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Twenty years ago, Valve launched Steam, a digital distribution platform for PC gamers that would eventually come to dominate the market. Today marks the 20th anniversary of the platform, and Valve is celebrating by giving gamers a chance to look back on where Steam came from.
Steam is most known for its extensive library of games, convenient distribution model, and huge discounts during its sales. But when it first launched in 2003, Steam wasn’t universally welcomed, as it imposed restrictive DRM measures on its users. At the time, many people still bought their games at physical stores, and installing them manually from a CD or DVD. Valve’s demand for an internet connection to play the single-player experience of its then-flagship game, Half-Life 2, was also seen as a controversial move.
The frustration eventually gave way to acceptance, as other publishers started selling their games on the Steam platform. As Steam offered more benefits for PC gamers, such as cloud save backups, a hub for player-created content, and social features, people began to embrace it. Valve then went on to join the hardware market with the Steam Machines initiative, and the more successful Steam Desk.
Today, Steam is seen as one of the most iconic brands in gaming, and it’s difficult to remember a time before its launch. To commemorate the 20th anniversary, Valve is not only slashing prices on its self-published games, but also giving gamers the chance to buy the “Top Games” from key years in the platform’s history.
To all PC gamers out there, here’s to twenty years of Steam and the giant it has become. Raise your controllers, and let’s celebrate the immense evolution of the platform over the past two decades