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Steam goes down for several hours, leaving players unable to buy games

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Digital game platform Steam experienced a major outage on Thursday, with users unable to browse the store or access their profiles. The outage affected both the Steam store’s web version and the desktop app used to launch and update games.

Steam’s outage began at approximately 11 a.m. ET and continued uninterrupted for hours, leaving customers without a way to purchase or download games. The home page occasionally appeared, but other sections gave only an error message, and the home page eventually followed suit.

Access appeared to be tentatively restored as of about 1:30 p.m. ET, though certain parts of the store were still going out intermittently.

When opening Steam on a desktop, the store and profile pages were unviewable. The community tab only worked intermittently, and the only section of Steam still in operation was the library. This meant any games already installed on players’ systems could still be played and updated, but nothing new could be added to the library.

The Unofficial Steam Status website keeps track of the platform with updates on the store and Valve’s games. Several gave error messages, including Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Go, and Artifact, according to the website. Steam creator Pavel Djundik expressed frustration that he was the main source of information on Steam’s issues since Valve does not provide detailed status updates when the platform goes offline. The Steam Twitter account also provided zero updates during the outage, despite hundreds of comments from unhappy players addressing it.

And the fact that a community member has to run a status page (hey that's me) is just silly.

Valve does not provide any status pages or updates anywhere.

— Pavel Djundik (@thexpaw) January 30, 2020

Valve’s strategy differs from Microsoft, which has its own Xbox Live status page as well as regular status updates via its Twitter account. The page offers updates on several different components of Xbox Live, including purchasing and accessing content. Sony has a similar status page for the PlayStation Network, which has been subject to its own massive outages over the years. Nintendo even provides a full maintenance schedule for its servers, allowing players to pick when to fire up their Switch systems ahead of time. All of these notices can potentially be behind the real-time issues facing the services, however, making third-party websites like Down Detector useful when first encountering problems.

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