Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Social Networks The Internet Games

Game Distribution Platforms Becoming Annoyingly Common 349

Posted by Soulskill
from the looking-at-you-games-for-windows-live dept.
The Escapist's Shamus Young recently posted an article complaining about the proliferation of distribution platforms and social networks for video games. None of the companies who make these are "quite sure how games will be sold and played ten years from now," he writes, "but they all know they want to be the ones running the community or selling the titles." Young continues, "Remember how these systems usually work: The program sets itself up to run when Windows starts, and it must be running if you want to play the game. If you follow this scheme to its logical conclusion, you'll see that the system tray of every gaming PC would eventually end up clogged with loaders, patchers, helpers, and monitors. Every publisher would have a program for serving up content, connecting players, managing digital licenses, performing patches, and (most importantly) selling stuff. Some people don't mind having 'just one more' program running in the background. But what happens when you have programs from Valve, Stardock, Activision, 2k Games, Take-Two, Codemasters, Microsoft, Eidos, and Ubisoft? Sure, you could disable them. But then when you fire the thing up to play a game, it will want to spend fifteen minutes patching itself and the game before it will let you in. And imagine how fun it would be juggling accounts for all of them."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Game Distribution Platforms Becoming Annoyingly Common

Comments Filter:
  • by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @06:48AM (#30902336) Journal

    Actually for once EA is doing it correctly. You have 4 ways to buy their games (that I know of):

    1) Physical product from store
    2) Steam (where you get the goodness of Steam services and social aspects)
    3) Direct2Drive
    4) EA's own store and download manager

    You can buy your game from any place you prefer. If you buy from other places, you won't get EA's own download manager or things. That's how it should - buyer can choose the platform he prefers. For me that is (unsurprisingly) Steam.

    I'm sure not all people like the social gaming aspects of Steam and other platforms, but I do enjoy them. It's easy to play with friends or chat in-game (good with multiplayer games). But for those who don't like them, they can be turned off. I never buy from physical stores anymore, it's a lot more convenient to buy from Steam and almost instantly get to play it. I always keep wishing I could do the same with my PS3 or 360, but they usually only have the smaller games in their stores and I have to order the "real" games via post.

    Good example of social aspects in Steam is also that via MW2 I've got many interesting players on my friend list so that theres always someone to play with, but they don't bother me if I'm not playing. It's more fun to play with the people you somewhat, even if very vaguely know.

    • by Rogerborg (306625) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @06:57AM (#30902404) Homepage

      Just so we're clear: you're renting the ability to play. When, not if, they go belly up, you've just got a hard drive full of random bits.

      Don't get me wrong, I use and love Steam (it even works well through Wine on Ubuntu) but I'm under no illusions about ownership.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by sopssa (1498795) *

        You actually don't own the games you buy physically either. You're getting a license to use them, like with any other software.

        But more than that, I don't think that will be such a big issue though. What are the changes that Steam will go away anytime soon? And even if it happens in lets say 20-30 years, that's still many years. Many of the games I bough in 90's are too scratched, lost somewhere along the years or do not work with current operating systems and are unplayable now. Doesn't bother me too much,

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by IBBoard (1128019)

          It depends on your local law as to how enforceable the EULA is. I bought a game, I didn't pay for a license (at least not as far as it was presented to me). If nothing else, physical copies of the game will still work even if you do violate some obscure license clause ("you can't play this game while wearing red socks"), where as Steam and similar DRMed games are dead in the water as soon as your "license" to play is pulled.

          As for your old games, just because you've lost or scratched them doesn't mean that

        • You actually don't own the books you buy physically either. You're getting a license to read them, like with any other information.

          But more than that, I don't think that will be such a big issue though. What are the changes that Steam will go away anytime soon? And even if it happens in lets say 20-30 years, that's still many years. Many of the books I bough in 90's are too blotched and water damaged, lost somewhere along the years or the type is too small and are unreadable now. Doesn't bother me too much,

          • by sopssa (1498795) *

            Uh what? You do own the books you buy. Immaterial and material products are different cases. You can't compare them directly. Even if the pro-piracy guys always like to point out that copying != stealing or their stupid reasoning that copying something doesn't take anything off from someone and can't really see the larger picture.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by MBGMorden (803437)

              You CAN'T compare immaterial and material purchases directly, but that's not a problem here because if you're a copyright fanboy then both of these scenarios are immaterial.

              You see, when you buy a book if you're a copyrights fan then you're really paying for the license to read the copyrighted text. The paper it comes on is just a delivery mechanism.

              The same applies to a software CD. The CD itself is a delivery mechanism only.

              It is literally the EXACT same scenario. If you can own a book, then you can ow

              • by david_thornley (598059) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @12:48PM (#30907074)

                Except that I'm not normally paying for a license to read the copyrighted text. I'm paying for a copy. If I were paying for a license, I would have the right to read the text even if my purchased copy were destroyed, and I don't. Moreover, if I were to find a book that somebody abandoned, I wouldn't have the right to read it, not having acquired a license. In fact, I can own a book, but there are limitations on what I can do with it. There's some limitations on what I can do with a lot of my property, so this is nothing unusual.

                Now, some software is sold with a EULA, and the legal system has not completely rejected that idea as it should have, so in many cases when you use software you've agreed that you don't own it, only license it. That does not in general happen with books, which are sold outright, and come with no restrictions other than copyright.

          • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

            You actually don't own the books you buy physically either.

            Are you sure about that? I can legally re-sell the books I own..

            Oh wait... I see what you did there.

            Never mind.

        • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @08:39AM (#30903212) Homepage Journal

          What are the changes that Steam will go away anytime soon?

          I said the same thing when I bought my 2008 Pontiac Solstice.

          I remember some years ago a friend bought a bunch of music from a music service from Microsoft. I've forgotten the name now (or maybe I've blocked it out). The friend told me it was easy to use and they had all sorts of labels and artists. The only catch was that Microsoft had to "refresh" your licenses to keep the music files playing. I remember telling him it didn't seem like a good idea, and he said "what are the chances that Microsoft would go away any time soon?"

          Today, he's got an external hard drive full of bits that he can't listen to. I've seen this with my own eyes. When he tries to open them, some dialog box pops up telling him that he has to connect to some Microsoft service to refresh his licenses and then he tries and nothing happens.

          Many of the games I bough in 90's are too scratched

          That's why we'd like to be able to make copies of our game disks, including the ones for consoles.

        • The tons of "abandonware" games out there attest to this reality. For commercial apps as well, there should be "end-of-life" terms right at the time of purchase, and put into the EULA. At a minimum, access to binaries and some sort of new-users-enabling license after the product is no longer sold. Ideally, the source should become accessible, under some sort of license, after a number of years, to allow updates etc. Smaller publishers would perhaps include an agreement to open-source it after a certain a
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TheKidWho (705796)

        Valve has stated before that if they do go belly-up they would release a patch so that you could play all of your games without getting onto the steam network. That or I would expect some hackers to crack it.

        That is of course assuming Valve doesn't try to sell Steam.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          If there's any video game developer I'd trust to not fuck everyone over, it's definitely Valve. They've got to be the single most community-oriented developer out there right now.

        • by ethorad (840881) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @07:50AM (#30902732)

          Yes, because if they go belly up they'll definitely have the time and resources to come up with a patch to let you play their games. Plus I very much doubt the insolvency practitioner /debtor / purchaser will be willing to let them have funds.

          The only way I'd believe that claim is if the patch had alread been written (and was kept updated with changes to the system) and in the hands of a third party to be released on a list of conditions - such as the servers going dark.

          • by mr_da3m0n (887821) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @07:59AM (#30902790) Homepage
            Well, I can't seem for the life of me to find the original article, but I recall clearly that Gabe Newell stated that Valve has a decryption key ready to go out, at the press of a button in case they go belly up.
            • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @11:32AM (#30905910)

              Gabe did not say that. There is no universal decryption key for the system they use. He said he expects he would make available a method to enable the games if the masters went offline. His wording was careful to avoid a legally binding statement. The reality is that it would not be in his control if they went belly up, as it would be a trustee's call with the creditors as the IP would be under their control. Something short of chapter 11 and it would be factors such as goodwill upon deciding there is no reason to continue the system for a given product. In other words there is no IP left that is profitable and as a gesture of goodwill and if within his control, it would likely happen. End of story.

            • by wjousts (1529427) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @01:05PM (#30907312)

              but I recall clearly that Gabe Newell stated...

              Not in the Steam TOS he didn't. Nor anywhere else where it would be legally binding. But it's okay, Valve are the good guys, right?

          • by TheKidWho (705796)

            The only way I'd believe that claim is if the patch had alread been written

            It is.

            • by c0d3g33k (102699)

              Citation needed. Say it as authoritatively as you like, without proof it's just hearsay. "Somebody at Valve said so" isn't proof. A legal document, registered in the jurisdiction that Valve does business in stating that the company is obligated to ensure that this gets top priority in the face of all other creditor obligations etc. is about the only conclusive evidence I'd accept. Anything else is just promises to fuel rationalization and wishful thinking.

              And ... a patch? Written already that will make

        • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @08:46AM (#30903306) Homepage Journal

          Valve has stated before that if they do go belly-up they would release a patch so that you could play all of your games without getting onto the steam network

          In legal circles, that's known as the "I promise not to cum" clause.

      • If the company goes belly up some one will step up to the plate and release a liberation patch whether officially or unofficially. Just keep your documentation of purchases and no sane judge will give a damn about what you did to access files that you bought that are on your machine.
        • by IBBoard (1128019)

          You have read about the DMCA laws, haven't you? It doesn't matter what your intent is, if you're bypassing copy protection and other physical measures then you're automatically in league with the devil/paedophiles/terrorists. And that's just the start of the law - the big name companies seem to want to push it even further!

      • Also to that same tune you're renting those discs you buy. When, not if, those discs go bad you'll just have a glorified plastic coaster.

        Now I know most discs have about a natural 7-14 year lifespan unless we're talking special storage. My personal experience tells me 7 years is lucky. So the real question is: Will Steam last longer than my discs?

        For me it already has. Curse you NwN:Hoards of the Underdark disk :(

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by TOGSolid (1412915)
        Well, not entirely useless. I keep all of my Steam games backed up to an offline profile so that even if Steam did go tits up, I'll still be playing my games quite happily. Most of the non-Valve games don't even need Steam to be in online mode for their multiplayer to work.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Vitani (1219376)
        With Steam you can just use Offline mode. I did this when moving house and was without an Internet connection for a few weeks and could happily play Portal, HL2, etc. without any issues. (Not sure about other games which use non-Steam DRM though!)

        Also should you want to format, it provides a way to back-up your games to a DVD/similar so you don't have to re-download.

        I can't say anything about the other providers as I've never used them.
    • by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @07:09AM (#30902484)

      Steam usually operates fine in off-line mode for single player games. And the trade-off of getting integral patch updates, being able to delete and restore a game at will, the low cost of downloadable games (especially ancient ones) and being able to transfer games to another client without media are all big advantages for most players. They seem well worth the risk of losing the Steam servers.

      • You have excellent points. Unfortunately, when I'm cut off from my games I just go max impotent nerdrage. So, to save the lives of my family, I stay away from Steam.

      • being able to transfer games to another client without media

        That may work between PCs connected to the same Steam account. But the last time we discussed this, a licensee of a Steam game could not transfer a game to another Steam account. So I don't see buying a game on Steam as wise unless A. the game has substantial replay value, or B. the game is on sale for under $10 like a console game rental.

        They seem well worth the risk of losing the Steam servers.

        Copyrights last 95 years. Archives have to make sure that the authentic copies that they buy are usable at least until after the copyright has expired.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by elzurawka (671029)

          Not sure if the OP meant this, but I like the fact that if I have a game I like, for example L4D2 which is around 7 gigs, and a friend picks it up, I can bring over the backup files from my computer, and install the game using those. He does not have to go and waste a few hours re-downloading the games. All of my games are backed up to an external NAS at my house, and whenever I install them, its just a matter of clicking on the files on the NAS, and running the install. Then once its installed, the game is

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by wertigon (1204486)

      That's how it should - buyer can choose the platform he prefers.

      Amen to that brother, amen.

      One can even take it further. I've often wondered what the difference between Steam, iTunes and The pirate bay is. Because the way I see it, there is no *significant* difference. The difference is about the same difference as Verizon, AT&T and T-mobile.

      Now, don't get me wrong. There are differences between the three. The pirate bay, for instance, has no control over what floats through their trackers, which means quality often is hit-and-miss, and viruses are rampant. And now

    • by Xest (935314)

      I really dislike Steam, because even games bought in store that use it depend on Valve deciding whether or not you're allowed to play the game. See people who imported Modern Warfare 2 which is perfectly legal to do but Valve revoking their access to the game because they didn't buy it from the retail channels Valve/Activision wanted them to buy it through or didn't just buy it through Steam.

      Other than that, I just don't like the way Valve is going. It started off great- bare minimum DRM, fixed prices in US

      • by sopssa (1498795) *

        See people who imported Modern Warfare 2 which is perfectly legal to do but Valve revoking their access to the game because they didn't buy it from the retail channels Valve/Activision wanted them to buy it through or didn't just buy it through Steam.

        The issue wasn't that simple. This is what g2play replied to me after asking why MW2 was removed from my steam account:

        Hello mate

        Recently we have aquired Call of Duty MW2 keys from a supplier who showed up to get them in unlegitimate way.
        We had unfortunatley no idea about this since the price offered to us was notcheap and the profit margin for us on these transactions is very low.

        We may offer you 3 possible solutions for this issue:
        1. Eiether we refund your payment via PayPal
        2. We give you any other game in similar value
        3. We will recieve another pack of Call of Duty MW2 keys from verified supplier probably in 48 hours (max after weekend ). We can then replace you your current key of course.

        Best
        G2PLAY.net Team

        I also bough left4dead 2 the same day from them and Valve didn't do anything about that, nor have I heard they're doing anything about the new keys sold by g2play. If a reseller has acquired and sold stolen/hacked/whatever keys (not blaming g2play here but their supplier!), I think it's withing Valve's right to revoke those keys. And Valve just revoked the key and told to ask for refund fro

  • by suso (153703) * on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @06:48AM (#30902338) Homepage Journal

    Another thing to worry about is that in 10+ years we will have a whole generation of games (not just MMOs) that will no longer be able to be played on emulators, etc. because the networks they connect with will be gone.

    I think people will get fed up with it and the game publishers will have to change eventually, but not before a lot of damage will be done.

    • by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @06:54AM (#30902378) Journal

      I don't think so. 20 years is lot of years. Even the TV I bough 10 years ago doesn't work anymore (not showing tv channels at least), because digital TV got instructed. Did it really bother me that much? Not really. I just bough a new one with lots of new fancy features and HD picture.

      Not everything in life last forever. The pizza I ate yesterday is gone. It was still good and I enjoyed the experience. So is my ex but I enjoyed that experience too and now its time to move into new things.

      And theres always private servers, if the player base actually is large enough.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Amarantine (1100187)
        But i can still pay the games i bought for a NES or Mega Drive. I think the PS2 is the last console before the new generation where patches, firmware upgrades and whatnot became the norm.

        I have no problem with not being able to play the games i bought now in 10 years or so, but perhaps they shouldn't be priced as such then. Games now cost the same as 20 years ago, yet they don't have the same lifespan.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by sopssa (1498795) *

          But they have a lot larger costs to make than 20 years ago. And to be honest, in terms of dollars spend per hour games as an entertainment are really cheap. Two hour movie ticket with popcorn and cola costs at least $10 per person (and then possible a dinner in restaurant $40). One night out in a bar can easily cost $100.

          With a good game you can top hundreds of hours of gameplay, which makes the per hour price come down to like $0.10-$0.20. Not much, if you ask me.

          • Two hour movie ticket with popcorn and cola costs at least $10 per person.

            Here, physical media still have the advantage: DVD rental + 2-liter soda cost no more than $3 at any grocery store with a Redbox. And you don't have to worry about cell phones, crying small children, etc.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Gr8Apes (679165)

        So you'd be ok with that book not being readable in 10 years? (Self-destructing a la Mission Impossible)

        • by sopssa (1498795) *

          Not self-destructing, that would be just silly. But if there are valid reasons like MMO player base dying, DVD's getting scratched, or new technology making old devices obsolete, I'll live on and do something else.

          • Not self-destructing, that would be just silly. But if there are valid reasons like MMO player base dying, DVD's getting scratched, or new technology making old devices obsolete, I'll live on and do something else.

            Player base dying is a legitimate reason (after all, the whole point of the game is that the game is there to be played with others. However, the vendor should open up the game to private servers once it takes down its own.) DVD's getting scratched and new technology making old devices obsolete are "self-destructive a la Mission Impossible"

        • So you'd be ok with that book not being readable in 10 years?

          I can't say I'm terribly thrilled about it... But it happens. Today. In the real world.

          Papers and inks degrade. Depending on when the book was produced, and how, it could very well be unreadable within 10 years.

          Language changes can also make a book unreadable. Try handing your average Joe Sixpack an original-text copy of The Canterbury Tales [wikipedia.org] and see what they think of it.

          And then there's information that changes, making the original text basically un-usable. Compare a few textbooks released over the y

      • by suso (153703) *

        I don't think so. 20 years is lot of years. Even the TV I bough 10 years ago doesn't work anymore (not showing tv channels at least), because digital TV got instructed.

        Yeah, but you bought it right before a big shift in technology, the biggest in the history of TV. And besides, that old TV still works if you just get a converter. I used my standard def TV up until 2 months ago when I decided I wanted to have a nice HTPC and Blu ray player.

        Getting back to video games, I think the video game makers that only think of their games as short term profit makers would have a hard time justifying them as art. I can go into a media store and buy music and movies and books from de

        • by sopssa (1498795) *

          And then there is the Wii offering older games through the Wii shopping channel.

          That's an interesting point actually. Steam also offers old games made to work with current operating systems and computers. Then there's GOG [gog.com], and PS3 and 360 also offer such. It might just be that the trend is continuing and we will see much more such in future. Sure in most cases you need to pay the $5-$9 again even if you own the game, but if you think the game is good its not really that much, and it comes with somewhat improved graphics and making it work in newer systems (or other platforms, like your

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      you don't have to wait that long - hellgate london achieved this in less than five years...
    • "Another thing to worry about is that in 10+ years we will have a whole generation of games (not just MMOs) that will no longer be able to be played on emulators, etc. because the networks they connect with will be gone."

      There is an easy fix for this situation.

      Don't buy a game unless there is a crack for it somewhere. Most cracked games get around the "phone-home" syndrome. TPB is a good place to start.

      I've got two games that I haven't even taken out of the box as I prefer to use the non-DRM versions availa

      • by grumbel (592662)

        That doesn't really fix the underlying problems, as the problem really isn't so much a money issue, but an preservation of history one. I kind of like to be able to be able to play the games I grew up with. When you however have stuff DRM'ed and depending on servers staying online to be usable, you will quickly run into situations where history is just getting lost, as you are no longer able to play past games.

        On PS3, Xbox360 and a PC games you might still work around that issue by hacking, cracking and tha

    • by vlm (69642)

      Another thing to worry about is that in 10+ years we will have a whole generation of games (not just MMOs) that will no longer be able to be played on emulators, etc. because the networks they connect with will be gone.

      So, today the warez versions that don't connect to the network are merely better than the official versions, but in 10+ years, they'll not only be better, but be the only way to play? No problemo.

      • by delinear (991444)
        Yeah I can't say I really see the issue - well maybe on consoles, but for the PC we already have the situation where online gaming has been around for almost two decades, and sure it's not so easy to find players for the really old games, but there are fan groups out there you can hook up with and play, it's not impossible. Okay you weren't locked down to a particular network back then, but as OP indicates, that's easily patched, especially once the game drops off the radar enough that nobody really cares (
        • by Hyppy (74366)
          I don't know about you, but two decades ago I was still searching through instruction manuals for the third word of the second paragraph on the eighth page in order to load my games. Online gaming, even remotely related to the current forms and standards, isn't even old enough for kindergarten class yet.
      • by DrYak (748999)

        Old school emulation suffers from this too :
        - most of the original purchased magnetic-media have bit-rotten by now and/or the necessary hardware to read them (ALONG WITH all the protection weirdness - not just any reading drive, but one producing exactly the glitches on which the protection scheme relies) might be broken.

        Meanwhile
        - all the pirated versions are still around fully enjoying digital mortality (once a soft is only a bunch of bits - with no physical media or protection attached - it costs almost

    • by GF678 (1453005)

      Another thing to worry about is that in 10+ years we will have a whole generation of games (not just MMOs) that will no longer be able to be played on emulators, etc. because the networks they connect with will be gone.

      Your concern is something that a lot of gamers have yet to appreciate the ramifications of. Sure, the logic of not being able to play games in the future due to the activation server being down is sound, but damnit, it's Bioshock 2! BIOSHOCK 2!!! I simply cannot pass up playing ! Or put anoth

    • by vertinox (846076)

      Another thing to worry about is that in 10+ years we will have a whole generation of games (not just MMOs) that will no longer be able to be played on emulators, etc. because the networks they connect with will be gone.

      Have you gone back and tried playing a lot of your 10 year old games?

      No seriously... Everytime I install and play an old game I become sorely disappointed and scratch my head wondering what happened to this game that I had so many fond memories of.

      Nostalgia isn't as good as it used to be.

  • by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @06:49AM (#30902348) Homepage Journal
    Game distribution
    A tragic solution
    The most horrid trick
    Since the disposable Bic
    Burma Shave
  • Greedy motherfucking bastards, that's why.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mjwx (966435)
      PC gaming is dying so fast that EA, Ubisoft et al have abandoned it so completely. I mean Modern Warfare will never be out on the PC.

      No wait... [ebgames.com.au]

      Greedy motherfucking bastards

      This is an example of why PC gaming is alive and well. PC games are cheaper then their Xbox and Playstation equivalents. Lets look at modern warfare 2 shall we, from the rip off merchants EB Games it costs A$119.95 [ebgames.com.au] on PS3, A$119.95 [ebgames.com.au] on Xbox360 and A98.00 [ebgames.com.au] on PC. Now if I go down the road to JB HiFi I can shave A$20 of those prices.

      A

  • If I double-click awesomegame.exe I DO NOT either expect or agree to awesomegame.exe launching three other TSR applications, modifying my system start up, filling up my taskbar, or anything else.

    The cracked / pirated version is simply superior.

    As long as game companies give me ZERO options, at any price bracket, just ZERO options, as though they are administrator of my computers and I am a mere user, then this will continue to be my policy.

    • The biggest problem is that you buy a game and you have the a PC of more than the minimum spec ..and then you spend ages getting it to run because of all the verification, patches, upgrades it needs to run

      What happened to the games you could run from the disk, or install in 5 minutes ....

      And on the day you internet connection goes down you cannot play them not because you no longer have a licence or it is unpatched, but simply because it cannot get access to the server to verify itself

    • by RogueyWon (735973) *

      Of course, when you run your nice, DRM-free, cracked awesomegame.exe, what also often happens is that three separate bits of actual (not figurative) bits of malware that were included in the cracked awesomegame.exe also start up. These have the wonderful side-benefits of installing a keylogger (allowing for innovative social-network-style sharing of all of your passwords etc), giving you exciting NSFW pop-ups 24/7 (no need to go browsing for your dirty pictures any more) and reducing your system performance

  • I didn't think the Stardock games needed the Stardock client running when you play the game?

    (I'd check but it's been a few months since I played GalCiv and I deleted it just the other day to save space.)

  • Ah, memories of having to sign up for, and have running, both "Games for Windows" and "

    This sort of junk reduces my willingness to pay good money for games. Going to the pub or buying a cheap DVD are both much less hassle ways to spend a little free time...

    • by IBBoard (1128019)

      And....and what? I MUST KNOW! Although, if one of them is GfWL then maybe the other one was censored for our sanity and it is best kept secret!

      I agree, though. Why put so much junk on games? The only way not to be treated like a criminal these days is to be a criminal and pirate the game! There's something seriously wrong when it gets to that. They need to focus on the important stuff (producing good stuff) rather than on the pointless arms race that is "defeating the pirates". If you make stuff good enough

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Where did Shamus Young ever get the idea this was about publishers wanting to be the leader in 'serving content'. Nothing could be further from reality. I think he has fallen for the public relations excuses. If there was a list of priorities for these various systems, being the leader is way down the list.

    These so called distributors or publishers want two or three main things from this.
    1) Increased Profits. Only this tops the list and is the prime motivator. There are several things to follow that help en

  • by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @08:01AM (#30902816) Journal

    It seems every little crappy program or tool these days wants to install their own "helper" thingy, either hidden or in the task bar. I wish all software companies would be a little more responsible about the cruft they load our computers down with.
    5 Simple rules:
    - only run stuff in the background if there's a good reason for the job to run continuously.
    - for stuff that doesn't need to run all the time (and checking for updates most definitely belongs in this category), perform the task(s) when the associated program itself starts.
    - if it runs in the background, it goes on the task bar (so we know it's there)
    - if it runs at startup, there's a simple way (config setting) to disable it.
    - if running at startup is disabled but the job is essential for the associated program, the job is started automatically when the program is launched.

  • by Aceticon (140883) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @08:02AM (#30902820)

    The natural conclusion from the article is that Game Distribution Platforms seem to be affected by networking effects - buyers gravitate to the one with the most games, sellers gravitate to the one where most buyers go to. This means that the market will move towards a situation where there are only one or two winners.

    This might seem like a good thing (fewer random background tasks running in people's PCs) until you think about those people that bought games in what turned out not to be one of the winning platforms: the games that they bought in that/those platforms typically will stop working when the servers are turned off (or, at best, you won't be able to do a new install ever again due to online activation).

    This is a bit like VHS vs Betamax (or HD-DVD vs Blueray) only much worse: anybody that bought movies in Betamax format can still play them as long as their Betamax player works, but anybody that buys a game that authenticates with a platform that later goes down will quite likelly be unable to play that game ever again once the authentication servers are stopped.

    Considering that the really good games are still played 5 or 10 years later (pretty much any gamer over 30 will be well aquainted with the experience of rediscovering an "oldy but goody" and playing it again), and that the game publishers rarelly have any interest in keeping the game going once they stop selling it, even those whose games which where bought in a platform that is still going 5 of 10 years in the future still run the risk of having their games killed by after-sale, arbitrary planned obsolescence.

    Me, I vote with my wallet and refuse to buy any games that have online activation and/or authentication for single player gaming (currently playing "X3:Terran Conflict" on the PC, bought after they removed DRM with patch 2.5): if others did the same the industry would give up on this.

    • by Shrike82 (1471633)

      anybody that buys a game that authenticates with a platform that later goes down will quite likelly be unable to play that game ever again once the authentication servers are stopped.

      That's the point at which the user can pirate the game without any need to breach their ethics. If I buy a game (the hell with this "licence" bullshit) and some triviality like an authentication server not being available stops me playing it you can be damn sure I'll pirate it in a heartbeat. Technically I suppose that would still be a crime, but any sane-person would agree that it's morally right.

  • I loved the original - I met a guy playing it in an apartment I rented in Amsterdam's red light district after Expedia failed to book my hotel - thought "wow, someone made an awesome looking 40k game!" and thus my foray into RTS' began. Didn't play a great deal online, mostly over the LAN with friends and beer, had a great time, and this served as a nice intro to Relic's superb WW2 RTS Company of Heroes, which I also love.

    I was looking forward to the DoW sequel... until I found out that it would not only re

    • To be fair the first BioShock ran about the same kind of system. History showed us that they disabled the GFWL and SecurRom phone home if you bought it off Steam a few months after release. It's mostly just there to give headaches to the people that are cracking the game.
    • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @11:47AM (#30906154) Journal

      I loved the original - I met a guy playing it in an apartment I rented in Amsterdam's red light district after Expedia failed to book my hotel - thought "wow, someone made an awesome looking 40k game!"

      You were stranded in Amsterdam's red light district, and the best thing you could find to do was play video games?

  • ...would eventually end up clogged with loaders, patchers, helpers, and monitors.

    They'd have to join the queue, then. This has long been a headache with all software and device drivers, not just games.

  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @08:29AM (#30903094)

    Don't forget that companies are already shutting down their own game servers [slashdot.org] to get people to play the newer games. Madden 07 and 08 are already being shut down...

  • If you want a platform where a single entity controls everything, even the right to run a game, so you can't play game A, because you have the creator of the platform to authorize it. There are consoles.

    If you want freedom, you have the PC.

    And withouth options, freedom is meaningless. I use Steam, because is the best (read: more convenient, run smooth) system. But there are other options, so If I don't like Steam because whatever reason, I can switch to any other digital shop, like Impulse, or D2D.

    FREEDOOM

  • by dangitman (862676) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @08:43AM (#30903264)
    The proliferation of game distribution platforms is very annoying. Which is why I am the CEO of a company that is introducing an innovative new product that distributes and manages game distribution platforms.
  • by GrantRobertson (973370) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @09:46AM (#30904160) Homepage Journal

    This is the problem with frikkin cloud computing. Everybody and their brother wants to reach down from that cloud and stick their finger in your pie. When they are done they just give you the finger and you are left with a useless mess in your pie-tin.

    Just imagine a sick cross between Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel and American Pie.

  • by theJML (911853) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @10:29AM (#30904888) Homepage

    The battle for my system tray is getting crazy lately in general. I don't subscribe to any of the digital distribution channels (except iTunes), but things keep filling my system tray and I don't like it.

    Why does everything have to have a quick start agent? It's one of the first things I disable. I know for a fact I'm not going to use the program everytime I turn on my computer, so why waste the time when booting?! Also, if I wanted to load the program, then I don't mind waiting for the program to load, is it that hard of a concept?

    And if your program takes THAT LONG TO LOAD that you have to have a QUICKSTART feature, I think it's time to rethink your program's requirements and efficiency!

    I suppose the fact that they download updates in the background is handy for some people, but I really don't want my PC doing anything that I didn't tell it to do. In fact, I don't like patching things all willy-nilly either.

Unix is the worst operating system; except for all others. -- Berry Kercheval

Working...