I Have Seen The Future, And it is Annoying

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Shamus Young:
I don't know who will win in the end, but I'm pretty sure it won't be gamers.

Oh, but it will be the gamers eventually. The companies can't be so naive thinking that they can keep on getting away with such bullshit while constantly screwing their customers. The future of gaming will NOT be shaped by the companies, but by the customers. Companies going a different direction than what the customers desire will eventually end up broke.

Steam's saving grace is that it has an offline mode, so I don't have to auto-update etc every time I want to play.

londelen:
Solution to the problem of PC gaming: make a keyboard & mouse peripheral for the consoles.

The lack of this^ is quite literally the ONLY reason I don't own a current generation console. I am THROUGH with those piece of shit joystick controllers and have been since the last console generation.

The first console to wise up and start offering technology that is so simple and readily available is the only one with a chance to see my money.

Until then, I will buy PC titles and pass on the ones with obnoxious DRM.

CD-R:
This is the exact reason why I won't get Dawn of War II. It requires both Steam and Games for Windows Live. People seem to really like Steam and I don't see why. It's just a glorified DRM. I paid for the game I shouldn't be forced to connect to the internet to play it.

The best defense against piracy regardless of wether you're in the music, movie, or game industry is to just not put out crap and more importantly not treat your customers like crap.

I agree. Got Half Life 2 a while back for the PC, but my old computer wouldn't run it well. So fast forward several years when I have a nice laptop to play it on. I installed steam so i could play the game, but guess what? I don't remember my old account. Go online and try to figure out what I can do to get to play the game. Turns out its some convoluted mess of a system that could easily take at least a week of scanning and emailing and showing god knows what just to prove I own the bloody game.

Well, soon as I saw that, I uninstalled Steam, basically threw the game away, and figured its not worth it. If I ever feel like playing the game, I might as well just pirate it, least that way I can play it when my laptop cant connect to the internet.

Sadly I just got a machine that for the first time can handle games that are being released now as opposed to five years ago. I say sadly, cause I don't really want to deal with secuROM or have all these little fiddly programs on my computer.

This means alot of games I was rather looking forward to (Bioshock2 and Mass Effect 2) are getting cut from my list.

Anyone remember when Sony had that deal when they were putting rootkits on their audio cds? I seem to recall there was some boycott and lawsuit action going and Sony finally learned their lesson and quit putting crap on their cds that didn't belong. Any chance that anything like that might happen here?

[Shrugs] I saw this coming as soon as people started screaming about "going digital" and how wonderful it was. The end result is of course that unless there is a really cheap deal going on, or I'm dealing with an indie/less distributed title, I don't go digital. I'm also becoming increasingly wary of supporting any game that requires the Internet to run and I've been reasearching that more intensely than is probably healthy recently due to some problems with games that I got which required internet connectivity rather than just a disc in drive.

I am increasingly beginning to agree that consoles seem to be like the de-facto way of the future simply because the people running the PC gaming side of things manage to hit a level of stupidity that is both rare and disturbing. To be honest it's very sad because I prefer to game on my PC given the chance.

In the end the bottom line is that the PC game companies are going to keep pushing digital because of the massive profits to be made, and really don't care about the consumers. It's all about gouging us, and with their eyes on the potential flow of cash they figure no matter what the inconveinence we'll keep coming like a group of junkies. Sadly, that's probably true when dealing with a disturbing number of people.

The Escapist just had an article where the head of the 1C company was talking about on a $20 title they were taking in $4 per unit through conventional sales which was enough to make it profitable (since they were in business). With digital distribution this jumped to $14 per unit giving them roughly 250% returns from what they were getting before (more or less). No consideration even being given to lowering the prices to consumers, as was the original "point" of digital distribution when the possibility was first appearing years ago. The only ones who seem to be lowering their prices are STEAM and they only do it periodically.

That right there is why the industry is saying "Digital Distribution IS coming" there is too much money to be made to not do it, no matter what it subjects the consumer to, and what we lose in the process. They are basically relying on the fact that gamers are going to whine (and loudly) but will never actually stop supporting their product. Too many impotent whine rallies and internet petitions have basically made the consumers a non-factor with the industry that caters to them.

shotgunbob:
Steam is ok and you can get some great deals off it but it randomly disconnects way to much for me

That's odd, I've never had any problems with Steam...

That said, though, Steam seems to be the only Digital Distribution package that is actually working... sort of. WHY are they STILL including DRM and SecuROM and other bullshit like that on Steam? It has anti-piracy methods built right in! And Valve's anti-piracy methods don't have some ridiculous installation limit or other intrusive features!

CD-R:
This is the exact reason why I won't get Dawn of War II. It requires both Steam and Games for Windows Live. People seem to really like Steam and I don't see why. It's just a glorified DRM. I paid for the game I shouldn't be forced to connect to the internet to play it.

You aren't forced to connect to the internet to play it, it doesn't sound like you've actually used Steam much if at all. You're forced to be connected to the internet to buy or download a game because, you know, that's how digital distribution works, you need an internet connection.

londelen:
Solution to the problem of PC gaming: make a keyboard & mouse peripheral for the consoles.

The PS3 already supports keyboard and mouse. Unfortunately, the games have to use that support, and currently Unreal Tournament is the only game that did.

How timely!

I just installed GTA IV today that was gifted to me as a Christmas gift over Steam.

Knowing what I know now I know I never would have bought this game. Rockstar social club now autostarts in the background and I have to sign up for a Windows Live account. Awesome.

I've already started to just buy all my games off Steam to get my games free of excess DRM nonsense and other crap.

For games I'm on the bubble about buying, extra "hangers on" are DEFINATELY deal breakers.

CommyGingerbreadMan:
See, this is why I steer away from PC gaming, IDC how much better the graphics are (good graphics =/= good game) it's all this BS. We all know piracy is bad, WE get it. Is all this truley necessary though?

the only platform is steam. GTAIV is trying to imitate it. where there is success, there are bound to be imitators. its for the xbox/ps3 too. there is no reason to stay away from a platform because of assholes, every platform has them.

I would say that the things listed here, along with the exhorbitant cost of keeping a computer at a level commensurate to really enjoy new games are the reason for the death of PC gaming.

Even Steam isn't perfect, with it's enforced update when installing a game regardless of your internet speed, and the fact that the offline mode may not necessarily be obvious to a first-time user.

Personally, I like to keep things simple and "pure". I've always held that the game should be the app. Of course I also hold that the game should be a regular application which can be run on any computer without a disc and without any hidden security, and I'm sure that wouldn't go down well with game companies.

Having to install a game before playing it puts you behind the console users. Having to install a game client and a game before playing sets you further back.

Really, I do prefer to play games on PC, but if you have to install three game clients, download all the updates, and hope that my computer still has to resources left to actually run the game, it would be quicker to play the game on a console, pirate it or even learn how to disable the programs and still run the game by hacking the binary code yourself.

Zamn:
You aren't forced to connect to the internet to play it,

Except when you are.

I visited my mom in the hospital not long ago, after she'd had some pretty invasive surgery. I brought my laptop with me, and figured I'd play some Torchlight while she was asleep. The hospital had the kind of annoying wireless network you find in hotels, where they make you log into a local web page before you get actual internet access.

Steam apparently doesn't like that kind of network. It couldn't connect to whatever server it was trying to connect to. And it was desperate to update itself for some reason. Like, falling all over itself. And it wouldn't let me go into offline mode because of it.

So, yes. Hooray Steam. Not that I regret visiting my poor ol' Ma in the hospital, mind you. But I've no love for the company that prevented me from playing the single-player game I paid $20 for (that's right, FULL PRICE, not $5 like some of you bums paid during a sale).

Fortunately, thanks to BitTorrent, I won't have to worry about that anymore.

If I can, I buy a product off of Impulse. If I can't do that, I buy the DVD. Then, depending, I might get it off D2D. Lastly, if there is no other way, I get it off Steam. That's just me. The complaints mentioned in this article are non-existent with Impulse downloads, and readily obvious during those occasional moments I have Steam installed.

(Okay with King Arthur the Role-Playing Wargame, I bought it from Impulse but couldn't do multiplayer without Steam installed, which given the balance problems wasn't a big deal.)

The only problem with impulse is that it caters more to the quirky strategy games than the mainstream game market, which suits me fine... though I understand it might not work for everybody.

"Look upon my works ye mighty, and despair." It can only get worse from here. At least the programs can run simultaneously for now.

Y'know, it is for this reason that I go with one content provider and one content provider only (with the sole exception of GamersGate for Paradox games, but that's my ONE special case, and it's there as much for fanboy and forum reasons as anything).

Even with Steam, if a game publisher doesn't think Steam's own authentication and (very reasonable) DRM requirements are good enough, that game gets taken off my list of games I want to purchase.

All this overcommercialization ruins everything it touches. I mean, fercrissakes, the bastards managed to ruin Christmas. CHRISTMAS! The best, most wonderful day of the year even if you're not a "hooray for Jesus" type, peace on earth, goodwill to everyone Samuel L. Jackson's ever called "motherfucker", and the marketing assholes managed to ruin it. And now they're doing to digital distribution what they did to Christmas.

Shakespeare was a little off. We get the lawyers second. The marketing people, THEM we kill first.

The companies just need to learn, and accept, that Valve beat them to the punch before digital distribution was even "hot". I can just see it now, within a couple years we'll have to connect to a Microsoft network, a Sony network, and a Nintendo network at the same time just to play one game, not to mention any other forms of DRM they decide to sneak in there.

Oh, fucking hell YES!

Really. I'm sick of this situation as much as you are. I sure can tolerate Steam - it's not only DRM, but also a good storefront, community, auto-updater, all in one more-or-less-working package. But now, when if i buy a legitimate copy, i have to also run GFWL (which is broken), a couple of stupid DRM systems, and god knows what else...

Then i'll rather pirate games to avoid tearing through layer upon layer of obstructive idiocy.

As for the whole "digital distribution" debacle, i'd still like to have large games on physical disks. My Internet connection does not allow me to easily and quickly download 10GB of data via Steam.

I've never had any problems with Steam crashing or lagging, you can play games when not connected to the Internet, and the automatic updates are useful.

I was pissed that I had to go through this with Fallout 3, so you can imagine how distraught I was when I picked up my copy of Dawn of War 2 to realize that it also had to go through GFWL.

That is until I realized you can hotfix the game so I can run without GFWL. Besides, I wasn't going to play DoW2 on multiplayer and FO3 doesn't even have multiplayer.

Good article.
This crap is bad for PC gaming.

PCs aren't consoles (if not we'd play on them, wouldn't we?) so stop trying to make them like that. The worst example is GFW Live - I don't know how many people even wanted a PC Live in the first place, but making a total piece of shit that complicates any problems you might be having is not the way to go.

Any PC gamer worth their salt has Steam - that's as close as we're going to get to a community like that of Live or PSN. You know why?

Because its tailored to PC gamers - GFW Live is like a shitty console-PC port. Its far too labour-intensive, a chore to get running, and an all-round waste of time.

The worst examples are games like Dirt 2 (I think that's the one) where you can DL from Steam, but then have to have GFW Live to play as well.

Why devs think its a good system to implement is beyond me.

You know what "stores" do it right? Gamersgate and GoG. Their only purposes are to allow you a place to download the game, there's no resident programs running afterwards, no annoying login (caveat: a few Gamersgate games require a one-time online activation), no "social" club.
The rest could learn from these two.

Therumancer:
[Shrugs] I saw this coming as soon as people started screaming about "going digital" and how wonderful it was. The end result is of course that unless there is a really cheap deal going on, or I'm dealing with an indie/less distributed title, I don't go digital. I'm also becoming increasingly wary of supporting any game that requires the Internet to run and I've been reasearching that more intensely than is probably healthy recently due to some problems with games that I got which required internet connectivity rather than just a disc in drive.

I am increasingly beginning to agree that consoles seem to be like the de-facto way of the future simply because the people running the PC gaming side of things manage to hit a level of stupidity that is both rare and disturbing. To be honest it's very sad because I prefer to game on my PC given the chance.

In the end the bottom line is that the PC game companies are going to keep pushing digital because of the massive profits to be made, and really don't care about the consumers. It's all about gouging us, and with their eyes on the potential flow of cash they figure no matter what the inconveinence we'll keep coming like a group of junkies. Sadly, that's probably true when dealing with a disturbing number of people.

The Escapist just had an article where the head of the 1C company was talking about on a $20 title they were taking in $4 per unit through conventional sales which was enough to make it profitable (since they were in business). With digital distribution this jumped to $14 per unit giving them roughly 250% returns from what they were getting before (more or less). No consideration even being given to lowering the prices to consumers, as was the original "point" of digital distribution when the possibility was first appearing years ago. The only ones who seem to be lowering their prices are STEAM and they only do it periodically.

That right there is why the industry is saying "Digital Distribution IS coming" there is too much money to be made to not do it, no matter what it subjects the consumer to, and what we lose in the process. They are basically relying on the fact that gamers are going to whine (and loudly) but will never actually stop supporting their product. Too many impotent whine rallies and internet petitions have basically made the consumers a non-factor with the industry that caters to them.

I can't even begin to say how much I agree with this post. Digital distribution is all fine and dandy when they hold a very yummy carrot (like The Witcher at 10 euros, which I bought), but the increase in profit without there ever being a steady decline in prices shall become the norm if "they" have it their way.

Hopefully the nice face of economic liberalism will eventually show itself, when a company whose games are only selling so-so, decreases by 5 euros their digital distributed games, in order to get an edge - this will hopefully be considered a good move, because the profits are already large enough to compensate. That's how things should work, right? Different companies with similar products, in an epic fight to overthrow one another, will make their products more appealing, creating new products, better products and better pricing.... *sighs* Just so you know, that (almost) never happens in Portugal. Liberalism ends with every company cartelizing the prices.... Here's to hoping it'll be different with this entertainment medium.

Earthmonger:

And I treat Steam/Impulse/GFWL as malware, because they are.

Others have commented on Steam so I'll say a bit about Impulse. It's actually not so bad. You DL the game and install it, and that's it. You don't need Impulse running to play. So that's a pretty lenient DRM. And it should be mentioned that Stardocks own games are DRM free, but you need a legit copy to get updates.
In short, Impulse is okay, as far as I see it.

GFWL on the other hand needs to die.

Redingold:
I've never had any problems with Steam crashing or lagging, you can play games when not connected to the Internet, and the automatic updates are useful.

Yeah, only today my connection was down for an hour, which is roughly how long it took Steam to realize it wouldn't actually be able to auto-update and even offer me the option to switch to offline mode.

Seriously, Steam works EXACTLY like any other online platform. Has anybody else purchased Dawn of War II from Steam? It runs Games for Windows LIVE and Steam at the same time, without even bothering to prioritize one over the other. It's a big, fat mess, and it's not less of Valve's fault for not letting the game just ignore steam after you've paid for it and downloaded it as it is Microsoft's fault for... well, for Games for Windows.

Steam is as much of a blight in your tray as any other delivery system and, after authorising your game online, it should shut down. But it doesn't. So it's evil.

It also opens straight on the store page (which seems to run on Internet Explorer, of all things and takes forever to load) instead of on the "my games" screen, which is something that even PSN and Xbox Live don't have the balls to do. You want to play a game? Here, check these nice offers first.

Another problem with digital distribution. About the only time I leave the house is to get food of buy games, and, what with pinky pizza home delivery's, The only time I get any real social interaction with physical beings, is when I go to get the new game out. Now, with digital distribution, I never need to look another human being in the eye ever again.

Noelveiga:
It also opens straight on the store page (which seems to run on Internet Explorer, of all things and takes forever to load) instead of on the "my games" screen, which is something that even PSN and Xbox Live don't have the balls to do. You want to play a game? Here, check these nice offers first.

File -> interface -> Favourite window.
With that out of the way yeah steams alright they actually give the user handy tools in exchange but it just gets really silly when you've got multiple pieces of DRM running for the sake of one game and I don't think it helps that GFWL is so flashy and doesn't seem to like responding to mouse clicks. My poor computer's already bogged down enough tyvm.

Joe Deadman:

Noelveiga:
It also opens straight on the store page

File -> interface -> Favourite window.

Fair enough:

"It also opens straight on the store page by default". My point still stands (although Xbox Live did send you straight to an ads tab after it got reskinned, but still, when Microsoft is taking corporate sellout tactical cues from you, you're not playing nice).

Also, what "handy tools" do you get from Steam? Achievements that nobody really cares about because they are not system-wide? Community tools that annoyingly overlap with built-in game tools? There isn't a single friend and a couple dozen games in my Steam account for a good reason.

But beyond that, and I've said this many times, it baffles me how Valve manages to stick to their underdog credentials despite being a huge company that can actually impose conditions on other developers. Somebody pointed out in another thread that they are privately owned, which does make a difference, but I don't think people are considering the financial position of companies when they position them.

Anyway, in my opinion, Valve is the next Google. They are the company you wish you'd realized had become a terrifying monopoly before 90% of your content was coming through them and they owned the advertising rights to your funeral.

I don't know why people are defending Steam, it's a pile of crap that keeps randomly disconnecting and forcing itself to the front of my work to tell me that I can't log in to it while I don't want to play games.

Hell, CurseClient is less invasive and has more point than fucking Steam...

Noelveiga:

Redingold:
I've never had any problems with Steam crashing or lagging, you can play games when not connected to the Internet, and the automatic updates are useful.

Yeah, only today my connection was down for an hour, which is roughly how long it took Steam to realize it wouldn't actually be able to auto-update and even offer me the option to switch to offline mode.

Seriously, Steam works EXACTLY like any other online platform. Has anybody else purchased Dawn of War II from Steam? It runs Games for Windows LIVE and Steam at the same time, without even bothering to prioritize one over the other. It's a big, fat mess, and it's not less of Valve's fault for not letting the game just ignore steam after you've paid for it and downloaded it as it is Microsoft's fault for... well, for Games for Windows.

Steam is as much of a blight in your tray as any other delivery system and, after authorising your game online, it should shut down. But it doesn't. So it's evil.

It also opens straight on the store page (which seems to run on Internet Explorer, of all things and takes forever to load) instead of on the "my games" screen, which is something that even PSN and Xbox Live don't have the balls to do. You want to play a game? Here, check these nice offers first.

Steam doesn't run GFWL, SecureROM or anything else, it downloads the game and you launch it, its the game itself that launches everything else and is the guilty party here. Don't confuse one for the other. Steam is just delivering the game as it was given to them.

You do realize in the options there is a drop down where you can pick which screen opens up first? Guessing not from your anger over seeing the store page.

My personal experiance is steam is rock solid. I have a collection of games on Steam that is now at 301 titles. and when my internet connection went down I had ZERO issues playing a few games offline. Your milage may vary but don't take individual experiences and try to claim them as a general consensus, thats a logical fallacy called Anecdotal evidence fallacy

I find steam to be fine as long as you have a decent internet connection, but GFWL is a massive piece of shit that adds at least 5 mins onto any load time in DOW2. I hate it.

I crack any game that does this. If there's more than one program required to run the game, I go online and get a crack/workaround for this.

GFWL is the least annoying one since you can usually use it in offline mode. Steam is a resource-hogging pain, Impulse is useless. SecuROM is intolerable and is usually the first thing I remove in any game I own.

shial:

Steam doesn't run GFWL, SecureROM or anything else, it downloads the game and you launch it, its the game itself that launches everything else and is the guilty party here. Don't confuse one for the other. Steam is just delivering the game as it was given to them.

You do realize in the options there is a drop down where you can pick which screen opens up first? Guessing not from your anger over seeing the store page.

My personal experiance is steam is rock solid. I have a collection of games on Steam that is now at 301 titles. and when my internet connection went down I had ZERO issues playing a few games offline. Your milage may vary but don't take individual experiences and try to claim them as a general consensus, thats a logical fallacy called Anecdotal evidence fallacy

Okay, first, whoever put that fallacy list in your high school curriculums needs to have his butt crack sealed shut. I wouldn't believe there was a way to diminish the quality of debate on the internet any further but there you go, that guy pulled it off.

Second, I already addressed the whole "you can change it, dummy" thing about opening to something other than the store. It's nice that they gave you an option to not have to go straight to that, but it still is the default option. For the record, I'm also unaware of an option to disable the endlessly annoying pop-up with update news and ads that is brought up on launch.

The reason I'm unaware of these things is that Steam as a platform is superfluous. I don't play games on Steam, I play games on my PC. Steam is what stands between me and my games and I have no interest in setting up Steam to my liking because what I want is for Steam to not be there. I'm happy that I can get games digitally delivered to me. I like that. As in the original article, my point is that anything and everything Steam does besides that is just an annoyance and brings nothing useful to the table. Beyond any specific example, that is my point.

Steam doesn't get a pass from people where GFWL doesn't because it's a more useful system (it still loads slow, is full of bothersome ads and useless features, a resource hog on less powerful systems and has a terrible interface), it gets a pass because it's from Valve and stuff from Valve is cool, period.

In fact, if we are going to put some perspective into this, GFWL presented a far more streamlined and better designed experience on day one than Steam did. People might not remember, but I have a clear picture of the Half-Life 2 launch fiasco. It wasn't pretty. Which is not to say I like GFWL, by the way.

My prototype of a digital delivery system is actually Good old games (http://www.gog.com/en/frontpage/). It has a browser-based interface that actually works, no excess DRM and once you buy and download a product, it is in your PC, ready to run with no intermediate software doing anything. THAT is how you do digital distribution. For the record, Blizzard and Telltale also do decent jobs, but they only distribute their own stuff and Blizzard has confusing legals and download limits.

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