Editor’s Choice

In response to “Gateway to Gaming” from The Escapist forum: Paradox is really a company that excels at the way it treats the consumer, as all us Paradox fans know. It’s not a surprise to me, therefore, that their digital download platform has the same approach. When you purchase a game from Paradox, there’s a feeling that you truly own it, and what’s more, they encourage you to alter the game to your own desire.

I notice that it’s the more… indie isn’t the right word, but almost boutique developers, Valve, Paradox, and StarDock, companies that pride themselves on their relation to their consumer, that seem to be creating the most successful DD platforms: Steam, GamersGate, and Impulse, respectively. And while none of these platforms are quite as perfect as we want them to be, I think it’s rather a good thing that these distribution schemes are handled by companies that believe in treating the consumer as the party who should be rewarded in a business transaction.


I think that many people are a little disadvantaged by games being more available online, but that can be the result of their situation. Being unable to afford, or not having available, a sufficiently high download cap to make this kind of purchase worthwhile hamstrings many consumers. I, for example have a 7GB monthly limit in a family of four which means that there is no circumstance in which it’s practical.

Obviously as the industry moves forward there’ll be a shift in both the home download capacity (I hope) and the way we work with games. It’s slowly getting there.



In response to “The Downside of Direct Downloads” from The Escapist forum: I have to say that if/when the day finally does come when digital downloads completely take over, it will be a sad one for me. To me, gaming is more than just getting a game and playing it. I mean, what of the social side of buying a game in the first place?

One of my fondest memories of 2007 was getting up at 7am on August 24th, picking two of my friends up at 7:30 and heading to the local Asda store ready for the 8:00 opening. Stood out there in the cold, we waited for those doors to open so we could finally pick up BioShock, a game we’d waited months for. And while finally being able to play the game was certainly amazing, the best part was the fact that the three of us went together to buy it. That social experience is something that sitting in front of a computer watching a download percentage could never hope to replicate.

Then of course there’s the game box itself. Firstly there’s the artwork. Truly great artwork on a game box can catch my eye in a shop and cause me to stop what I’m doing and at least check out the back of the case. And of course there are the debates among my friends and I. Which artwork is better, Dead Space or Valkyria Chronicles? Should the default Commander Shepard be on the cover of Mass Effect considering my in game character looks completely different?

Secondly, there’s the excitement. It’s hard to deny the excitement I felt when, after queueing half an hour for my copy of Grand Theft Auto IV, I took it home and slowly unwrapped the cellophane, savouring that new game smell, looking at the map of the new Liberty City and reading the manual.

As I said already, gaming is more than simply acquiring and playing a game. Get rid of physical games, and you’re getting rid of half the experience.


From the beginning of the current console generation, consumers paid the “next-gen tax” of a $10 price hike on most HD games because the industry could use the excuse of increased development costs. Not shipping. Not printing. Not warehouses. Development costs.

With the industry spiraling out of control into ever increasing budgets and development costs, you would be a fool to imagine that digital distribution will be used to give consumers a “break” by the Big Publishers.

Digital distribution is the future in terms of technology and ease of access but in a rapaciously and ruthlessly corporatist society, it’s also a powerful tool for corporations to reduce customers even further to anthropomorphic wallets that suck at the corporation’s teet while dolling out money. Don’t be fooled – if corporations can swing it, they’ll make it so that nobody anywhere (aside from them) truly owns anything that can possibly be worth a dollar. If they could rent your clothing to you, they would.



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In response to “The War Continues” from The Escapist forum: If I read the article right, MS and Sony are waiting for consumers to get over their distrust of digital delivery? That’s going to take quite a while. As much as I like digital delivery and services like Steam, there’s the nagging doubt that these services won’t exist forever; if I buy something in digital form, I’d like the guarantee that I’ll still be able to “own” it 5, 10, 15 years down the line. That’s the real reason people prefer retail and box copies: it’s something they can hold and touch, something that says, “Yes, this is yours, use it whenever you like.”


Now, I do not own a 360, but I do have my PS3. So, I can only comment on PSN.
I think that PSN does have a chance to come out on top, but it will be an uphill battle against the LIVE name. I can, from PSN, get some TV shows and movies, along with games to play. I also like the fact that many of them are not just rehashes of classic games (but it does have those), but they have some fresh ideas.
As for digital distribution, I don’t see the PS3 utilizing it for most PS3 games in the future. Mainly because of the huge size of some of the games. If games start filling up the Blu-Ray discs, My 30gig HDD will not be able to hold many.
The PS3 can interface with any PC, accessing the PC’s media. But you have to have a different media server software than WMP. I use WinAmp and I can access my entire music and video collection from my PS3.
But I think that Sony could stir up interest for PSN if they released a kit that allows users to create their own games, like MS’s XNA.



In response to “Destroy All Consoles” from The Escapist forum: Well, I look forward to playing my games with all the clarity and responsiveness of YouTube videos.

Because that’s the best video streaming technology has to offer at current. And I don’t see anyone producing the kind of infrastructure necessary to provide streamed HD video with less than 100ms of lag over TCP/IP anytime soon. Anything other than that is a huge step backwards in terms of gaming experience, and gamers won’t go for it.

So why on earth do these companies keep getting attention? It seems absurd to me that we’re reading four page articles on these con artists. There is no way for them to deliver the experience they keep waxing lyrical about, yet no-one seems willing to call them on it.

Fex Worldwide

It surprises me that so many focus on the technical challenges and suggest that streaming video games are impossible. The technical challenges are being solved right now by the likes of OnLive, Gaikai, Otoy, and others. And the faster-internet-to-the-home issue will also see progress in the near future. The combination of more bandwidth to more homes, (relatively) inexpensive server farms, outstanding compression, and improvements in input controllers are forming and will continue to form the environment to make this possible.

The question is, as Ray points out in the article, the business model. Who is going to make this work in a way that is commercially viable? There are several more players that could be involved (see The Emerging Competition over Streamed Video Games for several options). The likes of OnLive and Gaikai could both be very successful with different approaches – I have a feeling there is plenty of room in this emerging space for more than one solution.


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