content.
- Demo: Demo versions of paid games. They are small portions of the same.
- Freeware: Free full games, which do not involve any form of monetary outlay.
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