Full Tilt Available on Steam

Full Tilt Poker officially made the games roster on the Steam entertainment platform this week, giving it increased exposure to millions of potential players. Full Tilt originally applied to be listed on the platform in October 2015 when it entered the Steam Greenlight voting process.

Steam, for those unfamiliar, is a software distribution and digital rights management (DRM) platform developed by the Valve Corporation. Valve originally began as a game development company, producing extremely popular game franchises such as the Half-Life, the Left 4 Dead, Team Fortress, Portal, and the online action game Counter-Strike: Source. Steam was actually a side project, used at first as an updater for Counter-Strike, but it grew into the largest social gaming community on the internet.

No-Worries Games Library

Steam-logoIt is best known as a one-stop shop for PC gamers to both purchase games and store them in their gaming libraries. Long gone are the days of driving to a brick-and-mortar store and purchasing games on disc. With Steam, customers can browse thousands of games online, buy one, and download it immediately. One of the best parts of this system is that Steam keeps an inventory of each customer’s games (as well as various rewards, coupons, and even many in-game items), so customers can access their games from any PC that has the Steam client installed. If your computer crashes, you don’t have to worry that your games are gone, as they can just be re-downloaded from Steam. Uninstall, reinstall, once a game is purchased, it is in a customer’s Steam inventory forever.

The downside to that for some is the digital rights management. DRM, in general, is a good thing, as it significantly restricts software pirating. If someone wants a game, they have to buy it. But at times, it can get frustrating. Legitimate owners of software often have to be connected to the internet to play their games, so that Steam can verify their copy of the game. In the “old days,” if someone owned a game and no longer wanted it, they could easily just give it to a friend. That’s not something one can do on Steam. Now, Steam has added some flexibility over the years such as game sharing, and the benefits of DRM outweigh the costs, but it can get annoying sometimes.

That isn’t really a problem for Full Tilt, as the game software on Steam is the free to play, FullTilt.net version. There is no real-money gambling available in the Full Tilt version on Steam, though players may purchase play money chips once they sign up. Real-money purchases are not required, though, as players receive 5,000 play money chips per day.

Full Tilt Voted In by Players

Steam Greenlight is a program in which the Steam users vote for games (or non-game applications in some instances) to be released on Steam. Game developers post relevant information about their game, including screen shots and videos in order to get people interested and drum up support for the product. Get enough positive votes, and your game gets “green-lit” for official placement in the Steam store. That is what happened with Full Tilt.

This could end up being a big deal for Full Tilt, as Steam has over 100 million users, with millions online at any given time. If Full Tilt can attract just a tiny percentage of those players who many not have otherwise thought of poker and then convert them to real-money players, the poker room’s traffic numbers could see a nice boost.

Anti-Gamblers Turning Up Their Noses

So far, Full Tilt has not been well received on Steam, with 75 percent of those people rating the game giving it a “thumbs-down.” Really, though, this only has to do with people being upset with “gambling” being on Steam. And while this venture by Full Tilt is obviously an attempt to draw in future real-money players by first exposing them to the play money version, what is on Full Tilt is not gambling. It’s just a game or perhaps a gambling simulation. So in that, this writer feels the negativity is misplaced.

Gaming news site Kotaku Australia criticized Valve for allowing Full Tilt on the Steam platform, using much of the article to review Full Tilt’s sordid past, specifically the Black Friday indictments. To be fair, the writer of the article did say that Valve already has gambling-like functionality in its games, but I wanted to take a moment to emphasize this point.

Full Tilt’s offering on Steam involves no real money, even though there is the option to use real money to buy valueless chips and, of course, players may eventually try their hand at the real thing if they like the play money Full Tilt experience. Compare that to boatloads of games on Steam and some of Valve’s own most popular games, and it seems silly to complain about gambling.

For example, I have been a Steam customer for years and one of my favorite games of all time is Valve’s Team Fortress 2, a first-person shooter that combines action, cartoon violence (though still too much on the violence side for me to let my kids play), and humor perfectly. I bought it for a few bucks years ago, but it is now available for free. There is an entire in-game store, though, devoted to purchasing game items for real money. More than that, lots of those items involve pure gambling. While playing the game, players can randomly receive items for free that they can store in their account to use whenever they would like. Most of the team, these items are weapons, and if you play long enough, they are usually duplicates. Sometimes, though, the item is a mystery crate that can contain one of around a dozen possible items.

Here’s the catch: the crate can only be opened with a special key and that key can only be purchase in the game’s store for $2.49. There are maybe about a dozen different types of crates – some of which only contain cosmetic items like hats – each with an associated type of key. Valve is literally asking people to spend real money in order to gamble on what may be inside a crate. It is not even guaranteed to be something particularly useful. If people want to do it, that’s fine, but it is gambling, so I find it hypocritical that some would criticize Valve for letting Full Tilt gain access to the platform while being perfectly ok with games encouraging players to gamble with real money for items that might just change the color of a character’s shirt.


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