The Stupid History of Downloadable Games

The Stupid History of Downloadable Games

If you thought Xbox Live or the Playstation Network was a pain to deal with, check out their predecessors.

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Oh that stuff reminds me of something even older, which makes all the cable stuff sound hi tech.

Rememeber the ZX Spectrum and C64 and the days of loading from audiotape?

There were a couple of attempts at broadcasting little games for those over the air on British TV. You had to record the noises from the TV onto cassette, and then hope the quality was right for the computer to load them :)

Needless to say, results varied and you had to feel sorry for anyone who accidentally tuned into the channel while it was going on and wondered what the hellish screeching sound coming from their TV was!

I think it is less that the industry has learned and more they were trying something with the other limiting factors of the time. (Data transmitting vs internet, hardware limitation and size/weight compared to today)

We still see the same companies doing the same mistakes. We still see budgets get blown and products and product lines sunk by developers and publishers. Things are indeed easier today. But the new obstacles are DRM and copy protection which limit playability.

"The avatars, the "channel" idea, and the virtual town are all fossils of what the current generation has to offer, which is PURE GREATNESS in Xbox Live and Playstation Network"

I'm sorry but WHAT?

pure greatness?

Listen, I don't mean to go all "PC master race" on you, but compared to the competition, PSN and XBL are as bad and outdated as nintendo's system is compared to them.

Oh man, who'da thunk it? Grew up on all those old school consoles but never heard of ANY of those services. Would have bet good money against their existence. ^_^ Thanks dude. Educational.

Alfador_VII:
Oh that stuff reminds me of something even older, which makes all the cable stuff sound hi tech.

Rememeber the ZX Spectrum and C64 and the days of loading from audiotape?

There were a couple of attempts at broadcasting little games for those over the air on British TV. You had to record the noises from the TV onto cassette, and then hope the quality was right for the computer to load them :)

Needless to say, results varied and you had to feel sorry for anyone who accidentally tuned into the channel while it was going on and wondered what the hellish screeching sound coming from their TV was!

YAAAS!

Wasn't this just done for the BBC Micro? And if I recall it wasn't games, jsut dull stuff like spreadsheets.

Still, hats off to them. Literally decades ahead of their time.

I used none of those services but I DID see Raiders in the theatres In 1981. So I'm just here to say get off my lawn!! Oh and to remember.. man there was a game, an MMO of sorts, on AOL and they charged you by the hour to play it. Man I don't miss those days OR those bills.

I always love to lurk around the WayBack Machine from time to time, it's always educational and it always makes me be grateful for what we have today. As much as I loathe them, we've come a loooong way with Xbox Live and PSN.

revjay:
I used none of those services but I DID see Raiders in the theatres In 1981. So I'm just here to say get off my lawn!! Oh and to remember.. man there was a game, an MMO of sorts, on AOL and they charged you by the hour to play it. Man I don't miss those days OR those bills.

The original Neverwinter Nights. I remember that.

LadyRhian:

revjay:
I used none of those services but I DID see Raiders in the theatres In 1981. So I'm just here to say get off my lawn!! Oh and to remember.. man there was a game, an MMO of sorts, on AOL and they charged you by the hour to play it. Man I don't miss those days OR those bills.

The original Neverwinter Nights. I remember that.

Was that it? Its been so long all I truly remember is "you've got mail" and those chat rooms. My god the chat rooms :O

I bet a lot of those games released back then were exclusive to the download service. So, unless they rerelease them or someone leaked them on the internet. They are lost forever. There was a Zelda game for the Satellaview. If Nintendo feels its not worth porting in a future disc or the on virtual console, then even Japanese gamers are gonna miss the chance to play games like that. This is why I hate streaming games and that "Games as a Service" bull big publishers are now trying to pull.

On a lighter note, I read those Sega FAQs and came across another problem with it:
"Q. Can I save games with Sega Channel?
A. If a game has a save feature (like most Role-Playing games), Sega Channel will let you save your progress. Just save as you would if your were playing the cartridge version. BE CAREFUL THOUGH, if you load another game, it could erase your previously saved game."

Wow, so I played Phantasy Star and saved my game, and then my lil' sis comes in and downloads Sonic 3 or whatever. I lose my saved game and hours of progress because another game was downloaded. Ouch, they could of given you a little more wiggle room there.

Captcha: TurboTax File Free/ Yes, I know my taxes need to be done. Leave me alone.

revjay:
I used none of those services but I DID see Raiders in the theatres In 1981. So I'm just here to say get off my lawn!! Oh and to remember.. man there was a game, an MMO of sorts, on AOL and they charged you by the hour to play it. Man I don't miss those days OR those bills.

They had several. I spent a long time playing Dragon's Gate on there, back in the day.

It's fun to laugh at how misaimed and mishandled some of these attempts seemed, but remember- these were the baby steps of entertainment interconnectivity. And some things never change- remember how that guy ragequit just as you were about to win in Marvel vs. Capcom 3? Yeah, well, his father probably did the same thing in Super Street Fighter 2 on the XBAND.

Doesn't matter if it's just nostalgia or I'm learnig something new; gaming history gives me the warm fuzzies.

For the short time that Shanna had Sega Channel at her house, I remember playing "Zombies At My Neighbors."

I find it awkward that this ignores the entire PC side of development. 'Games' is once more just a synonym for 'consoles'. :(

BBSes and Q-link and such on the C64 were huge forerunners in downloadable games, I got plenty of legal shareware and such from those sources back in the day (Well, ok, and other not-so-legal ones, but!) and all of these services you list drew from those, only while being held back by crap hardware that was never meant for such uses.

Welcome to the Escapist Chris, it's nice to see you brought some of that Cracked sense of humor with you. Is this to be the first of many 'Stupid History' articles? Because that would be totally rad dawg.

I used to have the "Sega Channel". I remember it didn't work right at all, and/or you had to pay 'extra' to play any of the good games. I really can't remember, just remember it sucked really bad. Got rid of it within a few weeks and went back to playing le cartridges.

The day I got it though, it was like manna from heaven, it sounded so amazing. OMG play all the games over the TV Cable OMG. Nop.

nexus:
I used to have the "Sega Channel". I remember it didn't work right at all, and/or you had to pay 'extra' to play any of the good games. I really can't remember, just remember it sucked really bad. Got rid of it within a few weeks and went back to playing le cartridges.

The day I got it though, it was like manna from heaven, it sounded so amazing. OMG play all the games over the TV Cable OMG. Nop.

There was no extra cost, maybe it was if you had a different provider or something but I got a ton of use out of it.

OT: Sega Channel was pretty sweet, given some of the games were extremely expensive at the time (because carts that were larger were more expensive) we were able to play some of the more expensive games without worry, also they had games from other regions that didn't launch in the US so it was freaking awesome.

Phantasy Star IV, Shining Force 1 & 2, tons of fun with those games, then the I got to play this awesome Rally game from Europe, the name escapes me as I've not played it since, and Pulseman & Megaman: The Wily Wars from japan.

And of course since I was the only one of my friends who had it ...and a Sega Genesis (everyone else had the SNES) they'd love to see the game selection every month.

check this shit in action:

Snotnarok:
There was no extra cost, maybe it was if you had a different provider or something but I got a ton of use out of it.

That's likely the case. Looking back, I'm almost certain it was due to our provider scalping us. Plus there was always a problem with the connection, or something. I never really had a chance to use it.

While not expensive, I remember there being a monthly fee, which was unheard for games back then, as this was well before most online subscription games. So convincing the parents to part with money every month for "games" was also unheard of.. lol

PlayStation followed soon after though, that more than made up for it. Spyro, Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Crash Bandicoot... SEGA? What's that?

nexus:

Snotnarok:
There was no extra cost, maybe it was if you had a different provider or something but I got a ton of use out of it.

That's likely the case. Looking back, I'm almost certain it was due to our provider scalping us. Plus there was always a problem with the connection, or something. I never really had a chance to use it.

While not expensive, I remember there being a monthly fee, which was unheard for games back then, as this was well before most online subscription games. So convincing the parents to part with money every month for "games" was also unheard of.. lol

PlayStation followed soon after though, that more than made up for it. Spyro, Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Crash Bandicoot... SEGA? What's that?

Well given the amount of games you got for 12 bucks a month when some games at the time on the SNES and GEN hit 100+ bucks it was pretty sensible.

Aww c'mon those ol' 16-bit machines still rock, my gen still lives to this day, as does the first game that came with it. Rawkin'

Hey Guys! Thanks for reading my words!

mistwolf:
I find it awkward that this ignores the entire PC side of development. 'Games' is once more just a synonym for 'consoles'. :(

I meant this to be more of a console history piece, since that's basically all I knew about at the time of the writing. I'll have you know that I've since got into PC gaming so be proud of me. Also, it's WAY cheaper.

nexus:

Snotnarok:
There was no extra cost, maybe it was if you had a different provider or something but I got a ton of use out of it.

That's likely the case. Looking back, I'm almost certain it was due to our provider scalping us. Plus there was always a problem with the connection, or something. I never really had a chance to use it.

In my research I found varying pricing for the monthly fee, which was likely due to different people remembering the price from their providers. I just thought it sounded incredible how ahead of the curve they were and it's unfortunate that it failed.

OlasDAlmighty:
Welcome to the Escapist Chris, it's nice to see you brought some of that Cracked sense of humor with you. Is this to be the first of many 'Stupid History' articles? Because that would be totally rad dawg.

I'd love to, look for more in the future!

So all four of the industry's first attempts at digital downloads failed because of a lack of hard drive and insane corporate control over user behavior.

And now the cloud-proponents are trying to sell the idea of a future in which we don't have hard drives and corporations control what we can do with our computers.

Yay! Progress at last!

That was really interesting. I'd heard of Sega channel, but none of those other services. Great idea for a write-up.
Also curious to see a Cracked writer creeping into The Escapist.

How does it feel to write without using a numbered list? Liberating? Scary?

We still see budgets get blown and products and product lines sunk by developers and publishers.image

 

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