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Steam has turned 18 years old and PC gaming has never been the same since

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It's truly hard to imagine just how much Valve managed to change what PC gaming is thanks to Steam. On September 12 2021, the Steam client celebrated 18 years. Steam is now old enough to buy alcohol in the UK.

Do you remember what Steam originally looked like? I sure do. It was a much simpler time, with none of the fancy tricks Steam does now. There was no Steam Play, no Linux client, no macOS client, no reviews system and just — not much of anything. A few games, a couple of buttons and that was mostly it. This was long before the likes of GOG, Humble, Epic,, Origin and so on.

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Not only was it a bare-bones client, a lot of people really didn't like it either. This was back in the days where most people went into a real-life game store, picked up a box and took it home to insert a CD and read the manual while it took forever to install. The idea of needing the internet and a client to register and play was just weird. Back then Steam had a bit of a history for being unreliable too, with all sorts of server and login issues.

It wasn't long until Steam was a requirement with Half-Life 2 releasing in 2004, which truly set the stage for PC gaming digital distribution from that point to slowly become the norm. Later in 2005, the first externally developed titles arrived on Steam like Rag Doll Kung Fu but Steam remained a firmly closed system with Valve firmly curating the titles until later in 2012 when Steam Greenlight appeared for indies to submit their games, get votes and eventually (hopefully) get accepted.

Things are vastly different now of course. There's over 51,000 games on Steam and thousands release every year, thanks to Steam Direct allowing developers to pay $100 to get their game listed.

Looking at my own purchase history, looks like Day of Defeat: Source was actually my first purchase on my own account back in 2008. What was yours?

Happy Birthday, Steam.

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I am the owner of GamingOnLinux. After discovering Linux back in the days of Mandrake in 2003, I constantly came back to check on the progress of Linux until Ubuntu appeared on the scene and it helped me to really love it. You can reach me easily by emailing GamingOnLinux directly.
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Termy 13 Sep
Oh man, how much did i hate it back then when it was just a messy DRM - made me quit my (halfway successful) counterstrike-career ^^

Given the marketshare of Steam, it's really a blessing that valve didn't rest but kept improving steam to the comfort it offers today...
WorMzy 13 Sep
QuoteLooking at my own purchase history, looks like Day of Defeat: Source was actually my first purchase on my own account back in 2008. What was yours?

For me, it was Half-Life 1 Anthology (bundle of HL, HL: Blue Shift, HL: Opposing Force, and Team Fortress Classic), in June 2008.
Arehandoro 13 Sep
My first purchase was The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition, on 2009.
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According to Steam:
27 Nov, 2004 Half-Life 2 Retail Standard

I redeemed a few retail games (Half-Life Platinum Pack, Dark Messiah, Prey, The Orange Box, Left 4 Dead) before my first digital purchase (Braid) in September 2009
einherjar 13 Sep
Waiting for my 18 years membership coin :-)
kean 13 Sep
I just checked my Steam registration and I did it on 2013 October 3 :)
Quoting: ArehandoroMy first purchase was The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition, on 2009.

Mine is the exact same. But I'm pretty sure the Orange box stuff would have been before that. Maybe records only go back so far.
hummer010 13 Sep
My first purchase was Torchlight, back in 2009. I had already purchased it direct from Runic, but I was having trouble getting it working in WINE. Someone suggested that the Steam version would be easier. They were right. I later purchased it a third time from Humble to get a native version.
I created my first steam account back on Monday 28/NOV/2011 for to play the Mafia 2 DEMO and after trying that demo, I forgot about Steam....

I made my first steam purchase in Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 08:53:25 and it was HALF-LIFE 2
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