At this point, You all know that I swear by Steam as a gaming platform. The indie gaming scene that they support just seems to produce more interesting products than the Triple-A sector.
Lately, however, they’ve been in the cross hairs of the consumers with the announcement that many of their features would be placed behind a pay wall.
Here’s how it works; many features on Steam including sending friend invites, group chat, and most interactions via Greenlight, Steam Reviews, and Workshop will be permanently locked until the user in question spends a minimum of five U.S. dollars in the Steam Store.
What is the justification for this? Well, according to the big wigs, this pay wall is put in place as a deterrent for people using the blocked content to spam their own unrelated wares or push a phishing scam on unsuspecting users.
Now, as the title of this article states and in defiance of my nature as a penny pinching, dirt poor writer, I am totally for this plan. Why?
Firstly, it’s not an additional fee. Most of the time when gamers complain about pay walls, it’s because they are making us pay for something that we were getting for free or blocking off major content until we crack open our wallets. Here, most of us are already buying stuff through the Steam Store. This is just using our regular purchases as a confirmation that we are legit consumers using the platform as it was meant to be used.
Secondly, we are all fed up with spam and phishing scams on Steam. I personally got at least four or five bogus friend requests every weekend before the pay wall defense. While it may be easy enough identify a scam (private profiles with names you don’t recognize or no games purchased are a dead giveaway), it’s still inconvenient and rude to make us have to sift through our in-box.
Thirdly, the price tag is very reasonable. Do you know how much five dollars is on Steam? It’s the minimum purchase to add funds to the Steam Wallet. It’s the lowest price for most games not on discount. It’s roughly two in-game purchases in Team Fortress 2. I lose more cash tipping at a restaurant then what you need to by-pass the pay wall.
And that brings me to the forth and final point; most of us are unaffected by the change. Those of us that aren’t running a spam/phishing scheme have already paid our dues and broke through the pay wall before it was even implemented without missing a beat.
So, what am I trying to say here? Well, I think the best thing to take away from this is that, if this must be a world of pay walls, micro-transactions, and pay-to-play tactics, this is probably the ideal way to do it and other gaming platforms and developers should follow suit.
The LESS than ideal way would be the even more recent falderal with them making us pay for mods when the point of them is to be free user-made content to complement and enhance the experience of a game. Good show nipping that one in the bud, gamers.