Opinion: The Digital Future Might be Broken

Opinion: The Digital Future Might be Broken

The promise of an all-digital future that began with the rollout of Steam 15 years ago next week has increasingly become a reality. Will it be everything we hoped?

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I already don't buy ea games since I refuse to fuck with Origin and I don't buy ubisoft games since I don't want to fuck with uplay. Probably won't get anymore activision games since fuck battle.net, but I do really hope Spyro comes to steam.

Really the only digital store fronts I put up with are Steam and Gog Galaxy.

I enjoy the Far Cry series enough to jump through the Uplay hoop. I've never installed Origin. EA hasn't made anything I felt I couldn't live without in some time, and the last thing they did I approved of was to kick Tim Langdell to the curb in court. Otherwise, they mostly seem to be a nightmare of evil operating under a cycle of "We do it because it's the industry standard, it's the industry standard because we do it, lather, rinse, repeat."

We live in strange times. The point about the fragmentation of online play services and the undermining of physical store fronts is a good one, but it's disturbing that we're seeing similar upheavals in many places- Amazon squeezing out other retailers; Disney, Amazon, HBO, Showtime, and even Youtube trying to pull the rug from beneath Netflix, even as Netflix all but rendered brick and mortar video rental extinct (leaving me wondering where I can even find many movies I'd love to show my daughter... Except maybe by buying them from, yes, Amazon).

Welcome back to the Escapist, Christina.

To be honest I've even gotten sick of Steam due to their clumsy business practices. The only digital storefront I really frequent is GOG because of them essentially curating old classics.

I wish we didn't need "platforms" at all and could just buy installers off a website, since that is one of the big advantages of desktop operating systems. Part of the problem is that games desperately need to be patched regularly and the real platform holders, Apple and Microsoft, have no intention of adding a decentralized patching system. It's in their best interests to only allow such a thing through their app stores. Linux has a similar limitation, mainly because Linux software that costs money is still something of a novelty and almost entirely limited to Steam stuff anyway. And in-app patching systems (like Firefox has) don't provide a way for patches to be pushed when the app isn't running, so you'd be like "I'm gonna play this game! ...Oh, they put out a patch; guess I'll have to wait half a bloody hour."

The other part of the problem is of course DRM, that dinosaur that refuses to die. There are DRM options that work without a launcher app, naturally, like Denuvo, but those still have a reputation for being intrusive or a security risk or whatever. Is Origin's DRM less bad than Denuvo? Couldn't tell you; I never bothered looking into it, because when EA launched Origin was conveniently right around the same time they stopped making any decent games.

I still buy discs whenever possible. Not having a physical disc available has actually deterred me from buying some games in the past. I really do not like to purchase anything digital outside of MMO's because it feels like I am throwing money away. It is easy to sell the physical game when you are done with it or bored on FB, ebay, garage sale for more than what Gamestop will pay you for it. With a disc you can get your money back and then use that money on something you are not bored with already. The great thing about discs is if you do not like the game, you can sell it easily and are not out all the money spent. In addition the sales on discs are usually so much better and easily to find used anywhere so you get much more for the money spent. If I preorder a game new, I always make sure I get something with it like an action figure, statue, pip boy or some other collectible as well.

I feel it is a much better value to buy the physical game, and don't have to worry about someone being able hijack it back via old credit statements and security questions after they sold you their code.

Steve the Pocket:
I wish we didn't need "platforms" at all and could just buy installers off a website, since that is one of the big advantages of desktop operating systems. Part of the problem is that games desperately need to be patched regularly and the real platform holders, Apple and Microsoft, have no intention of adding a decentralized patching system. It's in their best interests to only allow such a thing through their app stores. Linux has a similar limitation, mainly because Linux software that costs money is still something of a novelty and almost entirely limited to Steam stuff anyway. And in-app patching systems (like Firefox has) don't provide a way for patches to be pushed when the app isn't running, so you'd be like "I'm gonna play this game! ...Oh, they put out a patch; guess I'll have to wait half a bloody hour."

The other part of the problem is of course DRM, that dinosaur that refuses to die. There are DRM options that work without a launcher app, naturally, like Denuvo, but those still have a reputation for being intrusive or a security risk or whatever. Is Origin's DRM less bad than Denuvo? Couldn't tell you; I never bothered looking into it, because when EA launched Origin was conveniently right around the same time they stopped making any decent games.

Really the only way to do away with platforms is if streaming gaming takes over. Which... I mean it kinda works but i doubt it will ever manage to get past the latency issue.

Platform fees of 30% are unjustifiable, when somebody else has just spent millions developing a game. You can see why the big developers are getting a little peeved.

Lil devils x:
I still buy discs whenever possible. Not having a physical disc available has actually deterred me from buying some games in the past. I really do not like to purchase anything digital outside of MMO's because it feels like I am throwing money away. It is easy to sell the physical game when you are done with it or bored on FB, ebay, garage sale for more than what Gamestop will pay you for it. With a disc you can get your money back and then use that money on something you are not bored with already. The great thing about discs is if you do not like the game, you can sell it easily and are not out all the money spent. In addition the sales on discs are usually so much better and easily to find used anywhere so you get much more for the money spent. If I preorder a game new, I always make sure I get something with it like an action figure, statue, pip boy or some other collectible as well.

I feel it is a much better value to buy the physical game, and don't have to worry about someone being able hijack it back via old credit statements and security questions after they sold you their code.

The thing is, this is more than compensated by the frequent 90% discount sales. I used to hate digital purchases, but I'm happy to buy the same game in digital for a tenth of the price...

Catnip1024:
Platform fees of 30% are unjustifiable, when somebody else has just spent millions developing a game. You can see why the big developers are getting a little peeved.
...

They can ask that much because they have a virtual monopoly on the platform. I love steam, but I do worry that there is not a good alternative.

Catnip1024:
Platform fees of 30% are unjustifiable, when somebody else has just spent millions developing a game. You can see why the big developers are getting a little peeved.

Lil devils x:
I still buy discs whenever possible. Not having a physical disc available has actually deterred me from buying some games in the past. I really do not like to purchase anything digital outside of MMO's because it feels like I am throwing money away. It is easy to sell the physical game when you are done with it or bored on FB, ebay, garage sale for more than what Gamestop will pay you for it. With a disc you can get your money back and then use that money on something you are not bored with already. The great thing about discs is if you do not like the game, you can sell it easily and are not out all the money spent. In addition the sales on discs are usually so much better and easily to find used anywhere so you get much more for the money spent. If I preorder a game new, I always make sure I get something with it like an action figure, statue, pip boy or some other collectible as well.

I feel it is a much better value to buy the physical game, and don't have to worry about someone being able hijack it back via old credit statements and security questions after they sold you their code.

The thing is, this is more than compensated by the frequent 90% discount sales. I used to hate digital purchases, but I'm happy to buy the same game in digital for a tenth of the price...

Why would I want to play any of the games that are 90% off though when I have already played them by the time they put the digital on sale for that price?You can by a used discounted copy a week after the game has come out, not wait a year or more after the game is released for a sale that only happens once sales of that game have dropped off so you miss being able t play the game with the most people. They do not put new releases on sale for that unless the game totally bombed. It is like following the fair, you show up after the show is over and everyone has left already. I like to play games when the games are still popular and you have plenty of competition.

You used to be cool, Valve, you used to care.

Lil devils x:
Why would I want to play any of the games that are 90% off though when I have already played them by the time they put the digital on sale for that price?You can by a used discounted copy a week after the game has come out, not wait a year or more after the game is released for a sale that only happens once sales of that game have dropped off so you miss being able t play the game with the most people. They do not put new releases on sale for that unless the game totally bombed. It is like following the fair, you show up after the show is over and everyone has left already. I like to play games when the games are still popular and you have plenty of competition.

I figured out a long time ago that life is exponentially cheaper the further into the past you are prepared to live technologically. Buy games two years after release, save a hefty chunk. Limit yourselves to games designed for system requirements five years old, save yourself 2k on a gaming PC.

Same works with phones, cars (although overall more risky because of the lemons), and pretty much anything else.

Catnip1024:

Lil devils x:
Why would I want to play any of the games that are 90% off though when I have already played them by the time they put the digital on sale for that price?You can by a used discounted copy a week after the game has come out, not wait a year or more after the game is released for a sale that only happens once sales of that game have dropped off so you miss being able t play the game with the most people. They do not put new releases on sale for that unless the game totally bombed. It is like following the fair, you show up after the show is over and everyone has left already. I like to play games when the games are still popular and you have plenty of competition.

I figured out a long time ago that life is exponentially cheaper the further into the past you are prepared to live technologically. Buy games two years after release, save a hefty chunk. Limit yourselves to games designed for system requirements five years old, save yourself 2k on a gaming PC.

Same works with phones, cars (although overall more risky because of the lemons), and pretty much anything else.

I pretty much do the opposite, I live in the future by building my own PC with parts that just came out of the warehouse by ordering them directly from manufacturers and bypassing retail outlets. I ALSO receive them for less than what the end user does, but I am far ahead of what is being sold in prebuilt PC's you find in stores. My father actually designed and built one of my cars, it is custom and there isn't another one like it.

When you finally get to play games after they are no longer popular, you lose much of the community aspect. I usually play games with friends and family so when new games come out we all get them at the same time to be able to play them. I am in guilds/ clans that will move from game to game and play them together. Often, we play against other guilds/clans we are familiar with and have rivalries. This adds to the fun of the game for us and increases the level of competition. If I waited until everyone stopped playing a game to play it, it would be lonely and dull in comparison. I really don't see the point in doing that.

Lil devils x:
I pretty much do the opposite, I live in the future by building my own PC with parts that just came out of the warehouse by ordering them directly from manufacturers and bypassing retail outlets. I ALSO receive them for less than what the end user does, but I am far ahead of what is being sold in prebuilt PC's you find in stores. My father actually designed and built one of my cars, it is custom and there isn't another one like it.

When you finally get to play games after they are no longer popular, you lose much of the community aspect. I usually play games with friends and family so when new games come out we all get them at the same time to be able to play them. I am in guilds/ clans that will move from game to game and play them together. Often, we play against other guilds/clans we are familiar with and have rivalries. This adds to the fun of the game for us and increases the level of competition. If I waited until everyone stopped playing a game to play it, it would be lonely and dull in comparison. I really don't see the point in doing that.

There are two aspects to gaming - single player and multiplayer. Single player is effectively timeless, and multiplayer can generally be done just as well on consoles, most of the time. Which are still generally cheaper and more accessible.

Setting aside the fact that the great multiplayer games tend to retain players well beyond the one year curve. Look at Counter-Strike or WoW, for instance.

I hope I'm wrong, but eventually without Net Neutrality, the only place to buy anything online will be owned by your ISP.

Worgen:
I already don't buy ea games since I refuse to fuck with Origin and I don't buy ubisoft games since I don't want to fuck with uplay. Probably won't get anymore activision games since fuck battle.net, but I do really hope Spyro comes to steam.

Really the only digital store fronts I put up with are Steam and Gog Galaxy.

I guess you fully support Comcast being the only cable company and AT&T being the only mobile company.

Why are companies moving from the big digital stores if they can? because the 30% cut isn't just on the for sale price anymore it's 30% of every microtransaction which adds up to a lot of money for nothing but an access portal.

The funny thing about the Valve/Bethesda thing is that they're parting ways at a time when they are both falling out of favor.

Bethesda isn't at the top of their game right now, Fallout 4 isn't being looked back at as fondly as Skyrim, and alot of good will was pissed away with their failed paid DLC initiatives. If they're going their own way, they need a better anticipated game than Fallout 76 to get people to try out their new platform.

Valve? Well, I look at the store page and I have no idea what 90% of the shit they're selling is or why it's there. I switched to making my major purchases on GoG because they have a storefront that can be navigated and sells mildly interesting products. The only reason I still have Steam installed is because Japanese Console developers don't know how to PC and are too hapless to release their games on anything but Steam.

I think this will really bite Bethesda. I like Bethesda games, but they make like one every 4 years. I'm going to forget my password. I might even change my email. Maintaining an account it work. I don't want to do it from single games.

It really all boils down to point of view and I know this was an opinion piece, but it just seems like your information on the other platforms is out of date. Steam had a lot of problems when it was first launched just like Origin, Uplay took a lot time to get its act together.

Right now my biggest problem with Origin is that when I go to use it there always seems to be an update for it. My problems with Steam now are growing at a point where I don't trust Valve, Steam is now coming across as a company that just like any other major publisher is concerned only about making as much money as possible for minimal work. That started to become to light when they had that public breakup with EA when they changed their policies to force publishers to sell all DLC through Steam so they could get all that extra percentages of sales.

My biggest problem with Valve and has been over the last few years is how hands off they are of their platform. I really don't care if they decide that deciding a quality level for games is where they don't want to go. The problem I have is that they are allowing scams and invasive software to be sold on their platform and only taking a stance when players find those problems. If they are making all this money off sales they should have systems in place to make sure that people aren't using their games for gambling, that programs being sold on their platform don't contain invasive software like cryptocurrency miners, or if there are "games" designed to game the automated systems they do have in place.

If people weren't willing to follow developers to other platforms they would not be removing themselves from the Steam platform and striking out on their own for their goals are to maximize profits and even if they lose some customers the cut that Valve is taking seems to outweigh those lost customers. I know for me the purchases I make on Steam are getting less and less for I stopped buying indie games because I cannot trust the smaller developers and AAA games don't interest me nearly as much.

Maybe if enough publishers pull out from Steam, they'll drop their fee % a bit. But then, I wouldn't count on it. Economics of competition always work better in theory than in practice.

The same thing is happening with streaming movies and tv shows. It seems like more and more IP owners won't put their stuff on Netflix or Hulu because they would rather you go to their website to watch. It's actually kinda weird how the tables have turned with regards to streaming. You used to have to wait a day or a week after an episode aired on tv before it could be streamed, but now these companies want you on their website or app so much it's actually been flipped in a lot of places, with the episodes being available to stream before they air on tv.

 

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