online Digital sales- good or bad?

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clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009

Been pretty quiet here the last few days, I have refrained from adding to the 3DS and Ipad threads as I think Im the only counterpoint in them (said with a grin). I been reading how Stardock sold IMPULSE to gamestop and the plan on taking on STEAM. STEAM pretty much is the defacto for how to run a good Digital games site, but that is just and opinion. It seems the guys who sold Impluse really think gamestop has a chance to dethrone STEAM, I was wondering waht you guys all thought?

Personally, I cant see STEAM errr lossing steam .. they are not going to be overtaken buy anybody for a few reasons. many games use mulitplayer as a key component and STEAM pretty much stops any piracy if you want multiplayer, sure the pirate versions ahve pirate servers, but most multiplayer people like to brag, and you need a bigger audieance then a pirate version can bring you,not to mention the rampent cheating and frustration most pirate servers bring. STEAM has used the very basic idea of hooking them with free games, addicting them, then make um pay model. it also helps that they have excellent deals almost everyday, a easy to use web browser like interface and simply put, ads that pop up with the latest news/games/sales when you play any game on it. they have built a very well exacuted ad machine. You are subjected to ads for new products when you play. Normally i would find this annoying, but STEAM has solved one problem I have had with ads, they almost always are SALES, and I want the info, I want to know whats on sale so I dont feel like its an intrusion.

I think my biggest plus is the DRM is built in, so i dont notice it, its has a overlay so serial keys are easy to put in, it has a matchmaking interface so you can play with friends easy, it really does most everything right IMHO. Of course there are some negatives. All is gone if STEAM folds, but I supect there will be some way to play after if that ever happens (afterall most games still have serial keys, and most likly by the time STEAM folds there will be no multiplayer on the games in question). I alos like the ones stop, one shop model, and that may be my biggest gripe on the other stores. much like consoles, i hate exclusives, its almost STUPID on the PC, with consoles there is some sence, programing for each of them is different, but a Pc is a pc is a pc.

I dont want LIVE and STEAM and EA download manger, and [insert digital downlaod program here] on my machine running all the time. One is enough. STEAM did it right, now the rest want to copy.. they need to bring something new, not repeat. GOG is a good example, they are sticking to a specific thing and doing it well.

I hated STEAM when HalfLife2 came out, but they have convereted me. When it came out HD's where smaller, so installing a game, playing and removing it was common, but nowdays, I have 100+ STEAM games installed (why? not sure I cant play um all) but it simple doesnt bother me like it did. maybe its as simple as the great deals it has. An example: Kane and Lynch 2, horribly reviewed game, but one I WANTED, less then a month after release it was on for $10, i got it, enjoyed it (excpet the shakey cam view) and all is well.. I still cant get it for $10 anywhere in a box.. its $39 most places. The big problem with RETAIL is they have no clue on when a product is not worth full price. Go to the local walmart or best buy... half the games are 2-4 years old and still $40+ bucks? On STEAM they are $5 or 10...

the one thing about lossing hte box and physical media is something to consider, but almost every "normal" boxed game now has a cd/dvd ins paper sleeve and about a 7 page basic manual and about 15 pages of "offers"... on the $20 more special editions or Collectors Editions have more, you know, what we used to get in a normal edition of a game, a manual, some do hicky and the media... I can live without it. I have my old games in boxes, I dont need my new ones too.

clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
so sad.... it came alot

so sad.... it came alot quicker thatn I expected. Got my email today that all Netflix plans and prices are changing. Front page news on CNN right now. For a good laugh, read the comments. People seem to think its Netflix greed. Even with people stating the facts that Netflix prices from the studios are going from something like 13 million to close to 1.3 billion (can that be right? I know its going up.. maybe it was 130 million)). To bad stupid people (holy heck, are people really as dence as that thread suggests?) are going to see netflix as the bad guy here. My guess is the studios will price Netflix out of the market, try it themselves and botch it up good (3-4 studios all demanding $10 a month wont fly) and Amazon will hold its own with this cahs supply and come out doing what Netflix is doing now in a few years... and Netflix who pioneered this system will be gone :(

time will tell

Matt Barton
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Joined: 01/16/2006
That's the way big

That's the way big corporations work. They don't take risks. They let the upstarts shoulder all that responsibility, then swoop in with lawyers and lobbyists to take it away from them. On a positive note, I'm sure it's better now--you just take the money and close up shop. Back in the day they'd just sent in "da boys" to "take care of it." Funny how the old gangster rackets with "protection money" and all that are basically just a crude form of what goes in the corporate world.

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clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
All the Netflix stuff is just

All the Netflix stuff is just "maybe" but most are predicting a 2 to 3X increas in waht netflix pays now.. and Netflix simply cant compete with Amazon and others with their Pocketbook. They do have an advantage with people "knowing them" they are failry deeply engrained into currrent hardware so that should give them some advantage. The problem is, this is a REAL market that others want into. Neflix was first, and did a pretty good job. Some of the others may do it better, who knows. The downside ot compations is going to fragemtn the market.. they will use exclusives to "get us" and soon we will Warner Brothers Movies on one, Universal on another etc.. OR worse yet.. they will get back to the $3 a movie thing when one kills the others. Compatition is a good thing most of the time, but I think in this case its going to be ugly for us heavy users.

I guess im just so against small companies finding a nitch market and developing it and the Big guys stepping all over them with money once the little guys have worked out alot of the kinks. Stuff like netscape, Steam, netflix etc.. nobody wanted any part of all this till they seen it was good money, now thay want part of it..

Matt Barton
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Aw, man, I hope you're not

Aw, man, I hope you're not right about Netflix. I've come to love the service and use it everyday.

They just added TOS and TNG and now I'm back into watching those.

The dinosaurs are just going to have to give up their monopolies. I don't think you can roll back the clock now that so many people have got a taste for Netflix and Steam and see the potential. Same for music. If they do start locking down their stuff and forcing people to use a crappy interface to get to a smaller "exclusive" selection, the masses will just go back to torrenting or the millions of illegal streaming sites out there.

These are the same idiots that thought Betamax would destroy the industry. Before that it was cable. If they had their way, there'd be no internet or cable, and we'd all be stuck in the 1950s with two channels showing commercials every 5 minutes.

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clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
The plot thickins.. BF3 wont

The plot thickins.. BF3 wont be availble on STEAM, EA SECOND shot has been fired. Selling on STEAM includes all DLC being sold on steam also, EA didnt want to share (i cant argue this, but you sign a contract, you understand what it means, then cry foul when its inforced) its DLC, (in Crysis 2) so it bypassed STEAM for it.. Steam removed it (and sales dropped to nil) its seince been put back and sales have came back (not a top 10 game anymore, but EA killed ist momentum with that BS. STEAMS contract is pretty plain, all DLC has to go through the steam store, yet EA said they didnt understand this?

Now one of about 5 games made that has pretty much guaranted sales Battelfield 3 is there next shot at STEAM. its to bad.. COD will get anotehr boost.. its already seen as the better of the two (if sales indicate popularity) now EA is going to shoot itself in the foot to try grab some of STEAM thunder.

I was not a fan of steam, but realistic prices, solid download speeds, simple to use browser. I cant fualt any of it. Now that they have succeded where nobody wanted to go (by giving there product away for alomst nothing) the rest aof the greedy buggers want in..

And another Sad note if you are a Netflix fan.. Streaming WILL be alot more expensive in about a year. The studios all signed contracts that specify views.. with the way netflix is growing, all contracts wilbbe Null and void.. and AMAZON, WALMART, etc all want in the action. Netflix is almost a no show when it comes to having bankroll to compete with bigger companies that want in. Look for a MS tactic.. pay outragous money to get the product till your compation cant survive. Start learning how to use AMAZON in the next 6 months. And lets not forget the studios, with declining disc sales and Streaming views going up, they will want a piece of that too.

dark days ahead for the tech we all love. Splinterd Digital services that all want to install bloated software on your machine to keep track of you, video streaming that is predicted to cost about 2 to 3X more than it does now. maybe a good thing, I will spend more time outside then.
All this doom and gloom brought to you by GREED, we all have a little inside us :)

Matt Barton
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Joined: 01/16/2006
You make a lot of great

You make a lot of great points, Rob. I can't see anything I disagree with in principle.

The only thing that does worry me about all this is the belly up prospect. Eventually, it will happen--that company that provides the online authorization will no longer be there or support it. So you simply won't be able to play a game you legitimately bought. The publishers will fall back on their bullshit EULAs, "You don't own it, you just paid to lease the right to play it for a limited time," yadda yadda. You're screwed unless you download a crack file and risk dealing with all the implications of that.

I don't have a problem with digital distribution AT ALL, assuming they are DRM-free or build in safeguards. It'd be nice (but living in dream world) where the online verification goes away after ten years or so, but yeah...I guess it's no worse than the old publishers who made you look up words or use code wheels, not giving a shit that those things would eventually wear out or get lost and the legit owner wouldn't be able to play the game anymore.

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Rowdy Rob
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Joined: 09/04/2006
Defending Digital Distribution

My gaming habits are probably closer to the "mainstream" than many people here at AA, since I am not a "collector" of games. Mark, Matt, Rob, and especially Bill are all known to be videogame collectors, and that's great! But my main priority is to play the games, move on, and in the future, fondly remember the games, or hopefully play them via emulation, abandonware, or "cheapware."

That having been said, I'd prefer to have the boxed versions of the games, but the convenience and cost-effectiveness of "digital" versions are very good tradeoffs. However, even the “boxed” versions come with a horde of inconveniences to the modern PC gamer.

First of all, heavy copy protection techniques require (nine times out of ten) that you must place the original game disc in the drive in order to play the game, meaning having to swap game discs in and out of your drives. With digital versions, you can just click the game icon, and BAM, you’re playing the game.

Another thing about game discs: if the disc becomes damaged in any way, what then? Do you have to buy another copy? Send it in for replacement (if the company is still in business)? Both are major inconveniences compared to the digital solution: re-download your game if the files become corrupted on your hard disc. Of course, you can circumvent these physical media problems via the “back alley” routes, i.e. cracks and pirated copies, but I personally don’t like (or trust) those options.

And now, I will take on one of the main points against “digital” services like Steam or other “digital distribution” systems: the fact that your purchased games might go “in limbo” because the online distributor has gone out of business, possibly deactivating your purchase forever! Consider this....

.... Many (most?) “boxed” games nowadays also have online activation as well! Not only do you have to suffer through heavy disc-based copy protection, you also have to activate your game online on top of that. Some of the newer games even have to “phone home” frequently in order for you to play them! Boxed games are becoming more and more like their “digital” counterparts in this respect, thus negating the supposed “advantage” of boxed games. What if the boxed game publisher goes belly up? Will you still be able to play your “boxed” game?!?!?

Another thing to consider: I can’t even get my stupider posts off the Internet; they’re stuck on the Internet forever! Are you telling me that my digital games will just vanish into nothingness forever if Steam bites the dust?!?!? I’m sure someone will come up with something! Digital data just doesn’t seem to die that easily.

I've bought a fair selection of games on Steam and GOG. It’s convenient, and the “copy protection” is largely transparent, or non-existent in the case of GOG. I don’t have to go to a shopping center, fight for parking space, wait in a long line, get hassled by punks or rude salespeople, and then come home with a bunch of other impulse purchases I didn’t set out to buy just to play the game I wanted. Nor do I have to wait for the boxed version to be delivered via the postal system if I order online. While I do have to wait for the game to download via the digital method, it's much quicker than the old way of acquiring the boxed version, then having to go about the time-consuming process of installing it on your machine.

Digital distribution also allows for indie game publishers to get a much wider audience than might have been possible if they had to go the “boxed” distribution route (if they even made it that far). “Minecraft” or “Super Meat Boy” wouldn’t have had a prayer through the old distribution system, but now “bedroom game programmers” are possible (again) thanks to digital distribution.

I could go on and on.... ok, I will!

“Collectors” like yourselves place great value on the whole package. The artwork on the box, the quality of the printed manual, the physical media, and the “trinkets” are all part of the enjoyment you derived from the game. For mainstream dullards like me, though, I barely paid attention to any of that, and can’t recall anything about the boxes, cover art, or manuals of any of the classic games I’ve played/owned. I DO remember the games themselves, though. The game experience itself is what I cherish above everything. I DO like the trinkets, though... I’m looking at my “Darwinia” keychain right now! (Darwinia is a GREAT game, BTW!)

I could go on and on... well, I’ll spare you all and just sum it all up.

Think about this: “digital” distribution allows for more “common person” developers to get their games out, allows for less copy-protection hassles, allows for cheaper game distribution, allows for wider distribution, allows for quicker distribution, allows for more innovative games to surface, and allows for more money to go to the actual developers and less to “middle men.” In short, digital distribution DEMOCRATIZES games! Smaller development companies have a better chance to compete in the marketplace, and poor people can play more games! These sound like things someone like MATT would normally champion, not lament!

The “Darwinia” keychain is nice, though! :-)

Matt Barton
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Joined: 01/16/2006
I think it's an unpleasant

I think it's an unpleasant but inevitable thing, really. It's just makes so much more sense to sell a digital product digitally--why waste all the money it costs to print and ship it? The only real answer to that question is that people want those extras so much they're willing to pay for them...but even guys like us are settling.

A lot of this is just mental holdover, too. We're used to buying games in boxes, so this new thing is disturbing. Same thing with books. "I prefer to read on paper instead of a screen." Well, no shit, Sherlock. That's what we're used to. You think you can suddenly reverse a lifetime habit and jump straight to a new thing? Hell, no. Our youngest kids, though, who skip books and go straight to screen--if you let them--they'll think we're idiots.

Another piece is archiving. Back in the day, you bought a game, you figured it was yours forever (assuming you took care of it and had a working platform to run it on). I have 20+ year old games on my shelf that I can still play today. Who knows if that is true for STEAM? It's not like saying, well, the Commodore 64 isn't around anymore, so those games are unplayable. You can still (with relative ease) get the hardware. But what if STEAM goes down? There might (hopefully) be a nice group of guys and gals who take it upon themselves to offer the service in some altered form, but it might also just go kaput, like an old MMO that goes down. Even if I wanted to, how I could I play Tabula Rasa?

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