What Is Steam?
Steam is a platform and app for distributing video games online that also has social media features and community message boards. It was developed by Valve — the same Valve that created the Half-Life, Counter-Strike, and Left4Dead games.
It functions like an online shop and a community portal combined and is one of the most popular gaming platforms out there. Steam is an app and platform that lets you buy and install games, interact with other players, live stream, and more.
You can download the Steam application on Windows, Mac, and Linux, plus a beta version for Chrome OS is also available. The app lets you purchase games and organize your collection. Much like a media player app, you’ll see your collection of games and the ability to play them, along with links to social features and forums.
You need an account to use Steam, and it’s free to sign up for one. You can also download the Steam mobile app for iOS and Android, which lets you use the social features of Steam and buy games on the go more on those below.
Steam is the place for PC games, but several games are only available on other storefronts. The Epic Games Store, Ubisoft Connect, Origin, and more have games that you can’t find on Steam.
To clean up your desktop gaming experience and make the upcoming Steam Deck a little easier to use, we’re going to show you how to add external games to your Steam library.
Beyond what it can be for gamers, Steam is also useful for developers. Both large companies and small indie creators use the platform to distribute their games. Plus, they can push out updates and new features, interact with their audience, and communicate with players all through the Steam app.
While it may be big news in gaming these days, Steam started off quite small. Back in 2003, Valve introduced Steam as a way to push automatic updates out for its games. Its primary purpose back then was to make it easier to install patches and upgrades to existing games.
It was optional, and the first game Valve actually distributed digitally through Steam that required the app was Half-Life 2 in 2004. However, this release was rocky, with crashes and sluggishness plaguing users. Valve resolved this issue, and the service’s reputation and performance improved afterward.
By 2005, third-party developers started taking an interest, and they began offering their games through Steam, too. Steam was the big name in digital game distribution for a while after that. However, in 2012 EA launched Mass Effect 3 exclusively through its own Origin app due to disagreements over licensing requirements.
Plus, other competitors started cropping up, including the Epic Games Store, U Play, the Microsoft Store, and more. Still, Steam remains a major player in the online gaming world. While Steam was originally only for Windows, a macOS version of the app launched in 2010, and 2013 saw the release of a Linux app.
After that, Steam also developed Steam OS in 2015. This operating system saw use on the now-discontinued Steam Machines, which were dedicated pieces of hardware that ran Steam OS. These were not popular, but 2022 saw the release of steam duck a handheld gaming computer that uses Steam OS and is similar to the Nintendo Switch.
How Does Steam Work?
Upon opening Steam, you will see your Steam Library. where you can view your collection of games, achievements, player statistics, and what your friends are up to. If you want to play a game, simply click on it and then click the Play button.
You can also use Steam to install mods and expansion packs for your games if you want. At the bottom of your list of games, you can click the Add a Game button to add games you have purchased elsewhere. You may include non-Steam-supported games, too.
They would not have all the features of Steam available, but it will be easier to find and play all your games if you keep them in one list.
The Steam Store section is where you can purchase games, adds-on, and expansion packs. You may browse through various categories, or if you know what title you want, you can search for it. Clicking Add to cart adds the game to your shopping cart, and in your shopping cart, you can choose to buy the game yourself or give it as a gift.
Some games are even free to play, with no upfront cost. They may charge you for extras, however. If you are on Linux and the game you want is only available for Windows, Steam offers a compatibility layer called Steam Play which uses a technology called Proton, in turn, based on a project called wine.
This feature is officially supported for certain titles, and you don’t have to do anything to take advantage of it. However, you can enable Steam Play for every currently unavailable game on your platform. Remember that this is not guaranteed to work, and your mileage will vary. To enable this option, open setting steam play.
There’s currently no support for Steam Play of any sort on macOS, though. If you want to use Steam on a computer connected to a TV or other large display, you can enable Big Picture Mode in the upper right-hand corner. This fills the entire screen with the Steam window and makes it easier to see and click on everything from a distance.
The Community tab is where the social features of Steam come to life. There, you’ll find forums to discuss Steam itself, various games, and more. If you want, you can use the “Steam workshop” here to get mods, skins, and other forms of user-created content.
You can even start making your own. The Community market lets you buy and sell content with other gamers. This is a great way of snagging things you might have missed.
Beyond organizing and launching games, you can use Steam to interact with other players and take advantage of a wealth of social features. You can add friends on Steam by clicking the Friends menu add friends. Here, you can also view your friend list, block users, and see your “Friend Code.”
Send this code to others, and they can add you as a friend, or enter their code here to add them as a friend. Alternatively, you can send your Quick Invite link to people to become friends with them. You can only use a link once per person, so you’ll have to generate a new one each time.
Or, you can search for a profile name and add them as a friend, too. Additionally, you can follow fellow gamers to keep up with their progress or entire games. Groups let you stay in touch with multiple people at once if you wish and discuss a certain topic or game. You can search for groups related to your interests and pick the ones you like.
The Broadcasts category is where you’ll go for live-streaming updates about various games. If you want to show off your gaming skills, you can even use Broadcast to live-stream your play sessions or watch other people’s streams.
The Community tab also lets you look at reviews, how-to guides, videos, artwork, and much more, all created by fellow gamers. You may upload your own contributions, too. You can also use the Steam Community Overlay.
This feature puts the Steam interface on top of your screen when gaming and lets you buy in-game purchases, take screenshots interact with friends and the community, trade and interact with other players with certain in-game markets, and much more.
If you want in-game voice chat, this feature can do that, too. Overlay mode can be enabled in steam, setting, in games, and enable steam overlay while in the game. Note that this feature requires additional bandwidth and system resources and may automatically disable itself if your system gets too bogged down.
How To Sign Up For Steam To Buy And Play Games:
To use Steam and start gaming, you must download the apps and create an account. You’ll be prompted to make an account the first time you open the app. You can also sign up for Steam online. Here’s how:
- Open steam powered.com in a web browser and click login.
- Click on join the team.
- Click continue.
- You’ll be asked to verify your email. Leave this page open. In a new tab, open the email sent to your account to verify it and click on the link inside of it.
- After you verify your email, you can choose a steam account name and password.
- Click on done.
Once you have an account set up, you can start purchasing games and participating in social features. Note that you must be 13 or older to sign up for Steam and have an active high-speed internet connection. If you want to start buying games, you’ll be prompted to add funds to your steam wallet.
You must add a minimum of $5.00 and can add more in pre-determined amounts. You may use Visa or MasterCard, PayPal, steam gift cards, or Pay Safe Card to add funds. Afterward, you may browse the Steam Store, add games to your cart, and pay for them.
To play a game you have purchased, wait for the download to finish. Then click on it in your Library and click the Play button. Remember that games can be quite large, and it may take a while for downloads to finish. If you want to see your downloads, click on the Downloading option at the bottom of the Steam window.
You can also pause and restart downloads here. If you purchased a game separately and it supports Steam, you can add it to your library by clicking on the Add a Game option on the Library page. Then click on Activate a Product on Steam. If you want to add a non-Steam game, click the Add a Non-Steam Game option.
Doing this adds the game to your list of available games so that you can keep track of everything in one place, but it will launch separately and won’t integrate with Steam’s features.
How To Add Steam Codes To Your Steam Library:
When you buy games from third-party stores and services, such as Amazon, those games are often actually Steam games, and you can redeem them through Steam using a code provided by the seller. Codes are 12 characters long, and they’re pretty easy to use.
Step 1: Fire up Steam and find the option to redeem a code.
Step 2: Once you’re in Steam, head to the top of the client and look for the Games menu at the top. Click on Activate a product on Steam.
Step 3: That will open up a new window; click Next, then agree to the Steam subscriber agreement.
Step 4: After that, you’ll finally come to the window where you can input your Steam key. Hit Next again to confirm it.
Step 5: The next window will let you install the game on your computer immediately. You can also cancel at this step, which will add the game to your account but not immediately install it.
How To Add Epic Games To Your Steam Library As Well As Ubisoft Connect, GOG, And Origin:
Many games are exclusive to the Epic Games stores, but you can still add them to your Steam library. Although we’re talking about adding Epic games to your Steam library here, the same process works across all PC gaming platforms, including Ubisoft Connect, GOG, Origin, and more.
You can add non-Steam games to your Steam library, but you won’t have access to achievements, trading cards, or any of the social features normally attached to Steam games. It is simply a way to launch games from the Steam interface. Here is how to add a non-Steam game to Steam:
Step 1: Find the game on your computer. Before you start the process, you’ll save yourself time by figuring out where you installed the game you’re looking for on your computer. You’ll need the file pathway so you can direct Steam to find the game’s files.
Step 2: For Epic Games, you will have a folder called Epic Games on the drive you chose for installation, which will hold the folders for all the games you have installed. If you did not choose a separate drive location, you can find your games installed in Epic’s default location.
Step 3: Launch Steam and find the Games menu. At the top of the Steam interface, you will find a number of pull-down menus with a variety of options. You’re looking for the Games menu. Click it, then look for the bottom menu option, labeled Add a non-Steam game to my library. That will pull up a separate window that will allow you to find the program you’re looking to add.
Step 4: Select the program, or go hunt it down. Steam does a pretty good job of detecting installed programs on your system, so if you have installed the game already, there’s a strong chance it’ll be listed in a separate window.
Step 5: If it is there, just click the box next to the game you want to add, then push the Add selected programs button.
Step 6: If the game isn’t listed, you’ll need the file path to the game, which you should have already if you tracked it down earlier. Hit the Browse button at the bottom of the window and navigate to the game’s location on your computer.
Step 7: Find the executable and select it. That should add the game to the original window, and you can now hit the Add selected programs button on your Steam window.
How To Add Emulator Games To Your Steam Library:
Digital Trends does not promote piracy, but that doesn’t stop many players out there on the internet from using software emulators and ROMs to play old games and there’s a legal argument to be made for creating ROM copies of your own games or downloading ROM copies of games you’ve legally purchased that you don’t distribute to others.
In any case, whether it’s legal or not, people play ROMs, and sometimes they want to add them to their Steam libraries. There are actually quite a few ways to do that and even some tools to make the process easier.
It’s tougher to add ROMs to Steam because, in addition to creating a shortcut to the ROM itself as you would with any other game, you also need to tell Steam to access the emulator necessary for playing it. You can speed up the process with tools such as Ice or Steam ROM Manager to add your ROMs to Steam.
You can also create your own shortcuts in Steam that will work with your ROMs, much in the same way you add non-Steam games to your Steam library.
Step 1: Create a shortcut to any .exe file. First, use the same steps above that you would to add a game to Steam, but choose any executable program file. All you are doing here is making a shortcut you will edit later, so it doesn’t matter what program you use you will be changing it.
Step 2: Find the folder where your emulator and ROMs are installed. Just as above, take a second and find the file path to the emulator and ROMs you are looking to use. You will need them in a moment, and writing down or copying the file path ahead of time will save you a little time later.
Step 3: Edit the shortcut. In Steam, find the program you just added from your library. Select or right-click the game and use the menu that pops up to navigate down to Properties.
Step 4: That will pull open a screen that lets you edit the shortcut you created, including changing the name and icon that goes with it and altering the file path for the shortcut. Here, you’ll just plug in the information for your emulator and ROM to add it to Steam.
Step 5: Change the name of the shortcut to whatever the title of your ROM is, then highlight the text in the Target field.
Step 6: Replace it with the file path to the emulator, making sure to keep quotation marks around it.
Step 7: Put a space after the end of the file path to the emulator, and then add the file path to the ROM you want to use again putting quotation marks around it. Your finished field should look something like this: C: Your Emulator Folderemulator.exe C: Your Emulator Folder Your ROM game n64.
Step 8: You will either want to delete the text in the Start the field or put the file path to your emulator folder in that field. In most cases, that should do it. The shortcut will now search for the emulator and run it and then the ROM and run that as well.
Add Command Line Arguments:
For some emulators, you will need additional commands in your Target field to tell the emulator what to do. There are a host of potential commands and they’re different for different emulators.
You can find a big, useful list of command arguments at Lunch Box.com, and Steam users created a handy tutorial for adding ROMs to Steam that also lists a few of the most common emulators and their command arguments.
When you know what command arguments you need, you will generally add them to the Target field after the file paths for your emulator, but before the file path for your ROM.
How To Add Windows Games And Apps To Your Steam Library:
Windows is pretty open when it comes to third-party apps, after all, you can just chuck any ols.exe file into Steam and it’ll work. It’s not, however, open with its own apps. Windows apps do not show up in the file explorer, so you can’t add them to Steam just by searching.
Thankfully, there’s an open-source tool that will do the job for you, which is especially useful for adding games from the Xbox game pass to Steam.
Step 1: To start, you need to download a tool known as UWP Hook. Brian Lima, the developer, created it and there are many other projects yet to come from them, including a nifty UI for playing itch.io games.
Step 2: You may get a SmartScreen notification when running the installer. We did not encounter anything malicious in the app you can always use free antivirus software if you are concerned.
Step 3: Export UWP apps to Steam. After downloading UWP Hook, select it. Then tap on the Load installed UWP apps button. Keep in mind that this could take a bit of time for the software to thoroughly locate every Windows app on your device.
Step 4: After the list of applications is acquired, you can sort through them and highlight which ones you’d like to add to your Steam account.
Step 5: After selecting them, you can rename each app and export them. To fully export, you’ll need to tap on the Export selected apps to Steam option. After several seconds UWP Hook will take over and copy them to your Steam Library.
Step 6: To see your updated list of applications in Steam, you have to reboot the system. After shutting it down and restarting Steam, every new app should appear in the library.
Step 7: If for some reason, some of your exported applications aren’t there, you may need to log the AUMID for each missing app manually.
For a few tips, check out the UWP Hook subreddit. This is a great way to check with other Reddit users to be sure your Steam is operating smoothly.
In conclusion, Steam offers its users the possibility of sharing video games in their digital library with other Steam users through a fairly simple method that many are unaware of. This is achieved by granting permissions to other Steam accounts on other computers so that they can access a particular library of games, all through a system known as Steam Family Sharing.
Here is a complete tutorial to learn how to share your Steam game library with other users. Steam’s double authentication protection system is a mandatory step to be able to share our digital library. To do this, go to the Steam Settings tab and in the accounts options activate Steam Guard, following the steps provided by Steam.
Now we must access the computer of the user with whom we want to share our Steam digital library in person, using our Steam login data on that computer. If we trust that person, we can give our access data to do it remotely; even so, the Steam Guard system will provide us with the necessary security to prevent identity theft in your account.