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UPDATE: This question lives on at

So – I just bought the new game Supreme Commander 2. This question is not about the game, but about the online software installation platform that it seems to require. I haven't bought a game in a long time, and I'm puzzled: Apparently, SC2 is a "Steam"-powered game.

When I went to install the game, it asked me to either create a new Steam account, or log in with an existing account. I clicked "Cancel" because I don't plan to play online and I don't want anything unnecessary installed on my computer, since I only plan to play single player!

However, after clicking "Cancel", the installer asked for my confirmation that I indeed wanted to cancel installation of the game! I thought I was just canceling the "online" portions!

So I really want to know:

  • How do "Steam" powered games work?
  • Is this essentially a form of DRM (Digital Rights Management)?
  • Can I trust this software platform?
  • Has anybody done any independent verification on how this platform works? (I'm very leery of any DRM after the Sony BMG CD copy protection scandal. Thank goodness for Mark Russinovich.)
  • Does the "Steam" platform install anything particularly nasty or unwanted on my computer?

locked by studiohack Mar 23 '11 at 22:36

closed as off topic by quack quixote, fretje, Ivo Flipse Mar 19 '10 at 22:16

Questions on Super User are expected to relate to computer software or computer hardware within the scope defined by the community. Consider editing the question or leaving comments for improvement if you believe the question can be reworded to fit within the scope. Read more about reopening questions here.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Why was this closed as off-topic? It seems obvious that this question is related to computer software. – rob Mar 19 '10 at 22:40
I also voted to re-open, as this is about the software itself and how it acts - not how to defeat the AI in the first campaign mission. – Phoshi Mar 19 '10 at 22:43
I can give you several reasons: if I reopen it, your question still asks 5 questions in 1; it combines questions about Steam and DRM, they are related but are seperate topics. Not every game in Steam uses the same DRM, so there isn't "one best answer". Then you ask a subjective question about if it can be trusted and you switch from DRM to nasty crapware/spyware like additions. Yes, it might not be game related, but it does need some slimming down to be a topic at all – Ivo Flipse Mar 19 '10 at 23:15
Ivo, are you inviting me to ask the 5 separate questions? ;-) I see these questions as closely enough related to belong to the same post. What is this, Twitter? – Chris W. Rea Mar 19 '10 at 23:37
there's a gaming Stack Exchange site -- -- that would probably love to host this question. – quack quixote Mar 19 '10 at 23:38
up vote 6 down vote accepted
  • it is DRM
  • You do not "own" supreme commander. you license it. you are trusting steam to manage and verify this license with the publisher. hopefully they never go out of business
  • no
  • no
Valve generally has a very good reputation; and they have stated that should they ever go out of business they will provide the tools necessary to run your games outside of Steam. – eidylon Mar 20 '10 at 1:03
LOL. Did they 'pinky swear'? I don't rely on promises from companies that are no longer in business. You are at their mercy. – bugtussle Mar 23 '10 at 18:28
@bugtussle completely agree. Like how you phrased it. :-) – One-One Oct 23 '12 at 14:12

Yes, Steam is a form of DRM. However, Steam is a great gaming platform that has matured well over the years. I typically do not like registering or anything to do with DRM, but Steam is user friendly and in my cases (and what I've heard from friends) Valve is very helpful if you have issues with your purchase(s). They won't leave you out in the cold.

Steam is not only a license authenticator but also manages friend networks (like Xbox Live), and delivers game patches/updates to you automatically.

In the years I have been using it, it's never done anything sinister.


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