Steam may be the biggest name in PC gaming these days, but it wasn't always so ubiquitous. Back in 2003, Valve Corporation launched the service primarily as a platform for delivering patches to its competitive shooter Counter-Strike. As the speed and accessibility of the Internet grew, Valve saw an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of digitally distributed video games and began selling games through Steam, too.
Despite initial reluctance from the PC gaming community, Steam-exclusive titles like the seminal FPS Half-Life 2 eventually won players over, and the platform has since cemented itself as the leading distributor of digital PC games. To date, Steam has amassed over 125 million users and plays host to more than 12,000 games.
What does Steam sell?
From its humble origins, Steam's focus has always been on digital PC games. While this remains the store's bread and butter, the Steam catalogue has expanded over the years to include full-length movies, TV shows and productivity software like image-editing programs. On the games front, support for the Mac and Linux platforms has grown significantly, too.
How do Steam's digital downloads work?
Since Steam is a completely digital platform, buying and playing games works differently than it does at a traditional brick-and-mortar store. When you purchase a game through Steam, it gets tied to your Steam account, allowing you to download and play it as many times as you like on any computer where you log into Steam.
By default, Steam requires you to be online and connected to the Steam network in order to play any of your Steam games, but it also supports an offline mode for most games that you can activate after going online with the game at least once.
Will every game on Steam work in Australia?
Provided you're not using an international VPN, Steam will only show you games available for purchase within Australia. Games like Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number that have been banned by the Australian Classification Board will not appear in Steam's library at all when browsing from Australia, while others like Saints Row IV will only be available in their censored, low-violence form. Either way, you won't have to worry about inadvertently purchasing a game that won't work in Australia.
What currency does Steam use?
While Steam supports a number of regional currencies, Australia is not yet one of them. As such, Steam currently displays all prices in US dollars for Aussie shoppers.
What is Steam's refund policy?
Refund policies for digital games are still a relatively recent concept, but Steam is one of the first stores to provide a clear set of rules on what does and doesn't qualify as a valid refund. You can request a refund for any game or software title on Steam for any reason whatsoever, provided you adhere to the following rules:
- You issue the request within 14 days of purchase.
- You've played the title for less than 2 hours.
If you can't meet the above requirements, you can issue a refund request anyway and Valve will still consider it, though it's less likely to be approved.
Steam issues all refunds within a week of approval through the same payment method used for the purchase or through Steam Wallet credit if that's not possible.
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