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Microsoft Entertainment Games

MS & Game Rentals 155

pin_gween writes "Technology News says Microsoft has entered an agreement with Exent to provide On-Demand Video Games. So far, only 6 Microsoft games are licensed to the on-demand service (which costs from US$4.95 to $14.95 a month for access to anywhere from 50 to 300 titles). MS titles are "Age of Empire," "Age of Mythology," "Dungeon Siege," "Mechwarrior," "Rise of Nations" and "Zoo Tycoon." Exent lured MS with the "the shelf life can be prolonged and create additional revenue for the publisher not generated by the retail channel"."
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MS & Game Rentals

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  • by zardo ( 829127 )
    Hey, it's made valve a fortune, I'm sure.
    • Re:Valve (Score:2, Insightful)

      by WTBF ( 893340 )
      Steam is only purchasing games ove rthe internet, this seems more like renting them.
      • I think the "joke" was that Valve/Steam games are time-limited while Steam still exists and hosts them.

        • Which I'm sure if Valve were going to kill steam, they would also send a patch to disconnect the game from needing steam. Because there are a bunch of box set people out there too, not just steam downloaders. While this is rent the game, don't pay up, you can't play.
          • That's assuming Valve kills steam out of the goodness of their hearts. If Valve (heaven forbid) dies as a company... how much do you think the banks will send out the "patch" once steam goes dark? Just a "what-if" scenario. I mean, there might be verbage in the agreement that covers this, but you never know with these things...

            And I'm not saying it will ever happen to Valve, but this sort of thing just makes me feel uneasy in general about ALL "delivered" content. What happens when they die? If I buy a
    • Re:Valve (Score:1, Insightful)

      by SMitra72 ( 871831 )
      But valve doesn't charge a montly fee...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 19, 2005 @06:23PM (#13358723)
    This is going to be like that Quake shareware CD, free games for everyone!
    • Do you have anything to back this up? I heard that the quake cd was encrypted with the full version waiting to be unlocked, but I never heard that it was cracked, though I'm sure someone did it. From some googling it looks like all you needed was a keygen. I bet id never made this mistake again. :)
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Yes it was cracked shortly after it was released with a program called qcrack. It also gave you access to the full versions of Heretic, Hexen, Doom I, Doom II, and a bunch of other games that were on the CD. It was like Christmas all over again when that crack came out.
        • That's awesome. Can't believe I missed out on that back in the day. Of course, I never had cutting edge hardware and I recently got around to playing the first quake about a year ago. Honestly, I liked Doom better because the better atmosphere and some resemblence of a plot. Once I started playing half-life, there just isn't any comparison. Half-life is still the best shooter I've ever played, which is kind of funny, considering that it was written on an improved quake 1 engine. Still don't have the horsepo
          • Whoa, this is cool. I can actually hold a direct conversation with someone from 1999 if I wanted to :)
            • Now that's just funny. Yeah, I've always been a few years behind the times. Games *were* more fun back then, weren't they? Hell, I'd rather play some old SNES games than the latest and greatest. I'd be happy to update my computer technology out of the 90s as long as someone would be happy to start donating to my cause. :)

              Hell, at least I recently upgraded my fileserver from a P166 to a P3-566. Slimserver runs pretty good on it too once you compile your own optimized codecs and run it on a ramdisk, since I r
              • Yeah, I mostly play emulated games myself! I shifted over to the Mac though, so that's about the limit of Mac gaming ;-) Luckily I'm not "really" a gamer.

                Still, with the crazy low prices of components now, I'm surprised you haven't splashed out :)
              • The problem is not the fun factor. The problem is the "difficulty" factor. With the exception of sports games, I haven't beaten a game in like 5 years without Whatever happened to the days when games weren't frustrating and packed with puzzles.

                • Riiight. On average games these days are A LOT easier than they were. Many adventure games offered no clues on what to do next to advance. Action games were completely ruthless, touch an enemy and start the level over. You got at most 3 continues, and maybe 3 lives.
    • Oh man, I remember that day. That was sooooo sweet.

      Seriously though, I doubt it will be cracked, since it uses a central server. Just like steam, or any online game. Sure you can pirate any games, but to play it online, you still need a valid key. There has been no cracks for that. I imagine this is similar.
  • by Fallen Kell ( 165468 ) on Friday August 19, 2005 @06:25PM (#13358729)
    Because you all know you want those 3-4 year old games for $5-15 month charge when you can buy then for $5 bucks...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 19, 2005 @06:29PM (#13358753)
    from the your-games-have-been-assimilated dept.

    How much farther can geeks beat a joke into the ground? The Microsoft Borg joke wasn't funny to begin with, yet slashdot keeps flogging it to death for some reason. Our of all the topic icons on slashdot, only Microsoft gets the crappy, derogatory icon. Why is that? There's no good reason you guys can't use the MS logo just like for all the others. It's also funny how many Microsoft ads there are on slashdot. You guys hate them so much, yet have no problem taking their advertising dollars. Nice hypocrisy there.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      It's also funny how many Microsoft ads there are on slashdot. You guys hate them so much, yet have no problem taking their advertising dollars. Nice hypocrisy there.

      Resistance is futile, Slashdot has been assimilated.

    • And by MS logo you mean what? The word "Microsoft" in the crappy font with a cut in some of the "o" letters (see their website)? Or are you by any chance refering to the Windows logo? That wouldn't really apply to anything Microsoft- but not Windows-related, would it?
    • I thought this was a discusion about renting video games? Not how bad slashdot bashes MS.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      "The Microsoft Borg joke wasn't funny to begin with"

      According to you.

      "yet slashdot keeps flogging it to death for some reason."

      Slashdot flogs many jokes to death. Why make an exception?

      "only Microsoft gets the crappy, derogatory icon. Why is that?"

      Because their business practices are crappy at best and they have been found guilty of abusing their monopoly on varying occasions. If they had turned over a new leaf and stopped being so crappy to other businesses and people then perhaps you'd have a point.

    • The Microsoft Borg joke wasn't funny to begin with [...]
      Come on, even Bill Gates [] thinks it's funny [].
    • All your games a...

      Errr, sorry.
    • > What you say...I thought it was ROFLMAOR funny the first time I saw it (and prob. the third and fourth time too).
      > What do you mean--- I think Bill Gate$ would be proud to be symbolized by the borgness in his image after all he wants to be the head borger doesn't he?
      > Now that is just totally bogus, I mean I don't get any monies from m$(notice the '$' just in case you didn't notice it I had to point it out) and I certainly don't get any ads from m$---'$'
      Oh and one other thing...never mind I shou
    • yet have no problem taking their advertising dollars

      I don't think Microsoft would spend so much advertising money on slashdot if it weren't doing some "good." It must be an effective use of their money. They must be getting some return on investment. Could it be (heresy of herisies!) that in spite of all the vocal and popular MS criticism, most slashdotters purchase microsoft products? I mean - we must be clicking on the little MS Visual Studio .NET ad by the thousands. And what percentage of us has

    • How much farther can geeks beat a joke into the ground?

      there are some questions you don't want to have answered. trust me. the last time someone asked how far a geek could beat a dead joke intot he ground someone hypothosized the distant in light years.. i beleive they came ue with 31.337 light years into the ground, as how far a geek could beat a dead joke into the ground. It's funny, laugh! you insensitive clod! accept my pathetic humour that makes me giggle uncontrollably!!
    • There's no hypocrisy. And here's another overused joke for you to bitch about:

      1. Slashdot takes Microsoft's advertising money.
      2. Slashdot runs Microsoft's ads.
      3. Slashdot readers block, ignore, or laugh at Microsoft's ads.
      4. Microsoft doesn't sell any more software because of those ads.
      5. ???
      6. Profit!!

    • Yeah, put a worm in the apple already with Steve Jobs' face on it.

    • Oh lord, here we go again. Do you not understand that this site was started by a Linux enthusiast and continues to be part of an Open Source network of sites? Microsoft has their own forums. Don't like the way MS is portrayed here, then go there. Because I'm pretty sure I can go to any pro-Microsoft forum and read all kinds of anti-Open Source diatribes there. So grow up or move on.
      • The site is "News for Nerds. Stuff that matters". Not "Open Source Rules. Lets Bash Everything Else".

        Also, at the same time, you fail to notice the hypocrasy in the fact that Slashdot reports news of many non-open source companies, including Apple, with barely a bashing to go with it.

        • Apple doesn't do open source? Don't tell the Open Darwin [] folks, or the KHTML [] folks, or.... No, they don't produce ONLY OSS software, but they definately give back to the community. Oh yeah... they also aren't convicted anti-competative monopolists. Got any more examples? IBM? They're on here weekly for giving code to the OSS movement. SCO? We only bash them too. Most of us don't hate Microsoft because they don't write OSS code... we hate them because they're anti-competative and do illegal and immoral thing
    • THIS (parent) is 5:INTERESTING when a post about "Train Simulator" is "2: Troll"?! What are the mods smoking?---Whatever it is, I want some!
    • In Korea, only old people beat jokes into the ground.

      In soviet russia, jokes beat you.

      Hot naked petrified natalie portman oatmeal rental.

      I'd like to see a beowolf cluster of dead beaten jokes.
      • In Korea, only old people beat jokes into the ground.

        In soviet russia, jokes beat you.

        Hot naked petrified natalie portman oatmeal rental.

        I'd like to see a beowolf cluster of dead beaten jokes.

        Stephen king, along with Borg Jokes, dead at age 55.
    • How much farther can geeks beat a joke into the ground?

      Pretty Damn Far, I personally try to beat on or two a day.Hipocrisy?

      The Microsoft Borg joke wasn't funny to begin with, yet slashdot keeps flogging it to death for some reason.

      Ask Bungie, Rare and a list of thousands. May not be funny but would be stupid to ignore. All I can say is, assimilate me Bill, I could use the money.

      Our of all the topic icons on slashdot, only Microsoft gets the crappy, derogatory icon. Why is that?

      I dunno, why don

  • SegaChannel (Score:5, Interesting)

    by blueadept1 ( 844312 ) on Friday August 19, 2005 @06:29PM (#13358754)
    In the 90's there was a thing here called "SegaChannel" by the local cable company (Rogers). It was $30.00 a month, and you got access to about 50-100 games, that changed about half of them every month.

    We need that back! It was probably the most value that I have ever gotten for my money to do with games. (excluding free)
    • Re:SegaChannel (Score:4, Interesting)

      by damiangerous ( 218679 ) <> on Friday August 19, 2005 @06:43PM (#13358855)
      It wasn't something dreamed up by your local cable company. The Sega Channel was created by...Sega, and it was pretty much everywhere in North America (and I think the UK too). It was a cool concept, it actually worked, and it had "exclusive downloadable content" like import-only games way ahead of its time. I seem to recall it being $24.95 here (from the now defunct TCI cable). Unfortunately, it came too late in the life of the Genesis to really catch on.
      • Not in the UK, to my knowledge. Cable has always been second place to Satellite over here, and I don't recall any such service.
        • Well, that prompted me to look it up. According to this site [], it was available to some extent in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway. If you look up Flextech and Sega Channel there's other corroborating information in the form of press releases and the like (such as this []. I don't know how UK cable works, if it's divided up into regional franchises like the US or what, but I'm assuming it just wasn't available anywhere near you.
      • Wikipedia has an article on this: []

        It says that the UK had it 'on certain cable services'.
    • I remember the '90's. I remember that it was actually legal for people and businesses to lend or rent, or even re-sell the software they'd purchased to other people. The only condition was that it wasn't allowed to be run in more than one place at a time. Locally, we even had rent-by-mail companies that would take out full page advertisements in magazines, and post you software to use for a limited amount of time before you were (legally) required to uninstall it and return it.

      Software companies --

  • by Meagermanx ( 768421 ) on Friday August 19, 2005 @06:31PM (#13358769)
    Age of Empire. It's like Age of Empires, but with just one!
    • Age of Empire. It's like Age of Empires, but with just one!

      LOL. Yeah, it's the Evil Empire. You spend all your time shelling penguins with ideas copied from a smaller but better village down the valley with a tribe named The Panthers.

    • You have to get the empires separately in this new delivery scheme.

      "Do you want to download the Babylonians? (Y/N)"

      "Error: Babylonians not found. Please reboot."
  • Personally, I like "all-you-can-eat" models for entertainment, since I have a large appetite and a short attention span. First music, then video, and now games. Logical, but I have to give MS some credit for being the first to enter this space in a significant way.
  • Sure, why not? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by phaetonic ( 621542 ) on Friday August 19, 2005 @06:35PM (#13358802)
    I'd rather download a program via my broadband in a few minutes to an hour sometimes than go to a video rental store only to find the copy they said was available over the phone is not able to be found. However, the titles MS is offering leaves much to be desired.
    • However, the titles MS is offering leaves much to be desired.

      It could be worse (or rather; more humorous). My friendly local cable internet company had an offer where you'd rent a bundle of games for a nominal fee.

      One of the star titles on offer was America's Army. Ah-yup.
  • by Dr Tom Danger ( 621664 ) on Friday August 19, 2005 @06:36PM (#13358811) Homepage
    Oh ya, I can't wait to shell out 14.95 for a solid MONTH of Zoo Tycon. Where does the time go?
  • a more likely reason (Score:4, Interesting)

    by frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Friday August 19, 2005 @06:38PM (#13358820)
    "the shelf life can be prolonged and create additional revenue for the publisher not generated by the retail channel"

    I'm not very familiar with the Microsoft game line, but are not most or all of the games offered ones that there has been a follow-up sequel to? Might Microsoft not see this as a way to gain revenue while at the same time use an old version of a game to promote a newer version of the game? I noticed the obvious absence of the Microsoft "Train Simulator" here, the game that even beta testers reported in bug reports "Unable to have fun with this game" and suspect it's because there is no sequel (the game rapidly lost it's shelf space). So while other companies sometimes release an older title into the wild as a way to promote a newer version, Bill has decided to charge users a reoccuring monthly fee for people to receive such promotions of new games. Nothing new there from the way Microsoft normally views their customers.

  • XBox 2 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Saiyine ( 689367 ) on Friday August 19, 2005 @06:39PM (#13358825) Homepage
    Maybe is just a purchase in anticipation of a valve's steam like download service for the new xbox 2??

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  • Good idea (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JPriest ( 547211 )
    I think I actually have to credit MS here with doing something fairly original. I think at the right price a game subscribtion service would be a good thing for people like me who play games for 2 weeks and shelve them.
  • Wasn't this supposed to be the service that would draw customers to Infinium's vapo.. Phantom console?

    Anyone still investing in Infinium after hearing this news deseves to lose their money.
    • Agreed..

      Infinium named Kevin Bachus as their CEO but Timothy Roberts will still be at the company. No news on the Phantom though.

      They have consolidated all coporate operations to Seattle.
  • "the shelf life can be prolonged and create additional revenue for the publisher not generated by the retail channel"

    Sure, very nice, keep pumping air into a product as long as possible since you don't have to compete for shelf space with other games, or heck even your newest offerings, but there's an opportunity here -- The opportunity to keep your bloddy piece of junk bug-fixed. Do you suppose they'll seize the opportunity?

    • Perhaps it would make more sense if they built up a large database of games and started doing Netflix-like cycling of game slots (free one up, download a new game). The key to making this work is having LOTS of titles to choose from, and I mean LOTS. If they don't have massive, gargantuan quantities of first rate games, it's just not going to work out.

      Timely patching and bugfixes could be one exploitable bonus. I think perhaps another would be a greater ability to deploy a multi-platform game (simply do

  • by antdude ( 79039 ) on Friday August 19, 2005 @06:48PM (#13358885) Homepage Journal
    These games are old. How about a selection of newer games?
    • because they'd perfer you pay $40+ for a new game direct from MS rather than $15 to a middle man who has licensed the game for a much cheaper rate.
    • Theres no market for this kind of service. Most of the people into games enough to want to play games in quantity, are "hardcore" enough that they've already played games from a few years ago (or later versions of them); got bored of them, and have them still on the shelf somewhere. If youve played Red Alert 2, Starcraft, and C&C Generals, why would you want to play the original Command & Conquer? Or better yet - would it even run properly? It might run better on Winex than WinXP ! LOL! Anyways.
    • Yeah, especially MechWarrior, which was released in 1989 []. Come to think of it, I doubt Microsoft has the rights to that.

      I know, it's a stupid little detail, but it still pisses me off. P.S. MechWarrior 2 was the best.

  • Rent? (Score:2, Funny)

    by EK103 ( 759713 )
    Why would anyone rent games online when you can just... uhh... nm :P
  • Give me a $40/month subscription, with access to 10-20 games, keep the games updated and current, and I'm in. I don't spend anywhere near $480 a year on games (more like $60), but I might be willing to if done right.
    • How about maybe a little more $$ ($10 or so at most), latest releases, you pick twelve per year and you can play 'em forever... 'Cause for 40-50 a month, you should be able to buy one of the newest releases once a month... if there are even any worth paying that for. Of course, you'll have to figure a couple hundred per year for hardware as well.
  • by ewhac ( 5844 ) on Friday August 19, 2005 @07:25PM (#13359054) Homepage Journal
    I'm pleased to see that Microsoft has started early in pissing off their distributors and retailers, who really don't appreciate vendors doing an end-run around them, leaving them with shelf stock that's harder to sell.

    That said, I don't think the retailers have anything to worry about immediately, as you'd have to be an idiot to pay $14.95 a month to rent a game you can buy for $20.00.

    I just bought a copy of Dungeon Siege, which included the Legends of Aranna expansion pack, for $20.00 at Fry's. Not only do I own the damn thing and not get dunned every month, but I also don't have to install some insidious piece of spyware/copy-protection enforcement sh*t which phones home reporting my usage and any other damn thing they "need" to know about. Mechwarrior 4 can also be found on the cheap rack for $20.00. And if you really want an amazing bargain, grab Loki's Descent 3 for $4.95, which includes the Mercenary expansion pack.

    This is a really, really dumb idea.


  • by AtlanticCarbon ( 760109 ) on Friday August 19, 2005 @07:36PM (#13359120)
    As other posters have mentioned, we gamers do have the desire to get games over the net. Not only that, a lot of games that don't have much replayability and I'm satisfied with a rental.

    Why are there only old games? What about even selling games digitally (yeah, I'd accept some DRM crap for the convience)?

    So what's the holdup?
  • "So, I gave you money but I don't own this game? Hmm."
  • But this one at least sounds like it didn't suck a fortune out of investors.
  • The article compares this move to the video rental market, whereas here these old game get a second chance at life (and revenue). But I get the distinct feeling Microsoft is leasing these games to Exent simply watch what happens before taking over this market.

    Folks who follow the gaming news should realize that Xbox 360 is being set up almost entirely around the "Live" service. J Allard even admits this is their current strategy. Anyone with more than a couple brain cells to rub together should realize

  • This was just a report about a business deal that happened. These games are some of the games that microsoft wants to license out to this company. For g-d sakes peope, this was just decided upon! I think microsoft sees the success that sega had with their service and I think that he plans to do the same, but keep in mind that he too will have to license bigger, more popular games that he doesnt own, so thats another reason. Within a year or two, for up to 30$ a month people will definately do this servi
  • From TFA (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MrCopilot ( 871878 )
    Joe Blancato, writing for the WarCry Network, a nest of Web sites that attracts more than one million enthusiasts of games, technology and entertainment, observed of the Microsoft-Exent deal:

    "It's just another baby step toward the death of retail, that glorious day when we're not paying $20 for a box and $20 for a game. Instead, we'll probably just be paying $40 for just the game, but at least it'll go into the developers' pockets rather than a publisher."

    Yeah that's what Microsoft, as a publisher, is try

  • I knew a bunch of people doing this in the Boston area back in '98. Of course that was before enough people had broadband and then cam eteh tech crash and they got laid off and I lost touch... but still.. wonder if this is the same crew.
  • The mathematical flaw that I see in DRM is that, in spite of all protection, you HAVE all the data RIGHT THERE. If only you can figure out how to decode it, you're home free.

    That being said, it's only a matter of time before some clever programmer finds a way to break the encryption and extract that data. Yes, this is very illegal, and the games may need to be further tampered with to keep them from reporting you (I'm sure these "rental" versions will be partially rewritten to hook up to an online server

  • ... I wouldn't DRM or time limit these rentals at all. Don't even call them rentals. Call it a subscription service, just like your magazine subscription -- when you unsubscribe you keep all the magazines you own, but I'm sure you won't because next month we have newer, more fun content coming down the pipe, at least some of which will be worth the fee. Subscriptions are just ways to aggregate micro-purchases -- its not worth your time deciding whether you would pay $.25 to read a given newspaper article

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.