The Steam Calculator: 2019 Edition

The first time The Steam Calculator was brought to my attention was back in 2014. At the time, I had only been purchasing games via the platform for a little while but it was still and interesting way to look at your Steam library. I’m a fan of stats and figures, so I guess this was a given. It just so happens that when I wrote that first post about my observations about said stats took place shortly after the first Newbie Blogger Initiative that I participated in. I also ended up writing a follow up post one year later and made some comparisons between the years. Seeing as how it is Blaugust and this topic popped up via other bloggers, I thought it was fitting to take a look at my account once again. It’s been just over five years since the original post, and four since the second so I’m sure my stats will have inflated quite a bit by now. I linked to both of those posts above but I will copy over some stats here for easy comparison. Let’s look at the numbers from the first post:

This account is worth $607.64. If all games were bought on sale, it would be $276.54.

* *Games owned:* 55

* *Games not played:* 5 **(9%)**

* *Hours spent:* 304.5h

I was surprised to find out how much time I had spent playing games on my Steam account at that time, given that I had mostly played MMOs and MOBAs via their own launchers up to that point, but I was heading towards critical backlog mass very shortly. Contrast with a year later:

This account is worth $2054. If all games were bought on sale, it would be $562.

* **Games owned:** 168
* **Games not played:** 34 *(20%)*
* **Hours on record:** 660.0h*
* **Average price of games owned:** $12.22
* **Average price per hour:** $9.86
* **Average playtime:** 4.9h

I went more in depth in my stats analysis in the prior post, but we can see an almost $1500 spike in account value, over 100 new games added and more than double the amount of hours spent on the platform. Let’s fast forward and see what’s going on, current day:

This account is worth $5195. If all games were bought on sale, it would be $1410.

* **Games owned:** 416
* **Games not played:** 90 *(22%)*
* **Hours on record:** 1569h*
* **Average price of games owned:** $15.93
* **Average price per hour:** $8.19
* **Average playtime:** 4.8h

So first of all, wow that’s a lot of money for only three years. $3.1k is no small figure, but I guarantee you that very little of my library was purchased for full price. I rarely buy games that aren’t on sale, and have trained myself to wait for the semi-annual sales that occur. I’ve also tried to cull my backlog by playing games until I beat them or decide that I never will, and then they get uninstalled. This has been an ongoing project of mine, but it is difficult to keep up with as new games are releasing all of the time and I end up getting new ones still, but it’s been much less often in the last couple of years. This is most likely due to splitting my free cash between gaming and MTG, but also due to expenses varying over the years. Looks like I have a ton of games that aren’t played but I know that I’ve played most. I think it’s still counting DLC and/or Free to Play games that I don’t really own. It has been noted that this database isn’t 100% accurate, but it’s still fun to look at. It appears that my average price of games, price per hour and average playtime haven’t changed much in four years. I’d attribute this to my schedule, having a family, work, and all of that good stuff. I’m in a good place with it, so that’s what matters.

If you’re curious about your own Steam accounts, you can find that app over here.

Thoughts on DOTA Underlords

In another story where Valve went ahead and took the idea made by modders and made it their own, DOTA Underlords is the result of the success of another company making a mod for DOTA 2 (made by Valve, but in turn being originally created by a modder of Warcraft III) and its success being measurable by the company. A new genre of sorts is emerging, these games are being called “Auto Battlers.” What’s being pointed to as the original is called DOTA Auto Chess and was developed by Drodo Studio and was actually only just released at the beginning of this year. Turns out this ended up being fairly popular, by May they had 8 million unique players. The Wikipedia describes the genre as featuring “elements derived from chess, along with those from DOTA 2,” but the devs said they mainly referenced Mahjong for inspiration (which I was unaware is traditionally a multiplayer game). Since their popularity boom (they also created a standalone variant called Auto Chess), several mobile versions of the game have cropped up (I actually tried one recently and didn’t really care for it) and now it’s come full circle where Valve themselves had developed a new version. Currently in Beta on Steam, I decided to check it out to see what they hype was about.

I’m not really up to speed on the lore of DOTA, so I don’t really know anything about these characters or their abilities which probably puts me at some sort of disadvantage, but at this time I’ve only played against AI and can honestly say it’s not really the sort of game I’d normally play. Strange to say because I absolutely love Chess, but I wouldn’t compare this to Chess in any way, shape or form so there’s that.

Apparently there will be seasons so there will be a ladder and competition and all that. I’m not overly interested in trying to climb this ladder though, mainly due to some of my first impressions with the game. I understand this is a beta, but when the game crashes your entire PC when it’s been running for under two minutes is not a good look. I eventually got things set up and got into a game which started me off with a tutorial that explained things mechanically, but the knowledge of the different races and characters and how they interact is not inherent and I didn’t really get what worked better than other stuff. I generally just went for the more rare characters to run and made sure that I opened up the maximum number of heroes I could run at a time as fast as I could.

The game play is simple enough. There is a small grid (think game board) that you share with your opponent. You’ll get some currency to buy characters to dispatch into battle. Each has different stats, is a particular race/class, and has different abilities. They are arranged by rarity and the more rare characters cost more to buy. You have a bench where you can store them and swap them out between matches in order to have a better fight. You’ll place these units on your side of the board where you prefer, and then you’ll start the round. That’s where the game play stops, at this point you’ll watch your forces fight the enemy army and then a winner is declared. You’ll get currency and experience between matches, and you’ll level up as you go. Your level determines how many characters you can play per round, so you’ll want to level quickly to get an advantage. Otherwise it feels like a bunch of luck.

Getting through a single game seems to take an excessive amount of time. It’s not like playing a round of DOTA where you’ll expect to play for 30-45 minutes but you’re constantly doing things so the time just flies by. No, in this case you’ll click a few times and then watch the action unfold. Then you’ll click a few more times and repeat. You spend much more time watching things happen than actually controlling things, and that’s boring to me. I guess it’s not much different than the mobile titles with automatic battles, and honestly most of those haven’t held my attention either, so I guess your mileage may vary.

I ended up playing through a whole first game, which took over an hour, just to “win” and have the game lock up when it should have been providing me with rewards and salutations. Again, I know it’s a Beta but it’s not a good look. This might appeal to you, but at this current juncture this doesn’t appeal to me. I’d rather micro manage one character than watch a crew fight automatically.

Epic Taking Shots at Steam

Epic Games used to be synonymous with Unreal Tournament, a game that I and millions of others adored and played over the course of the years. In recent memory though, people associate the company with the game Fortnite, which has been topping charts for months and according to SuperData and Wilhelm’s posting, raked in 2.4 Billion dollars over the course of last year. This begs the question — how do children and teenagers have this much disposable income? Their Battle Royale mode is free to play, and though it does have microtransactions for ridiculous skins for nearly everything in the game, I can’t seem to find anyone over the age of 21 who actually enjoys the game. People will go on and on about how you shouldn’t disparage <insert piece of media here> just because you don’t personally enjoy it, but I’m not that person. Fortnite is literal garbage and I can give you a few reasons why I think so.

My first issue with Fortnite is the game itself. For starters, it began as a co-op wave based game that sounded fun — that is until they tacked on this Battle Royale mode and turned the genre into the phenomenon it is today. I think it was pretty shitty of them to abandon the core game that many fellow Internet denizens enjoyed. It’s also over-the-top ridiculous but an otherwise dull Battle Royale experience. Despite not being much of a fan of the genre, I have still tried various iterations and have enjoyed some of them. I’ll take Battlerite Royale or Realm Royale over this dumpster fire any day. Despite it being clearly aimed at a wider audience, the appeal just isn’t there for most adults, probably due to the design choices along with the ability to literally build towers into the sky when you’re supposed to be shooting and killing your opponents. Take away that building component and the rainbow of bullshit and perhaps you’d have a better game. But then you’d probably have Unreal Tournament, and now we’ve come full circle.

But this article isn’t supposed to be about criticizing Fortnite itself, no this is supposed to be about how Epic Games have now opened their own storefront to compete with the likes of Steam. We first learned about the store prior to the end of last year, and Epic was touting the fact that it intends to take less of a cut for game sales on its platform. It’s easy to imagine them being able to afford this having made all of that cash with Fortnite. It seemed that the majority of us felt like there was no way that anyone could really compete with Steam though. Sure, there is the Humble Bundle Store that has sales around the same times of year and GOG that gives DRM-free options to get your game on, but they aren’t taking much business away from Steam. Honestly there are other options but most of them are less popular or sketchy so I’ll leave it at that. Whatever the case, Steam has been a major part of PC gamer’s lives since the early 2000’s. Other big companies like Blizzard, EA and Ubisoft have made their own launchers as well, but even then there was a period of time where their games were still available on Steam, you’d just have to go through the motions of launching a launcher from Steam which caused some people (like me) to completely boycott those companies just to cut down on the amount of launchers on our computers. I prefer consolidation, regardless of if that means “monopoly.”

I actually had the Epic Games launcher installed for a time, mainly because I was following the ongoing development of the next Unreal Tournament game. But due to the massive success of Fortnite, Epic decided to stop further development of UT, and for that I am even more cross with them. I’ve had Origin and Ubisoft’s launcher and I still have Battle.net installed. More recently I added Bethesda’s launcher to the mix and it’s getting to the point again that I don’t want all of these damn launchers. It feels like the golden age of MMOs all over again — needing 300 different launchers to play a variety of games. Origin and Ubisoft went the way of the dodo on my PC, and I decided that I would only play their games on console to avoid the clutter. I’m letting Bethesda slide a bit here because I love their games, but Fallout 76 has been a sore spot for most. I have only played it for a couple of hours due to waiting on them to sort out the issues, but that’s a story for another day.

What initially spurned this conversation piece was the most recent news that broke this week. It appears that Epic Games have managed to lure a company over to their store, even though the game had been available for preorder on Steam for months now. Apparently those customers that preordered on Steam will still get their copy on Steam, but the game’s store page will be taken off of the service soon. So if you want a copy of Metro: Exodus on Steam you should probably go ahead and grab that now while you can. From what I’ve read, Steam charges developers 30% of each sale made on the platform. I’m assuming that means that Epic is charging less, but I’m not sure what the actual percentage is. It’s a free market, and I guess I applaud someone for trying to stand up to the behemoth, but I can’t see this being good for gamers outside of potentially saving them money due to competition. What I see is an increasingly fractured player base or being stuck with a ton of launchers to play games when we really should have these titles releasing on all platforms to give players’ choice back.

I started a poll on Twitter to see what others might think about this occurrence and how they plan to proceed.

For reference, I would vote to stick with Steam. I have far too many games on the platform and unless there is something exclusive to Epic that I can’t get anywhere else and NEED to play, I’m sticking to this. Even then, I’d probably just buy the game for console to avoid it altogether. I understand frugality though, so I included the option to bargain shop between the two, which seems to be the most popular to this point. I guess if you were just getting into PC gaming then you have the option to get your collection started with Epic but for me it’s just not something I want. I’m offended by Fortnite‘s existence and success, and I’m offended by Epic panning Unreal Tournament. That’s enough for me to not give them any dollars at all.

I Went to the Danger Zone

Surprise, surprise! Another major multiplayer game is jumping on the Battle Royale bandwagon! Valve has implemented this feature to one of their flagship titles, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Like so many other games before it, the company is taking an established game in a different genre and adding-on this game mode to compete with the countless other titles that usually only focus on BR. CS:GO has been around for a long time, and the Counter-Strike IP even longer than that (20 years in 2019); with the success of the BR genre as a whole, I suppose this shouldn’t come as a surprise, yet it did for me. I suppose we should have expected this, given long-running series like Call of Duty (with Black Ops 4) having also thrown their hat into the Battle Royale ring. The funniest part of this is that the first game we saw introduce the Battle Royale concept was Daybreak’s H1Z1, and it is probably one of the least played games in the genre, with upstarts Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite Battle Royale having dominated the market since then. Despite not being a huge fan of the genre itself, I keep seeing games that I find interesting attempting to do things a little bit differently, and the “Danger Zone” is no exception.

While titles like Realm Royale added classes and others like Battlerite Royale gave this treatment to a MOBA style game, Valve has kept the core gameplay of CS:GO intact while also adding the BR elements to their game. It’s been a while since I last played CS:GO, and it appears that the menus and UI have been changed up a bit as well, I think it looks pretty sharp. It’s intuitive and responsive, so that’s a plus.

Unlike most Counter-Strike maps, it’s a rather large island with plenty of points of interest. This map is called “Blacksite” and encompasses some rural areas along with some industrious ones. Since it is an island you’ll be confined to its landmass, but running from one corner to the other will take several minutes. There’s plenty of places with hidden loot, including buildings, towers and caves. The varied terrain has plenty of places to hide, though the traditional gas cloud will slowly shrink in size forcing you to keep moving and find firefights to eliminate other players. At this point the map only supports 16 players, which is far less than most other Battle Royale games, but it seems to keep match times lower, which means you’ll get more games in more often.

Instead of a flying bus or dragon or whatever else the other devs have come up with, where you fly over the map and jump when you care to; instead you’re presented with a map and can select your starting location. This has its pros and cons when compared to other BR titles, as you have the advantage of seeing where others are planning to spawn, but don’t have the choice to drop out and then vastly change direction while in air. In this sense it’s most similar to H1Z1, as in that game you’ll just be randomly spawned in the air and can control your decent in a limited fashion. The map looks gorgeous and I’m glad to see that CS:GO has ultrawide support built in at this point. There is a brief warm up period where you can run around and gain your bearings while also being able to kill other players, and then the map opens up to allow your placement for the match. You’ll still drop in via parachute from a chopper, but you’ll won’t be able to move too far off of the starting point that you selected. Some major differences between this game mode and other BR games: you will start with a moderate amount of currency, find cash about the map along with more dropping from players that you kill, all of which can be spent with a buy menu. There are limited options for purchase, but these can be bought at any time and will be delivered via flying drone. This is also something you can use to track other players, as their drones will follow them around and give away their position. Also, given the “shoot from the hip” nature of CS:GO, there are no iron sights to be found though this doesn’t really change game play all that much.

So far my best match has been a #2 finish, which should have been a first place victory, but I accidentally hit Shift+Tab which brings up the Steam overlay, at precisely the moment that I spotted the only other surviving player. Of course they shot and killed me at that exact moment, but such is the way of things. It seems that a top 5 finish is much easier in this game over the other BR titles I’ve played, but it’s still a very skill based game from my experience. As you complete matches, there is a separate account level for this mode, and you’ll earn rewards as you level up. Weapon skins aren’t new to CS:GO, but you can earn them as you go with the Danger Zone.

My inventory is fairly limited because I spent the majority of my time playing CS:GO on the Playstation 3 back when it first released. I haven’t played the PC version for many hours so I don’t have access to things that more dedicated players may have earned. I constantly see myself being killed by people with various colored weapon names, of which I assume are different rarity skins. Of course these don’t make much of a difference overall, but if you put the time in I’m sure you can be one of those people who kill me with cooler weapons than I have. Nonetheless this seems to be a pretty awesome BR experience and definitely better than the shitshow that is Fortnite (apologies if you actually enjoy that hot garbage dumpster fire).

One bit of controversy that I should mention: The game has now become free to play, after what, 6 or 7 years of being a paid title? This is for obvious reasons, as the company is trying to bring in new blood to the franchise but also because BR games are generally free to play and the new hotness so they want to try and compete with the others that are out there. There has been a flood of negative reviews on Steam due to this, and though I understand that people are upset because they paid money to play CS:GO and now anyone can jump in for free, but given that it’s an old title, I don’t see how they can expect refunds and/or more free stuff after paying for it years ago. I paid for my copy (two, if you count the purchase on my PS3), and I’m not upset that this old ass game is now free. Valve could have easily given us some sort of in-game reward that would have pacified these folks, but even then I suspect that people would still bitch and moan. Whatever the case, new blood is never bad for an older title, and it doesn’t deserve the negative press. Honestly I would rather that they made a new version of Day of Defeat (even with a BR mode) because it was my preferred mod from back in the late 90’s/early 2000’s, but to each their own I guess. People will always find something to complain about, and this is clearly no exception. Still, being free to play, now is as good a time as ever to check out an excellent game if you haven’t played it before. I’m happy to join up if you want to play, just drop me a friend invite on Steam (I’m Izlain there like most places).

Let me know what you think about the game in the comments if you do try it out. As always, happy gaming!

Steam Spring Cleaning

Starting yesterday and running through the long holiday weekend, Steam presented us with a new platform event that is different than what we’ve come to expect. Usually when Steam has any sort of event it coincides with a big sale — originally there was the Summer and Winter sales, but now there’s sales in Spring and Fall and sometimes in-between. There have been mini-games and collections and other things to do within the platform along with those juicy discounts on games you’ve been wanting but haven’t purchased yet. This time around, I couldn’t find any sale information, it’s purely an event with tasks — sort of a metagame within the Steam platform.

For the four days of the sale, there are Daily tasks. These will rotate out each day, and if you completed them, the little trophy at the bottom of each will be filled in. When you click on the “post-it” it will present you with “qualifying games” from your library (or from a dozen or so that are free to play for the weekend) that you’ll play and then the task is completed. This means you can either actually do what they’re aiming for — getting you to actually play the games in your library — or just start the game and immediately close it just to get the trophy. I did a mixture of both.

Besides the daily tasks, there are projects as well, that don’t appear to change or refresh, you just have to finish these once. As you can see, I ran through these as well last night but in some cases I had to re-download the title just to complete the task. I wasn’t about to go and play Overlord or Torchlight again, but I did a run in FTL and Hellbound, along with firing up Eon Altar for the first time. Honestly it’s kind of silly for them to push you into playing old games you haven’t played much of or hadn’t played in a long time. I suppose that helps their concurrent users metrics, but otherwise doesn’t seem to do much of anything aside from helping you to unlock a new badge for your profile.

As you can see, I completed the tasks for Day 1, along with the project. It seems that you’ll have to do all of these each of the four days in order to get the maximum level badge. I’m going out of town this weekend though, so I’ll likely only get a day or two finished.

The only visible reward so far is this “Mystery Item” that appeared in my inventory after completing part of the tasks. There was a bundle of emotes as well, but I never use those, usually just turn them into gems for use for booster packs later on or whatever. The description says “This item might be useful in a future sale” which tells us absolutely fuck all. I assume that it will be a discount coupon similar to those you can see in my inventory. It’s not very reassuring when it says “might be useful” because that doesn’t really apply to everyone. Perhaps this is all just a waste of time? Or maybe it’s a great idea, I’m not sure yet. Will have to see what happens during the summer sale and what this item really is to judge its worth. It’s still nice to see that the company is always trying new things though, so I guess that’s all we can ask for.