Any games journo who tells you that the free games that they get are no big deal is being an asshat. While I am one of those writers who firmly believe that it should never be about the free games, I also know that the daily experience of logging into your email in the morning and seeing the mail cart approach your desk in the afternoon is a pretty heady one; you never know what games are going to arrive today, and when you get titles you did not request and so were not expecting, it is a little bit like the feeling you used to get on Christmas morning back when you were still young enough to believe in Santa Clause.
Thursday last was a particularly fruitful game arrival day, as in addition to the four flat packages that arrived in the mail cart, there were half-a-dozen codes in the email box — and even those were something of a surprise by themselves as three of the codes actually resulted in multiple games, but I am getting ahead of myself…
Like a lot of PC users I don’t like to use my computer when something is being installed — the problem with that is that it is hard to tell if Steam is actually installing some part of the game you are adding from that service or it is just downloading, since the entire process is carried out under the guise of “installing” since that is what the window’s title is. That being the case I find that whenever a Steam game is being added my PC ends up being declared temporarily unusable by the very violent Irish Military Policeman who patrols my noggin.
Yesterday I plugged in the three Steam Codes I received in email, naively thinking that the act of activating three codes would logically lead to three games being installed, right? No, wrong! After blithely entering the codes I was thunderstruck by the resulting download and installation monitoring status screen thingy as it revealed the download and installation progress for ELEVEN (11) games! And a couple of those games were larger than 4GB!
I don’t like being forced into the role of data traffic cop, and because the bandwidth in our office is not a humungous or wide-pipe uber-broadband- onnection, a user who wants all of the other uses to not hate their very guts takes care to arrange large downloads so that they take place overnight, when nobody needs that bandwidth. As a result it was not long before a voice could be heard loudly asking: “Who is doing bandwidth intensive tasks?!”
I quickly hit the pause-all button and then assessed the situation on my desktop — and then resumed the download for the smallest item in the list. As each of the small items completed, I then resumed the download for the next smallest, and etc. until all that was left to be downloaded was a trio of very large games. Those I left hanging until the close of business, and the last thing that I did before departing for the weekend was to resume all three of those, fully expecting that when I arrive at work on Monday they will all be finished. I hope.
There is a price to be paid, you see, for all those free games, and I just want you to know that we willingly pay that price for you, so we can review and write about the games for you, the reader. Oh, and I also want you to be aware that if someone was using the office network over the weekend and my massive download messed with their work, I will be blaming you.