PC News

Major update stalls Steam

Downtime and dodgy downloads ensue

Valve's publisher bypass operation went full Steam ahead yesterday with the release of the e-commerce portion of their content delivery system, but not without a hitch.

Support for purchasing games via the app was enabled, along with several minor fixes and additions, making way for Half-Life 2 to be purchased online in the future.

The update was carried out after the network was unavailable during a 3 hour planned maintenance window. However, the size of the patch and the intense demand appeared to be too much for the system to cope with, resulting in many gamers not getting their Half-Life based fix: "Since this morning's update was released, the Steam network has been overloaded, causing many Steam users to be unable to login, " said Valve Project Manager Erik Johnson in a statement. "Until the Steam content servers are able to catch up with demand, some users will continue to experience slowness or unresponsiveness from the Steam client. We've been making some changes to the content servers today to accelerate this recovery, and we expect conditions to improve quite a bit by tomorrow morning."

One of the smaller updates to the system is a 'Half-Life 2 hardware survey', which runs after the update has taken place. The stats produced by this are being collated on the SteamPowered website for all to view. Some highlights, at the time of writing, include - AMD domination (well... just) over Intel chips, a solitary gamer still fragging via a Cyrix chip, and someone playing Half-Life with a 96 width pixel display (my stereo's LCD screen is better than that!).

Update: The phrase 'kicked while you're down', comes to mind as news emerges that the Steam network suffered a large DDoS attack early Thursday morning. The attack came as the Steam network was catching up with the demand for the newly released update, and resulted in almost all of the Steam content servers being unavailable for nearly 3 hours. Valve's Greg Coomer outlined the situation, along with details on an email validation problem, in a news update:

"This morning at about 8:30 PST, Steam was hit by a distributed denial of service attack. For about two and a half hours, Steam and its games were unavailable to users. We have since fixed the problem, and player numbers have returned to a normal state. Steam's content servers are still busy with yesterday's update, but for the most part Steam users have been able to get up and running without problems. The new email validation feature has been causing some users confusion. Our network problems have caused the validation emails to be delivered too slowly -- if you are waiting to receive your automated email response from Steam, please give it some time. We're sorry if this is causing inconvenience; the delivery speed will be improved soon."
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