Was Buying a Game From Steam a Mistake? - At Least Their Error Messages Could Use Some Improvements!

Mt first experience with Steam didn't go so well.

When I buy downloadable content online, whether it's an information product or a game, I buy it online because it's fast. I want to play the game right away.

Unfortunately this didn't happen with Steam. Or it didn't happen because the system didn't clearly tell me what was wrong. (basic usability and error management for software).

I bought Mount & Blade: Warband because I *really* wanted to play it today (to continue my Mount & Blade Let's Play Series with the newer game).

I had couple of hours for gaming, so I was excited that I could buy and download the game and be playing within minutes...

Or so I thought :(

Game Activation Failure?

Purchasing OK. Installs OK. "Ready To Play" OK.

Click 'play the game'...

Error message says:

Is that's supposed to tell me what's wrong? That's supposed to tell me what to do?

How about explaining in clear English what's wrong... And what me as a customer should do.

How about contact support button? How about sending a support request from the Steam tool itself (with all the technical info required right there, and quite probably in the logs of the software as well).

All very basic user interface and eCommerce design.

But noooo - support site was separate from Steam.

Had to register separate support account to even make a ticket. And copy-paste-write all the technical stuff there, and that weird error message too. And after four and a half hours and I haven't had an answer from the support.

I was frustrated.

I'd never had online purchase fail like this.


It wasn't actually a fail in Steam directly...

It was a support failure.

A user interface / error message failure from Steam.

After extensive search I found out that the problem might be in my computer (even that everything else worked for Steam).

It took a long time, because I could not find anything relevant from support site with the error message "SteamUI_JoinDialog_KeyRequestPending_Text":

0 Articles Matched Your Search: "SteamUI_JoinDialog_KeyRequestPending_Text"

How can a support site not list an answer to an error message in the system?


I did find help with "key server"...

Failed to Contact Key Server.

Apparently Steam tried to connect to a "key server". Starting the game from other part of Steam, e.g. via website, it gave different error message:

Can't connect to key server

Don't you think that's a bit clearer message than the one I got first?

Why it didn't give me *that* error message to begin with?

Well, with the "key server" search I found the answer, or suggestion to check the firewall (and router) - So I checked my firewall and sure enough it was blocking Steams activation request.

This didn't occur to me as everything else was working, and my firewall didn't give a warning that new kind of connection was attempted.

After tweaking the firewall I got the game working.

All this could've been avoided if the error message would've been clearer (e.g. check your firewall). Or even that I'd seen "can't connect to key server".

All in all, Steam's system for support could (and should!) be much better. This happened because the error message was very cryptic and unclear + their support site's search did not bring me relevant results with the error message.


Danielvest35 said...

Thanks sooooooooooooooooooooooo much

Winstonchangwin said...

Dude. I know this must have been annoying for you, but you saved me from going through all that. Thank you so much <3

Connor said...

If you knew some coding (no I don't expect everyone to and I'm not insulting you) you can see that it TRIED to display an error message with all its little silicon heart. Someone just probably screwed up a single line of code that they didn't test extensively enough. It's just one of those errors that usually fixes if you wait for a while and sometimes if you try a reset.

Also; sorry for the necropost, I realize the info is completely useless for you but if someone stumbled across this and the bug hasn't been fixed (by some severe display of ineptitude.)

All in all, It's a UI error combined with a server complication.

Connor said...

Then again, it is always good to check firewalls in case the program doesn't come with a firewall exception as steam apparently used not to.

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