Complaining about Steam is like complaining about Windows.
Not at all. Apples to asteroids.
I chose what I buy and what I ignore. For some games, be it future GalCivIII or present XCOM, I'm willing to "suffer" Steamworks (I survived Dawn of War 2's Steamworks+GamesForWindows...). But let's say that in general, except for those few exceptions, when I run a game, I don't want to also run the Notepad++, or the VLC player, or the Paint or who knows what else. I just want to run the game which I paid for. I don't car about footprints or mumbo jumbos. If I don't need the Notepad++ to run in order to play my game, it should stay off.
And then you say: "But Steamworks requires you to run Steam so GTFO". Steamworks offers me nothing but publishers/developers insist of trying to convince me that I love it. I don't. Neither do I hate it. I don't need the social stuff (never used it). I don't need the achievements. I don't need the screenshot feature. I don't need it to autoupdate my game (I can check myself that stuff, thanks). I couldn't care less about multiplayer stuff. I don't care about the adds when I close a game (WTF???). So basically, having to start Steam to play the (very few) games bought in Steam with my hard earned money is quite pointless to me. It'd be almost like requiring Facebook integration to play GalCivIII (I have never cancelled a pre-order but for this, I would cancel it).
As I see it, and probably I'm alone, developers/publishers (in general, big/middle ones) are becoming very lazy and greedy (it has been like that for a while). Abusing internet use to release crappola that may or may not be fixed ("It's ok, we have internet so you can download the patches!"), force undesired features by suspicious/baffling reasons (Sim City what?),...
I'm not a Steam(works) hater. I'm a Steamfanboy hater though. Steam(works) takes away some choices while giving others. I may accept that for some games (which I can count with the fingers of one hand) but that doesn't mean that I like it, just that I have already assumed that the shortsight of the industry has already doomed us.
The good news are all those indie gems out there...