As people are more active in venturing into the PC gaming market with their laptops or computers, Valve have reaped the rewards. Indie and smaller games, often less taxing on hardware, are a staple part of the industry now, and Steam has always been keen to give them the outlet they need.
Well played by them, because they’ve now got more constant users than some countries have people.
Seven million is a hefty number, and so is the 65 million users that have registered accounts on the Steam network. Despite the release of the two next generation consoles, the humble PC is still nurturing a growing community, and Valve is definitely seeing the benefit.
It doesn’t look like it’ll stop here either – last year Steam clocked 6 million concurrent users, with 50 million registered accounts – an improvement over 2011 with 5 million active and 40 million registered. Following this trend we could see up to 10 million concurrent users and maybe hitting 9 figures for registered accounts in the next half-decade.
The truth is, computer gaming is in a very healthy state. Despite Microsoft and Sony’s very impressive efforts – which must be commended – to give amateur game developers the capability to publish on their consoles, the PC is usually the first port of call for aspiring developers.
There are some great ways for people to get started nowadays – Steam’s Greenlight service, which lets the community vote democratically on what they want to see available for purchase, gives developers critical feedback and advice from their desired audience, and has helped produce some tremendous titles over the past few years. Kickstarter projects have also been incredibly successful for game developers with passion and talent, and has secured millions in funding for hundreds of games.
Steam’s Source SDK is freely available to all registered users too, giving those wanting to get started a foot in the door with mod-creation for many platforms.
Think your computer isn’t powerful enough to enjoy great games? You’re wrong.
If you’re not too sure about what you’re working with, don’t panic – your computer actually knows a lot of the relevant stuff. Press the Windows Key + R and you’ll see a little ‘Run’ box in the bottom left corner. In that box, type ‘dxdiag’ (despite looking like an Aramaic curse, it actually stands for DirectX Diagnosis) and a tab will come up listing your basic specifications.
On the first screen you’ll see system related info – most relevant would be your Processor, Operation System, RAM and possibly DirectX version (though most games will update that for you on download anyway). On the next tab is Display, giving you some information on your graphics card and display drivers.
If you’re confused by what you see, take the name at the top of the information and put it through your desired search engine – mine are a pair of AMD Radeon HD 7970Ms, and a quick Google of that takes me to AMD’s website, and a spec section where I’m told they have 2 gigabytes of memory each. Most games on Steam have minimum requirements which are a fraction of that.
There you go – you’ve got your basic information and the knowledge that should you run into any problems, you have a stalwart community of tens of millions of users which are growing by the day. Check out my Steam sales article if you’re looking for some smaller games to get yourself started, and jump right in – you won’t regret it.