The 19-year evolution of Steam

This week marks Steam’s 19th birthday, and while it might be the face of PC gaming now, it didn’t shoot to success overnight. The digital storefront has changed dramatically over the years, evolving from a simple portal for Counter-Strike 1.6 to a hub where you can buy games, review them, and even participate in their development—if you’re not too busy selling hats, cards, and $400 knives in the marketplace. Let’s turn back the clock and look at how far the ubiquitous platform has come.

2003: The beginning 

On September 12, Steam began life as a way for Valve to control the patching process for games like Counter-Strike, as well as curb cheating and provide easier access to any content the developer produced. All was not hunky-dory, though; many gamers saw Steam as a threat to PC gaming, requiring a constant internet connection at a time when only 20 percent of American households had access to broadband internet

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