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How to download Steam and install games

Most popular game titles release on Steam. It’s a platform that makes it easy for game developers to distribute games. For gamers, it’s a one-stop shop for popular titles and obscure ones alike. Steam also offers regular sales, options to resell a game that is no longer played, and a simple refund policy as well as user-review powered review system that allows gamers to find good titles. 

If there’s a game you want to play, chances are it’s on Steam.

steam desktop client

Steam

In order to buy, download, and play a game from Steam, you must download the official Steam client. The client will

  • Have you sign in with your user account
  • Manage purchases made from your account
  • Download games,
  • Manage your library, achievements, and wishlist
  • Update and launch game
  • Allow you find friends and other players for online games
  • Validate game purchases made from your account

The Steam client is available for Windows and macOS. 

Download Steam

To download Steam;

  1. Visit the official Steam website.
  2. Click the Install Steam button (your OS will be detected automatically).
  3. On Windows 10 (or older), run the EXE that is downloaded.
  4. On macOS, open the DMG file that is downloaded.
  5. On macOS, move the Steam app to the Applications folder to complete installation.

Use Steam

Once you’ve downloaded and installed Steam;

  1. Open the Steam app on your PC or Mac.
  2. Sign in with your account or create one from within the client.
  3. Once you’re signed in, search for a game you want to play.
  4. Click Download or Purchase next to the game and complete the purchase process.
  5. Wait for the game to download.
  6. Once the game has been downloaded, go to Library and select the game in the column on the left.
  7. Click the Play button on the right to launch the game.

Steam games and platforms

Steam is a distribution platform. It is not a framework nor does it come with an emulator of any sort. This means that while you can purchase any game you want on Steam, it may not necessarily run on your system.

Before you purchase a game;

  •  Check which platform Mac or Windows, or both, it is available for. If a game is not available on Mac (for example Among Us), you can buy and download it but it will NOT run on a Mac. You will need to use an emulator to play it.
  • Check the minimum hardware requirements for a game. Every single game on Steam must list its minimum hardware requirements. In addition to this, it will also list optimum hardware requirements that will give you the best playing experience for a game. These requirements differ for each game so make sure you read them before you buy a game.

  • Some games are free, and others are not. Steam is not run the way Apple runs iTunes i.e., Steam does not compel developers to set the same price for all its titles.  You will find titles for as low as $0.99 and titles that cost more than $50 or even $100. Older games tend to be cheaper while newer ones are more expensive.
  • Many popular games go on sale during Summer and Winter. You can wait for a sale before you buy a game. Some titles e.g. PUBG rarely go on sale given their popularity.
  • Upcoming titles are also listed on Steam. You can add them to your wishlist to know when they’ve been released officially. Upcoming game titles will tell you the minimum hardware requirements for the game. 

Advantages of using Steam

Steam offers players the following advantages;

  • New and popular titles are readily available
  • The games are authentic and virus-free. You will never have to worry about downloading infected, patched, or corrupt game files.
  • You can return a game within the return-period
  • You can resell games you no longer play
  • You can buy games ‘second hand’
  • You can connect with communities and other players that play the same games that you do
  • You can build your gamer profile, log the hours you play, and display all your gaming achievements 
  • Steam manages game download, installation, and updates for you.

Disadvantages of using Steam

Steam has a few disadvantages as well;

  • If a game receives a bad update, its reviews can quickly change to reflect that. You may miss out on a good game because of a poor update
  • Steam offers Early Access to titles and these titles come with no guarantees for players. Many players end up purchasing and regretting an Early Access title so be careful.  
  • Games are usually developed for Windows so Mac users are generally left out.

Steam account security

Your Steam account is the key to your purchases. Without it, you cannot authenticate a purchase i.e., if you cannot sign into your Steam account in the Steam client, you won’t be able to play the games.

Make sure you secure your Steam account. Set up Two-factor authentication to prevent unauthorized logins in case your username and password are stolen. Make sure you’ve set up a recovery method to recover the password.

Other gaming platforms

Steam is not the only gaming platform that you can buy games from. There are plenty of other gaming platforms and publishers that sell games outside Steam e.g. GOG, Origin, the Microsoft Store, Xbox Libe Marketplace etc.

Steam is easily the most popular platform for game distribution as far as PC games go. If you purchase a game from a different platform e.g. GOG, your purchase cannot be transferred to Steam. Likewise, a Steam purchase cannot be transferred to other distribution platforms.

Some game titles are not available on Steam at all e.g. Minecraft. If you’re buying a game that isn’t available on Steam, make sure that you’re buying from the game developer or an authentic distribution platform.

Conclusion

You can purchase games from Steam via your browser but to install and play them, you must have the Steam desktop client installed on your system. There is no way around this. Steam also lets you gift a game i.e., you can buy a game for someone else and send it to them. Titles on Steam are mostly developed for Windows but you will find some popular titles are available for Mac as well. If you play games on a Mac, double-check the platform for a Steam game before you buy it.

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