Happy Birthday Steam

Steam - the video game distribution and launching platform from Valve, is twenty years old today. Steam has become quite a fixture of PC gaming life in those two decades.


I didn’t really pay any attention to Steam initially. I wasn’t really into PC gaming in 2003.

At least partly because, coincidentally, my daughter also turns twenty today. She was born just hours ahead of Steam.

A short while later, here we are, probably not thinking about video games.

Sophie and me

The beginning

If this email is to be believed, I created a Steam account seven years later, on May 29th, 2010.


The first thing I bought was the exceptionally popular Orange Box collection.

Orange box

For just over a tenner, I got Portal, Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Deathmatch, Half-Life 2: Lost Coast, Half-Life Deathmatch: Source, Half-Life 2: Episode One and Two, Team Fortress 2 and DLC.

Orange box

Cumulatively, I’ve clocked up around 150 hours - nearly a solid week of continuous play - in that one package alone. For comparison, that’s approaching the entire Star Wars cinematic and TV output duration for about tenner. Fabulous value for money.

Portal alone is worth a tenner of anyone’s dough. The Orange Box was just the first hit, though. Since then, I’ve bought over 560 games at an average price of £9.24.

One of the games in the set that I’ve not played much (5.7h) is Team Fortress 2.

I must have been curious enough to run it on the family iMac at some point because I got these fancy earbuds as a gift.

TF2 Earbuds

I used to get people DMing me all the time attempting to buy them off me. Apparently they’re rare. Who knew?

Tipping point

After that first purchase in May 2010, I didn’t buy many more games. Maybe the Orange Box kept me busy initially. Here’s everything I bought in 2010 and 2011.


Then, in mid-2012, something happened that massively accelerated my game purchasing.

Steam’d penguins

Steam came to Linux late in 2012. Ubuntu was the main target, so working at Canonical, a few of us got early Steam builds to play with. In the final two months of 2012, I bought twice as many games as I did in all of 2010 and 2011, after the Orange Box. Then, in 2013, the number of games I purchased had doubled again!


Skipping to 2016 I picked up a Steam Link and two Steam Controllers while travelling in the USA. Then two more Steam controllers and another Steam Link when they became available from the store in the UK.

In July 2022, like everyone else, it seems, I plumped down £565 for a 512GB Steam Deck, which I still love.

Gabe Gear

Too many games?

I continued buying games on the platform both as individual titles and as parts of bundles, which gets me to the 500+ games I have today.

I’ve clocked up over 2700 hours of total play-time on record across all of the games on Steam. That makes around £0.33 per hour. Amazing value! Especially when you consider I’ve only played 38% of my entire collection!

The five games I’ve clocked up the most hours in are Rust (848h), GTAV (426h), PUBG (382h), Godus (223h) (RIP, and a pox on Peter Molyneux), and Half-Life 2 (73h).

Steam isn’t perfect; neither is Valve. But I am confident both have been a net positive for PC gaming in general and Gaming on Linux specifically.


So, Happy Birthday to Steam, and more importantly, Happy Birthday Sophie.

Now, I’m out to celebrate Sophie’s birthday with the family. I may secretly raise a glass to Valve while there, too.

Here’s to at least another twenty years! 🍺