Tag Archives: Digital Distribution

Console Gaming Has An Amnesia Problem

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I’m very late to post here about the latest discussion over emulation and the distribution of video game ROMs. If you haven’t heard, a little while ago Nintendo sued a couple well-known distributors of pirated classic games — LoveROMs and LoveRetro, both of which are gone now. Soon after that another big one — EmuParadise, decided to shut itself down after 18 years, out of fear of the same fate. Downloading ROMs from places like that pretty much is piracy, and Nintendo is absolutely within its legal right to do what it’s doing, but you may have seen a lot of people recently either defending the ROM sites or criticizing Nintendo’s approach to fighting piracy.

Let me say this: The shutdown of those ROMs sites is such a big deal because the console video game industry is uniquely bad at preserving its history. I say “uniquely” because gaming console manufacturers ignore their history in a way no other entertainment medium or software industry does. Literature, film, music, even PC gaming and mobile gaming, all do a better job than console gaming at keeping legacy works easily available on modern hardware and services. Continue reading

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Will Discord and Twitch Succeed Where Origin and UPlay Failed?

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I had a blog post about Discord and its competition with Steam (along with other PC gaming services) ready to go that I’d written on Tuesday… and then on Thursday Discord went and announced it’s actually going to sell games.

Back in 2014 I did a post comparing Origin and UPlay to Steam, primarily through why each PC game launcher was created in the first place, and how that affected the current status of each one. Steam started as a way to facilitate the installing and patching of games, Origin as EA’s personal game launcher, and UPlay as Ubisoft’s customer loyalty program. To this day, people primarily install Origin and UPlay just to boot up EA’s and Ubisoft’s games respectively. That in itself is fine. Blizzard’s Battle.net gets away with it, Fortnite gets away with it, Minecraft gets away with it. Those services juts aren’t ever going to come close to competing with Steam.

Discord found another way to get onto millions of computers: as a chat app and a universal game launcher. Continue reading

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Xbox Game Pass, The Business of AAA Games, And Singleplayer Games

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The big news this week seems to be that Microsoft’s future first party video games will be included in its Xbox Game Pass service right when they launch. People immediately took this to mean Microsoft is going full Netflix. One long-running Austrian retailer has even gone so far as to de-list Xbox One consoles for fear of the platform eventually going completely digital. I don’t know about that last part, but everything else here makes perfect sense for Microsoft. It’s just another solution to the current problems facing AAA games. Continue reading

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Steam Review-Bombing: Tech Companies’ Regulation With Tools Instead of Humans

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The brouhaha over how Valve has chosen to handle review-bombing on Steam looks like just another chapter in how tech companies are trying to solve human problems without humans.

I’m going to talk about Valve specifically in this post, but there are similarities to how people have reacted to chosen solutions for harassment from companies like Twitter or YouTube. All of them try to solve these problems with new tweaks, features, or AI to try to guide how people use their services. Continue reading

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The Necessary Decentralization Of Steam

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I’ve already done a couple posts about the way Valve handles what it lets onto Steam and how it manages the store, but Valve seems to want people to know some major changes are coming. I’m also still trying to figure out how I even view Steam as a store and a platform at this point. Continue reading

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The Nintendo Wii 10 Years On: What Was And Could Have Been

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The original Nintendo Wii turned 10 over the weekend, I haven’t seen many retrospective articles about it but I haven’t really been looking. Maybe they’ll be up this week. In any case I don’t think I’ve ever shared my thoughts here on what the Wii accomplished and why it failed to follow that up. Continue reading

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Are PC Game Discs In North America Really Dead?

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I’ve made a couple posts in the past year or so complaining about the state of physical PC games in North America. Most people seem assume it completely died out years ago, or are on the opposite end of the spectrum and get surprised by recent revelations like Titanfall 2 on PC no longer being shipped on a physical disc. I think I can at least clarify most of the current status of North American physical PC game distribution for anyone still trying to shop for PC games at a store. I’ve been paying fairly close attention to it for the last several years. Continue reading

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How Often Are Games Actually Lost To DRM?

Since the last time I talked about DRM here we’ve had more time to see the effects of Denuvo. Instead of going through all the usual DRM talking points like sales or quality of services for paying customers versus pirates, I’m gonna focus on one thing: the perceived affect of DRM on the future preservation of games. The whole thing begs the question: do important games actually often become “lost to time” because of DRM making them inaccessible? Continue reading

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Was Bundling The Best Way To Distribute Demos?

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In the past few weeks a couple of high-profile demos have appeared for DOOM and the remake of System Shock. This is understandably getting some people nostalgic about game demos and contemplating their almost total disappearance from the big publisher scene.

I believe I’ve gone over the business reasons why demos are a lot less common these days. If I haven’t, just watch this video basically explaining that there are few situations where a demo is actually a net positive for sales. I still don’t 100 percent agree with that but it makes a good excuse for publishers.

Kotaku’s Patrick Klepek recently put up an article decrying how rare demos have become these days and in response someone tweeted a June 16th article about what’s happening to demos. The one from a couple weeks ago brings up a point I’d like to talk about: demo discs, or the old way of distributing demos, which when you think about it may have been more effective at advertising some games. Continue reading

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Digital Distribution And PR Lessons From Metal Gear On Steam

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After all that hype for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain I talked about, actually getting the game has been an informational and emotional whirlwind for those who chose to pre-order it on PC. Whatever happens, or did happen, let this stand as an example of what publishers and public relations shouldn’t do for highly anticipated digital releases. Continue reading

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