Steam is the most popular and comprehensive digital game store on the market. If you’re a gamer, even a casual one, the publisher’s online store Valve is a must. Originally, only the publisher’s games were available, but the platform has since opened up and offered an impressive catalog of titles at all price points.
Steam offers tens of thousands of paid or free games. And whatever your tastes, you’re unlikely to find a game that’s right for you. On the other hand, depending on your downloads and your activity on the platform, the software will take care of suggesting the games most likely to please you.
Using Steam has many advantages. Your games are available on any computer, they are updated automatically and your progress saves are synchronized. The platform also has a community component. You can of course play with your friends, but it is also possible to exchange messages, chat in audio or follow their progress, as well as the games they like. Finally, Family Sharing allows family members to share their games.
Why use Steam?
Steam is a platform that offers to play video games without having to buy physical media (CD-ROM or DVD-ROM). It makes a large number of games accessible to all Windows users. Some games are also available for Mac and even for Linux. You can log in to your Steam account from the online service to view game catalogs, participate in forums, etc. The Steam site is available in several languages (including French) and the community of players is extended internationally.
Creating a Steam account (free) allows you to access all your information on all your devices and resume your games where you left off. Indeed you can download the Steam application for Windows, Mac, or Linux. Via this application, you can download and play games by linking everything to your Steam account. When you download and install the application for the first time you will therefore need to create an account.
Once your account is created, you arrive on the main page of the application, that is to say the Library. If you already have an account and games, you’ll see them appear here. Note that the library can be sorted by creating collections, which is very handy when you have a lot of games. You can also set the library’s home page to highlight certain games. To do this, simply create a virtual shelf and drag the desired games onto it.
If you don’t have any games yet, you can choose one of the buttons provided to start searching the store. Note that to remove a game from your library you just need to go to download and delete the line (this will not uninstall the game).
You can also go directly to the store. There you will be able to browse the news and recommended games, carry out a search by keyword, browse the categories, etc. To find out a little more about a game you don’t necessarily need to click on it, if you slide your mouse cursor over its image you will be able to see a mini summary sheet which will constantly tell you which category the game belongs to. If you are interested in the information on this sheet, you can click on it to open the game page and retrieve all the information you are missing. From this page you can also buy or launch the game (if it’s free).
Note that to open certain games you will have to give your date of birth, Steam indeed applies the protocols related to the PEGI ratings which indicate from what age it is possible to play certain games depending on the type of content. If you have a Steam Family account you can even apply parental controls and hide games intended for adults.
For each game, the presentation pages offer images, videos, and sometimes even live videos of the player playing. You can also read an explanation of the game and the operating system on which you can play it. Remember that all games are compatible with Windows, some with Mac and a small amount with Linux (via the Steam application). Note that some content is only available in English. It is indicated at the top of the game page, just below the images, if French is offered.
As we have already indicated Steam allows you to buy games (or put them in your wishlist), many promotional seasons allow you to acquire these games at reduced prices. But Steam is also a community of gamers. From the application you have access to instant messaging (also called Chat) which allows you to chat with other users (they must be in your contacts) and even in groups.
Steam is also a discussion forum for video games. Besides, when you arrive on the forum, the site first offers you to participate in discussions on the games you already play, but you can join any discussion. In addition, for each game it is possible for users to leave comments and opinions, so you can consult the rating of the games that interest you.
In parallel with all this note the presence of a point system. You buy games, it earns you points, which you can then spend to collect items to use on Steam: effects for chat, animated sticker, avatar frame, avatar, profile wallpaper, backgrounds, etc. Some are seasonal, others related to games, etc.
To uninstall a game you installed using Steam, you have two options. Either you go through the application manager of your operating system to start the uninstallation, Steam will then ask you if you are sure. The second solution, probably simpler, is to go to your library, select the game you want to uninstall, click on the cogwheel icon and choose Properties. In the properties window, go to the Local Files tab. There you will find a button marked “uninstall game”.
Uninstalled games still appear in your library, making it easy to reinstall them. You can then either create a collection to store them, or delete them from your library (via the download menu or the toothed wheel and the Manage menu).
Finally, know that you can, from the Steam library interface, manage all the games installed on your computer, even if you haven’t done so from Steam. To do this from your library, click Add Game and choose “Non-Steam Game” from the list. A small selection window then appears which allows you to see all the applications installed on your computer and to indicate the games to Steam. The selected apps will then appear in your library.
What’s new in the latest version of Steam?
In the new features for the end of 2020, note that Steam allows you to play Electronic Arts games and connect to your EA PLAY account.
In general, the games present on Steam are updated more or less regularly by their teams depending on the games. New content is regularly added, allowing users to acquire the latest novelties.
Thus Steam offers all the biggest hits of video games like CyberPunk 2077, Among Us, FIFA 21, Football Manager 2021, Fall Guys, etc.
In its latest September update, Steam offers a new download tracking page, as well as a new storage management system. To learn more, see our article Steam is getting an update: downloads and storage management are improving.
Which OS is Steam compatible with?
The online service for managing your games is compatible with any operating system since it opens from a simple web browser.
The Steam desktop app is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux. The compatibility of the games is indicated on the presentation and purchase page, remember to check that the game is compatible with your equipment before buying it.
What are the best alternatives to Steam?
Stadia is Steam’s direct competitor. Launched by Google in 2019, it is a service that lets you play video games, after purchasing them, without having to download anything. Games are stored online on Stadia’s servers, and you only need to log into your account on a computer to play them. Unlike Steam, Stadia does not offer free content. On the other hand, the service offers a monthly subscription which allows you to access certain games for free and to have reductions on the purchase of others.
Just as Steam was created by video game publisher Valve, Origin was created by Electronic Arts (FIFA, SimCity, Apex Legends, etc.). The platform gives you access to the publisher’s catalog, with some new content not accessible via other platforms. It also allows you to create an EA PLAY account which gives you access to special offers, the gaming community, and more. Note that Steam also supports EA Play accounts.
Let’s continue with the platforms created by video game publishers, and here is Ubisoft Connect, created by Ubisoft (Prince of Persia, Assassin’s Creed, Anno 1800, Anno 2070). Here same type of operation as with Origin. Management of your Ubisoft game library, creation of a Uplay account, access to the community, etc. In addition, thanks to the Android and iOS mobile applications (iPhone, iPad) you will be able to follow all the news of the community.
Finally, you probably know the game publisher Epic, to whom we owe Unreal Tournament and Fortnite? So here is his service: Epic games launcher. Unlike Origin and Ubisoft, Epic Game offers, like Steam, content from its own editions, but also games from other publishers such as CyberPunk 2077 or Among Us.
If you are more geared towards mobile games, and there are also thousands of them, you might be more interested in Bluestacks. This is an application that allows you to create an Android session on your computer. From there you can use it to buy or download all the Android games of your choice. BlueStacks was developed with gaming in mind, however as it’s an Android session you have access to the Google Playstore and can install absolutely any app you want.
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