It’s been almost three years since I bought my first game on Steam. Since then, I’ve built up a collection of 61 games on it (not even including the DLCs I’ve bought); without my realising it, Steam became the only marketplace I use for buying PC games.
I love how it works: I can install the games I’ve bought on any of my computers without having to carry CDs and DVDs around, which is particularly great for my netbook that doesn’t have an optical drive, and I don’t have to worry about the original media being lost or ruined. I know that I will always have the game – as long as Steam sticks around.
That’s all great, but it’s got nothing to do with Android. So why bother with the app? Read on to find out…
Pros and Cons
At the moment, Steam for Android is an app that lets you buy games for your PC or Mac. Sure, it has a few of Steam’s social features, giving the impression that it is mainly a social app (the landing screen is your friends list, for example), but you can only chat with your friends, see their activity, and check out your groups. The main focus is on the store.
Here’s a quick summary of the pros and cons of the app:
You can see all current sales, on the go.
It has a beautiful UI (not following Android’s Design Guidelines, but beautiful anyway).
You can see what your friends are playing and buying.
You can catch up with the news about Steam and its games.
You can chat with friends.
You can’t accept or refuse solicitations sent to you.
You can’t see the games you have.
You can’t see your achievements.
When you buy a game, it doesn’t automatically download to your computer; you have to install it from the desktop app.
Payments with PayPal are not integrated with the PayPal App; instead, it uses a web based link to PayPal.
You can’t comment on your groups.
In my opinion, the app lacks a lot of features, but I also know that the app is very new to the market, and that over time it will probably get new features, such as automatic desktop downloading of purchased games.
Unfortunately the app doesn’t shine as much as the desktop app – but then, unlike the desktop version, it isn’t a game collection, it is just a market and social app. Still, it’s pretty neat, and although the UI doesn’t follow the Android Guidelines, it is still pretty.
Let’s Spend Some Money
Steam is a marketplace, so obviously the main feature on the app must be the store. And this is exactly like you get on your desktop experience. Open it, and you will see the Featured games, and some tabs to navigate through: New, Popular, Specials. Oh, the Specials! I’m a very proud bargainer, and so I love having, inside my pocket, the ability to buy the games currently on sale, wherever I am.
Exactly like the desktop store, you can buy with PayPal, or any Credit Card. But the downside about buying on the app, is that you have to go to your computer later, go to your library, download the game, and then install. It’s a shame that it doesn’t at least kick off a download, so that when you get home you only need to install it before you can start playing.
Another thing I’d like to see added is integration with the PayPal app. Its sort of strange to have the PayPal app on your phone, and then to have an in-app payment using PayPal open an in-app browser to the mobile version of PayPal. It isn’t logical.
Let’s Be Social
The majority of the social experience in this app comes down to the chat, which is functional, but not that necessary. You probably already have Facebook and its Messenger installed on your phone, and maybe Whatsapp, Skype, Viber, and any number of other messenger apps as well. So do you need another? I have all my Steam friends on Facebook, so for me it’s a bit redundant – and besides, the Steam Chat is best for chatting with friends while playing.
Still, it’s nice to have it there, although it feels lacking without the other social features of Steam, like the Achievements, Forums and Groups. (Speaking of Groups, why are they even there, if you can only read them?)
Friends and Groups
The app is great. But it isn’t wonderful.
For a store, it is awesome; of course it needs some improvements and new features, but it does what you expect from a store: sell. However, the social network inside it, is incomplete. If the app was meant to be just a store, it would be finished with just the need for some improvements, but as they tried to make it more social, it’s a shame that they did it without much concern about making it into a full user experience.