8 Things You Didn’t Know About Steam

Steam Logo 300   8 Things You Didnt Know About SteamSteam started out as an annoying program that came with Half-Life 2, but it’s grown into the PC game store of choice for most PC gamers. Although some people aren’t fans and prefer alternative stores, it’s a powerful platform that offers a lot of features. Even if you’re a Steam fan, there’s likely a lot you don’t know about Steam.

From a market where you can sell in-game items for credit towards new Steam games to integrated walkthroughs and easy mod installation, Steam is constantly gaining new features. We’ll be seeing a Linux-based “Steam Box” challenging the consoles in the living room this year, too.

Steam Has Different Prices In Different Regions

Steam allows publishers to set different prices for different reason. For example, the URL http://store.steampowered.com/?cc=au will take you to the Australian Steam store, while http://store.steampowered.com/?cc=us will take you to the US Steam store. You’ll see different prices for many games on each.

For example, Dishonored costs $60 USD in the US and $80 USD in Australia. (You can also use other country codes, such as eu for Europe and uk for the UK.)

steam region price variations   8 Things You Didnt Know About Steam

If you have a friend in another region of the world, you can have them purchase the game in their region and gift it to you to save money on some games. Some games use Steamworks, which mean that they’ll activate on Steam no matter where you purchase them from. You can buy Steamworks games at other stores, where they may be cheaper, and activate them on Steam.

You can also try to get around this restriction by using a VPN to make Steam think you’re in another region of the world. However, we don’t recommend this – this is against Steam’s policies and you may run into trouble with Steam if you do this.

You Can Sell Items For Steam Wallet Credit

The Steam Community Market is currently in beta and only supports a limited number of games – Team Fortress 2 and Dota 2, to be specific. The Market allows you to buy and sell in-game items for Steam Wallet credit. If you get a crate in Team Fortress 2, you can sell it for a few cents and put that money towards a new game on Steam – or purchase other items from the Market.

It’s sort of like Diablo 3’s real money auction house, only that you can’t actually get money back out of it – but you can use the money you earn to buy more games and DLC on Steam.

steam community market   8 Things You Didnt Know About Steam

Steam’s Overlay Is Powerful

When playing any game on Steam, you can press Shift + Tab to open the in-game overlay (unless you’ve disabled the overlay). The overlay allows you to chat using Steam chat and access other useful features. You can also click the Web Browser link at the bottom of the Steam overlay to open a browser and access the web without leaving a game.

This can be convenient if you’re stuck in a game and want to access a walkthrough without the hassle of alt+tabbing. Steam also offers integrated game guides, so you can access walkthroughs and guides while playing games, right from the overlay.

steam overlay browser   8 Things You Didnt Know About Steam

Steam Offers Multiple Download Servers

Steam has multiple download servers located in different regions of the world. Steam tries to automatically select the best server for your location, but servers may become overloaded and slow – especially on the release date of a popular game.

You can change the download server Steam uses and view how much load each download server is under.

muo steamspeed1   8 Things You Didnt Know About Steam

Your Steam Folder Is Easily Moveable

Most programs on Windows need to be reinstalled whenever you move to a new computer. Not Steam – you can copy your Steam folder and take it with you, whether you’re moving to a new computer, reinstalling Windows, or just creating a backup.

steam files to migrate   8 Things You Didnt Know About Steam

Steam Sells Software, Too

Steam rose to prominence as a game store, but it’s recently started selling software, too. Software available on Steam currently includes game-related applications like RPG Maker, GameMaker, and the 3DMark benchmarking suite. However, there are also applications for budgeting, movie editing, and managing photos.

With time, Steam could even become an app store for desktop Windows, Mac, and Linux software. The Windows Store included in Windows 8 doesn’t allow easy purchasing and installation of desktop apps.

steam software store   8 Things You Didnt Know About Steam

Steam Hardware Survey Tells You What Gamers Use

Steam runs a hardware survey that tells you what operating system and hardware its users have. Game developers can use this to make sure their games will run on the hardware being used by gamers, but it’s an interesting snapshot of what Steam’s users use.

For example, about 7% of Steam users were using Windows 8 as of December 2012, while about 1% were using Steam for Linux.

steam hardware survey   8 Things You Didnt Know About Steam

The Steam Workshop Makes Installing Mods Easy

User-created mods have always been one of the best things about PC gaming. Unlike on consoles, people can create mods for PC games and distribute them online. However, installing mods can often be a headache, involving unzipping archives, reading README files, and extracting them to game folders buried deep on your hard drive.

For games where the developers have added Steam Workshop integration – including Portal 2, Left 4 Dead 2, and Skyrim – you can easily browse and install mods with just a few clicks.

steam workshop   8 Things You Didnt Know About Steam

Do you know any other lesser-known Steam features that we didn’t cover here? Leave a comment and share your knowledge!

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27 Comments -

1 votes

Stephan Huebner

lol @ “Steam sells software too”. You do realize that games are software, right?

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Good point, yes. I could have said “Steam sells non-game software.” Steam itself has a “Software” category that doesn’t include games, so I went with that.

5 votes

Manuel Guillermo López Buenfil

Installing mods is easy but not very intuitive for new users. You have to click on “Subscribe” to install a mod. Steam will automatically download, update and install any mod you are subscribed to. To uninstall a mod, just unsubscribe. It is easy, but I have seen many people (myself included) who were confused by this terminology.

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Good points. It’s easy, but you have to know how it works.

1 votes

Steamaria Von Steamenstein

I knew all 8 things. Why did you tell I me I didn’t know these things? You don’t know me!

0 votes

Jeremy Garnett

I knew none of the 8 things. Thank you for telling me these things. You don’t know me.

0 votes

Lisa Santika Onggrid

I think it’s relative, so it’s not exactly the best title choice.

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

It’s designed to be attention-grabbing, of course.

5 votes

Switchblade Rebirth

You can change skins on steam from the default to anything you wan’t. Here are some examples Chris http://browse.deviantart.com/?qh=&section=&global=1&q=steam+skin

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Oh, that’s a great point! Totally slipped my mind. Thanks!

0 votes

Alan Wade

Very interesting Chris, Bookmarked for a later date.

0 votes

Anonymous

Nice article. Didn’t know about the servers and the fact that I can move my folder with no need to reinstall games:))

0 votes

Daniel Huss

an odd thing is that even though it’s easy to move the whole steam folder it’s still not that easy to move or change the install location of a single game. Unless i’m missing something, i’m surprised this isn’t more common with the adoption of SSDs and it’s something I wish Valve would address.

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

This used to be a serious problem, but it’s now been resolved. When installing a game through Steam, you can now choose the install location.

1 votes

Anonymous

Chris Hoffman, you should make similar article for origin, uplay and desura , capsule etc.. or some article where you compare all of them

5 votes

Chris Hoffman

That’s a good idea! However, I just use Steam. I don’t know much about the alternatives. Frankly, they don’t have as many features. Steam is a much more developed platform with crazy stuff like the new item-selling thing.

0 votes

Abiud Keng

Thank you for the time spent writing up the article Chris. Good information.

0 votes

Keith Swartz

Awesome software for Linux, and an article that is just as AWESOME! Thanks for the info!

0 votes

Nicholas Salamanchuk

I’ve never liked the alt-tab function. The browser annoys me. I’m sure it is just me but I rather use tabbed browsing. I like using Firefox with all my add-ons.

5 votes

Chris Hoffman

It’s not the best browser I’ve ever used, but it’s convenient for walkthroughs.

0 votes

carl marten

If you want to change the location of a game try Steam Mover. Click and your latest game is on your SSD (or off it when you have finished).

You can do it by hand using junction links but its more hassle.

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Yup, that used to be required. If you’re okay with reinstalling the games, you can now choose install locations while installing game. Try it!

0 votes

Anonymous

I do have a question about moving the steam folder. What about when I am reinstaling windows. Do I need to just reinstall steam program, and then just paste (previously backup-ed) steamapp folder or I dont even need to reinstall steam program? But it makes more sense to me that reinstall of prog is needed because of the registry files etc. ?

5 votes

William Winslow

If you have your steam installation on another drive to your system In my case Windows. When reinstalling I just open the Steam folder on the other drive and run the Stem program with Admin rights once to setup the necessary shortcuts and settings for it to run again from the shortcut again later without admin rights. It only takes a few seconds then it checks for an update. All you have to do is enter your password.

5 votes

Srivatsan Venkatesh

Small note about the Steam Overlay: You said that you can pull up walkthroughs and stuff in-game? Well, Steam now has another button in the Overlay, “Guides”. People can make guides and post them to the different games’ hubs and people can access them in-game.

For example, Team Fortress 2. While playing, you want to know the best weapon to use in CTF as Scout: just hit shift-tab (or whatever you mapped to it) hit Guides, and see if someone has a guide of it available (someone probably does).

0 votes

Fakhad

So where are the 8 things that I did not know about steam?
All of that was…..well it’s just right there, why not mention you can buy games and PLAY games with it?

0 votes

Charles

Really?

The only people that didn’t know that, have no internet.