back to article Gamers grumble over Steam outage

Steam users are venting frustration at Valve after an outage stopped gamers from accessing their downloaded titles. Many users struggled to launch games, both in online and offline modes, and the Steam forums became overloaded with complaints, many blaming yesterday's client update for their woes. According to Valve, though, …


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  1. Smallbrainfield

    Something like this happened last month as well, though I don't think we ever got an explanation.

    Very frustrating as I'd just got back into TF2 as well.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Maybe now, all these obsessives who think it is the end of they world can forge new relationships, get some sunshine, shed the pallid look and GET A LIFE.

      This kind of thing will happen a lot in the future so use it as an opportunity to put in place emergency back up things to do like GO OUT, MEET FRIENDS AND GET DRUNK!!!!!!

      1. Martin Lyne

        When I come home drunk after being in the pub with my friends I like to play some games.

        Not to mention a lot of users are probably below drinking age, and not much else to do on cold winter nights.

        But thank's anyway.

  2. The Bit Wrangler


    A single hardware failure can take out their entire business... Nicely played Valve!

    1. Bakunin


      "A single hardware failure can take out their entire business... Nicely played Valve!"

      More frightening, a single business failure could take out a large chuck of your games collection.

      1. irish donkey

        what he said!

        I like Steam but I never though of it that way.

        Well put Bak

  3. CaptainHook

    Steam Offline Mode

    Steam Offline Mode was always stupid because you needed to be online to set it.

    E.g. In a situation where the service suddenly goes offline, you can't then set it to work offline to continue playing even single player games.

    1. Keith_C

      Not entirely true

      When I open my laptop on the way to work, sans internet connection, Steam tries to connect, quickly gives up, and asks if I want to start in offline mode, even if it was in 'online' mode last time I used it.

      1. John Riddoch

        Your laptop doesn't know if you played a game on another PC since it was last online and updated your config/save games; as a result, your settings could get out of sync/lost if you update on multiple computers.

  4. Peter 48

    that explains a lot

    i was wondering why none of my games were launching.

  5. MJI Silver badge

    So that is why TF2 didn't work

    One of my sons was worried - then went onto Minecraft.

  6. Greg J Preece

    This will be why perks in Killing Floor were going a bit nuts. Steam's been suffering the past few weeks anyway - any time after 6pm during the sale, downloads were pretty much out of the question, and the friends system was ropey too. That said, the demands on the system recently were huge, so maybe Gabe and co. will use their massive profits for a few system upgrades. Would be nice.

  7. CrimsonAvenger

    At least it's not a regular thing

    My problems lasted about half an hour, when I kept getting a 'could not connect to Steam network' error message. Didn't even get the option to play in offline mode and I was just starting to get annoyed when it connected.

    However, when it did connect, all the firewall settings relating to Steam had to be deleted and added again before I was back to normal.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wrong idea

    The original concept of Steam was to be able to activate and deliver games to computers. This would cut down on pirating and allow users to always migrate their games from old to new computers. However, requiring Steam as a launch platform and/or requiring activation on each launch is the dumbest idea I've ever seen. After all the hacking and issues SONY went through last year, maybe it is time to rethink this whole process. For starters, offline mode should be the default. Having the client only run when a game that requires it is launched would be a good followup.

    More and more games are using steam as their method of distribution. I understand why, and I agree with it in principle but in it's current form it will always be the single point of failure for all games bought through it.

  9. NomNomNom

    steam is up like 5 nines i dont see the problem if it only happens rarely

    minecraft server goes down a hell of a lot more and i dont even mind that

    you just have to keep something else to do at the back of your mind in case of emergencies

    1. Smallbrainfield

      The problem is if it keeps happening, then people can't access games they've paid

      to be able to play. I quite like Steam, it's a good platform, but with such a massive user base it's got to be reliable. Especially now EA is trying to get it's Origin system off the ground. Although having seen that, it comes across as a soulless carbon copy of Steam.

      Speaking of which, does anybody else think that the whole Battlefield 3 browser thing is a bit mental?

      1. Figgus

        The BF3 browser thing made me stop playing BF3. I just couldn't handle the frustration anymore, especially since I could only get the POS to work on IE and not on a real browser.

        Then again, EA has always had crappy menu/load speed in the BF series...

        Icon because EA drove me to it!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Battlefield 3 Browser Thing

        The Battlefield 3 Browser thing is more than a bit mental. It is probably the worst game interface I've ever come across. But then EA have been going down the route of ruining game interfaces a lot. Command and Conquer 4 interface made no sense at all (just like the game really).

  10. Authfan

    Nice work

    I love the way its an "apparent hardware failure"

  11. Mike VandeVelde
    Thumb Down

    fck steam


    ok wait, maybe that wont get approved.

    i got civ iv complete edition a while ago. right on the box it says:

    "DRM Free: The complete Civ IV experience with no Digital Rights Management limitations"

    hale fucking lujah!!!1!1!

    huge respect boost for the franchise i have loved ever since civ ii :-)

    i got civ v for xmas, very exciting, looking forward to it so much. it says on the box:

    "*Internet connection and acceptance of Steam Subscriber Agreement required for activation."

    jesus tap dancing christ what the hell. 900 deg turn around. i would not have bought it, and rightly so because it turned out a real pain in the behind. i already had the steam client on, i had checked out some free game offer in a silly moment way back, so i already new it wasnt something i was interested in. and after updating, figuring out my password, more downloads, problems etc problems etc, my bias is confirmed - do not want. but it was a gift, so what should i do?

    i wont buy a game that uses steam. ive lost interest in any potential civ vi because of their incomprehensible switch to steam. what a terrible stupid useless inconvenience foisted on paying customers, zero respect for any company who thinks its a good idea. boo hiss etc.

    1. Greg J Preece

      I really don't get this "inconvenience" thing, but then I've had Steam installed since 2003, so for me registering Civ V was basically "open window, type code" - you know, like game installers have been asking PC gamers to do since time bloody immemorial. If the additional step of installing a file is too much for you (additional, that is, to the process of installing a whole bunch of other files) then perhaps you should put Civ V back on the shelf - it's too complicated for you. Perhaps Dark Reign is more your style. Or Halo Wars.

      I've been playing online since about...1995? I've used a *SHIT-TON* of online game clients, and most of them sucked nadgers, and tried to bury themselves in your system. Steam is - this incident notwithstanding - generally very reliable, unintrusive, doesn't hog your system resources, and, if you're an online gamer, is genuinely very useful. Even without the friends system, automatic patching, free DLC, game invites, trading, the mental sale-time deals, community, forums and so on, it would be worth installing for the Steam overlay alone. That thing is genius, as is being able to run it over non-Steam games.

      It's had moments when I've been frustrated with it, but after over 8 years I'm still on it, so it must be doing something right.

      1. Mike VandeVelde

        even tho

        even if it was smooth sailing, its still extra hassle dumped on me for nobodys benefit except the publisher and steam. i dont know why you feel happy about doing them any favours beyond handing over your money? whos the simple one here? im not worried about complexity, thanks.

        baically the box physically came from a store, it got to my house and i took the disc out, and i expected to install it and play it. i did not expect to be expected to become close friends with a 3rd party such as steam. *IF* i wanted to go online and play multiplayer, i would have nothing to complain about if steam was an option for that, like gamespy or something, in addition to what should be the basic requirement of being able to fire up my own host without asking anyone elses permission, and if steam are all that great i might even come to prefer them over other options. but i feel like i got invited out to dinner by a friend only to realize they are setting me up on a blind date with some marketer or banker or something, and before we can sit down to eat i have to agree in writing to futher dates. even if painfully attractive, my friend crosed a line and i dont much like those kinds of people anyway. my corn flakes are pissed in, we are off on the wrong foot, i am demotivated, not likey to turn out well for anyone involved. there are better ways to go about things.

  12. Inachu


    Ok lets playrole this to the end.

    Let's say that STEAM the company dies and the assests are sold off to non gaming companies.

    Also lets presume I bought over $2,000 woth of games through steam.

    At this point does STEAM then OWE me $2,000 or equivalent? Or will steam ex programmers who were the backbone of the company offer a future patch that lets players play online or offline without logging into the steam servers to make the login app pointless? STEAM employees need to think of their end time or think of downtime for the best case to support owners who purchased games through steam. I would be mad as hell if I had to repurchase $2,000 games only because STEAM was lazy to make logins not needed once the servers have been invalidated. If I ever hear steam executives say "Sorry guys but have a nice day!" If that day ever happens I say we gamers find their address where they live and fill their backyard pool with cement. and spray weed killer all over their lawn or do like that farmer did in europe and spray manure all over their front door.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      to get out more..... Are you really going to go the steam executives house and fill their pool with cement, weed killer on the lawn?

      How old are you? 2?

      GROW UP

      1. Inachu

        Ok ok ok

        I do agree with the ideology of GETTING OUT MORE. Sure yeah but lets say you are the outdoors type person and you are a causal gamer NOT A SERIOSU GAMER but just over the years since the inception of STEAM you have gathered a lot of TITLES.

        Do you think its ok to lose that? That is an investment lost.

        If you truly think it is ok then could you please send me $2,000 when the company STEAM dies?

        But yes I see your point so what if I just purchased 1 or 2 games. No major loss.

        Maybe then in spirit STEAM should offer coupons or competitors should offer affected gamers.

        Or are you one of those people who needs manure spewn on their doorstep?

        1. Figgus

          IIRC, Steam already said that if they fold they will release a patch so gamers can play the games they bought. Exactly what that entails (reloads, etc) has never been clarified, as far as I know.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          You only rent the games through a license so think about whether that is an investment or a gamble

    2. Robert Heffernan

      " Let's say that STEAM the company dies and the assests are sold off to non gaming companies.


      Or will steam ex programmers who were the backbone of the company offer a future patch that lets players play online or offline without logging into the steam servers to make the login app pointless?


      That is exactly what will happen. Valve have a switch inside Steam somewhere that if the service is ever shuttered, withdrawn or otherwise taken down for an indefinite period of time, the switch gets thrown and all games purchased by the steam subscribers will suddenly work without requiring access to the steam servers. Valve are also known to throw the switch in their testing environment from time to time to ensure the switch does work as intended.

      I remember reading this in a post made by Gabe Newell, as for finding the specific post, I done a quick 30sec google search but couldn't find the specific post, it is probably burried in amongst the references to steam pipes, steam heaters and steam valves.

      *Nuke, cos that is the only thing that would cause Valve to close down the ca$h-cow that is Steam.

      1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov


        "That is an investment lost."

        No. There was no investment in the first place.

        When you invest you exchange your money for ownership of an asset. With Steam and the like you do not own anything. You pay for a "licence" which is a temporary permission to do something with someone else's assets. Ownership stays with the company behind Steam. If it goes bust you have no claim on "your" game collection whatsoever.

        In fact, the receivers (or at any time Steam itself, for that matter) can decide that the old permission is no longer valid and demand you to pay more if you want continuing access to the games they "licensed" you in the past. Again, there will be nothing you can do about it - pay or forget about those games.

  13. Old Handle

    Annoying, but there's a simple workaround:

    Don't buy Steam games.

    1. Neoc


      And that is why I have stopped playing computer games (being an avid gamer before) and refuse to buy any more consoles (either Sony or MS). Even Nintendo is going down that path.

      Bottom line: When I want to play a game, I do not want to worry about having to be on-line, or having my PC/console connected, or whether the link between myself and the "company" is down (for whatever reason) or if I'll be allowed to move my game from this PC to that one, or what'll happen in the future. I want to be able to place the damn CD in my hardware and play without feeling I'm sharing my gaming experience with Big Brother for their future PR pleasures.

  14. Julesthom

    I hate the concept

    As a previous poster said: If you've physically bought the boxed game, that should be enough to get going. Buying boxed is an alternative to buying online, and not having physical media.

    I bought a game in a Game store whilst I was on holiday, with the intention of killing some time playing it on my laptop. I didn't have an internet connection, so couldn't activate via Steam... so it defeated the whole purpose of choosing to buy the game in-store... It appeared that what I had bought was a box with a disc inside, containing the Steam client, and the game then had to be downloaded.

    I actively avoid any games which come with Steam.

  15. honkhonk34

    I can't really understand the Steam hatred here!

    For one, people buying physical disks only to be told it's got to be installed through steam - you do seriously need to learn to read the instructions on the back of the box if you have a huge problem with steam and want to avoid it at all costs. It's not Steam's fault you don't read the sign on the back stating it's a steam activated game, it's yours.

    For two, if Steam dies, you still retain: The game data installed on your machine and your game keys (if you're worried enough about steam to copy your game keys from Steam into a word doc) ; On the off chance Valve don't release a community patch to allow people to play, you have all the required stuff to legally install nocd cracks.

    Last but not least: Steam has really beneficial features, it maintains game patching, it has a good community system, it sorts out legacy games to work on newer systems, and it has some mental sales well above and beyond anything you will find in a physical shop.

    I just don't get why it's Steam's fault if you don't read the back of the box to see it's a Steam platform game. I sure as hell think Steam is better than 99% of the other DRM options out there - sure no DRM would be nice but unfortunately I don't think you'll have an easy time of it convincing publishers or developers to drop DRM completely.

  16. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    I practically only ever buy games through Steam now

    And I love how people hate Steam, yet go on and buy Battlefield 3. Great logic there, people !

    For me, Steam is the way to go. It's practical, it's up-to-date, and it's often cheap (if you wait for the deals to appear).

    I am sick of disc checks and other such DRM shenanigans. I have accepted the fact that I will be checked if I like it or not, so I might as well use a system where the checking is transparent to me. With Steam, it is.

    Additionally, Steam gives me access to many titles I do not see in stores. Have you seen the size of the PC aisle of game stores these days ? Pitiful. I know consoles are very common, but looking at a game selection aisle would make you think that PCs are the Linux of the game community.

    They are not.

    In any case, I game on PC, and Steam is a good platform to work with. Large game selection, many recent titles, some exclusives. Plus, guess what ? If my PC fails for some reason, all I need to do is port my Steam hard disk to another PC and it starts up fine.

    Try doing that with the EA downloader and cry your eyes out.

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov


      "I am sick of disc checks and other such DRM shenanigans."

      What do you think Steam is? LOL!

  17. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Why is everyone so upset?

    This is what you all always wanted (judging by every thread about Steam until now) - a Big Daddy kindly keeping his games on his servers and from the kindness of his heart even letting you play with them from time to time, if you behave well enough.

    Now the Daddy got a bit pissed (Xmas, New Year and stuff - who can blame him?) so you have to just wait until he sobers up and, maybe, will let you play with his games again. Suckers.

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