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How Steam works

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How Steam works: Every time it’s always the same story: you go to the store to buy the latest video game released but this is not available and you are forced to go home empty-handed and then listen to the comments of your friends who have been busy playing for days in front of a computer. Tired of this situation, you are looking for an alternative solution that allows you to have the game at the exact moment it comes out, perhaps without even setting foot outside the house. I guessed it, right? Then I have the right solution for you: it’s about Steam .

How Steam works

Steam is a digital distribution platform developed by Valve that allows you to buy games, but also software and films online, saving a lot compared to the shops (especially when the famous “sales” are active). Steam also allows you to purchase hardware devices, add titles purchased physically in-store to your digital library, organize online games in multiplayer mode and stream your gaming session. Interesting, right? Then don’t waste any more time and get to know more about how this service works thanks to the information I’m about to give you.

Take five minutes of free time, carefully read the next paragraphs and let me explain in detail  how Steam works , how to use it on your computer and how to buy and download games through it. I assure you that, in no time, you will be able to find your favorite titles, download them and play them easily. Happy reading and, above all, have fun!

What is Steam

Steam is a platform developed by Valve, mainly known for the digital purchase of the most popular video games such as GTA, Football Manager, Age of Empire, Assasin’s Creed and many others, with a catalog that boasts thousands of games of all genres (some available even for free).

In addition, it allows you to purchase software and hardware from the comfort of your home, to join the community that has over 100 million users with whom you can chat, organize and schedule online games, both from computers and from smartphones and tablets through a special free application.

How to use Steam on Computer

To purchase content on Steam, first you need to create a free account with which you can associate a payment method to pay for your purchases, then you need to download the Steam client, which is available for Windows, macOS and Linux and it is used to download, install and use the software purchased on Steam on your computer. You don’t know how to do it? Don’t worry, find all the information you need right below.

Create a Steam account

In order to use Steam, you must first create a free account with which to access the platform, buy games, join the community and play in multiplayer mode.

Then connect to the Steam website and click on the Log in item at the top right, then press the Enter Steam button , enter your data in the fields Name on Steam , Password and Email , type the control code displayed in the Insert field the characters , put a check mark to accept the contract and declare that you are at least 13 years old and click the Continue button . Within a few moments you will receive an email containing an activation link: press on the item Create your account to complete the registration.

Now, in the main screen of the Steam site, press again on the item Log in and type the data just created in the fields  Steam account name and Password , if you wish, add the check mark next to the item  Remember me on this computer to store the login details and click the Login button to login.

Download and install Steam

Even if you can access your Steam account through a browser, in order to install and play the video games on the platform (even in offline mode) you need to download the official Steam client for Windows, macOS or Linux.

To proceed with the download of the Steam client, connected to the site , click on the Install Steam button at the top and then press the green button Install Steam now to start the free download of the program.

Download is complete, if you have a Windows PC , double-click the SteamSetup.exe file , then press the Next button , put a check mark next to the item  I accept the license agreement and click Next again . In the next step, select the Italian language and press the Next and Install buttons , then wait for the installation to complete, click on the Finish button and, automatically, the download of the files necessary for the operation of the Steam client will start.

If you have a Mac , double-click on the dmg package you just downloaded, press the Agree button and drag the Steam icon to the macOS Applications folder . Now, open the Applications folder , double-click on the Steam icon and wait for the download of the update files necessary for its operation to complete.

After the download of the update files is complete, in the Steam Login window enter your login information in the Account name and Password fields and click the Login button to access your Steam account. I recommend you put a check mark next to the Remember my password item , so as not to repeat the data entry each time the program is started.

If instead you preferred to download the Steam client before registering on the website, you can press the Create a new account item and follow the procedure described above.

Purchase, download and add content on Steam

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Once you have created your account and downloaded the Steam client, you are ready to make your first purchases on the Valve platform. In the main Steam screen, choose one of the available items) depending on the type of purchase you intend to make).

  • Games : the section dedicated to video games. You can choose a game by genre ( Adventure , Action , Sport , Racing , Simulation etc.) and platform or select one of the available sub-categories such as  Early Access to buy games in development, Demo to download the free demo version of the available games, Virtual reality to browse the list of virtual reality games,  Support for the Steam Controller with games compatible with the Steam Controller and  Free-to-Playwith the list of free games. In this regard, you can read my guide on how to get free games on Steam .
  • Software : the section of the Steam store dedicated to the purchase of software, divided by categories Accessories , Animation and Modeling , Design & illustration , Educational , Photo editing , audio production , Production of videos , Web Publishing and Development of games .
  • Hardware : where to buy the Steam Controller, a joystick that allows you to play Steam games on TV. Steam Link, Steam Machine and HTC Vive are also available.
  • Video : the Steam section where you can buy Movies, TV Series, game videos and tutorials. Numerous free contents are also available.

Once you have chosen the content or the hardware to buy, press on its name to access the descriptive card where you can view detailed information, reviews, price, related products and system requirements. Then click on the Add to cart button to proceed with the purchase, then press the Buy for me button and in the drop-down menu under the item Choose a payment method , select the payment method you prefer between PayPal , credit card ( Visa , Mastercard , American Express , JBC ), Skrill andPaysafecard , then enter the data and click on the Continue button to confirm the purchase.

Alternatively, you can decide to buy a product for a friend: after adding it to the cart, click on the item Buy as a gift , select the Steam friend to whom you want to give the product and press the Schedule delivery option to set the date and the delivery time, then click on the Continue button , enter a message to send along with the gift and complete the purchase by selecting a valid payment method from those mentioned above.

After completing the purchase of a content, press on the item Library at the top and click on the content of your interest in the sidebar on the left. Now, press the Install button , put the check mark next to the items Create a shortcut on the desktop and Create a shortcut in the Start menu if you want to create quick links to the software and press the Next and Accept buttons to start the download.

During the download, you can click on the item In download at the bottom to view the remaining time and the downloaded data, but also to stop and resume the download by pressing the Pause and Resume buttons .

Once the download is complete, click the Play  for games, Watch for videos, and Start for software button. You can view the contents added to your account by pressing on the Library item at the top, then select Games , Software , RV (Virtual Reality) and Videos depending on the content you are looking for. By selecting the content, right clicking and pressing the Uninstall and Delete items , you can uninstall the content from your computer and remove it from your Steam account.

You must know that Steam is also necessary for the activation of some games bought in person in a physical store. If this is your case, press the Add game item on the bottom left and click the Activate a product on Steam option , then press the Next and Accept buttons , type the product code in the Product code field  and press again on the Next button to proceed with activation.

Furthermore, you may not know that you can also use Steam as a library and music player to listen to the songs and albums on your computer. How? I’ll explain it right away. Press on the Library item at the top and select the Music option , then press the + button located next to the Album item and, in the open window, select the folder on your computer where the music is present and press the Start scan button  .

Once the scanning procedure is complete, your music is automatically added on Steam and, in the left sidebar, you can view the list of added albums: press it above the title of the disc you are interested in and click on the Play album button  to start listening to it.

In conclusion, it will be useful to know that with the Family Sharing function  you can allow users authorized by you to access your game library when you are not playing. To take advantage of it, open the Steam Settings and click on the Family item , then affix the check mark next to the item Authorize library sharing on this computer to authorize up to 10 computers and in the Share eligible accounts box , affix the check mark next to the accounts you intend to authorize (up to a maximum of 5 accounts).

Log in to the Steam community

The Steam community boasts over 100 million users worldwide and allows you to read reviews, participate in workshops and, above all, schedule a game online and chat with friends.

To access the Steam community, first you need to click on your name in the main menu of the service and then you have to press the Configure my profile button to add a profile name , an avatar and customize your account.

When done, click on the Community item to access the community home and view recent activities, read reviews, find users, watch live broadcasts and much more. If you are interested in reading discussions, viewing user videos, finding new friends and organizing games related to a game in your library, enter the product name in the Search for a hub field and select the desired title: in this way you will be able to access the main page of the game and choose one of the available options.

By clicking on Discussions you can read and start new discussions; by clicking on  Screenshots  and Images you can view and share with the community the screenshots and images of your games; going to  Transmissions you can find the list of direct users who show their gaming activities (for more information on this, consult the Steam website ); in the Video section  you can access the game videos published by users; in  Workshop you can view and download content created by players; in  News you can read the latest news regarding the titles of your interest; in  Guideyou can browse the guides, read the secrets and much more related to the selected game, while in  Reviews  you can view the reviews written by the players.

Among the useful features of Steam there is also instant chat, which allows you to send messages to other users. To start a conversation with one of your friends, press the Show friends item on the bottom right and double click on the user of your interest to start the chat and write your message. Instead, to add a new friend, simply log in to their profile and click on the Ask friend button .

Manage your Steam account

As you have already seen, the Steam account is necessary to purchase the contents of the store, to access the community and to play the titles in your library. You must know that from your account settings, you can also manage your contact information and Steam wallet, view your purchase history and manage security

To access the account settings, click on your username present at the top right and select the Account details item . In the Purchase and store history box , you can manage information regarding the Steam store and your wallet.

  • Add funds to your Steam wallet : to manage your Steam wallet, useful for making purchases in the store. It is a sort of account that you can top up with 5 , 10 , 25 , 50 , 100 euro top- ups or with the addition of Steam Gift Certificates , which can be purchased both digitally on the Steam website and in paper format in authorized stores such as GameStop . You can view your Steam wallet balance at the top right next to your username.
  • Add a payment method to this account : if you have a new account and have not made any purchases yet, pressing this item you can associate a payment method between PayPal , credit cardSkrill and Paysafecard to your account .
  • Show your purchase history : to view the list of your purchases.
  • Update store preferences : You can set preferences for content to display in the Steam store. You can choose the type of products to exclude such as videos, software or titles with violent content and view the list of products that you have labeled as Not for me .

From your account settings you can also set the main language of Steam , manage your contact information such as email address and phone number and choose whether to activate Steam Guard , a security system that, in case of access from unrecognized positions or devices , initiate an additional verification process to be able to enter the account. In addition, pressing the joystick icon on the top right you can activate the Big Picture function  that allows you to view Steam in full screen with a completely different interface (but with identical functionality compared to the standard interface).

How Steam works on smartphones and tablets

Steam is also compatible with smartphones and tablets through the Steam Mobile application , which allows you to access your library, take part in the community, chat with friends and buy new games and content. It is available for free for Android , iOS and Windows 10 Mobile devices .

After downloading the Steam app from your device store, start it by pressing its icon, enter your access data in the Steam username and Password fields and press the Login button to login. Upon first access, you will receive an email containing a five-character alphanumeric code necessary to associate the device with your Steam account: then enter it in the Enter the code here field  and press the Send button to complete the association.

Once logged into your account, tap the ≡ button and choose one of the available items.

  • Steam guard : allows you to enable the Steam mobile authenticator which, every time you access Steam, will ask you to enter a special code received on your phone. A way to guarantee maximum safety.
  • Friends : to view the list of Steam friends and send them messages.
  • Notifications : where to read commit and view items, invitations and gifts received.
  • Shop : the section to browse the content available on Steam, add titles to the list of desired and complete a purchase.
  • Community : to view community activities, read reviews, discussions and access the community marketplace where you can buy and sell items to other members of the Steam community.
  • You and friends : to view your friends’ recent activities, access your profile, create and browse groups of friends, view the list of Steam medals and much more.
  • Library : allows you to view the list of contents purchased and downloaded with the Steam account in use, to view statistics such as achievements and rankings and to write a review.
  • Assistance : to access the assistance section where you can view frequently asked questions and find solutions to common problems.

As you can imagine, Steam Mobile does not allow you to play the video games in your library on smartphones and tablets: for that you have to use the computer.