Steam is an awesome service however I finally got around to purchasing Empire: Total War and Steam is my worst enemy for that game. The game is nearly unplayable b/c I cannot read the fonts - they are blurry and out of focus. I've tried every resolution, every graphic setting, etc., and nothing fixes it. The forums for the game give stupid answers like selecting your native resolution and so forth - obviously which do nothing to fix the problem. The problem started after patch 1.3 according to most so I thought I'll just install it, set Steam so it does not auto-update the game, and problem solved. Problem is Steam's auto-update option seems to be broken and/or games can override it which means your games will auto-update regardless of the setting.
This is a huge problem. I will not patch a game unless I know for sure it doesn't break existing functionality...and often times they do. Patches and the QA behind them are normally less than satisfactory so I'm very leery of applying any of them. Some companies do a very good job and some act as if they are just trying to put out a possible fire without really testing the changes well and thus break other parts of the game. I do find that companies that release buggy patches often then will not make good on their errors and before you know it the game is totally hosed and they won't fix it and instead offer up excuses and blame it on the user. Game companies, in general, must change their customer support policies because quite honestly they are terrible. Most involve blaming the customer for the problem which is completely unacceptable.
But the core problem is that Steam won't allow me to turn auto-update off and ETW requires Steam for installation (a very dumb idea that I hope no other studios latch onto). I don't mind Steam for games I downloaded but forcing me to use Steam to install is laziness on the side of the publisher or developers or whoever is responsible for the installation process. Also if you know that your customer is going to be forced to auto-update the game then by all means run your patches through rigorous QA before releasing them. As it stands now I cannot play this game without going blind and I seriously doubt I will ever by another Total War series. Too bad b/c I have every one of them up to this point (save Napolean: Total War) and have been a loyal fan of the series.
The devs also tried to blame NVidia for the problem (a sure sign they messed up somewhere and won't admit it) and NVidia says nothing about it in their release notes. Telling customers to revert drivers back to some ancient version is ignorant. No one is going to do that and I'm certainly not going to do that to get 1 game out of 300 to run on my system.