Experienced Points

Experienced Points
I Have Seen The Future, And it is Annoying

Shamus Young | 22 Jan 2010 21:00
Experienced Points - RSS 2.0

And despite having three programs trying to be "in charge" of the game, Rockstar still felt the need to include SecuROM. So I was really running five programs: The game itself, and four other stupid, useless hangers-on to eat up memory, cause problems, and make things more complicated.

You can see how deals like this are created. Every company will want gamers to use their platform. So any time two companies make some sort of deal, they will each try to shoehorm their own platform into the game. Developer, publisher, and distributor. I now dread a future where the software interface for a game will be every bit as complicated as the legal relationship between the companies who brought it to market.

This senseless layering of superfluous programs is even more evident in the DRM arena. Batman Arkham Asylum came to the PC on Steam, but they also included SecuROM and online activation. BioShock 2 will do the same stupid thing. Even for highly-paid idiots who don't understand how DRM works it should be clear that whatever they fantasize SecuROM is doing, Steam is already doing. Only better.

They keep calling these digital delivery platform things "stores". The Steam store, EA Store, etc. That's how the people that made them view it. They see it as a store from from which to sell you games. But brick and mortar stores are usually interchangeable. I give them money and they give me a product and the deal ends. I don't take the store home with me. But with a digital store the purchase is just the beginning. Once you buy from them, you will have their "store" running on your computer. Forever. (Or at least, for as long as you want to have access to the game. If you uninstall the store, you can't play the game.) This can apply even when you buy a physical copy of the game. (I bought Velvet Assassin this year for reasons I won't get into, and the game still requires Steam even though I own a physical copy.)

It will take a few years for all of this to shake out. I don't know who will win in the end (aside from Valve, who was already winning before anyone else thought to join the game) but I'm pretty sure it won't be gamers.

Shamus Young is the guy behind Reset Button, Twenty Sided, DM of the Rings, and Stolen Pixels.

Comments on