Valve's Steam digital distribution platform, marketplace, community hub, and development portal, turned 15 years old this week, marking a decade and a half since the first instance of the modern game distribution system reared its head. It's changed a lot over the years and while ubiquitous today, it wasn't always that way.
In PCGamer's breakdown of Steam's storied history, we can see that its humble beginnings started in 2003 when Steam was used as a way to patch Valve's own titles like Counter Strike. It also offered some basic anti-cheat protection and by most accounts, it wasn't particularly popular. Many people complained about crashes, server outages, overly frequent patches and the demand for an always-on connection being problematic for those still on dial up internet -- which was the majority of Americans at that time.
In the years that followed, Valve added support for a store with first its own games going on sale through the platform, most notably Half Life 2, which saw huge increases in Steam user numbers because of its requirement. Those numbers increased to the hundreds in the years that followed, with this humble writer joining Steam in 2006. My current account, however, was launched in 2007 where I bought Lost Planet Extreme Condition.
Over the decade that followed we'd seen the addition of Steam sales, a big visual overhaul to ditch the olive green of the past, personalized recommendations, curators, workshop support, support for Linux and MacOS, DLC and demo downloads, and thousands upon thousands of games.
Today Steam boasts close to 200 million users around the world and continues to grow year on year.
When did you join Steam for the first time and what was your first game?
Image source: Pr04ok/Steam