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Steam (for PC) Review & Rating

Steam is the Adobe Photoshop of video game distribution. Both apps are the leaders in their respective categories, both massive in size and scope, and both may be intimidating to first-time users. Steam, however, is infinitely more fun to explore. Valve’s PC gaming client offers a store, cloud saves, video streaming, remote downloads, video streaming and many other gamer-friendly features. Steam app remains the best game store on Windows PC, despite lacking integrated video recording capabilities and a way for its users to speak to a customer service representative should they experience a problem.

The Steam Library

The free Steam app is a terrific way to buy new releases or pre-order upcoming releases. If there’s a major new PC game, Steam will likely have the title—provided that the game’s publisher isn’t selling it exclusively from its own store. For example, you can only buy the Forza Horizon racing series from Xbox, Overwatch from Battle.net, and Red Dead Redemption 2 from the Rockstar Games Launcher. Still, Steam currently offers thousands of titles, ranging from simple arcade-like games (Pac-Man Championship Edition DX+) to simulations (Football Manager 2020) to AAA behemoths (Monster Hunter World). Of course, as Steam is a Valve product, it has titles you won’t find in other PC game stores, such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Portal, and the upcoming Half-Life: Alyx. It has a variety that its competitors can’t match.

Steam’s library goes back several years, and it includes excellent classic games like Half-Life and Psychonauts. That said, the store isn’t a comprehensive library of legacy titles (for a wider selection of older games, try GOG.com). Like itch.io, however, Steam has a wide array of indie titles. In fact when you purchase games via itch.io, you’ll often find that what you’re buying are Steam activation keys.


Buying Steam Games

Newer games are priced similarly to retail releases, with most big titles costing $49.99 or $59.99. Indie and older games can cost anywhere from $5 to $19.99, depending on their release date and popularity. There are numerous free-to-play games, too, like Crusader Kings II and Ring of Elysium. Steam’s midweek and weekend sales reduce game prices by a great deal, but it’s Valve’s legendary, thematic Steam seasonal sales that include incredibly deep discounts on individual games, publishers’ entire libraries, or bundles of their top games. It was during Steam’s Winter Sale that I bought Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death, the platform’s best bargain-bin title, for just 99 cents.

There’s another, riskier way to buy Steam games: Early Access. This section is the petri dish in which video games grow. You buy Early Access titles in unfinished form, so they may have more bugs and fewer features than completed, polished games. Fire Pro Wrestling World started as an Early Access title, and after a series of updates, moved to the regular store as a finished game.

Exploring the Steam Catalog

Steam’s homepage pushes not only big-name titles, but also those that Valve’s recommendation engine thinks would interest you based on your wish list, past purchases, and recent gaming sessions. The last time I logged into Steam, the application suggested I take a look at One Finger Death Punch (because I had just spent a lot of time playing fighting games) and Color Symphony (due to my playing other games listed with the Action, Indie, and Singleplayer tags).

If you want even more suggestions, check the Trending Among Friends section (which displays your buddies’ favorite games, based on their hours logged), Special Offers (game sales), and Recently Updated (games that have received new patches or content).

One of our favorite recommendation tools is Steam Curators. This lets you follow a high-profile video game personality (say, Jim Sterling), a brand (PCMag), or a community (NeoGAF) for their insights. I particularly enjoy the /r/pcmasterrace group, which has a team that recommends only “the most worthy PC Games.” I’ve discovered plenty of excellent titles via Steam Creators.

Alternatively, you can find a game’s Metacritic rating on its store page if you want an at-a-glance aggregated review score from professional gaming outlets.

You can avoid the sting of buying a broken game by visiting a title’s store page and reading user reviews. Well-received games are labeled Positive or Overwhelmingly Positive, while middle-of-the-road titles are tagged as Mixed. The gum sticking to the bottom of Steam’s seat is the Negative and Overwhelmingly Negative games. From what I’ve read in the user reviews and Steam community forums, those tags are usually reserved for the most broken of broken games.

Unfortunately, all of this useful information makes for a very busy interface. You can reduce the interface clutter by opening the Preferences menu and checking the product types and platforms that are of interest to you. Steam also gives you the option to filter content by title or genre. If you’re not a RPG fan, now you’ll never see Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster or Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim in your feed again.

Subpar Customer Service

Thankfully, Steam lets you get refunds for unwanted, recently purchased games, which is something that all digital download services should offer their customers. In addition, Steam now gives users the power to delete unwanted games from their accounts. Previously, you had to contact customer service to delete games. The customer service reps aren’t rude or unfriendly; you simply can’t get anyone on the horn, and it sometimes take days for Valve to resolve a problem submitted by ticket.

Here’s another example of Valve’s frustrating customer service. I once bought a game, but couldn’t download it even though it was listed in my account. I submitted a help ticket, and it took Valve three days to resolve the issue. That’s a long time to hear absolutely nothing from a company in regards to a billing issue. Valve needs to fix this, as soon as possible.


The Steam Engine

Steam automatically handles game downloads and installation, putting local game files in its Steamapps folder and getting them organized in the background. Large games can take an hour or two to download over fast connections, so prepare to keep your computers on if you plan to download the 35GB Max Payne 3.

Steam lets you install games on multiple computers, but only one can be logged into an account at once. If you set up Steam Family Share, you can lend your games to others—an idea that Microsoft planned for Xbox One before console gamers’ anti-digital-rights-management (DRM) backlash forced the Redmond-based company to ditch the plan.

Steam, too, employs DRM, as you must log into Steam to establish a license check. That said, you can play any installed game in Offline Mode. Steam’s scheme is easily is one of the least offensive DRM implementations. GOG.com, on the other hand, doesn’t apply DRM to the games in its catalog, so you have the freedom to install your games on as many PCs as you see fit, without log-in limitations. That said, you won’t see as many high-profile new releases there. Speaking of installing games, Steam lets you remotely install games using the Steam mobile app.

There aren’t any major restrictions in regards to Steam Family Share beyond the five user-account limitation; borrowers get their own achievements and cloud saves, too. They just can’t check out the game when the owner is playing it. If you’re sick of having friends borrow your games, you can gift them games, too, or buy them digital or physical Steam gift cards.

Steam offers matchmaking inside games and social media services outside of games, thanks to a Friends list with text and voice chat and support for Clans (groups of players). Friends can jump into each other’s games, you can invite friends into your games, and Clans can organize group activities by setting up calendars and posting server IP addresses.

As you play games, you earn badges that you can keep, sell in the Steam Market for Steam Store credit, or trade for other badges. Once you get an entire badge set, you get cool rewards like user profile wallpapers and special showcase badges. This is not at all essential to the gaming experience, but it’s a nice touch that gives achievement chasers yet another thing to hunt.

Steam lets you take a screenshot by tapping your keyboard’s F12 key, but it doesn’t record video. On the other hand, the Xbox app‘s Game DVR tool lets you capture stills and up to four hours of video footage.


Chill Modes

Valve recognized gamers’ desire to play games in the living room, so it created Big Picture mode. Designed for the lean-back experience, Big Picture caters to people who want to play PC games in the same way that they play console games. The panel-driven UI is quite different from the standard Steam interface, which makes it easy to navigate on a big-screen TV. In addition, Remote Play lets you play select local co-op games with friends via the internet. It’s an excellent way to add online functionality to games that lack it, such as River City Girls. Even better, a friend can play with you without owning the game!

Valve’s living room play doesn’t end there. Steam now has a music player (I’m using it to listen to Stellar Dreams’s “Dimensions” as I type this review) and a slow-growing streaming movie catalog. Yes, movies. The selection is limited, but you can buy John Wick for $13.99 or rent the Keanu Reeves flick for $3.99. Not every movie has a rental option, though. Mad Max: Fury Road is only available as a $14.99 purchase. Unlike Netflix, Steam lacks a monthly streaming plan. You have a 48-hour window to watch your rented movie.

I rented Darren Aronofsky’s Pi to test the service. The 1080p stream opened in its own window, and smoothly played over our high-speed office connection. I was pleased with the experience, but couldn’t see myself returning to Steam for movie rentals until there are more titles in the catalog.

GOG.com has movies, too, but most of its catalog is devoted to nerd-centric topics. Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony and Indie Game: The Movie perfectly sum up GOG.com’s film offerings. Steam also sells productivity software like Camtasia Studio and GeoVox.

Steam Broadcasting lets you view friends’ playthroughs or let others watch your sessions. To view a friend’s stream, open your Friends List, select a buddy, and click Watch Game in the menu. Public streams are found in a game’s community hub. In addition, downloading the Steam Link Anywhere mobile app lets you stream games from your gaming desktop or gaming laptop to Android or Raspberry Pi devices. Naturally, the quality of the video stream varies depending on the PC broadcasting the feed; I’ve encountered both magnificant and awful streams.

Let Off Some Steam, Bennett

Valve’s Steam service is a must-have for any PC gamer. Its great selection, recommendation features, and deals make it one of the first applications to install on any gaming PC. No, Steam isn’t perfect, particularly in the customer support realm, but it’s the best all-round PC game distribution service available. And for that, Steam is PCMag’s Editors’ Choice for video game marketplaces.

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How to Play Local Multiplayer Games Online on Steam

Are you looking for more ways to play games online with friends? Then you need to check out Steam’s Remote Play Together feature, which allows Steam users to game online.

However, before jumping in, Remote Play Together has some nuances you need to know about. So, in this article, we’ll explain how to play local multiplayer games online on Steam.

What Are Local Multiplayer Games?

Before diving into the specifics of Remote Play Together, let’s tackle the basics. Playing local multiplayer games is not the same as playing on LAN (Local Area Network).

LAN refers to playing games using multiple copies across multiple machines connected by LAN. Local multiplayer, on the other hand, just requires a single machine with a single copy of a game. Local multiplayer games also typically make use of multiple controllers to play together on the host game.

In short, local multiplayer gaming refers to couch gaming. The term came from playing together with your friends within your own home (and likely on your couch).

For example, a group of four people playing on a home console with different controllers counts as local multiplayer gaming. A group of people on multiple computers playing together via a local network does not count as local multiplayer.

What Is Steam’s Remote Play Together?

Steam’s Remote Play Together lets you play local multiplayer games online. You’ll still have one host device and one copy of a game, but you won’t have to be in the same room.

If you’ve ever had issues getting your friends to play together, this feature wants to help you out. Only the game host will need to have the game purchased and installed before inviting others to play. Your game nights instantly become more streamlined by removing all of the legwork from everyone else.

Your Steam Friends now have the option to join you online for local multiplayer, shared/split-screen, and local co-op games. Four players (or more in optimal settings according to Valve) can join your game instantaneously. Once they have joined, there’s the option for them to use their own controllers or to share your keyboard and mouse.

Preemptively Addressing Feature Concerns

For anyone with privacy concerns, only the game screen will be visible to those that joined. You don’t have to worry about anyone accessing your desktop or other windows.

The host can also decide how much access they want to allow. If you’re ever unsure, there’s the option to disable mouse, keyboard, or controller support.

An example of Remote Play's ability to control your friend's interactions

If you’re playing across different devices, the feature supports PC, macOS, and Linux crossplay. Remote Play Together seeks to make group gaming as flexible as possible while also protecting the host from anything invasive.

How to Update Your Steam Client to Beta Status

Remote Play Together is currently in beta, so, in order to access Remote Play Together, you need to update the Steam client to access the beta client. Once you have Steam open, go to Steam > Settings > Account > Beta Participation > Change. Once at the Beta Participation – Steam menu, choose “Steam Beta Update” from the drop-down menu. You can then select “OK” to close the window.

An image showing how to update your Steam client for Remote Play access

Afterwards, you’ll see an alert telling you that Steam needs to restart for the change to take effect. You’ll then need to download a small update. After updating, your Steam client will restart as the new beta client.

How to Use Remote Play Together

An example of how to invite a friend to play with you via Remote Play

Now, you’ll be able to try Remote Play Together using the following steps:

  1. Launch a Steam game from the list of supported titles.
  2. Once in-game, press Shift and Tab to bring up the Steam Overlay.
  3. When it’s visible, hover the friend you want to play with and click the arrow next to their name.
  4. Select “Remote Play Together”.
  5. At this point, you may receive an error, and you might have to install additional drivers to make it work. Follow the on-screen prompts from Steam to do so.
  6. Make sure your friend has accepted your invite. You’ll receive an on-screen notice once your friend has accepted.
  7. Repeat the process to invite any remaining friends (if applicable).
  8. Once all desired players have joined, press Shift and Tab to view the Remote Play settings. You can enable or disable the shared input of the mouse, keyboard, or controller here. You can also adjust the joined player’s volume.
  9. Play together.

As Remote Play Together is in beta, you may experience some connection issues or latency depending on the host’s internet connection. Valve will be working to improve the stability of network and hardware support across different devices. If you experience any issues with chat, consider looking into Valve’s Steam Chat app for mobile

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Games to Try With Remote Play Together

Steam offers over 4,000 supported titles to experiment with from the get-go. Amongst these, a number of popular titles stand out as games you should try.

Left 4 Dead 2

When suggesting a title for Remote Play Together, one of Valve’s classic cooperative campaign titles easily comes to mind. If you have some friends that haven’t yet tried the iconic title, consider introducing them to it.

Risk of Rain

Risk of Rain offers another solid entry that can support you and up to three other friends. As an easier graphical entry point, the title can also take some of the load off the host’s internet connection.


While famously noted as difficult, Cuphead’s local co-op can make the game’s difficulty more manageable. If you need some help or just want to bring a friend in, consider giving it a shot.

Enter the Gungeon

If you’re looking for another dungeon crawler to share a screen with, look no farther. Enter the Gungeon’s local co-op experience works incredibly fluidly.

The Lasting Appeal of Remote Play Together

Regardless of which title you pick, Remote Play Together provides a ton of new opportunities. With the ability to allow online multiplayer for games that previously never had it, Steam is giving a massive upgrade to both past and present titles.

If you want another way Steam can rekindle old games, here’s how to turn your Steam Link into a retro gaming station

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8 Reasons to Stop Buying Games on Steam

Steam is the largest digital distribution service for PC games. So if you’re a PC gamer it’s likely that you own games on Steam. But is it really the best way to buy games? Here are some reasons to stop buying games on Steam.

1. DRM Means You Don’t Own Anything

Steam is a form of digital rights management (DRM), which is a method to protect against piracy. When you launch a game, Steam launches with it, ensuring you can benefit from platform features like achievements, cloud saves, and trading cards (how to get Steam trading cards

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The good thing is that the DRM is optional. Developers can disable it and allow their games to launch without Steam running. However, many don’t.

For those that don’t, that game is tied to your Steam account. So, if Steam closes down or your account gets banned, you’ll no longer have access to the games you bought. Which means that, in essence, you are merely renting a license to a game.

2. You Can’t Resell Your Steam Games

GameStop store
Image Credit: JJBers/Flickr

Once you buy a game on Steam, there’s no way to sell it on. While you can get a refund under certain conditions, you can’t list it on any marketplace. The game is tied to your account.

That’s different to a game that you buy physically, for example (providing you don’t have to redeem a key to activate the game.) They can easily be sold on eBay, traded in, or donated to a thrift store.

However, a French court ruled that Steam users do have a right to resell their games. That’s something that hasn’t come in to practice yet as Valve is appealing the decision.

3. Steam Games Rarely Come With Bonus Goodies

Playing the game you buy is of course the main draw, but it’s always nice to receive some extras for free. Sadly, you rarely get any bonus goodies when you buy a game on Steam.

If you buy direct through the developer, or on another storefront like GOG, you often get downloadable treats like art books, soundtracks, wallpapers, and more.

It harks back to the days when you would get physical bonuses with your games, like a cloth map or figurine.

4. Valve Takes a Huge Cut From Developers

empty wallet
Image Credit: Marco Verch/Flickr

Making video games is difficult. Turning a profit on them? That’s even tougher. As standard, Valve takes a 30 percent cut of the revenue of all Steam purchases. That percentage reduces on a sliding scale when certain revenue targets are reached, but most developers will never get to that point.

Some developers don’t think Valve deserve such a large chunk of the pie, but Steam’s ubiquity makes it hard to argue. It’s where many consumers automatically go to buy games, so not having a game listed on Steam is risky.

If you want to support a developer then you should stop buying games on Steam. Instead, your best approach is to buy games directly from developers, if possible. Alternatively, the Epic Store only takes a 12 percent cut, while Humble Bundle lets you choose how much of the purchase price goes to the developer.

5. Steam Isn’t Always the Cheapest Option

Steam store on macOS showing video games on sale

Steam always has sales. There are daily sales and also the big seasonal ones around events like Halloween and Christmas. But even then it’s not necessarily the cheapest place to buy games.

Gaming is an expensive hobby at the best of times, so there’s no point spending more than you need to. Especially when the end product is exactly the same wherever you buy it (things like pre-order bonuses aside.)

Check out our recommendations for the best sites for video game deals

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. Some websites even provide your purchase as a Steam code, meaning there’s literally no difference in the product except the price.

6. You Are Tied Into the Steam Ecosystem

Some people like owning all of their games on Steam and being tied into the Steam ecosystem. Perhaps it’s the collector in them coming out, or it’s just what all of their friends use.

The problem with this comes when you want to buy something outside of Steam.

Let’s say you buy a game through Steam and the developer later releases DLC. You have no choice but to buy that DLC through Steam, even if it’s cheaper elsewhere, because there’s no way to link the two purchases together otherwise.

7. You Don’t Get a Physical Box

PC game box and manual
Image Credit: Sergey Galyonkin/Flickr

Video games used to come in big cardboard boxes, with great artwork perfect for display. That changed with the introduction of CDs and DVDs, but there’s still something satisfying about seeing a shelf lined with your favorite games.

While it’s much quicker to browse and search your collection on Steam, it’s not quite the same. Visitors to your home aren’t going to strike up a conversation about your Steam library like they might if they saw a line of physical game boxes.

There was something special about poring over a game’s manual on your way home from the shop too. That’s an experience lost, although, to be frank, it does cut down on paper and plastic waste.

8. The Steam Store Is Full of Trash

Negatively reviewed games on the Steam store

Steam is home to tens of thousands of games. The number of games on the store has skyrocketed in recent years, in part thanks to Valve’s lack of curation.

Unlike when you walk into your local store, where the stock has been carefully chosen, the Steam store plays host to everything. While it’s good that the barrier to entry is low, it means there’s a lot of trash and low-effort games to wade through.

For instance, 4,000 of the games on the store are classed as Early Access, which means development isn’t finished. And there’s no guarantee that these games will ever be properly finished.

Why should it be on the consumer to separate the wheat from the chaff?

The Best PC Game Launchers

Despite all of these reasons to stop buying games on Steam, it definitely still has its place. The problem is, Steam has such a hold on the market that it’s difficult for competitors to enter and shake things up.

If you own lots of games across different platforms and want to organize them, you need a game launcher. To get you started, take a look at our list of the best PC game launchers

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The 10 Best Indie Games to Buy on Steam

While big budget triple-A video games have their place, it’s good to balance these out with the best indie games. Think of them as art house films against blockbusters.

An indie game is generally made by an individual or a small development team. The developers are often unrestrained by a publisher, allows them to take creative risks.

There are lots of good indie games to enjoy, but where to begin? To help you get started on your indie game adventure, here are the best indie games worth buying on Steam.

Braid is a platformer that was released in 2008, originally for the Xbox 360. It’s classed as the game that launched the indie boom, or at least brought them to the forefront.

It’s easy to understand why. While the premise—man rescues princess captured by a monster—sounds predictable, the way Braid’s story unwraps is anything but.

Key to this is a time-manipulation mechanic. Each world has its own take on time: being able to rewind it, your movement linked to it, having it flow in reverse, and so on. It’ll mess with your brain, but that makes it even more rewarding when you succeed.

Machinarium is a beautiful point-and-click adventure game that puts you in charge of a little robot, desperate to get back inside the city walls and overthrow the evil within.

There’s no dialog in the game. Instead, everything is communicated through expression or symbols, which makes solving the many puzzles even more rewarding.

But you probably don’t need much convincing if you just look at the wonderful artwork and listen to the enchanting soundtrack. Machinarium is one of the best indie games of all time.

The golden age of American animation began in the 1930s and it’s from this that Cuphead takes its artistic inspiration from. It looks like something pulled straight from the era that gave us Steamboat Willie and Betty Boop.

Everything is hand-drawn on cels, the backgrounds created in watercolor, the music a worship of jazz. But Cuphead is so much more than its audiovisuals.

It’s an incredibly difficult run-and-gun game, putting you in control of the titular Cuphead as you work through levels to reach the mega boss fights. There’s also a co-op mode if you need the help of a friend to survive.

To say too much about The Stanley Parable is to ruin its brilliance. It was originally born as a mod to Half-Life 2, before being spun off into its own game for release in 2013.

You take charge of Stanley, guiding him away from curiously abandoned office, as a narrator comments on his every move. While the narrator tries to guide Stanley, you can choose to make entirely different decisions, which results in a lot of surreal humor.

It’s worth playing The Stanley Parable multiple times so that you can make different decisions and explore everything it has to offer. It’s hilarious, and well worth experiencing.

Super Meat Boy is the follow-up to an excellent Flash game (how to download and run Flash games

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). However, you don’t need any previous experience of the series.

Super Meat Boy is a complex platformer where you control a red square of meat, bouncing across perilous terrain to rescue his girlfriend. It’s inspired by old school classics like Mega Man 2 and Super Mario Bros. 2.

There are over 300 levels to get through, but the difficulty curve is perfectly judged. You’ll return to earlier levels and wonder why you were bashing your head in frustration.

Board an East India Company ghost ship in the 1800s in Return of the Obra Dinn. Created by Lucas Pope (developer of the critically acclaimed Papers, Please) this follow-up is even better than the first.

Everyone on the ship has disappeared and it’s up to you to solve the mystery. You must search for clues, piecing together information to find out the names of the deceased and how they met their fate.

Return of the Obra Dinn has very interesting presentation; it looks like something you’d find on an early Macintosh computer. Let that alone entice you into this clever and engrossing adventure.

Bastion is an action role-playing game, set in a foreign world where a calamity has caused the land to shatter into floating islands.

You don the shoes of a young boy, aptly named The Kid, slashing and firing at an assortment of enemies. As you do, a narrator not only tells an intriguing story, but also comments on your actions.

All of the weapons you collect can be upgraded and there are plentiful challenges along the way, ensuring you’ll spend lots of time in Bastion’s gorgeous environments.

3D platformers used to be all the rage and it’s clear where A Hat in Time draws its inspiration from. Nevertheless, it stands tall as something awesome in its own right.

It’s a cute, charming, and downright fun platformer starring a little girl trying to get home on her spaceship. To do that she’ll need to collect all the Time Pieces that have been scattered on the crazy worlds below.

Hat Girl gets her abilities through the different hats she creates—like brewing potions or looking inside other dimensions. It’s incredibly joyful to mess around with all the different combinations and it’s bound to put a smile on your face.

Inside is a dark game, both aesthetically and emotionally. It’s predominantly monochromatic, with little sound, and there’s an overbearing sense of dread and despair.

You take the role of a young boy on the run, hunted by shadowy forces. Whether it’s being chased by angry dogs, swimming against rising water, or getting shot with a tranquilizer dart, there’s rarely a moment’s rest for the protagonist.

Inside is a puzzle platformer, so you need to manipulate the environment to keep progressing. Whether there’s light at the end of the tunnel is for you to find out.

No list of indie games is complete without mentioning Stardew Valley. This game is the definition of a labor of love, developed with dedication over four years by Eric Barone.

Stardew Valley was heavily inspired by Barone’s passion for Harvest Moon. In his game, you’ve inherited your grandfather’s farm plot and need to get to grips with the fields in order to earn a living.

You can master skills like mining and fishing, meet other characters in the community, explore underground caves, and much more. Say goodbye to your real life and embrace your new virtual one in Stardew Valley.

There Are Lots of Good Indie Games Out There

If we’re honest, this list of the best indie games to buy on Steam could have gone longer, such is the wealth of indie games available today. However, we consider these to be the very best and hope you enjoy playing them.

If you want more gaming fun, be sure to read our article listing the most influential PC games of all time

The 10 Most Influential PC Games That Changed Gaming Forever

The 10 Most Influential PC Games That Changed Gaming Forever

These are the most influential PC games everyone should play at least once. And the best thing of all? They’re fun!
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What Are Steam Trading Cards and How Do You Get Them?

After playing a game on Steam, you may earn a Trading Card. If you’re wondering what Steam Trading Cards are, what you can do with them, and how to collect them all, you’ve come to the right place.

Here’s how to make real money from Steam Trading Cards—and while you won’t earn quite enough to retire on, any kind of free money is better than no money.

What Are Steam Trading Cards?

Steam Trading Cards are entirely virtual. They only exist in your Steam profile and cannot be turned into physical rewards. So if you thought you’d be able to put them in binders to show your friends, you’re out of luck.

Steam trading cards for the game Magicka

Each Steam Trading Card is part of a set. Collect a full set of Trading Cards and you can get rewards, like additional customization to your Steam profile. You can also sell them on the Steam Community Market for wallet funds, which you can then use towards purchases on Steam.

There are also special foil Trading Cards. You can collect a set of foil cards and turn them into a foil badge for your Steam profile. Foil cards are like shiny Pokemon cards: no different to the regular ones in function, but simply rarer and therefore higher value.

How Do I Get Steam Trading Cards?

The main way to earn Trading Cards is by playing games on Steam. You can view a list of eligible games across the entire Store, along with eligible games within your library. This is also accessible in the Steam client via the Badges page, which appears beneath your username on the top menu.

In actuality, you don’t have to play the game, you just need to have it open. Simply logging time in a game is all you need to do to earn a Trading Card, and they will randomly drop into your account. If you want to go off and do something else, you’ll still be able to earn them.

Badges page on Steam

In fact, there are ways to get Steam Trading Cards without even running the game

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. But where’s the fun in that?

The only difference is for free to play games

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. For approximately every $9 spent, you will get eligibility for a random card drop.

Once you finish playing a game and close it, you will be notified if you’ve received a Trading Card through the Steam messaging system. A new message is signified by the envelope in the top-right of the interface turning green.

Click the green envelope and click X new items in your inventory. This will take you to your inventory, where you can view more information about the card, such as its name and description.

How Do I Collect All Steam Trading Cards?

It isn’t possible to earn all of a game’s Trading Cards just by playing it—only half. If a game has eight cards available, for example, you will only ever receive four of those by playing. However, you can receive duplicates, so you won’t necessarily get four unique cards.

Booster Packs

Once you’ve exhausted all of the free card drops, you can get more cards through booster packs. These are randomly granted as community members craft game badges.

Booster packs contain three random cards, though they might already be ones you own. Booster packs contain both basic and foil cards.

You must sign in to Steam each week to retain eligibility to receive a booster pack. Your chance of receiving one also increases alongside your Steam level.

Buy on the Community Market

Other players sell their unwanted cards on the Community Market and you can buy them using funds in your Steam wallet.

Steam cards to collect

To find the cards you want quickly, go to the Badges page, click a game, then click Search the Market next to the desired card.

If it’s an uncommonly played game you might find there are no cards currently listed or that they’re expensive. If that’s the case, you might be better off waiting a while because the price usually drops over time.

Trade With Friends

If you have duplicate cards, or cards for a game that you’re not interested in, you can trade with your friends. To do this, go to your friends list, click the dropdown arrow next to their name, and click Trading > Send a Trade Offer. You can also go to the aforementioned Badges page and click Visit Trade Forum to see if a stranger is offering an acceptable exchange.

Trading Steam cards

This is a good way of getting a solid deal because you don’t have to be bound by market rates. You don’t even have to trade card for card—you could exchange for an in-game item, for example.

What Can I Do With Steam Trading Cards?

You can either choose to keep the cards and turn them into virtual rewards, or sell them on the Steam Community Market for money.

Craft a Badge

Once you have a full set of Trading Cards, you can turn them into a badge. This will display on your Steam profile and will also grant you rewards:

  • A game-specific emoji to use in chats with friends.
  • A game-specific background to customize your Steam profile.
  • 100XP towards your Steam level (your Steam level determines profile customization options and how many people you can have on your friends list.)
  • A chance to get a discount code for another game.

Steam badges

If you get another set of cards for the same game, you can use them to upgrade the badge (up to fives times at most.) This gives you 100XP and also changes the badge’s image and title.

Sell on the Community Market

If you’re not interested in badges or Steam levels or any of that, you can sell your Trading Cards on the Steam Community Market.

Cards have no set value. You can set whatever price you want, but whether someone is willing to pay that price is another matter. You will be able to make more money from a card if there’s someone in the community specifically seeking it out or if not many of them exist. Generally, the more popular a game is, the less valuable its cards.

Selling on the Steam Market

Go into your inventory, select a card, and click Sell to begin the process. You will be able to see what the average price for the card is and how much Valve will take as their cut. When someone buys it, the money goes straight into your Steam wallet to use against future purchases.

Gotta Catch ‘Em All

Now you know how to get Steam Trading Cards and what you can do with them, it’s time to play your games and start earning them.

And if you need some advice on which games to play, check out our round-up of the best PC games you can play in short bursts

10 Perfect PC Games to Play for 5 Minutes at a Time

10 Perfect PC Games to Play for 5 Minutes at a Time

Here are some awesome PC games that are perfect to play for five minutes at a time. Don’t overlook them!
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The First Steam Engine Was Known As What?

Geek Trivia

The First Steam Engine Was Known As What?

A Newcomen Dynamo

A Mill Engine

Uranus Was Almost Named What?

A woodcut illustration of an aeolipile
Public Domain/Wikimedia

Answer: An Aeolipile

Although the 18th and 19th centuries might be known as the Age of Steam thanks to the rising use of steam engines and their influence on transport and commerce, the roots of the steam engine reach much further back.

The first recorded instance of a steam engine dates all the way back to the first century AD writings of Hero of Alexandria. He wrote of a rocket-style engine that converted water into steam and used the steam to spin a sphere outfitted with two crook-necked nozzles. The name, aeolipile, translates to “the ball of Aeolus”—Aeolus was a king endowed by the gods with the winds (and known as the Keeper of the Winds).

There is no evidence that the aeolipile was ever put to any practical use and is believed to have served simply as a temple wonder—a device intended to inspire awe and curiosity in the observer.

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The 20 Best Free Games on Steam That Won’t Trick You to Spend Money

Years ago, you’d pay a flat price for a video game and get everything included. These days? You generally pay full price for the “base” game and then pay extra to unlock bonus content. Or you might download a “free” game only to be swindled by psychologically manipulative tactics that suck your wallet dry.

And because these tricks are so profitable, freemium games aren’t going anywhere. The good news is, not all developers are so greedy. Here are the best free games on Steam (one of the must-have apps for PC gamers) that don’t rely on scummy monetization methods.

15 Totally Free Games on Steam

You can download these games at no charge and play them without worrying about any pressure to spend money in-game.

1. Iron Snout

Rating: 98% | Genre: Fighting

You’re a pig in a forest. Fend off waves of wolves who want to tear you apart. It’s simple but fun, and between the different weapons and body parts dropped by attackers, there’s a surprising amount of replayability. Iron Snout is one of the best ways to kill time and one of the best free games on Steam.

Download: Iron Snout on Steam

2. The Expendabros

Rating: 97% | Genre: Action Platformer

The Expendabros is exactly what it sounds like: non-stop bullet-spraying action that’s as silly and campy as it is fun and fast. “High octane” doesn’t even begin to describe it, and you have 10 complete missions to play through as seven different characters. It’s hilarious and addictive, and it’s one of the best free single-player games on Steam. Does it get any better than that?

Download: The Expendabros on Steam

3. Eternal Senia

The 20 Best Free Games on Steam That Won't Trick You to Spend Money best free games steam eternal senia screenshot

Rating: 97% | Genre: Action RPG

Eternal Senia is an RPG that anyone can play. The game is built on simplicity and straightforwardness, yet it’s deep enough to provide hours of enjoyment. It offers a complete experience, with puzzles, equipment, and a satisfying story. Eternal Senia was made in RPG Maker over the course of one year and is available to all for free.

Download: Eternal Senia on Steam

4. Alien Swarm

Rating: 94% | Genre: Third-Person Shooter

Alien Swarm is a cooperative tactical online shooter where you and your friends crawl through levels and solve puzzles while fighting off hordes of aggressive aliens. It’s fun but hard, and you’re bound to slam your table out of frustration at least a few times. Not a bad way to kill time when you’re with online friends.

Download: Alien Swarm on Steam

5. Shadow Warrior Classic

The 20 Best Free Games on Steam That Won't Trick You to Spend Money steam shadow warrior classic

Rating: 94% | Genre: First-Person Shooter

Remember the original Doom? Well, Shadow Warrior Classic is kind of like that but crossed with a bit of Duke Nukem. It’s intense and gory and downright silly at times, but it holds up well even after 20 years (as well as an MS-DOS game can hold up, anyways).

Download: Shadow Warrior Classic on Steam

6. Sisyphus Reborn

Rating: 94% | Genre: Adventure Story

Sisyphus Reborn is a short game driven by its mysterious narrative and atmosphere. It’s all quite pointless, but maybe that’s the point. It’s the kind of game that’ll make you think, and even if philosophy isn’t quite your cup of tea, I promise Sisyphus Reborn will leave an impression on you. It only takes 30 minutes to beat. Why not give it a go?

Download: Sisyphus Reborn on Steam

7. The Desolate Hope

Rating: 91% | Genre: Action Platformer

Here we have one of the strangest games you’ll play this year. The Desolate Hope is quirky, to say the least, and so unique that it’s hard to even describe. It’s futuristic but also retro. It has RPG elements but isn’t quite an RPG. And the one-of-a-kind art style will blow you away. If nothing else, you should play it just for that!

Download: The Desolate Hope on Steam

8. You Have to Win the Game

Rating: 92% | Genre: Platformer

Looking for a healthy dose of 80s retro platformer fun? You Have to Win the Game will fill that void. It’s an exploration game so you won’t see much action, but don’t take that to mean it’s boring—“thrilling yet relaxing” is what you should expect. You can also ramp up the difficulty with the You Only Live Once mode!

Download: You Have to Win the Game on Steam

9. Sigils of Elohim

Rating: 92% | Genre: Puzzle

Sigils of Elohim is actually a companion mini-game to The Talos Principle. By solving the various puzzles in this game, you unlock bonuses for the other game. But even if you don’t have The Talos Principle (which is a great game), you can still enjoy this one for what it is: a basic “fit the blocks into a shape” puzzle game.

Download: Sigils of Elohim on Steam

10. Fistful of Frags

Rating: 90% | Genre: First-Person Shooter

While most multiplayer first-person shooters take on a military or futuristic theme, Fistful of Frags is unique with its Wild West setting. It features duel, free-for-all, and team modes to satisfy all kinds of playstyles, plus some interesting gameplay mechanics (e.g. dual wielding) and a unique scoring system.

Download: Fistful of Frags on Steam

11. Endless Sky

Rating: 90% | Genre: Open World

Not to be confused with No Man’s Sky, Endless Sky is an open-world game where you explore, trade, and fight in space as a ship. Unfortunately it’s not a multiplayer game, but the main storyline takes about 10 hours to beat and then opens up to hours of more fun, so you’ll definitely get your money’s worth. (I’m joking, it’s free!)

Download: Endless Sky on Steam

12. Port of Call

Rating: 89% | Genre: First-Person Adventure

You board a ship, you don’t remember who you are, and nothing is what it seems. Port of Call only takes about 30 minutes to beat, but those minutes are well worth the download if you enjoy horror and suspense. If nothing else, it’s an interesting experiment on whether short narrative games can succeed—and I think Port of Call proves it to be true.

Download: Port of Call on Steam

13. Teeworlds

Rating: 88% | Genre: Action Platformer

Teeworlds is like Kirby meets Mario meets Quake. In this multiplayer platformer arena game, you play as one of many cute little ball-shaped people trying to kill other ball-shaped people. The grappling hook mechanic introduces an exciting physics component on top of the weapons and game modes, which include Deathmatch and Capture the Flag.

Download: Teeworlds on Steam

14. Super Crate Box

Rating: 89% | Genre: Action Platformer

Super Crate Box puts you inside a box arena with no way out and sees how long you can survive against endless waves of monsters. Enemies you fail to kill respawn and move faster every time. Various weapons spawn around the arena at random, each one having different advantages and disadvantages. A fun arcade-y experience, for sure, and of the many fun free games on Steam, this one sits near the top.

Download: Super Crate Box on Steam

15. TrackMania Nations Forever

Rating: 86% | Genre: Racing

No other racing game franchise offers a better, more satisfying experience than TrackMania. This particular game is the only free title in the series, but with 65 fun stock tracks, an in-game track editor, an in-game video studio for recording footage, and multiplayer capability, TrackMania Nations Forever is simply amazing.

Download: TrackMania Nations Forever on Steam

The 5 Best Free-to-Play Games on Steam

Unlike the above, these games include in-game purchases. But they do so in a way that isn’t invasive, so you can still enjoy them without spending any money.

16. Team Fortress 2

Rating: 93% | Genre: First-Person Shooter

Team Fortress 2 played a huge role in popularizing the whole “pay for cosmetics” business model, and even after all these years remains one of the best free-to-play games on Steam with the fairest monetization methods. You can either buy cosmetic-only items or dropped/unlockable items that do change gameplay but are never strictly better than the default loadouts.

Download: Team Fortress 2 on Steam

17. Path of Exile

Rating: 92% | Genre: Action RPG

In a lot of ways, Path of Exile is what Diablo 3 should have been. Most notable is the fact that Path of Exile is completely free and committed to an “ethical monetization” model. It has no gated content and no pay-to-win perks; only cosmetic items that are entirely optional. Is there any wonder why Path of Exile is still going strong? This is free-to-play done right and easily one of the top free games on Steam.

Download: Path of Exile on Steam

18. Warframe

Rating: 92% | Genre: Third-Person Shooter

Often described as a “poor man’s Destiny,” Warframe is a multiplayer cooperative PvE first-person shooter that sets you off to complete narrative missions and quests. It also has a PvP mode for those with a competitive itch. Yet despite the game’s success, the developers have never pushed a hard monetization model. Anything you can buy, you can also acquire in-game, and it’s never a grind because the game itself is fun.

Download: Warframe on Steam

19. Dota 2

Rating: 85% | Genre: MOBA

Dota 2 is the second most-popular MOBA in the world. But whereas League of Legends (its main competitor) forces its players to grind and grind to unlock champions, Dota 2 gives all players access to every hero right from the start. You only spend money on cosmetics, and yes, Dota 2 cosmetics are truly cosmetic! They have zero effect on gameplay.

Download: Dota 2 on Steam

20. Battlerite

Rating: 83% | Genre: Team Arena Brawler

Imagine the Arena PvP mode in World of Warcraft but with a top-down scheme, every ability replaced with skillshots, no mana, and no random numbers. Well, that game is called Battlerite. It distills team-based PvP gameplay down to its essence: outplay the other team and kill them before they kill you. As a free player, you have a limited champion rotation with the ability to unlock champions with in-game currency earned through playing.

Download: Battlerite on Steam

What Are Your Favorite Free Steam Games?

These games will provide you with dozens of hours of awesome gaming at zero cost. They prove that you don’t have to pay a ton of money for an enjoyable game, so why not check them out? You could find a new favorite.

For more, check out the best free games on Linux

The 10 Best Linux Games You Can Play for Free

The 10 Best Linux Games You Can Play for Free

If you’re looking for the best Linux games to play for free, here are 10 titles to get you started…
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, as well as /r/FreeGamesonSteam on Reddit.

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How to Hide the Games You’re Playing on Steam

Steam window showing the store on a Windows 10 desktop

Steam shares your gameplay activity by default. If you’re playing Hello Kitty: Island Adventure or Bad Rats, you might want to keep your gameplay a secret. Here’s how to hide your Steam activity from your friends.

Hide Played Games From Your Steam Profile

Your Steam profile page normally lists all the games you’ve been playing and shows how many hours you’ve spent in all of them, focusing on what you’ve been playing in the last two weeks.

Steam profiles used to be public by default, but Valve made them private by default. Still, you may have made it public to work with a third-party service that reads information from your Steam profile, like IsThereAnyDeal, which scans your wishlist for games and lets you know if they’re for sale on other game stores.

To access your profile in Steam, hover over your username on the top bar and click “Profile.”

Opening your profile in Steam

Click the “Edit Profile” button at the right side of the page to edit your profile.

Editing your profile in Steam

Click “My Privacy Settings” at the right side of your page to find Steam’s profile privacy options.

Opening profile privacy settings in Steam

Adjust the privacy settings here to control what people can see. To hide gameplay, you have two options.

To hide gameplay information, set “Game details” to “Private.” Not even your friends will be able to see the games you’re playing, the games you own, or the games you’ve wishlisted. They can still see your friends list, inventory, comments, and other information, depending on the options you have selected on this page.

You could also just hide everything by setting the “My Profile” option to Private. If you do, no one can see your entire profile page. You can also select “Friends Only,” and only your Steam friends will be able to see your profile.

Setting game detail information to private in Steam

Hide Gameplay Activity From Steam Chat

If you’re only kind-of embarrassed about the game you’re currently playing—maybe you don’t care if it’s listed on your profile page but you don’t want all your friends getting a notification that you’ve started playing the game or see that you’re playing it on their friends list—you can go offline or become invisible on Steam chat.

To do so, click the “Friends and Chat” option in steam, click your username, and select “Offline” or “Invisible.” Your friends won’t be able to see what you’re playing right now, although this information will still appear on your profile page.

Note that setting your “Game details” to Private will prevent your friends from seeing the games you’re playing, even if you’re online in Steam chat.

Going offline or invisible in Steam chat

Hide or Remove Games From Your Steam Library

If you’d like to hide a game from the Steam library on your PC, you can set it to “Hidden” or remove it from your Steam library.

People with access to game details on your profile will still be able to see any achievements and playtime you have in that game. However, anyone with access to your PC won’t see the game in your normal Steam library.

Hiding a game from your Steam library

With Steam now offering adult-only games and other not-safe-for-work (NSFW) material, the ability to hide games you’re playing only becomes more important. But it’s useful even if you’ve been playing other games, like Bad Rats, that you don’t want anyone else knowing about.

RELATED: How to Hide or Remove a Game From Your Steam Library

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How to Download Your Save Games From Steam Cloud

Steam Store on a laptop and desktop.
Casimiro PT/Shutterstock

Steam synchronizes many save files to its servers. They’re automatically downloaded via Steam when you install a game, but that’s not the only way you can get them. You can download them directly from Valve’s website in your browser, too.

Enable Steam Cloud Sync in Steam

If Steam isn’t automatically downloading your old save games after you install a game, ensure Steam Cloud is enabled for that game within Steam.

To do so, locate the game in your Steam library, right-click it, and then select “Properties.” Click the “Updates” tab and ensure the “Enable Steam Cloud synchronization” option is checked for the game. If this option isn’t checked, Steam won’t automatically download your cloud saves—or upload any new ones.

If you don’t see a Steam Cloud option for a game here, that game doesn’t support Steam Cloud. Not all games on Steam do—it’s up to each game developer.

Click "Updates" tab and check the "Enable Steam Cloud synchronization for" option.

Download the Files in Your Web Browser

Valve lets you download your Steam cloud save files via a web browser, too. You can download just your save files without re-downloading the entire game.

To find your save files, visit Valve’s View Steam Cloud page in your web browser and sign in with your Steam account.

You’ll see a list of games using your Steam Cloud storage. Locate the game in the list (hit Ctrl+F to use the browser’s search)—and click “Show Files” to see all the files for a game.

List of Steam Cloud's saved games on the web.

Each game has a page showing all the files it’s storing in Steam Cloud, as well as the date they were modified. To download a file, click “Download.” Download all the save files for your game, and you’ll have a copy of its save games.

Click "Download" next to each save file you want.

This is especially useful for multi-platform games that don’t automatically synchronize save files between platforms.

For example, Borderlands 2 is available for both PC and Mac. It synchronizes its save files with Steam Cloud, but both the PC and Mac versions sync save files separately. You can download the Mac (or PC) versions from Steam’s website, and then manually import them into the correct folder to move your Borderlands 2 save games between platforms.

Without using the website, this would require downloading Borderlands 2 on one platform, extracting your save games, and then downloading the game on a second platform!

This is a known problem for other games, too—for example, it also seems to be required when moving save games from Torchlight for Windows to Torchlight for Linux.

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Valve Now Says Steam Will “Likely” Support Ubuntu 19.10

Stylized Steam logo

It’s been a rough few days for Linux gaming, but the battle is over. In response to Canonical’s change of plans around 32-bit compatibility libraries, Valve has announced it will “likely” support Ubuntu 19.10 and 20.04 LTS.

Following Canonical’s statement after “the huge amount of feedback this weekend,” Valve’s statement was posted by developer Pierre-Loup on the Steam forums on June 26. He explains the entire situation:

In response to the concerns raised by ourselves and the wider community, the Ubuntu project recently discussed a more conservative approach wherein a selection of 32-bit libraries would still be available on the host system, through at least 20.04 LTS. We’re still not particularly excited about the removal of any existing functionality, but such a change to the plan is extremely welcome… Given the information we have on this new approach so far, it seems likely that we will be able to continue to officially support Steam on Ubuntu.

However, things aren’t all rosy for Ubuntu. Valve currently recommends Ubuntu to Linux gamers as the preferred officially supported Linux distribution. That may change going forward:

The Linux landscape has changed dramatically since we released the initial version of Steam for Linux, and as such, we are re-thinking how we want to approach distribution support going forward. There are several distributions on the market today that offer a great gaming desktop experience such as Arch Linux, Manjaro, Pop!_OS, Fedora, and many others. We’ll be working closer with many more distribution maintainers in the future…

That all being said, we don’t have anything specific to announce at this time regarding what distribution(s) will be supported in the future; expect more news on that front in the coming months.

While Valve isn’t thrilled about Ubuntu’s likely plan to drop compatibility with legacy 32-bit software after Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, there are no immediate changes to announce. Linux gamers can keep using the next few releases of Ubuntu to run Steam’s library of games. The community has been heard.

Both Canonical and Valve’s entire statements are worth a read if you’re interested in this topic. Thanks to OMG! Ubuntu for spotting this.

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