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The Almighty Buck The Internet Entertainment Games

Game Retailers Hurting Themselves With Digital Distribution 167

GameBiz recently had the chance to speak with Brad Wardell, CEO of Stardock, about pricing and distribution within the games industry. Wardell follows up a bit on the Demigod piracy fiasco from a few days ago, and mentions that retail outlets may be on their way out. "Retailers need to be careful about this stuff. They're kind of signing their own death warrants once they push digital distribution at the store. Once you have the thing set up — once you've experienced how to purchase the game or deal with it online — why would I go back to the store for the next purchase? Especially if the store isn't providing added value. If you're a retailer, you're killing yourself. If I can't get a game off Impulse, I'm going to Steam. I like stores, but I'm really lazy."
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Game Retailers Hurting Themselves With Digital Distribution

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  • Seems kinda obvious. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fractoid ( 1076465 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @02:38AM (#27656781) Homepage
    If you go into Dymocks or Barnes & Noble or some other book store, you don't really expect them to say "go buy it from", do you?

    This applies even more so for digital media where the entire product can be downloaded (barring shiny manuals and soforth that rarely happen these days anyway). Isn't a physical retailer becoming irrelevant anyway?
    • Books don't run on a computer. You can "download" a book, but using a laptop to read a book is inconvenient, and an e-book reader is expensive and clumsy.

      But software needs to run ON the computer. There's no real benefit to the packaging and/or CD itself once it's installed, other than you can get $3 selling it back to (ahem) the local software/games store.

      Used games is what the local software store makes money on, anyway. I bought GTA 3 for PS2 at the local store for $7, and I doubt the the original guy go

      • by Kokuyo ( 549451 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @03:25AM (#27656963) Journal

        You all seem to be ignoring that deep down, most of us are still hunter-gatherers.

        Personally, I like reading stuff on screen. Gives me way less cramps than holding a book or keeping my head at weird angles because the book is on the table. Yet, when I buy stuff, I want a physical presentation of that to put on a shelf. I want my books looking as nice as possible, I want my movies as DVDs and I want the good games to have the packaging standing around somewhere (with such a low number of good games coming out these days, the space used is negligible).

        What I'd like to see is this: I go to Amazon, buy a book/movie/game/music and they'll send it just as we're used to. Then there's the option, like a gift wrap, to download the thing for another 3 bucks (gotta pay for bandwidth and server storage after all).

        That's the way I want it. I don't want to have to bend over backwards to get my digital content from my media onto my harddrive. Even worse with non-digital content. The mind boggles at the thought of scanning a whole book let alone half a dozen or more. Considering that publishers have digital versions of just about anything they produce, one should think this would be a piece of cake.

        • by Jurily ( 900488 )

          What I'd like to see is this: I go to Amazon, buy a book/movie/game/music and they'll send it just as we're used to. Then there's the option, like a gift wrap, to download the thing for another 3 bucks (gotta pay for bandwidth and server storage after all).

          Nah, that's redundant. Why should I have to pay to get dead trees when I only want to read it on the screen? You like dead trees, that's fine, but I don't have the skyscrapers to put all my downloaded books in. (Naturally, all from a legal source, and naturally, I wouldn't have this many if I had to build a library to store them.)

          Maybe download could be a delivery option, but forcing me to get it in two formats is just weird.

          • by Kokuyo ( 549451 )

            I said that's what _I_ would like to see. Naturally, the other way round wouldn't be rocket science after that.

            • Best of both worlds, offer it for download with the physical copy shipping with a coupon for X off the digital copy where X is equal to all but $3 (or whatever) of the cost of the digital copy.
            • I'm puzzled by the trend by a few authors of releasing their books for free online, then expecting people to buy the paper copy. In one case I even saw the hardcover, saw the note saying "this is CC-licensed and free online," walked out of the store, and downloaded it freely and legally. As a writer, I'm wondering whether this free-release practice works for anybody but Cory Doctorow.
              • It's because it boosts the sales of all their works, especially the one they put up for free. Honestly. They do it because it makes them more money.

                Books that make money tend to only make money in the first few quarters, after that sale of those books plummet. The same is true for even blockbuster monster hit books, the difference being the low point for those books is about the same as the high point for your average successful book.

                By putting a book that has been out a year or two online, they draw new

      • by krischik ( 781389 )

        A good mobile phone can be used to read eBooks. And that is not at all expensive and clumsy.

        I know it is off topic but I hate amazon for breaking the mobipocket idea of "read on the device you already own" to push there Kindle thingy.

        So stupid - got the whole infrastructure for platform in-depended eBooks when they purchased mobipocket and they broke it.

        • by xaxa ( 988988 )

          Ebook readers have screens that are so much nicer to read for long periods of time, it's just like reading a real book, and not at all like having a light shining in your eyes.

          I was going to buy one for my commute (by train), but then I noticed my nearest public library was just over the road from the station and didn't bother.

          A good solution would be to put an e-paper screen on a phone, although currently that'd be at the expense of watching video etc.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by krischik ( 781389 )

            I don't mind eBook readers. What I do mind is reduction of choice or unnecessary and incompatible changes to an established file format.

            Mobipocket can be read on various eBook devices, Windows PCs, PDAs and Smartphones.
            Mobipocket. You can buy Mobipocket eBooks from about a dozen shops - most of which even features in the Mobipocket software them self.

            Mobipocket was inviting other companies to join in.

            And what did Amazon do after they purchased Mobipocket? A minor but incompatible change to the file format a

            • Mobipocket can't be read on a Sony reader (without breaking the DRM).

              Mobipocket can be read on your computer until your computer hard drive crashes and you have to reinstall your OS, at which point your computer gets a new Mobipocket key, and all your existing books won't read anymore.

              Mobipocket is a format designed to be incompatible with the rest of the world from the word go.

              • All true. Put my point still holds as Amazon Kindle uses a slightly changed Mobipocket format which is even more restricted. Of course if you break DRM they are both the same again.

                Instead of all readers apart from Sony it's only Kindle and nothing else. That is certainly not an improvement.

                Besides: why am I not surprised that the Sony reader won't read Mobipocket? Well obviously, because it's Sony, the company which brought us the memory stick and atrac3.

                • Actually, shockingly Sony is turning out to be the open one here, since they've added support for epub, an open standard based largely on XML and XHTML.

                  I know; it's like the sky is purple and pigs are zipping through the air.

      • by Nursie ( 632944 )

        There is one good reason for buying it at the store - price.

        Spore, when it came out here in good old rip-off Britain, was a whole 10 pounds more expensive online than it was in store.
        WTF? Surely it's cheaper to push some bits around than to ship it out? And 10 pounds? That's a lot.

        Either way, I went to GAME and got it there. Now I not only have physical media, but I got it for three quarters the price.

      • Should I point out that you're a Luddite now, or wait till the end of my post?

        Books are a terrible format for information to come in, it's easy to lose ones place, bookmarks can fall out easily and one has to find a position which is comfortable, the size of the print and the spacing are usually not right for large portions of the population.

        Computers can solve most of those problems quite easily with technology that we already have, and pretty much all of that has already been addressed by at least one ebo

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Kharny ( 239931 )

          Books are easy to replace, cheap and require no electricity to operate though.
          Ease of use is still a lot higher than ereaders or computers.

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @08:37AM (#27658539) Homepage

      Only for the excessively rich. The rest of us wait until the game hits the $19.95 bargain bin.

      you might be incredibly wealthy and thinks that $69.99 for a game is nothing, but 90% of us think it's insane and wait for it to become affordable.

      Digital distribution allows them to keep the price high as hell forever if they want, It costs nothing to make more copies for them and they dont have the stock of CD's or DVD's out in stores getting dusty over the course of a year forcing the price down.

      also it helps game companies by destroying the used game market. If I have to buy all my Wii and Xbox360 games online, I cant sell them used or buy them used...

      and the Game publishers are salivating uncontrollably over that idea, they desperately want the used game market to go away.

      • by MarkvW ( 1037596 )

        You hit the nail on the head.

        Retailers, I suspect are much more sensitive to fluctuations in demand because they have to bear the cost of physically stocking the products that don't sell. I suspect that they'll put stuff in the bargain bin way faster than an online retailer will.

        On the other hand, maybe online retailers will get more sophisticated as time passes.

        • No doubt. There's been something of a fracas on one of the Guild Wars "elite community" sites[0], about the upcoming Storage update. They are offering new "panes" of storage (each holding 20 items/stacks) for $10 each and people are going mad. This, of course, is understandable since you can get a secondary ACCOUNT(each offering at least 200 slots and many other advantages) for $10 from any number of online and B&M retailers.

          Of course, new campaigns that are $9.99 on newegg/amazon are still $40 on the N

      • by GiMP ( 10923 )

        As the games become less popular, the value naturally decreases, even with digital distribution. The retailers, even the online ones, know that they won't sell an older, (now) unpopular game two years after its release for $50.

        Like you, I tend to only buy games once they're in the bargain bin, and yet I now do this almost exclusively online. Especially with the economy in the dumper, I've seen "bargains" popping up on Steam quite frequently. Games that were $50+ a year ago are now going on sale, or into

      • No, actually I live in Australia, where you can still find Black & White on the shelves of our local game shops for $79.95. The used game market is there but it's not as big as getting things off Steam, or simply torrenting stuff.
      • I appreciate how time mitigates the risk factor too. For fifty bucks, I know I'm paying to cover the marketing push of the company that made the Shiny New Game, but I don't know that I'm paying for a game that's worth it.

        After a few months -- or even years -- the true value of the game will come through, and marketing will no longer be a factor. The game will have shown that it had the chops or not, and price will probably be much lower. I risk less cash for a better proven experience.

        Gaming on the Long

    • by morari ( 1080535 )

      A physical retailer offers a physical product, whether it be books or game discs. That means a lot to me. Besides, there are still a helluva lot of people out there with no access to broadband connections. Digital distribution is a poor solution to a non-existent problem. All it does is allow for DRM to be implemented and controller easier than ever.

      • (Shilling a bit here. I am not affiliated, I just love the company.)

        Good Old Games ( provides excellent games on the long tail, completely DRM free. Buy it, it's yours. Plus you'll typically get extras like the soundtrack, the manual in PDF, desktop backgrounds, and add-ons.

        It's a great system. I hope more businesses adopt it.

        • Wow, I have a copy of Little Big Adventure that I yoinked from Underdogs (I owned the game way back when but predictably discs are long gone), but it didn't come with the sound files. I'd happily pay a few dollars for the soundtrack, some of the music on that game was beautiful.
    • These days I find that if I have question in a physical store, the employee I talk to will go to a store computer, and use it to look up the info on the company's public Web site. This seems to happen at B&N. The other day at a Best Buy I went looking for the game "Portal," and the young male clerk had to look it up online and ask me to spell it.
      • This is one thing that really, really annoys me. I go into a Telstra Shop, to sign up for an internet plan (this was a few years ago, they were the only company that supplied cable to my apartment block) and he was blatantly filling out the "apply online" form on their website. I'd hoped to get slightly faster service, and maybe some professional advice, by going to the store in person... well, I *was* young and foolish then.
  • Not necessarily (Score:4, Interesting)

    by owlman17 ( 871857 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @02:40AM (#27656797)

    With music, the stuff that really matter to me, the musicians I really like, e.g. U2, Def Leppard, etc. I still buy the physical CD even though I could just as easily buy the digital versions from the comfort of my room. Not only am I a completist, I am a fan of those bands. My "B-class" bands or one-hit wonders, yeah I do buy the digital versions.

    Same principle with games. I've been waiting for StarCraft II, Diablo III, etc. Even if I could get them digitally (if offered), I'd still buy them from the local store when they come out. I've gladly paid a premium for the physical copies of the games I really like over the years. Not just for the nostalgia, but also to support our local store.

    • by Mex ( 191941 )

      That's nice that you buy the CD, but you're part of group of consumers that are fast becoming a minority.

      Obviously game stores won't disappear soon, but they'll definitely become very niche, for collectors. Forget about nationwide chains. Remember "Tower Records"?

      • There is a "Tower Records" in the mall near me (AEON Okazaki, Japan), it is just the stores in the US that liquidated.
        Too bad so many of the CDs in that store are over ¥3,000.

    • But why buy from the store? If you attend the concerts, you can usually buy every album you want at a discount, with no retailer involved.

      For less well known bands (i.e. not U2 and Def Leppard) the amount you save by purchasing albums at the show can cover the entire ticket price.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by xaxa ( 988988 )

        The small artists I see seem to charge more for their CDs at a show than it would cost me to get them from Amazon.

        For instance, I saw Zeromancer [] a couple of weeks ago. They wanted £14 (or more? can't really remember) for their latest album, but it's available for £9.25 on Amazon marketplace. Admittedly, that's from the USA, but I don't mind waiting a couple of weeks for CDs to arrive.

        I'd like to support local independent record stores, my favourite is Resurrection Records [] in Camden, London, sinc

        • by plover ( 150551 ) *

          By making that choice you're supporting the "music industry" rather than "the artists". Granted, the producers make as much money either way, but by purchasing directly from the band you would cut the distributors out of the money, and give a proportionally larger amount to the group (who will hopefully put out another album for you to enjoy.)

          Put it this way: buying a £9.25 disc from Amazon you'd give £6 to the producer and the RIAA, and £3 to the store, leaving about 25p to the artist

          • by TheLink ( 130905 )
            If the music industry can provide it cheaper maybe they are providing a service then :).

            Of course if you really dislike the producer and the RIAA, the cheaper alternative is to get the stuff from P2P for 0 pounds, and then pay 8 pounds to the artist.

            But marketing $$$ is often how you found the artist (even if not directly).

            Perhaps someone would make a site, collect, organize music and do various Top 100 listings according to various taste categories. Not sure how that site would make money though.
      • If you attend the concerts

        A lot of bands play in bars and in other venues that are legally classified as bars [], shutting out their fans under age 21. By the time a fan is old enough to attend a concert, the band will likely have broken up.

        • by xaxa ( 988988 )

          If you attend the concerts

          A lot of bands play in bars and in other venues that are legally classified as bars [], shutting out their fans under age 21. By the time a fan is old enough to attend a concert, the band will likely have broken up.

          I can't really tell, but if what you've linked to is a large nightclub with some bands, opening at 10pm with the bands on at midnight, that'd usually be 18+ here. The emphasis on the night would be drinking and dancing, with the bands a bit secondary.

          If the night is mostly bands, with a DJ just between sets, and opens at 7pm with the bands on at 8pm, that'd be 14+ (or younger, if you have a parent with you. I've seen 5 year olds sitting on dad's shoulders...)

          For a gig in a pub, you'd need to be 16 (or accom

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I still buy CD's as well, but it's mainly due to a lack of quality online downloads. When you buy a game at a store or on Steam you get exactly the same game, but buying a lossy mp3 isn't the same as ripping a CD to FLAC. If there were some decent online retailers of lossless audio I would probably buy from there.
      • I still buy CDs, but for me it's largely a question of price. The last few albums I've bought have been cheaper on CD from Amazon (including delivery) than they've been from the iTunes store. Given the choice between a CD which I can store somewhere as a backup and can rip in any format I want, or paying more for an AAC version, it's a pretty easy choice. If I could buy them online for $2-3 then an album would be an impulse purchase and I'd buy a lot more.
  • by SethJohnson ( 112166 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @02:40AM (#27656801) Homepage Journal

    Online distro favors devs / publishers for several reasons:
    • Cut the retailer out of the cost column.
    • Reduce packaging expenses.
    • Reduce overhead.
    • Small guy boutique can make a fortune with just a spare-time effort..
    • End user can't re-sell the purchased product.

    The last is the huge one. Adobe and Microsoft have tried all kinds of tactics to supress consumers' ability to re-sell software. The game companies no doubt hate seeing used game transactions taking place without them getting a cut. With online distro, the re-sell market is crippled.


    • Another one: it screws over the assholes at gamestop. There was some speculation that gamestop was trying to punish stardock for digital distribution. There's as of yet no evidence that I know of to suggest it. I wouldn't be surprised though, gamestop is fond of trying to annoy people into giving them money.

      The game companies no doubt hate seeing used game transactions taking place without them getting a cut.

      A bit of a tangent, but I just have to point out that many other goods are sold second hand, they only rarely result in direct profit for the original manufacturer, and that hasn't hurt those other in

    • Your forgot to include the troubles and issues of online distros:
      1) You MUST support every single country's credit card. On the internet nobobody cares you are from USA or EU. They wanna play. And if you limit them, you pay the price of a pirated copy.
      2) You MUST have 24x7x365 online access. No lunch breaks, no Christmas holidays, no bathroom breaks. Your time is NOT your time. You don't own it anymore. Even if you fail and go bankrupt you MUST provide access to your products. For instance i bought a huge n

      • by tepples ( 727027 )

        You MUST support every single country's credit card.

        What developed countries do payment processors such as PayPal and Google Checkout not support?

        Localized problems are Global problems.

        That's why you put eggs in more than one basket: host your downloads on multiple servers at multiple hosting companies.

        You WILL be using a brand new mode of distribution: one that did not exist for 100 years.

        The Internet is a packet telegraph network. Electrical telegraphy was commercialized in the 1840s.

        You WILL pay for bandwidth.

        Then design your product to use less bandwidth. If Nintendo can fit Super Mario Bros. into 40 KB, and .theprodukkt can fit .kkrieger [] into 96 KB, think of what your team can do with 100,000 KB.

        11 yr old kids don't have 49.99

        Did you m

        • What i stated was preconditions for sole online distros. PayPal and iTunes do not exactly match.
          iTunes still accepts PayPal, but PayPal insists (Apple) that my account is funded with a US billing address. Like i care.
          You are talking about Hosting. Am talking about others too.
          Electrical Telegraphy did NOT send Moby Dick to my home. The internet can. 24x7.
          Payment for bandwidth is advice to the newcomers. Most think bandwidth is free. To make sure they understand that they can't send across a 1.7GB crap called

          • If you're doing an online retail store targeting a global audience, you're probably not going to use Paypal for your sole means of accepting money.

            You know that credit cards and the internet and buying things over the phone and internet have been around a long, long time. It's pretty trivial to set yourself up to be able to accept Visa, Mastercard, and American Express over the web - I think Visa is most expensive, taking 5% of your sale price but it's also the biggest. If you've got those three then you'

      • by Tridus ( 79566 )

        "4) You WILL be using a brand new mode of distribution: one that did not exist for 100 years. if you are shipping DVDs to Gamestop, you used a distribution that was tested over time, perfected over time, clockwork, covered under bank guarantees, etc. Not digital."

        Let's see... Gamestop broke the Demigod street date last week. That's when it's even possible to FIND a new PC game there (good luck at the ones near me).

        If Gamestop has this retail thing "perfected", its no wonder everybody wants to get away from

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Trojan35 ( 910785 )

      This is a double-edged sword. They'll probably need to re-do their pricing structure, because many people who currently pay $60 for a game do so knowing they can get half of that expense back on the used market.

  • No Thanks (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I liked Stardock before they went all Impulse crazy.
    But now:
    - Maybe the game wont activate in the future
    - Who knows what kind of spyware is in Impulse
    - No separately downloadable patches

    I bought Sins but was rather unhappy when they switched the patching system to Impulse. So you could no longer play online (game versions must match between players) unless you installed their spyware.

    No thanks, if I wanted Steam I'd go with Steam.
    Is it so wrong to want to buy a truly DRM-free game?
    On a DVD (which I can back

    • by Tridus ( 79566 )

      "Is it so wrong to want to buy a truly DRM-free game?
      On a DVD (which I can backup), with no passwords/serials to forget/lose?"

      The 82% piracy rate on Demigod last week that took down the entire server infrastructure would suggest that yes, there's a problem with that model. It's not terribly good at keeping the companies who make the games in business.

      • by neomunk ( 913773 )

        Do you have any financial data from Stardock to back that up? Of course not, because Stardock is making money hand over fist.

        Cries proclaiming the death of media companies (especially the recording and film industries) would be far more convincing if I didn't keep hearing the words "record profits" bandied about whenever a story doesn't mention piracy.

        The PC gaming industry as a whole MAY be the exception to this, but Stardock isn't.

    • Stardock won't install spyware, unless they want to flag themselves as one of the biggest hypocrites on the planet. They co-authored the Gamers Bill of Rights [] with Gas-Powered Games. Number 6 states:

      "Gamers shall have the right to expect that games won't install hidden drivers or other potentially harmful software without their express consent."
  • by Renderer of Evil ( 604742 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @02:56AM (#27656855) Homepage

    It's a highly inefficient operation in terms of getting a good return from the shelf space. It's taken up by giant empty boxes that don't do anything.

    Here's an idea. Tear down these remaining stores and turn them into arcades with every game loaded on a server with terminals all around. You pay-for-play and if you decide it's something you'd enjoy pay for a copy on a USB stick. Now you have instant gratification and avoidance of downloading of 3 gigs of shit on Steam.

    • This is actually not a bad idea. I walked into my local EBGames store to get a classic old fashioned Joystick to play X-Wing vs Tie fighter as my current computer doesnt have a MIDI port to pulg my old joystick into. Where they used to stock hardware like this there were a couple of racks of Wii Controller covers, DS and PSP "Skins" Bargin bins of empty boxes and shelves lined with more empty boxes and Collectible Card Games behind the counter.

      The only Joystick they had was under a bargin bin out of sight

  • Confusing Headline (Score:5, Insightful)

    by im_thatoneguy ( 819432 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @03:01AM (#27656877)

    How is it that "Game Retailers" are hurting "Themselves".

    Shouldn't the headline read "Online Game Distributors killing Game Retailers"?

    I haven't seen any actions on the Game Retailers part that is hurting themselves except for existing. I suppose you could argue they should have become what steam is. But that's passively letting yourself die out.

  • With no more used game sales, the publishers can finally have everyone buy new copies and be rid of their number two complaint.

    It'll be a slow transition, but we'll eventually see them discount games down to factor this in, right?

    • by tsotha ( 720379 )
      What do you mean, "eventually"? I never pay more than twenty bucks for a game on Steam. I bought Portal for $5 and Deus Ex for $9.99. Sure, new releases are still $40 or $50, but who's in the driver's seat? If you don't like the price, buy a different game. They'll get the message.
  • Most of the games I buy are through online retailers. I prefer to own a physical copy. I don't like spending over 20 euros on something I cannot touch. (That, and I'm a sucker for collectors editions.) And I don't mind waiting a few days. Offline retailers usually suck, because it's a big mess. It's not easy to find stuff or browse through the whole collection.

  • by TheTurtlesMoves ( 1442727 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @03:47AM (#27657079)
    It seems to be popular opinion that downloads cost are so close to zero that it does not matter. Well after pricing bandwidth deals for servers and minimum bandwidth cost, since you need enough bandwidth for peak demand not average. I was surprised that pressing DVD's and posting could easily be cheaper.

    I can get 1000 DVD pressed for 30p including art on the disk and a 4 page slick. 10000 is much cheaper since it can use the same master. Its not much more for a box. Postage is pretty cheap if your not using amazon pricing as a guide. Now for bulk distribution to shops, I would estimate that is cheaper to sell box sets that online copies.

    Really the price of infrastructure is the killer here. If you could get away with average bandwidth rather than peak it wouldn't be so bad.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      You need a small lesson in Economics 101 my friends:
      1) The cost of a product is NOT equal to its cost of manufacture, storage, shipping & profit. It is much more complex. For instance store display: Shelves are pricey. If you do not want your Game to be relegated to the corner, you better be prepared to give the Retailer a larger share of your take.
      2) The cost of in-store advertising, banking costs (LoC, and other bank costs), add up to your margin; Seriously you are not thinking of shipping 100,000 cop

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        My arguments went nowhere....

        I didn't add all these thing because they distract from the point and they exist on *both* sides of distribution as you said. Really We had full quotes including insurance, storage, legal (a big one) and cost of credit (we don't need much we have cash) but only door to door. Not to a shop. I was not much extra. Once you hit the 100000 copy mark things get cheaper per unit not higher.

        And *lot* of extra cost too. First is the costs of SLA and associated legal fees, no to men
        • Yet you mention all that and then claim I'm wrong.

          Sorry. I didn't mean you were wrong. If i had implied it, am really sorry.
          You seem to have gone through all the options and done a good deal of research.
          That said, online distribution is more of a pain than DVDs. With physical media you have a proven, established, experienced network that works like clockwork.
          With online like Steam or impulse, you entering a new world. Many things may go wrong which are not covered under SLA.
          For instance Steam servers may m

          • Yes, hackers WILL hack your game to produce a hot rodded license file. That's the price you pay.

            I agree completely. I only hope its gets popular enough for this to be something that could happen. I was only going to have a "cd-key" or as you suggested a downloaded keyfile. I really want to be able to ban cheaters. But tell lawyers that and they a little crazy.

            • by freedom_india ( 780002 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @06:38AM (#27657739) Homepage Journal

              From time immemorial man has had the tendency to acquire for free if he could get away with it.
              Stealing Electricity when it was introduced was a BIG problem. Big enough for many companies to die. Eventually it got straightened out.
              Same was with Telegraph. The number of times codes changed in Telegraph is too numerous. Since telegraph companies charged by word, companies had exotic dictionaries with vast number of definitions for each word: Long sentences for single meaningless words.
              So was it with Telephone. People still steal phone talk time through pranks, tapping, etc.
              Internet stealing through WiFi...
              You can't prevent stealing.
              You can only control your own costs so that a stolen Game did NOT result in adding to your costs. Like DemiGod is doing now for Stardock.
              A .license file which embeds the user's email ID, hardware ID and a few random details is quite hard to break yet not too costly.
              No, DRM would not do it. Gamers get mad when their PCs are hacked legally.
              If your Game is stolen, and exchanged for free in torrents, but it does NOT add to your running costs, forget worrying about it. What does not cost you, should not worry you.
              Of course your lawyers will argue that each illegal install is money stolen from you: that's not entirely true. A 11-yr old kid may want to play, but does not have the money to buy it. He will somehow steal it. You can't get money from him. But you can bet that he will praise it to his friends, some of whom will buy it.
              Other crowd is the earning well-to-do crowd. They will the latest. And they will yours.
              Others are professional hackers. They thrive on challenge. They WILL crack the most hardest Games, even BioShock. You can't control them.
              Some, like me, will buy out of loyalty, or will crack it if it can't be bought in my country, or play a hacked version to see if its Good and buy it to keep my PC free of Trojans. And yes, i buy every Game stardock makes: Why? NO DRM. I don't even play their Games. I just buy and that's it. I play Company of heroes ONLY. Not even Crysis. But i still buy Political Machine, Gal Civ II, DemiGod, etc. Why? NO DRM, plus i like Stardock.
              Their support is cool and their CEO seems to have realized that DRM a la, BioShock hits them back.
              Thier only slip up was online resources. This is where they pay costs.
              If yours is not online gaming, then you are good to go.
              People who steal your Game may buy, may not. But as long as they don't cost YOU in server time or resources, why worry?
              Its a Business Risk. Much like CISCO doesn't care if clone copies of their routers are sold in China. Why? They don't incur costs on such cloned copies. So no worry.
              Think about it, but consult with a lawyer. IANAL. So beware. I talk from my experience only.

              • A 11-yr old kid may want to play, but does not have the money to buy it.

                In practice, you're saying:

                A 11-yr old kid may want to play, but her 35-yr old mother does not have the money to buy it.

                But why doesn't she?

                • When faced with the choice of choosing between groceries or game, a wise mother choses groceries. But then many moronic parents still choose Tequila....

                • Clearly, what we need is a federal video game bailout. We can draw publicity by having Congress do an R-versus-D deathmatch, and then have the survivors play video games!
              • by brkello ( 642429 )
                Any DRM is going to be cracked. So I agree that spending a lot of time and resources to come up with DRM is a waste of time. But some simple, non-obtrusive DRM is fine since it will prevent a lay-person from going and downloading a game from some warez site.

                Any justification you give for piracy is fairly lame. Stardock is a perfect example of how pirates can cause damage to online experience and degrade paying customer performance. It is true that not all piracy is a lost sale. But to think that none o
      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        Exactly, thanks a TON for that. The cost of the disc in a store is FAR MORE than your website dishing out infinite free to make copies.

        Plus you are missing the costs of getting your game in a store like Walmart. you have to meet THEIR terms, your MSRP is $59.99? They want it on the shelf at $49.99 and 15% more profit than you give any other store. And Walmart can command t hat because they are bigger than GOD when it comes to retail store locations. They utterly own EB games,bestbuy, and the others r

        • Am NOT trying to justify either means of distribution is better than the other.
          I was trying to tell you the advantages of each one and disadvantages of each one.
          Its up to you to make a decision.

    • I wonder whether it could be interesting to distribute via torrent. Instead of putting the game on a server you'd put the torrent file there and run a private tracker. Those of your customers who are prepared to seed at least twice the download size would get a small compensation - maybe a slightly reduced price, access to a mini game, or an additional level for the game.
      • I wonder whether it could be interesting to distribute via torrent. Instead of putting the game on a server you'd put the torrent file there and run a private tracker. Those of your customers who are prepared to seed at least twice the download size would get a small compensation - maybe a slightly reduced price, access to a mini game, or an additional level for the game.

        That'd be great. But what about the rest of us who don't have 100gb/s connections? And this is aside from the fact that torrents are always (in my experience) shit slow.

        • Well you need a halfway decent connection to download the game in the first place. The upload is slower, but would it really matter if you get the extra level in a week's time, while the torrent client runs in the background? Some torrents are very fast - that just depends on the number of seeders.
    • by brkello ( 642429 )
      I really don't see where you are coming from. The cost of pressing, boxing them with manuals, shipping them to stores all over the world, and then letting the stores take part of the profit is not going to be cheaper than selling direct to the consumer. On top of that, it eliminates the used market. And when Valve already has the infrastructure that you can use, I don't see how the traditional method of software distribution is going to last.
  • But I don't. I am in Australia and I have a 12GB/month download cap (after the 12GB my speed is slowed/shaped/capped/whatever to 56k). I am not gonna use up all my bandwidth downloading ONE game. This is aside from the fact that it'd take me longer to download than drive to the store and grab the boxed copy. Maybe we're behind the rest of the world in AU (I dunno), but at this point in time I sure aint in hell gonna download something as big as a game (or Fedora... except that my ISP mirrors Fedora and it's

  • No matter how horribly broken the game is that they sell you, they don't take refunds.

  • I'm a casual gamer who bought a PS3 mainly for Blu-Ray. There are two ways I buy games:

    • I hear about a game, watch YouTube videos, watch trailer on Amazon, buy it on Amazon.
    • I peruse the Playstation Store and buy a cheap game that catches my eye. Instant gratification without worrying too much about losing the game if the console dies.

    Although the main reasons I don't shop at game stores are price, convenience and practicality - I do my research online, so why not buy online - I also hate the following things

    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *
      I would also add another downside to game stores:
      • The douchebag behind the counter who looks like he hasn't bathed in a week, smells like bongwater, and always feels the need to smugly tell me how *HE* only plays his FPS's with a keyboard and mouse (when I'm trying to buy a console FPS).
      • by daybot ( 911557 ) *

        Agreed. The clientele is like this too, either that or whining children. 20 years ago I was one of the whining children in the game store, so I feel their pain, but that doesn't make it any more pleasant.

  • Reading the previous article, GameStop released the game early. So everyone that was chomping at the bit to get the game that didn't know it was available at gamestop, (or that had already put down money to preorder the game elsewhere) had an easy option to get on board early, pirate and play it while waiting for the game to come in at their local shop.

    I'd do that too given the option. Not surprising in the least. They can't call this any kind of impartial representation of how piracy affects sales. In

  • I remember the first game I got: it was a wack-a-mole game for the VIC-20. It came on a cartridge. The cartridge contained a ROM chip. It was digital.

    Later I started buying games on floppy disks. Those were digital too.

    Then some came on CDs. (Digital, of course.)

    At approximately the same times that CD ROM drives became affordable, distribution over the internet also started gaining popularity. The internet is digital.

    Now retailers are saying that the profits from the last 3 decades of software sale

  • So long as there is a need to keep the people sedated and distracted, there will be video games. The manner of distribution hardly matters. Though while dedicated video game shops at the mall may change or vanish, (un-likely, given the reality of console games), I certainly doubt we'll stop seeing physical game packages any time soon.

    Since racks of video game packages are shiny and alluring with all their colors and public profile, I suspect, like magazines, they'll remain in the public perception even af

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.