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PC Gaming through the Steam Cloud

The biggest change in gaming over the last decade is Steam. Steam is a free Internet service that puts your game software online, like the movies and music you've probably bought and downloaded from vendors like Apple's iTunes Store and Amazon's Cloud.

Before the arrival of Valve Corporation's Steam service, you kept your game discs on a shelf, and you laboriously installed and updated each one separately — but those days are gone for good!

Steam requires an Internet connection, and you'll need a broadband Internet connection — without the speed of a DSL, cable, network, or satellite connection to the Internet, it will take forever to download your games. If you use a dialup modem connection, consider Steam off-limits.

Both PC and Mac gamers have wholeheartedly embraced the Steam system, and there are a number of important reasons why:

  • Buying games is a cinch. Steam offers a wide range of different game genres, and after you've registered, buying a game is reduced to a few clicks of the mouse. Your games are automatically downloaded to your PC as soon as you buy them.

  • Steam organizes all your games in a single spot. You can play any game that you've downloaded from a single list.

  • You can uninstall and reinstall games as necessary. Steam keeps a permanent record of what you've bought, so if your hard drive is running low on space, you can uninstall as many Steam games as you like and reinstall them whenever you wish.

  • Steam provides automatic updates for your games. No need to visit a dozen different websites like the old days to check for patches and updates — all Steam games are automatically updated for you.

  • Easily find others for multiplayer games. Steam keeps track of your friends who play the same games, and you can invite a friend (or simply find an opponent) for a quick match.

  • Compare scores, achievements, and opinions with your gaming peers. Steam offers discussion forums (where you can post and read messages) and leaderboards (where you can compare your highest scores in a game with others).

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Getting started with Steam is easy: Visit the Steam website and click on the Install Steam button at the top of the web page.

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