Tag Archives: steam

Portal 2 TV ad hits YouTube

Taking eight weeks to put together Valve decided to make their own TV ad for Portal 2, instead of hiring an advertising agency to do it for them. According to Doug Lomabrdi the idea of handing the job over to an ad agency would be “close to worthless..”.

No one knows the product better than the folks who made it..

With the Portal 2 ad, we playtested it and were able to make changes during production. With an agency, those types of tests are too often left to a post-mortem – at which point, the value of those realisations is pretty close to worthless.

The United Kingdom can look forward to Portal 2 bus-ads and trainstation billboards to promote Valve’s upcoming sequel.

Portal 2 will be offering players more of the same puzzle-solving that made the first game so addictive, but also throwing in a co-op mode where 2 people can complete missions together; these will undoubtedly be more difficult.

The game will be hitting store shelves and download slots on the 19th of April (NA) and will be available on PC, Xbox, PS3 and the Mac. You can pre-order now from Amazon or Steam.

Related:
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Valve’s Steam Guard out of beta
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Valve’s Steam Guard out of beta

Steam GuardAt a technology conference a few weeks back Valve’s Gabe Newell demonstrated the company’s new security feature for Steam, giving away his username and password to stress the effectiveness of Steam Guard. In an atttempt to address the number one security issue on Steam (account hijacking) Valve swung into gear with a new hardware based security feature they hope will lessen the number of Steam accounts being lost to hackers.

Today the anti-account hijacking Steam Guard is out of beta and available for anyone to use, should they wish to have an extra layer of security protecting their account. Let’s face it most people will have their (or someone else’s) credit card details saved on their Steam account so who can argue with something to help protect your account from outside intrusion.

How does Steam Guard work? When you first use it and verify your email address, a fingerprint is taken of your PC hardware and this is then tied to your Steam account. Any attempt after that to log-in from another PC and Steam will send a confirmation 5-digit code to your email to make sure it’s you who is trying to log-in. All you have to do is authorise another PC if you access Steam from multiple PCs. There is no limit on the number of computers that can be authorised. Even if you have a weak password, Steam Guard should keep all but the most determined hackers out.

If you haven’t tried it yet I would highly recommend doing so. I’ve been using it since the beta and haven’t run into any problems whatsoever. Extra security is a good thing, especially when it’s not too much of an inconvenience; with Steam Guard you’ll hardly even notice it’s there.

For more info visit the Steam Guard support page.

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New TF2 flavoured movie trailer hits YouTube

A YouTube user and apparent graphics designer going by the name of has been treating Team Fortress 2 fans with re-imagined film trailers that include TF2 characters edited in.

The first was Law Abiding Engineer based on a trailer for 2009′s Law Abiding Citizen.

But his more recent effort thrills us with a TF2-tinged trailer for The Dark Knight, entitled The Demo Knight.

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Gabe Newell so confident in Steam Guard, publicly announces his Steam password

Steam Guard, the new security feature in Steam that allows a user to tie their account to a hardware profile has just gone beta. After you first verify your email address, any attempt to login on another computer will require a seperate code that you will get via your email.

Steam Guard

If you wish to use Steam Guard all you need to do is login to your Steam account and open up the ‘Account’ tab, then choose to opt-in to the beta.

Gabe Newell has said that the biggest support issue they have at Valve is account phishing and hijacking. The Valve CEO is so confident in Steam Guard he has publicly revealed his own password and login details for Steam, enticing anyone to try login to his account.

Care to give it a shot?

username: gaben@valvesoftware.com
password: moolyftw

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Valve woos Portal fans at this year’s GDC

Portal 2

At this year’s Games Developers Conference, Valve showed off some new high-res screenshots of Portal 2.

The hotly anticipated sequal to 2007′s Portal is coming to PC, Xbox and PS3 on the 18th of next month. One thing is clear looking at these new screenshots, Valve’s Source engine still has plenty of life left in it.

Head on over to hlfallout and check out the screens.

Valve offer a 10% discount if you pre-order 1 copy of the game and 20% off if you purchase the 2-pack. Amazon are also taking pre-orders.

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Steam updated, adds screen capture and improved voice chat

 

Steam

Valve updated the Steam client yesterday with quite a few new features and improvements. First off it’s now possible to take screenshots while in any game that uses the Steam Overlay. After pressing F12 you can upload screenshots to your Steam profile (or anywhere you like). Valve has allocated a generous 1Gb of data storage per user for screen captures alone.

One of the biggest improvements is a complete upgrade to the Steam voice chat. Take a look below at some of the changes made.

Voice quality improvements

  • Changed microphone voice input from 11 kHz to 16 kHz
  • Changed voice output from 8 kHz to 16 kHz
  • Fixed the settings-dialog microphone test to correctly re-init the calibration client if the active voice device changes
  • Reduced voice prefix buffer size from 200 to 100 ms, but increased trailing from 200 to 400 ms – reduces latency when transitioning from silence to active voice, but still should keep it from sounding like chat is cutting out mid-sentence
  • Increased thresholds for voice activity detection, making it less sensitive
  • Increased amount of gain applied to voice
  • Changed disconnect message when a friend ends a voice call to ‘ has ended the call’
  • Windows: Fixed microphone to reinitialize correctly if Windows signals that a device in the system has changed
  • Windows: Changed voice output device for Steam to be the default communication device

They’ve also beefed up password security by adding a password strength meter, and prompting users to change their password after a generic temp password is issued. For a list of all the changes head on over to the news post.

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Gabe Newell wants to make Source SDK less “painful”

Gabe Newell

Gabe Newell recently said that Valve is spending a “tremendous amount of time” trying to improve their Source SDK. Describing using the software development kit as “painful”, Newell wants to assure modders and map makers alike that there will be big changes to the ageing SDK soon.

[It's] just way too hard to develop content right now, both for ourselves and for third-parties, so we’re going to make enormously easier and simplify that process a lot.

In fact Newell said they are probably spending more time on the SDK right now than anything else.

Oh yeah, we’re spending a tremendous amount of time on tools right now. So, our current tools are… very painful, so we probably are spending more time on tools development now than anything else and when we’re ready to ship those I think everybody’s life will get a lot better.

Valve’s Source engine, although seven years old has been responsible for some of the most engaging and memorable PC titles in the last few years; including Half-Life 2, Portal, Team Fortress 2 and Left 4 Dead. And it will be the driving force behind Half-Life 2 Episode 3, whenever that is eventually released.

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Half-Life 2: Episode Two for $1.99

75% off Half-Life 2 Episode 2

If you’ve been living under a rock for past 3 years and have not yet purchased and played Half-Life 2: Episode Two, Valve want to make it worth your while by offering the expansion to the legendary Half-Life 2 series with 75% off the regular price tag.

As part of the company’s mid-week madness sale you can now buy Episode 2 for a measly $1.99.

Episode Two was released back in October of 2007 to critical acclaim, and fans have been waiting with bated breath for the next iteration of the series ever since.

Head on over to the product page if you’re a late-bloomer.

Related:
Half-Life 2 hacker apologizes to Valve

Half-Life 2 hacker apologizes to Valve

Half-Life 2 Leak

It’s been over 7 years since the infamous Half-Life 2 beta appeared online. Back in 2003 a young hacker by the name of Axel Gembe made his way through lax security protocols to steal and distribute the game’s source code online. It was strewn about the internet and pretty much anyone that logged on to the world wide web could get their hands on it via torrent sites.

Well, all these years later the hacker responsible has finally apologized to Valve for what he did back in 2003. In an interview with Euro-Gamer Gembe made amends for hacking into Valve’s headquarters to get his hands on the hl2 code, and discusses at length about how he managed to pull off the job.

I am so very sorry for what I did to you. I never intended to cause you harm. If I could undo it, I would. It still makes me sad thinking about it. I would have loved to just stay and watch you do your thing, but in the end I screwed it up. You are my favorite developer, and I will always buy your games.

Read the full interview over on Euro-Gamer.

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Gabe Newell goes back to high-school

Gabe Newell goes back to high-school

Valve’s Gabe Newell recently outsourced his expertise to an unlikely audience. In this Youtube video Newell discusses the business of interactive entertainment with a bunch of high-school kids.

The Valve co-founder talks at length about how he started the company up with Mike Harrington after leaving Microsoft.

Unfortunately he didn’t hint at a release date for Half Life 2 Episode 3 or anything like that.

Portal 2 up for pre-purchase on Steam

Portal 2

The sequel to 2007′s Portal will find its way to the shelves and download slots of fans on the 18th of April (US). However Valve are trying to offer an incentive to pre-purchasing the game now by offering a 10% discount. If you buy the Portal 2 pack you will get 20% off.

Portal 2 will be offering players more of the same puzzle-solving that made the first game so addictive, but also throwing in a co-op mode where 2 people can complete missions together; these will undoubtedly be more difficult.

Amazon are also offering the game at the discounted price if you pre-order now.

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25% of Steam users still on XP

Steam Hardware & Software Survey: December 2010

It’s been a few months since I last took a look at Valve’s PC hardware statistics. As I’m sure most of you already know, Valve periodically releases results of a hardware survey they conduct from within the Steam software. Information is gathered from a user’s machine – like which processor they use, how much system ram they have, hard drive space etc. It can be fun to see the demographic you yourself fit into in the overall hardware pallet. Let’s take a brief look December’s results.

Processors:

Intel vs AMD

Unsurprisingly Intel has a monopoly on processors, but you might be surprised at just how much. According to Valve’s December Hardware & Software Study, 72.37% of its users have Intel processors. This dwarfs AMD’s small footprint of a mere 27.63%.

Processor Cores

As more and more PCs are equipped with multi-core CPUs, let’s take a look at the percentages. Single-core processors make up 9.79% (down from 11.22% in October). Dual-core is still the dominant blend with a whopping 52.11% share (but that is down from 56.97%). Quad-cores are on the rise accounting for 35.90% (slightly up from 33.13 in October); with hex-core still in its infancy, only 0.74% are booting up their Steam-based machines with 6 processing cores. This is obviously bound to change with AMD’s low-cost Phenom II x6 processors.

Graphics Cards:

As with Intel, Nvidia also makes up a larger share of the pie with 59.11% of users having their GPUs, compared to AMD’s 32.98% market share (unchanged from October). Tragically 6.22 % still use on-board Intel graphics. Maybe we should take a moment’s pause to reflect on their pain. Why are they even using Steam? Although they may be slightly less fortunate if the new Sandy Bridge GPU can handle Portal 2.

Interestingly enough only 0.56% of users have 1.5Gb of Vram. It looks like Nvidia’s GTX 480 is not too popular among users of Steam.

System Ram:

Ram is not quite as important as it once was when it comes to gaming with 4-6 Gb being the mainstay for most avid gamers. 22.18% (down from 24.04%) are still on 2Gb, with 27.16% using 3Gb. 4Gb users are a slightly smaller bunch with 27.38% (up ever-so-slightly from 26.00%). Do you use more than 5Gb of ram? You’re in an illustrious club of 15.76%.

Operating systems:

It seems that Windows XP just won’t die. Microsoft has cut off the life-support machine, and many PC vendors have already stopped supporting the aging OS. But like a stubborn old man, XP fights on with 24.64% (down 0.85%). I should note that Windows 7 64-bit has surpassed XP with 35.09%. The use of Vista 32-bit remains steady at 13.53%.

Conclusion:

Has anything changed? Well, not a whole lot since October. Single and dual-core CPU usage is slightly down. Quad-core has made a fairly promising gain, although hex-core gaming clearly has along way to come.

XP is still not accepting death just yet. Although usage is down slightly, a staggering 24.64% still consider the aging OS to be where it’s at.

Windows 7 is on the rise, with a lot more people adopting the 64-bit variety to take advantage of all that RAM they invested in.

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One 4 Nine gets thumbs up from official L4D2 blog

One 4 Nine

The mind-blowing awesomeness of Kev Edwards’ Left 4 Dead 2 map One 4 Nine has gotten thumbs up from the official LFD2 blog. For anyone yet to play the map, all I will say is it features elements from one of Stanley Kubrick’s best films and is on par with, if not better than any of the official maps in the game. Head on over and download it from L4D Maps.

The new featured campaign is Kev Edwards’ awesome One 4 Nine. What’s not to love? You have an Army base in the Nevada desert housing an ancient “alien tomb”. We have been digging Versus in this campaign but coop and survival modes are also available.

Valve, WETA and a genuine bona-fide level 1 sentry gun

The folks over at WETA Workshop have assembled together a real-life to-scale sentry gun from Team Fortress 2. This is a level-1 sentry, as built by the Texas Engineer in Valve’s classic online multiplayer platform. WETA are the crew responsible for the special effects in Lord of the Rings, District 9 and Avatar and have made Valve a boni-fide sentry to keep in their lobby.

Although the sentry gun doesn’t fire out real bullets, it does detect movement and backtracks making authentic Team Fortress 2 sounds.

Related:
Valve announce Team Foretress 2 Beta

Valve’s run for the gun, 40% off Poker Night at the Inventory

Be the envy of other Heavies with the Iron Curtain

Right now and for the next 48 hours you can snag Telltale Games’ Poker Night at the Inventory for $2.99 on Steam. Valve have knocked 40% off the standard price. Personally I can’t even play poker, but it’s looking like this is the only way to get the Iron Curtain mini-gun for the Heavy.

The Iron Curtain is a promotional mini-gun in Team Fortress 2. It’s identical to the standard mini-gun, but it is made in part from mahogany wood. It’s like a cross between Bender from the Futurama episode where he downgrades himself, and the default Heavy gun.

It is awarded to players of Poker Night at the Inventory for defeating the Heavy during a round in which he has bought in with the item instead of cash.

Anyway you’ll have to excuse me, I’m off to bone up on my poker lessons. The things I do for a new Team Fortress 2 weapon. *shakes fist at Valve*

Update: It only took me two hours of not knowing how to play poker, but somehow I defeated the Heavy and got my Iron Curtain. All kneel before wooden Sasha!

Related:
Valve announce Team Foretress 2 Beta

Valve announce Team Foretress 2 Beta

Heavy

Valve have released a new beta version of Team Fortress 2. In the same way they offer a beta version of Counter Strike Source, this gives players a chance to try out some of the new features, maps etc that will eventually make it to the finished version.

Basically this beta gives Valve more freedom to experiment with new features/tweaks “..without the risk of breaking the game.”

You don’t have to download the beta if you don’t want to but it’s available in your library if you should so chose.

Here are some of the initial changes:

Three Natascha variants:

  • -40% damage
  • -25% damage, -25% health
  • Spin-up/down time increased, slowdown-on-hit effect falls off over distance.

Map changes:

  • cp_granary: new entrance added into the RED and BLU mid ramp room.
  • cp_5gorge: 5 CP version of cp_gorge.

Misc balance changes:

  • Players being healed by a medic are immune to movement-impairing effects generated by hit-scan weapons.

More info and discussion over on the Steam forums.

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Valve selling TF2, L4D, Portal t-shirts and merchandise

Sanvich t-shirt, you know you want it...

Valve have started a new store and are offering clothing, books, mugs, posters and lots more from their most popular games. Now you can have a coffee in style with your Aperture Laboratories mug, or why not show your disdain for zombies with a Left 4 Dead huddie. There are lots of items on sale right now; I’ve already picked up my Heavy and Bonk Atomic Punch t-shirts.

Now if only they had a European store, I could gorge on all things Valve and literally transform my wardrobe.

Head on over to the apparel section and check out some of the offers they have on.

Related:
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Real-life Portal gun to be auctioned for charity

It’s a nerd’s dream come true. Imagine having the portal gun from the Aperture Science Lab of Valve’s classic puzzle-platformer. One man can make this possible if the price is right. 28 year-old graphic designer Harrison Krix has fashioned a real-life portal gun with his own hands.

The model is an absolute ringer for the in-game gun and will be auctioned off, with proceeds going to a children’s charity. The gun can even be switched between blue and orange modes, just like in the game. *drools*

Check out his blog.

Related:
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Joe’s Adventures, new Mafia II DLC

Joe's finally gettin' some action

If you’re looking to spruce up your Mafia II experience, new DLC is available for download on Steam. In Joe’s Adventure, you finally discover who had Vito sent to prison. Also included in the expanded story are new cars, brand new attire, city quests and new locations.

The add-on costs $7.99. Head on over to the Steam Store page for more info.

Happy Birthday L4D2

Early Spitter concept

It’s hard to believe but yesterday saw the 1st anniversary for the release of Valve’s Left4Dead 2. The makers of the classic multiplayer Zombie shooter have been celebrating over the on the official blog, with pics of some early concept art. We are also promised “new stuff coming Friday..”.

If you haven’t yet played Left4Dead 1 or 2, you really owe it to yourself to see this work of art. If you like a good scare, and having some of the most fun there is to have online, it’s the best 20 bucks you ever spent.

Related:
Official Left4Dead 2 blog

Left4Dead Quadruple Charger Kill

It could be a fake, but in this video posted by You-tuber DaCakeIsASpy, the entire crew of Left4Dead are thrown from a skyscraper all at once from one Charger. It’s a bit hard to spot the charger, leaving me a little skeptical. It’s pretty funny nonetheless.

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Valve offering Day of Defeat Source for $2.50

Have $2.50 to spare?

Today and tomorrow Valve are selling the classic online shooter, Day of Defeat Source for only $2.50 (2 euro 50 cents). If you’ve not experienced what has to be one of the best multiplayer shooters of the decade, you really owe it to yourself to “splash out” on this game. If you’re already a DoD addict and want to turn a friend onto the game, even in these trying times I’m sure they have 2 dollars to spare.

Day of Defeat Source uses Valve’s Source engine (as the name would imply), and although the game is 5 years old and showing its age a little, for this price it’s an absolute steal.

Sale Ends Thursday, November 11th, 4pm Pacific Time.

Check out the offer page.

Related:
Official website

Beyond Black Mesa coming soon

A bunch of Half Life fans strung together a small bit of cash and used it to finance a film inspired by the Half Life franchise. Beyond Black Mesa was filmed over the course of a few weekends by a bunch of dedicated Half Life fans and a shoe-string budget. The film is complete, and has been screened in film festivals across the U.S. over the last few weeks.

B.B.M. will be officially released very soon but in the meantime here’s a short trailer to whet your appetite.

More info on the crew and behind the scenes action can be found on the Beyond Black Mesa official website.

Related:
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Valve steamrolls ahead with 30 million milestone

30 million, let's start new country!

It’s hard to believe (or is it?) but Valve’s games distribution software, Steam, has reached a new fever. Recent stats just released from Gabe Newell’s fortress of solitude tell us that there are now a whopping 30 million active users of Steam. As more and more gamers shy away from boxes and stores, Valve’s vision of digital distribution has been given a well-deserved confirmation.

I’ve personally been using Steam from the get-go. I’ll never forget being forced to play the original Day of Defeat on Steam, and being horrified by having to rely on Steam servers. Nobody can deny the software was a bug-fest for quite a while after its release. But over the years it has settled down and is far more reliable than it was all those years ago.

As long as they keep having their weekend deals, I’ll always be loyal to Valve. As long as they pump out magnificent games like Half Life 2, Portal, Left 4 Dead etc, I’ll be there to use and promote their software.

Congrats on a massive milestone.

During the past 12 months the platform had year-over-year new user growth of 178%, pushing the total number of active accounts to over 30 million, with over 1,200 games now offered. Peak simultaneous player numbers were also up to over three million, with over six million unique gamers accessing Steam each day.

In addition to new user growth, Steam sales during the trailing 12 months increased by more than 200%, putting it on track for a sixth straight year of realizing over 100% year-over-year growth in unit sales. To meet this demand, the Steam infrastructure has been increased and now has ability to run at 400Gps, enough bandwidth to ship a digitized version of the Oxford English Dictionary 92.6 times per second.

Valve press release.

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Dance Fortress 2, hilarious fan-made video of TF2

James Benson is a game designer looking to get a fresh start with Valve, so instead of mailing his C.V. or some boring stuff like that, he has compiled a dance video with the characters of Team Fortress 2, using the source engine. This guy is the Bee’s Knees so get on over there, vote him up and give him your support.

Team Fortress 2 is greatest thing since the concept of a greatest thing was conceived. It’s like everything that’s good about Unreal Tournament, Counter Strike Source and Day of Defeat Source, all wrapped up in a sesame-seed bun of sci-fi related humour.

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Are Steam users a bunch of Intel fanboys?

Steam

As I’m sure most of you already know, Valve periodically releases results of a hardware survey they conduct from within the Steam software. Information is gathered from a user’s machine – like what processor they use, how much system ram they have, hard drive space etc. It can be fun to see the demographic you yourself fit into in the overall hardware pallet. Let’s take a brief look August’s results.

Processors:

Intel vs AMD

Unsurprisingly Intel has a monopoly on processors, but you might be surprised at just how much. According to Valve’s August Hardware & Software Study, 72.37% of its users have Intel processors. This dwarfs AMD’s small footprint of a mere 27.63%.

Processor Cores

As more and more PCs are equipped with multi-core CPUs, let’s take a look at the percentages. Single-core processors still make up 14.10%, while dual-core seems to be the dominant blend with a whopping 56.97% share. Quad-cores are on the rise but still only account for 27.24%. With hex-core still in its infancy, only 0.43% are booting up their Steam-based machines with 6 processing cores. This is obviously bound to change with AMD’s low-cost Phenom II x6 processors and whatever lower-priced variants Intel unleash next year.

Graphics Cards:

As with Intel, Nvidia also makes up a larger share of the pie with 59.11% of users having their GPUs, compared to AMD’s 32.98% market share. Tragically 6.22 % still use on-board Intel graphics. Maybe we should take a moment’s pause to reflect on their pain. Why are they even using Steam?

Interestingly enough only 0.58% of users have 1.5Gb of Vram. It looks like Nvidia’s GTX 480 is not too popular among users of Steam

System Ram:

Ram is not quite as important as it once was when it comes to gaming with 4-6 Gb being the mainstay for most avid gamers. 26.9% are still on 2Gb, with almost the same amount using 3Gb. 4Gb users are a slightly smaller bunch with 22.9% of the chart. Do you use more than 4Gb of ram? You’re in an illustrious club of  11.05%.

Operating systems:

It seems that Windows XP just won’t die. Microsoft has cut off the life-support machine, and many PC vendors (including Dell) are going to cut off aid to the aging OS very soon. But like a stubborn old man, XP fights on with 31.49%. I should note that Windows 7 is gaining on XP, trailing behind at only 29.62% (the 64-bit version). The 32-bit version of Vista still has a surprising 13.22% of users, but this is on the decline as you would expect.

Conclusion:

Are you an Intel fanboy? Maybe you like AMD’s bang for the buck pricing. Do you even use Steam? Let us know what kind of hardware setup you have and how you fit into the Steam tree, if at all.

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AMD & Valve Bring You Graphics Drivers Via Steam

AMD Drivers

Forget trawling through driver pages to find the latest software for your Radeon graphics card. AMD has teamed up with Valve to bring you drivers via Steam. Now you can keep up to date with the latest drivers and download them from inside the Steam platform, as easy as updating a game.

AMD promises the 25 Million plus users of Steam a much more transparent experience when it comes to driver information disclosure. Personally I think it’s a great idea. I don’t even use an optical drive anymore thanks to Steam. I’m just wondering why nobody thought of this sooner. Hopefully Nvidia will get on board and the GTX/GTS camp can benefit from a central driver location for everyone.

According to AMD’s blog post the first Catalyst drivers to arrive on Steam will be version 10.9 – although they don’t give a specific date.

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New Releases, Discounts on Steam

Football Manager 2010Retro 2D platformer VVVVVV and melody-based puzzler Chime were released on the Steam client over the past few days.

VVVVVV is also on a 10% discount until September 14th for €4,49, and a percentage of the proceeds from Chime go to charitable organisations.

In addition, Valve are offering week long sales on these titles:

Puzzle Quest 2 at 33% OFF – Old price: €6,99, new price: €3,49
Secret of the Magic Crystals at 50% Off - Old price: €6,99, new price: €3,49
Space Siege at 66% Off – Old price: €14,99, new price: €5,10
Football Manager 2010 at 50% Off – Old price: €19,99 , new price: €9,99

The price reductions run until September the 13th.

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Free Altitude Weekend on Steam

AltitudeValve do these free weekends on games from time to time, and this weekend you can play the indie flying game Altitude.

I’ve not played it myself but the general consensus seems to be it’s a fun game.

Blast your way across the cartoon skies in this fast-paced game of aerial combat! Altitude combines Call-of-Duty style perks with the gameplay variety of Team Fortress 2 in a fresh multiplayer experience.

Check it out here, and if you like it you can buy at 50% price (€4,49) ’til Monday.

Via Bluesnews