I am seeing a lot of hate here for steam.
I don't think it's hate. More like an awakening of the awareness that one big fish in the pond that eats all smaller fish may not really be beneficial for a healthy balance in the long run.
Statistics that say that 98% of the PC gamers use Steam are a bit misleading if you consider that plenty of games aren't sold elsewhere, or require Steam even if you do buy them elsewhere. What strategy fan, for example, didn't get Civ5? So they too count as a Steam user even if they bought it in a store. Once you start using Steam and have to run it (and thus get exposed to ads), it's not a big decision to keep using it for convenience. The more games you have on there, the more you use it and the more you get stuck. Vicious circle.
But that aside, personally, I do like the technical aspects of Steam, the convenience, and the community features. I'm not having trouble with either of those, and I'm fully aware of why Stardock utilizes them. It's a smart business decision and I have no doubts that Brad is perfectly aware of the dangers of quasi monopolies (he used to write about that until he realized that philosophies alone don't put food on the table; plus, plenty of people DO want a Steam version and wouldn't buy if there was none).
But I don't think that it's good that PC gaming depends on one distributor that slowly suffocates every alternative.