Digital Distribution: The Other Guys

thiosk

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Sep 18, 2008
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I was reading through your list of articles about Games for Windows LIVE, having a good chuckle, as it so perfectly matches my experience.

Then, buried in the comments of another site, I found this absolute little gem of a comment by a fella named Swimon, which I have reproduced here, free of charge, and aside from the fact that the dude eats pineapple on his pizza, it is solid gold.

Enjoy.

some dude named swimon from another website said:
[HEADING=2]What would it be like if GFWL was a pizza delivery service? [/HEADING]
I can see it now: you order a pizza wait a few minutes and then he arrives. A tall man with a blank empty stare
-?what do you want??
-?A Hawaii, how much is that?? I answer
-?800 microsoft points?. Confused I look at him like he just said he was 8 Tesla tall.
-?Ok? Can I buy those? If so how much for 800 Microsoft points.?
-?20$ for 1000 Microsoft points.?
-?I only want 800 though.?
-?20$ for 1000 Microsoft points.?
-??Whatever here.? At this point I?m severely creeped out and just want him gone so I give him the money.
-?Ok you have bought the pizza.?
-?I gathered that? So? are you going to bring me it?? Several minutes passes as he stares at me, or rather through me at the wall behind me.
-?Ok you have the Pizza.? I look around just in case I missed something but find no Pizza.
-?I do not, I think it?s still in your car.? He says nothing, after a while I realise there is no way around this and goes out to the car and get the pizza myself as I return he actually answers.
-?See you have the pizza.?

Confused angry and tired I close the door in his face, but before I can shut it he slams it open grabs me by the arm and pulls a gun. At this time I?m inches away from pissing my pants.
-?We are updating our services, do you agree? Note that if you do not you will not be able to use the ordered pizza.?
-?Sure? I peep, convinced that these are my last minutes of this world. He stares at me for a short while and then he leaves without a word.

Half a pizza later I have almost successfully repressed this memory when I suddenly hear his voice again.
-?You have eaten half the pizza.? Before I can call 911 he has already left without another word.

Ok so that got somewhat long-winded. Bottom line: I HATE GFWL it?s worse than most DRM, it?s worse than some malware and it?s just plain rude.
 

Scrythe

Premium Gasoline
Jun 23, 2009
2,368
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Shamus, I'm actually quite shocked that you haven't mentioned Desura [http://www.desura.com/] yet.

It's an online distribution platform and community that supports mods and has quite a collection under it's belt. It even has an expansive amount of indie titles as well.

On top of that, if you picked up any of the Royal Indie Bundles, most of the mods are compatible with Desura (including some that are not compatible with Steam).

It's worth checking out:

http://www.desura.com/
 

LorienvArden

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Feb 28, 2011
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I kinda miss desura on that list as well - they might not compete with steam or Origin, but they serve a very important nieche clientel that might become very important as smaller studios gain marketshares from the DRM-crazy big guys.

Shamus Young said:
This isn't a comprehensive study. It's my own analysis of the major players.
Well, fair enough, but for a balanced analysis, I'ld at least mention the smaller players.
 

LegoDudeGuy

Young punks, get off my lawn.
Jun 9, 2010
154
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Why has no one mentioned he forgot Onlive?

I love that service! (Mainly because I can play games I could normally not play on my crappy PC, and also that I can just replay the 30 min demo on Homefront for as long as I want :3)
 

Smooth Operator

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Oct 5, 2010
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These guys need to learn from each other, while Steam offers almost everything the service has gotten extremely cumbersome, to the point that games work far better with a non Steam patch and browsing games is quicker if you go to their site through a regular browser.

Actually I just wish the smaller guys would pick up from Steam and learn from their mistakes, expand your game library to become a feasible replacement, make a tighter website, offer more discounts, make an ultra lightweight but optional client,but most importantly do not waste peoples time (load games first do all the other shit in the background).
Just overall cater to the customer and not to yourself, offer people a better experience then Steam and you can easily get them to jump ship.
 

Casimir_Effect

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Aug 26, 2010
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Shamus Young said:
Casimir_Effect said:
Sorry but it feels a little disingenuous for you to have made an article like this and missed out:
Direct2Drive / Gamefly
Green Man Gaming
Get Games
Amazon digital download (which seems to be trying to make Steam look bad at the moment).

Surely it wouldn't have taken much research to factor these companies into the equation, although I'll admit revenue figures for digital distribution are hard to come by. Get Games in particular is a small company but right now had Deus Ex: HR for £9 and Serious Sam 3 for £10.
"disingenuous" implies that I was being dishonest. I said very clearly at the top of the post that I haven't used D2D. Moreover, yes, with "some research" I could have found out about those other service, but knowing they exist is not the same as using them. It would have taken more than a "little" research to buy games and evaluate them all.

This isn't a comprehensive study. It's my own analysis of the major players.
I was using it more to imply a lack of sincerity as opposed to dishonesty, as I read your comment about not having used D2D. I'm just surprised you wouldn't ask those who read your blog or follow your twitter (if you have one) their opinion on the various other services. Polling the readership is quite a common data-gathering method.
 

erbkaiser

Romanorum Imperator
Jun 20, 2009
1,137
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I like Gamersgate, but mainly because I am a longtime Paradox fan. They are just not competitive enough with Steam for non-strategy mainstream games, especially in sales.

GFWL? They destroyed my Fable III saves just the other day. "Corrupted" for some inane reason, and since the files are encrypted I can't even use some else's.

As for Origin... the client is awful, and while I /could/ activate my copy of Mass Effect 2, it refuses my key for Mass Effect 1. Hit and miss, but at least it isn't as awful as GFWL.
 

rayen020

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May 20, 2009
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okay shamus are we going to have regular expeienced points again? because i've missed them. is this just a short stretch of a few articles to tease us or i'm i going to have thoughts on gaming provoked on fridays again? just asking so i'm not angry/mad/dissappointed when i don't see these on fridays.

OT; i haven't really used anything other than steam. I'm one of those old fashioned people that prefer physical copies. It annoys me to no end when a physical discs just have a steam install and a install code, but i see the writing on the wall. I'm still resistant to Origin and i'm not crazy about any other platforms... but well i may hae to deal with it.

As for games for windows live... i don't think it's fair to call it digital distrubution platform, thats an insult to all other DD platforms. I'd say it more of a disease that costs money. maybe legitimized malware.
 

DeadlyYellow

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Jun 18, 2008
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I mostly use Steam and GOG.

I looked at Impulse before, having been installed alongside GalCiv2. After seeing Freespace 2 on there for $19.99, I decided it wasn't really worth my business.
 

Tanis

The Last Albino
Aug 30, 2010
5,264
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Not a HUGE fan of Steam (DRM of any kind has me boycotting (or at least buying new) EVERY Ubisoft/EA game for example)...and that's how it feels whenever I use Steam - if it decides to work.

But, on the other hand, I L-O-V-E Good Old Games.
I've probably toss more than I should have at them.
 

CCountZero

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Sep 20, 2008
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Shamus Young said:
For example, I've never used Direct2Drive. Nothing against them, I just haven't experienced their service before.
I have, and they've been my favorite for a while now.

The download program they provide has been hassle-free, and they'll still let you download your stuff without using it.

Outside of the US, they're often cheaper than Steam, but then, so is retail. Generally, Steam is HUGELY overpriced once you cross the pond.

More than a few times, I've been throughly puzzled by how a game like, say, MW3 or Black Ops, could cost 40% less off D2D compared to Steam, only to find out that said game needs to bind itself to my Steam account, after which I get the same as everyone else. Makes no sense.

I've also been a long-time paying subscriber to IGN, which among other things netted me a 15% discount off D2D, something which has paid for the sub a few times over by now.

But alas, D2D is actually merging with GameFly, as it were. One can only hope they're as hassle-free under a different banner.
 

UnderGlass

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Jan 12, 2012
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omicron1 said:
The other relatively big player (and honestly one of the more interesting ones right now) is Direct2Drive, recently rebranded/taken over by "Gamefly."

Nothing much seems to have changed this time around, aside from the fact that all prior owners of D2D games were told to download them off the service now, because continued offerings were not guaranteed.
In other words, a digital shop changed hands, and customer's goods may disappear.

Currently, the relaunch has happened, and ~65% of my D2D library is no longer available. (the rest requiring a separate downloadable digital storefront to be running)

This is a nightmarish vision of the future of unsuccessful business ventures in this realm: If the store you buy things from goes under, your things vanish. If any of the big players go under, hundreds of thousands to millions may lose the things they bought. Which is as good an argument as I've ever heard for limiting the number of players in this particular field.

(Also, what about OnLive?)
The account transferral process only just began on Tuesday. To be fair I think it might be a little early to call disaster on it. On Wednesday I noticed several things weren't listed on my account history and sent a support ticket asking if I should be concerned. They responded within 6 hours telling me it was a known issue, it wasn't just me and that their migration techs were working on it. 2 days later and my account history is up to date. That's an understandable hiccup and perfectly acceptable customer service if you ask me.

I got their emails weeks ago letting me know about the merge and the potential for the odd title to not make the cut on the new service. They assured me that affected games' owners would be contacted (presumably for voucher/credit) and that all other games would be rolled into the service in the following months.

I was also encouraged to download and backup anything I might want to play in the near future to avoid unnecessary inconvenience. Frankly, they gave me ample time to do so and were very upfront about the situation. What else could you ask of them? I'm sorry I just don't see the nightmarish vision of the future in that.
 

Bobic

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Nov 10, 2009
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Thank you Shamus.

Dawn of War 2, on sale on Gamersgate, 75% off, £3.75. Bargain. Added to Steam library. Yay.
 

omicron1

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Mar 26, 2008
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UnderGlass said:
omicron1 said:
The other relatively big player (and honestly one of the more interesting ones right now) is Direct2Drive, recently rebranded/taken over by "Gamefly."

Nothing much seems to have changed this time around, aside from the fact that all prior owners of D2D games were told to download them off the service now, because continued offerings were not guaranteed.
In other words, a digital shop changed hands, and customer's goods may disappear.

Currently, the relaunch has happened, and ~65% of my D2D library is no longer available. (the rest requiring a separate downloadable digital storefront to be running)

This is a nightmarish vision of the future of unsuccessful business ventures in this realm: If the store you buy things from goes under, your things vanish. If any of the big players go under, hundreds of thousands to millions may lose the things they bought. Which is as good an argument as I've ever heard for limiting the number of players in this particular field.

(Also, what about OnLive?)
The account transferral process only just began on Tuesday. To be fair I think it might be a little early to call disaster on it. On Wednesday I noticed several things weren't listed on my account history and sent a support ticket asking if I should be concerned. They responded within 6 hours telling me it was a known issue, it wasn't just me and that their migration techs were working on it. 2 days later and my account history is up to date. That's an understandable hiccup and perfectly acceptable customer service if you ask me.

I got their emails weeks ago letting me know about the merge and the potential for the odd title to not make the cut on the new service. They assured me that affected games' owners would be contacted (presumably for voucher/credit) and that all other games would be rolled into the service in the following months.

I was also encouraged to download and backup anything I might want to play in the near future to avoid unnecessary inconvenience. Frankly, they gave me ample time to do so and were very upfront about the situation. What else could you ask of them? I'm sorry I just don't see the nightmarish vision of the future in that.
It's not an actual disaster so much as a preview of what one could look like; a realization that all the stuff in many digital libraries may one day go "poof."
 

DTWolfwood

Better than Vash!
Oct 20, 2009
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I do like Desura for its built in Mod Manager Support. I use it for all the Homeworld 2 mod i play :p

As other users pointed out to me, you can activate your Steam copies of Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 on Origin. I tried it myself, and it worked.
Y THE FUCK AREN'T THEY SAYING ANYTHING ABOUT THIS ?!?!

Seriously i have to find out about it second hand? At the least i am slightly less jaded about them now knowing i can "double up" sorta speak on my EA titles, so if for some unholy reason i lose my steam account some1 games can be salvaged!
 

SandroTheMaster

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Apr 2, 2009
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Impulse is by far my favorite. EVEN after the buyout from Gamestop. It still has a very unintrusive DRM (most think Steam's DRM is unintrusive, the number of times a month I'm blocked from a Steam game would disagree), you can play them without starting the platform, but still has a platform for practical updates and downloads (I can't use GamersGate because of this. I've restarted GamersGate installations more times than I care to pretend remembering.

The only problem is that Impulse was simply incapable of selling AAA titles outside the US/Canada (so, namely, my country). I've not seem an improvement yet with GameStop... Skyrim was region locked, and I really, REALLY didn't want to have it on Steam since I only play recent Bethesda games with Mods in order to A) make them PC games instead of console Ports, B) make them actually work. Steam is a pain to install mods on its games...

So, I'm yet to ever be blocked from a game I've bought on Impulse. Modding is a breeze since the game isn't buried deep under a mountain of folders. Downloading, installation and updating goes smoothly and without lies. Doesn't need to start the platform in order to play a game.

Heck, I don't know why I still use steam.

Oh... right... the games I wan't usually aren't available in my country through Impulse, because Steam has the monopoly on games around the world it seems... (Their justification is that the game's publishers won't allow them to sell overseas)
 

SandroTheMaster

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Apr 2, 2009
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DTWolfwood said:
I do like Desura for its built in Mod Manager Support. I use it for all the Homeworld 2 mod i play :p

As other users pointed out to me, you can activate your Steam copies of Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 on Origin. I tried it myself, and it worked.
Y THE FUCK AREN'T THEY SAYING ANYTHING ABOUT THIS ?!?!

Seriously i have to find out about it second hand? At the least i am slightly less jaded about them now knowing i can "double up" sorta speak on my EA titles, so if for some unholy reason i lose my steam account some1 games can be salvaged!
There's a very good (and by good, I mean horrible) reason they're not advertising it.

They're hoping the people who already own the game will buy it again from them after Mass Effect 3 launches.

Classic EA at its worst...
 

chronobreak

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Sep 6, 2008
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OnLive should get some love. It gives gamers access to games they may not normally be able to run without the hassles of installs, and their prices are reasonable, and they offer different pricing schemes. Can't believe this wasn't mentioned.
 

Roganzar

Winter is coming
Jun 13, 2009
513
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As for the input the codes for MAss Effect and Mass Effect 2, I just tried that a little while ago and it wouldn't let me use them. I bought both via Steam so that might be a factor.
Any ideas to get around the problem, well minor problem. It's not like I can't play these games via Steam, but I'm curious and probably not the only one discovering the issue.