Friday, June 02, 2006

A Steam-ing pile

I have been looking forward to playing Half Life 2 ever since I played the demo when it was released. Having recently been given a £30 gift voucher to spend at Game I bought the ‘game of the year edition’ today – how exciting!

Unfortunately what I thought would be a gaming dream turned into a nightmare once I got the game home and tried to play it. The installer first required that I install Steam, Valve’s online distribution and copy protection software. I installed it, along with the game, and then tried to play. I should mention at this point that we have just moved and are stuck with very expensive dialup (in phone bill terms) until the broadband kicks in. I started Steam and it spent 5 minutes updating itself. Then it spent another 20 minutes updating itself again. Then I had to sign up for an account, after which it finally loaded and started telling me how I could buy Half Life 2 and download it. The link to activate the product didn’t work (but fortunately the menu command did) so it must have been a good hour before I was able to even start putting in my serial number. However, I couldn’t start my game yet as Steam required that my game be updated. This took 1hr 30mins (remember I’m paying by the minute for dialup).

Finally, it was ready and I started Half Life 2, prepared to put aside my frustration with Steam in order to enjoy the game I have waited so long for.

However, this was not to be. It seems that disconnecting one’s modem while playing causes the game to crash. I am not prepared to pay 5p a minute to play a single player game I already paid £30 for so I have uninstalled and will try again once we get broadband.

If you are wondering how I feel about all this then I will tell you; I am fucking furious!

The box says “You must accept the Steam subscriber agreement (“SSA”). You must activate this product via the internet by registering for a Steam account and accepting the SSA.” I have no problem with that at all. If all I have to do is register and activate the product then that’s fine. However, I have reviewed the SSA and it does NOT say that you must be connected to the internet at all times in order to play this SINGLE PLAYER game, thus making the game unplayable for anyone on dialup (in the UK at least, where local calls are not free).

I must borrow the words of the Russian guards from NOLF2 to deliver my message to Valve; you’ve made me weeery mad!

UPDATE (11 June)
The broadband service has now started so I am a lot calmer about the whole Steam thing. I have re-installed everything and it only took 10 minutes or so to update. I still think the packaging should make it clear that the game is unplayable without broadband; it is very misleading.