Digital Distribution: The Other Guys

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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!

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)

DTWolfwood:
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...

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.

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.

chronobreak:
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.

Still, onlive has this really lame ping problem.

If you're not playing it close to its servers (like, outside the US), it is simply too much of a hassle to deal with a long ping in a single player game.

SandroTheMaster:
Still, onlive has this really lame ping problem.

If you're not playing it close to its servers (like, outside the US), it is simply too much of a hassle to deal with a long ping in a single player game.

Oh, for sure it isn't perfect, I just feel it should have been mentioned in the article. Journalizms!

Dev Null:
"I could dedicate an entire column to cataloging the comprehensive failures of GFWL."

Oh wait; you already did.

You could do it again though; its that terrible.

I would enjoy that article so much. Of allthe ridiculous systems I've used, its the worst.

Shamus Young:

"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.

Maybe you should send an email to your boss asking for funds for a study of all major digital game services. Not Sure I have seen that done on a website before. Maybe have each service reviewed by 2-4 members of escapist writers/members.

I am betting if we add all of you together most of the sites would be covered without issue. Sorry just got a mental issue of the monster I would create if I combined all of you into one body.

Great read by the way, I agree 100% on Impluse (they should have kept the name so I will use it).

As usual, Shamus speaks the truth. I'll need to check whether GamersGate has any geotagging, but if it doesn't I'll probably say farewell to Steam as far as anything without multiplayer is concerned.

Dear Sham,

Thanks... It helps when we (not you, but I) explain ourselves in a less hateful way. More the obvious flavor of the week type, simple.

It's nice to see you make an article worth reading every now and again. When you only want to spew hate, I am bothered. You didn't this time. I am happy. You (We) win.

Keep making me interested (happy ) with your articles.

Keep making me 'happy', and you (we) win.

End of Line.

(I typed that last bit cuz I'm kewl)

lol 80's Tron

Call people that don't like how Portal 2 was released, idiots, and I will not like you.

Blab about how a 5 hour game is worth $60 and how the 'Skin store' selling shit day one, is so fucking great for the industry, blah blah blah...

Never mind. Just keep to reporting on positive things.

Or flame bait.

That's kewl too.

Pick your poison and all.

Clicking on the Gamers Gate link takes me to: (DO NOT CLICK ON THIS LINK)

api.viglink.com/api/click?format=go&key=6da47bc4afaf3146dd0f75392c91e0f2&loc=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.escapistmagazine.com%2Farticles%2Fview%2Fcolumns%2Fexperienced-points%2F9374-Digital-Distribution-The-Other-Guys&v=1&libid=1327834730601&out=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.gamersgate.com%2F&ref=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.escapistmagazine.com%2F&title=The%20Escapist%20%3A%20Digital%20Distribution%3A%20The%20Other%20Guys&txt=Gamers%20Gate&jsonp=vglnk_jsonp_13278348501902

...which is an unknown site with a poor WOT rating. This does not happen when I google "Gamers Gate" or type gamersgate.com into my web browser.

Is this a normal part of escapist's monetization scheme, or an indication that my traffic is being diverted somehow by some third party?

Thanks in advance for any insights you can provide.

EDIT: I just tried the other three links. They all led to their appropriate websites. Then I tried the Gamers Gate link again and it took me to sketchy long URL again. If nobody's talking about Gamers Gate or linking to it, I wonder if this could have something to do with it?

Mr.Tea:
As far as I'm concerned, Steam and GOG complement each other very nicely.

As for GFWL I always thought it was clunky and stupid, but never outright evil... until 2 days ago when I decided I wanted to replay Arkham City. That piece of satanic software jerked me around for an hour before it finally allowed me to play.

-"What's that? You want to play your game? You'll need to sign in first."
-"Wait, no! I need an update before I can let you sign in. Just click here."
-"Oh never mind, I can't be updated here. Quit the game and look for me on the web."
-"Oh and, I may be called Games FOR WINDOWS Live, but you have to download me at Xbox.com"
-"Great, I'm updated, try signing in now!"
-"Nope. I can't connect you even though your LiveID is universal across all live services such as Mail which you use everyday and works."
-"No I can't tell you why, just that I don't work"
-"BTW, don't try even launching the game 'cause It'll crash without Xlive.dll, which I somehow didn't install properly."

>9000 reinstalls later: "Ok ok, I'll install properly this time, thanks for spending time with me; I get lonely :("

yeah that game made playing bulletstorm more hassle than it was worth, luckily arkham city being awesome makes it bareable, but my god it needs to die.

DTWolfwood:
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!

We haven't learned yet that EA's marketing arm is just...awful? They haven't failed from a technical standpoint at all with Origin. They've failed horribly with the marketing side of it.

For instance, unless you go read the EULA, you wouldn't know it's changed from when everyone freaked out over it.

Shamus Young:
Digital Distribution: The Other Guys

There are more (and better) options than just Steam and Origin.

Read Full Article

Dear Shamus,

I wanted to thank you for posting that bit about Origin and Mass Effect save files at the end. I put an accumulated 60+ hours into the first two Mass Effect games, which I had purchased on Steam. When I heard that Mass Effect was going to be sold through Origin alone, I had a heart attack thinking I wouldn't be able to upload my saves without purchasing the previous Mass Effect games. You have given me hope that this will never be the case.

Thank you.

~MimsoftheDAWG

didn't know about Gamestop and Impulse, but seems like the weight has made a smart move. its rewards program is kinda whatever-sure-why-not with the free version anyway
it's really too bad GFWL is so meh. linking a PC game's achievements to one's 360 gamertag really does help encourage 360 users to play on both consistently (Achievement hunting whoo)

I had never heard of Gamers Gate before your article, so I decided to check 'em out. While browsing their store I found they were selling digital copies of Mass Effect 3, which got me excited... since it was only going to be available through Origin I thought I'd miss out since I refuse to use Origin. But the site didn't say if their copies would still require Origin, so I asked their customer support (being sure to mention your article that directed me to them). In a badly-worded response they admitted their copies would still require Origin.

So while they have an impressive catalog they're not really DRM-free, so I think I'll stick with GoG (who are DRM-free) and Steam, where I've already built a library and friend community.

That first paragraph was amazing. So stoked that Origin is expanding.

Hmmm, well I think it's going a bit far to say that Gamestop is viewed as a parasite by gamers. By the increasingly greedy industry it is, but to be honest the used game market is one of the few things a lot of users rely on to game, not to mention to offset the lavish prices of buying games that increasingly demand leaps of faith on the part of purchusers.

It's an old debate, but the bottom line is that the demands of the game industry that people have no ownership or control over what they paid for is flatly ridiculous. What's more every game that is sold used is a copy of a game that *someone* paid for. Even thinking in terms of online usage and traffic on networks the bottom line is that the company is supporting X number of units, and who actually controls those units is totally irrelevent. Whether the person on the network is the original buyer or the tenth one down the road, it doesn't matter as long as the amount of traffic doesn't exceed the number of paid units (which is an issue with piracy).

From a customer perspective Gamestop DOES have a bad reputation, but not as a parasite. Actually if anything the used game market is one of the few things they do right for the customers. Gamestop has a bad reputation for horrible support, not knowing their product, and really not giving a crap about either their customers or employees.

I won't use Impulse/Gamestop largely because of my massive investment in STEAM already (and I like to keep my games in one place rather than divided among a ton of differant services), and also because I'm wary of getting too invested in a service run by people infamous for ignorance and mismanagement, not to mention the fact that if they treat their online workers the same way they do the ones in their Brick and Mortar stores, it's a ticking time bomb. I mean we won't need Lulzsec or a similar group to hack them, disgruntled elements within the company might do it themselves because Gamestop really has a knack for slotting off their people.

A lot of this is largely irrelevent to the discussion at hand, but I will say that I think the key to the whole "used game" debate and that of "piracy" is for the gaming industry to seriously drop their prices, acknowlege consumer control and ownership of what they pay for, and rely on volume sales. One of the things that makes STEAM successful so far is how cheap they manage to sell games, I mean a few months after release a game might wind up going for half of what it costs new on other platforms or even compared to what the PC copies cost if you buy them retail or through Amazon.

It's an odd thought, but if they say sold games for like $20 a pop right out of the gate I think that would nix a lot of their problems, and they would still wind up making just as much money. Oddly places like Gamestop rarely sell used games for cheaper than that (though it does happen) the profit margin in trying to undercut a $20 product with a used one is going to be fairly small and might not be seen as worthwhile. What's more there are a lot of risks involved in piracy, to be honest I've never felt saving $60 is worth trusting "Cap'n 1337 Hsxxs" with my system, lower the prices and I think you'll see a lot of people increasingly unwilling to take the risks. I mean for all the comments about trutstworthy hack groups and such anyone can use a tag, and the same anonimity that allows things like "The Pirates Bay" to flourish means it's easy to pass off pure poison. As safe as many people might think they are, it's stuff like pirated games that allow hacker groups to distribute their back doors, botnets, and other similar things with probably 99% of the victims believing they are savvy and safe which is why these things become so widely distributed.

I'm increasingly off topic, but that's my thoughts on the subject.

omicron1:

UnderGlass:

omicron1:
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."

Well, I'm a firm believer that just as currency needed to be backed up with something of actual value like gold, digital products need to be backed up by something physical and substantial. I've felt for a while now that there should be a requirement that every digital product be backed by a trust to keep it in in existance perpetually, and to form a tangible payoff as the trust is distributed if something happens to the properties.

Otherwise, the dangers of everything going digital are obvious. There have been science fiction stories dealing with a digital, disposible world, and what happens if something goes haywire with it. A super virus or nano-clysm wipes out all the technologically stored data, or massive EMP waves hit due to a war or whatever. We'd be looking at something very similar to a new dark age due to so little information or property being availible on harcopy.

The disposable element of things is simply because you'll notice that along with all the information going digital, we're also looking at a tendency with products not being made to last. A good portion of what we product nowadays is designed to break down on it's own and be "eco friendly", not to mention disposable products and those not intended to last even if they initially seem solid keeps consumers always buying replacements or looking to upgrade
to the newest model of whatever.

50 years from now if things keep going the way they are, if we had some wierd occurance like a limited solar flare, or space anomoly bathing earth in EMP for a couple of minutes... or something similar (this is hypothetical, the cause could be anything, that's just the kind of scenario a sci-fi author might use) we'd lose almost all of our knowlege and what products and technology we had would break down and degrade as it was intended to without the abillity to make more. I mean sure, there WOULD be hardcopies out there, but how well taken care of will they be with the focus on everything being digital? A few hypothetical goverment or university databases that might be shielded wouldn't help the general masses of humanity.

This kind of thing might not seem plausible to some people, and I admit it's the kind of hypothetical scenario that nobody likes to think about or take seriously. I don't recommend burying one's head in the sand or running around screaming "the sky is falling" but I do believe we need to construct more things to last (and laws should exist towards this end) and what's more I believe hardcopies of every piece of data need to be preserved and even circulated. This is incidently one of the reasons why I am against the idea of computerizing schools like we've been seeing (there is a lot to be said for textbooks.. apologies to the trees and greenpeacers) and why I feel every library should include a card catalog along with any kind of electronic system, and students should be taught how to use it. Maybe you'll never need that information, just like you might not ever need to stop, drop, and roll due to being on fire, but it should be ingrained just in case.

Like usual I'm off subject a bit, but your comments made me think of all this.

Scrythe:
Shamus, I'm actually quite shocked that you haven't mentioned Desura 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/

It's also worth mentioning that it, unlike the others (as far as I know), has a linux client. Sure most of the AAA titles aren't available for it, but the library of indie games is growing.

omicron1:
In other words, a digital shop changed hands, and customer's goods may disappear.

Nope. A digital shop changed hands, and the customer may lose the ability to get a free replacement for goods they've already received. If you buy a game on DVD and later lose that DVD, no shop in the world is going to give you a replacement unless you pay them. If you buy a game online and later lose that data, no shop in the world is obliged to give you a replacement unless you pay them. It just happens that most game shops are kind enough to do exactly that. Good luck finding an online music shop that will do the same, or even a non-Amazon ebook shop.

That's just the price you have to pay for the convenience of dealing with raw data. You don't have to faff around waiting for delivery, transferring to different media, and so on, but at the same time you don't have a hard backup unless you make one yourself, and no-one else has any responsibility to provide you with one.

"Low prices. Massive catalog."

I don't know about US, but in Europe games on Steam are NOT cheap (except for all the sales, when they are cheper, but still substantially more expensive than in US). For some unfathomable reason most publishers stick to Steam-recommended exchange rate of 1EUR=1USD, which results in prices in Euro being 30-40% higher than in US (this changes when EUR/USD exchange rate changes).

A new release on steam is usually 50 euros (60 for call of duty) and usually stays that way for many months after release. In my world 66 USD for a PC title which you cannot even sell to get back some money it not considered "low price".

Mr.Tea:
As far as I'm concerned, Steam and GOG complement each other very nicely.

As for GFWL I always thought it was clunky and stupid, but never outright evil... until 2 days ago when I decided I wanted to replay Arkham City. That piece of satanic software jerked me around for an hour before it finally allowed me to play.

-"What's that? You want to play your game? You'll need to sign in first."
-"Wait, no! I need an update before I can let you sign in. Just click here."
-"Oh never mind, I can't be updated here. Quit the game and look for me on the web."
-"Oh and, I may be called Games FOR WINDOWS Live, but you have to download me at Xbox.com"
-"Great, I'm updated, try signing in now!"
-"Nope. I can't connect you even though your LiveID is universal across all live services such as Mail which you use everyday and works."
-"No I can't tell you why, just that I don't work"
-"BTW, don't try even launching the game 'cause It'll crash without Xlive.dll, which I somehow didn't install properly."

>9000 reinstalls later: "Ok ok, I'll install properly this time, thanks for spending time with me; I get lonely :("

The last time I bought a PC game that required GFWL, it was Bulletstorm. I installed the game, tried to run it, and got all the way to the splash screen. I clicked to try to get to the main menu, and it asked me to log into GFWL. I entered my information, and it told me my copy of GFWL was out of date and I needed to update before I could continue, and then it booted me back to the splash screen. Since the only option at the splash screen was "click to get to the GFWL login screen," I ended up having to ctrl-alt-del out. At which point my story basically picks up at "Oh and, I may be called Games FOR WINDOWS Live..." and pretty much continues word for word.

Admittedly some of this is shitty PC design from People Can Fly, but I've never forgiven GFWL for that mess. I will never buy another game that requires GFWL for the PC, ever.

Oh, god. Origin. I use that for BF3 and ToR, and that's the bloody end of it.

Battlefield 3 is a particularly ridiculous example of the kind of tom-shittery that you can expect from a service like Origin. My copy cost me over £40! I would expect that kind of pricing from a brand new AAA titles, but only when I'm shelling out for an all-new physical copy! Origin is an EA client offering titles developed and published by EA, and it's using digital distribution so there were no materials or factory labour to pay for! After taxes and the cost of service upkeep, all that profit is going straight into EA's pocket. And they didn't even have the common decency to knock a few quid off the asking price.

Still bought it, though. I'm a whore.

Wierdly, I've had very little trouble with GFWL. Probably because I only play Dawn of War II and Section 8: Prejudice on there. Two games I don't give too much of a toss about, so the intrusion of GFWL has never really bothered me. I imagine if I got into it more, I would eventually become enraged. I do recall having problems playing DOWII, though, but thank fuck Retribution kicked the GFWL requirement in the head.

Frostbite3789:

DTWolfwood:
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!

We haven't learned yet that EA's marketing arm is just...awful? They haven't failed from a technical standpoint at all with Origin. They've failed horribly with the marketing side of it.

For instance, unless you go read the EULA, you wouldn't know it's changed from when everyone freaked out over it.

I did know about the change. There was an article on it here of all places lol.

Most of the games that I review come from Gamers Gate, so far it has been a handy service and the prices seem good.

Shane, I think I need to create my own series of lines suspended by rope throughout the area in order to facilitate transfer to Húnderocastillo. I agree with your article wholeheartedly, there is indeed many varied options and choices available to modern consumers. Why don't you try mining Krag? That's what I did, and now Steam is mine to have, all the games me. I can explain to you the benefits of Sniper Elite on both systems, but unfortunately I have forgotten the game! Lol!

I always figured there were competitors to Steam but never really needed to branch out, as the service provided by Steam is quite excellent. I can't really say Steam is better than the others, as I have never tried them, but I have had experience with GFWL games. Every time the "You need to log into Windows Live to play this game" pops up when I run a new game, I throw my hands up in the air and scream, "WHAT THE F***! WHY!?"

Owyn_Merrilin:
[Snip]

One nitpick, though: they didn't just announce the buyout early in the year; they did it on April Fools Day. Nobody believed the press release at first because of it XD

Haha, I thought the timing of that announcement was odd myself. I need to take another look at Impulse. I kind of lost track of it after it was sold to Gamestop. I might get Trine 2 from it and see how it is going these days.

OT: For myself I use Steam and very much so GoG's these days. I love GoG's.

To be fair on Origin, it's maybe more evil, but very likely more competent than the old EA Store.

I keep an eye on a deals site, and the number of times EA showed up with some screwed up deal that meant you could buy a load of games for silly prices, at one point, you bought 2 packs of Coke, typed their codes in and you could get every game on EA under a tenner for free :)

Purely because whoever made the site hadn't a clue, I believe.

At one point I got Burnout Paradise for a fiver, because the £10 off £30 and the £5 off £15 spend voucher codes not only both worked on a £20 game, but both worked at once. On top of that, any OTHER game you added would get the £15 off too, I only didn't do it because I figured it'd be verging on fraud. I don't mind getting a great discount, but I know when I'd be taking the piss.

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