The Digital Distribution Wars Are On Again

 Pages 1 2 NEXT
 

The Digital Distribution Wars Are On Again

Digital distribution for PC games has been here for some time, but there are some new players. Shamus rates the contenders.

Read Full Article

My first experience with Galaxy was just now, downloading the pre-load for the Witcher 3. Apart from an atrocious download speed (between half and a fifth of my download speed on Steam and Origin) that I chalk up to a sudden increase in demand and beta servers, the interface was intuitive enough for anyone who's used Steam and the whole thing seems to leave a rather small footprint. Could be something, especially if it means something better than the current GoG downloader...

One regard that Steam and GOG fails at is the usage of regional currency. I mean, yes, I can technically copy-and-paste the price and find out what the price is in Swedish krona. Alternatively Steam and GOG could do that for me, displaying the price in my local currency directly.

I mention that since both GamersGate and Origin does so, despite that the price doesn't end with that neat 99 that gives them a larger income.

And fun fact with Uplay, though I'm not sure if it's a problem affecting only me, is that when you try to open the steam overlay in-game the game hangs for a good five minutes before automatically closing the overlay and going back to the game. Makes the steam overlay useless. But the uPlay one works of course! Even though it's a lot slower and clunkier!

Bedinsis:
One regard that Steam and GOG fails at is the usage of regional currency. I mean, yes, I can technically copy-and-paste the price and find out what the price is in Swedish krona. Alternatively Steam and GOG could do that for me, displaying the price in my local currency directly.

I mention that since both GamersGate and Origin does so, despite that the price doesn't end with that neat 99 that gives them a larger income.

On the other hand, Steam and GOG don't force me to use the language of my physical region like Origin does. I don't read Japanese, so I have to use a VPN just to browse their store.

I remember when I gave Uplay a chance with Driver: San Francisco on PC. It's was always-online, but I didn't mind. Then Uplay went offline for the entirety of December 2012. I have not bought a Ubisoft game on PC since then, and I only bought 2 on console.

Has the service completely failed that much recently? I might get Far Cry 4 on PC if Uplay isn't total garbage.

You mention that Origin "launched" three years ago, but that's simply when they re-re-rebranded the unpopular EA Downloader from way back in 2005. Steam itself has gone through several UI overhauls since then; if they had simply changed the name, would that constitute a completely new release?

GamersGate sure has an unfortunate name.

I just wish there was some way to transfer games from one distribution platform to another. I don't like having my "library" scattered across half a dozen different programs, which need to be separately installed, each of which requires a separate account/password. It seems like these platforms try to sell themselves on convenience, but they're only convenient if you stick to one of them.

If I start enthusiastically giving my money to GoG and supporting their new platform will CD Projekt stop making games?

Edit: To clarify, this is a jab at Valve, not CD Projekt

Irridium:
And fun fact with Uplay, though I'm not sure if it's a problem affecting only me, is that when you try to open the steam overlay in-game the game hangs for a good five minutes before automatically closing the overlay and going back to the game. Makes the steam overlay useless. But the uPlay one works of course! Even though it's a lot slower and clunkier!

I've had this exact problem as well. Especially in Far Cry 3. It's beyond annoying. To make things worse I can't even play my uPlay games right now. If I try to launch something like Far Cry 3 I have to wait for uPlay to update before I can play my game. However uPlay crashing during the update process and I'm now trapped in a loop. It even crashing during the uninstall process and won't go away. It's like a virus that won't go away.

Irridium:
And fun fact with Uplay, though I'm not sure if it's a problem affecting only me, is that when you try to open the steam overlay in-game the game hangs for a good five minutes before automatically closing the overlay and going back to the game. Makes the steam overlay useless. But the uPlay one works of course! Even though it's a lot slower and clunkier!

Hmm, which game/s does this happen with? Anno 2070 (which I'll get back to in a minute) and Rocksmith 2014 don't cause any issues for me.

Back to Anno 2070, that will always be my biggest point of contention with UPlay: it took me two years after buying the damn game before I could even play it, and UBi's recommendation involved poking around with router settings I'd rather not touch, because last time I did it took me three days to get my internet working over it again.

As for Steam, I'm in full agreement here. Steam needs the competition for people to readily flock to in order to keep them from putting any truly shitty practices into place. Origin is a bit of an odd case for me. While I haven't downloaded any games since my internet service package was upgraded on it yet, on my old package, Origin would routinely and easily at least double the download speeds I'd get from Steam. I'm in the beta for Galaxy, and I'm hoping it might be the real competitive force we need in the digital market to keep Steam under control.

theSovietConnection:

Irridium:
And fun fact with Uplay, though I'm not sure if it's a problem affecting only me, is that when you try to open the steam overlay in-game the game hangs for a good five minutes before automatically closing the overlay and going back to the game. Makes the steam overlay useless. But the uPlay one works of course! Even though it's a lot slower and clunkier!

Hmm, which game/s does this happen with? Anno 2070 (which I'll get back to in a minute) and Rocksmith 2014 don't cause any issues for me.

Far Cry 3, Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon, Assassin's Creed 4, and Assassin's Creed 3. Basically the only Ubi games I have on PC. It's really annoying.

Aah Uplay, it rendered AC: Black Flag unplayable for me once, forcing me to redownload the whole thing on my not that great for big files connection. But I got it down eventually and could go back to playing, too bad it deleted my 40 hour save file.

I'm actually glad GoG Galaxy has come out. I'm too used to clients (that aren't Uplay) at this point. I like having all my games ordered in lists for easy access. It also makes patching more effortless. I even don't not like Origin.

Personally I don't worry too much, I'm one of those daring ones who searches for a crack* if the game can be played without Origin, also for the ones that still use shitty DRM on Steam like Dead Space 2 or anything that used GFWL, I'm not ashamed to say that I actively looked for a crack for that game, also for Crysis Warhead and Dirt 2.

*I know I'm threading that fine line between piracy and legit stuff, I don't care, to me, looking for a crack for a game I already own is not piracy, but whatever.

While I do buy at GamersGate, I think it's fair to mention that most of the non-indies (and some of the indies) you buy there give you a steam-key and nothing else. So it's not much of an alternative to Steam's monopoly, just an alternative outlet with different sales.

we need something for our game libary what trinity was for aim,icq,yahoo - messenger.

Especially heavy users can easily loose track of what they own where.

I prefer getting a game from GoG rather than from Steam, with or without Galaxy, also because of lack of DRM. But mainly because GoG really walks that extra mile for you by providing all sorts of easily downloadable extras that might interest you; manuals, maps, soundtracks, design documents... in that regard it's a better service than Steam.

I wouldn't say that it's much of a war. Both Steam and GOG have large loyal customer bases, and the rest are fighting over the small market share that's left.

EDIT: I just realized that there was no mention of the Humble Store. They're pretty good and should be mentioned.

Well said. I love the Uplay icon means, "Get the console version". Conveys the situation perfectly.

Well, this accurately describes how I feel about the platforms. I use Steam because I've already got a huge library with them. I use Origin to play Mass Effect. I use gog for older games but I generally like what they are doing. The thing is, there haven't been many games out lately that I'm interested in. It feels like one lame nostalgia-based rip-off after another these days.

Pretty good, except you forgot the humble bundle store. Honestly, almost all of my steam games come from humble bundles.

If I can choose between GOG or steam, I always take GOG. I enjoy the service more.
I always get sad when a game that I already bought on steam becomes available on gog. If I'd waited a bit, I would have it on my preferred platform. :'(

You want my attention? Get your bundle on. Steam has like 7 or more services giving regular bundles of Steam codes for low prices. The other guys get bundles rarely from Humble Bundle. So Steam will be my main service until the other guys realize that we don't exist to further their profit margins.

Tiamat666:
I prefer getting a game from GoG rather than from Steam, with or without Galaxy, also because of lack of DRM. But mainly because GoG really walks that extra mile for you by providing all sorts of easily downloadable extras that might interest you; manuals, maps, soundtracks, design documents... in that regard it's a better service than Steam.

They also have a concept of quality control. Now that you can get Saints Row 2 on GOG, buying it on Steam is pointless, because GOG actually went to the trouble of getting the game to work right.

Doom972:
I wouldn't say that it's much of a war. Both Steam and GOG have large loyal customer bases, and the rest are fighting over the small market share that's left.

EDIT: I just realized that there was no mention of the Humble Store. They're pretty good and should be mentioned.

I think in the case of EA and Ubisoft, it is more a matter of control rather than getting what's left after Steam and GOG, as I seriously doubt either could survive on a market that small. And that's not really to say EA and Ubisoft are just that corrupt. I doubt most companies would share with Valve if given the option. It's just that, for most companies, not putting their game on Steam is pretty much suicide. EA and Ubisoft are big enough that they don't need Steam for exposure anymore, and they can certainly handle any costs associated with their own services.

Eclipse Dragon:
If I start enthusiasticly giving my money to GoG and supporting their new platform will CD Projekt stop making games?

Short answer:
No.

Long answer:
Nein.

Seriously, I get that the connotations here are that you dont like their games. Is that it?
But... others do. What if people made the games ONLY I liked? Wolfenstein, STALKER, some insane ultra-realistic strategy games and Witcher. That is all you'd be playing :P

Or is it a jab at valve that have forsaken the Half Life fans?

I've come to associate the Uplay logo with, "You should probably get this one on a console."

Some example of this not the case: Anno 2070 (with extra DRM with the Steam version that being TAGES with 3 machine limit, even triggered by changing graphics cards) & The Settlers 7: Paths to a Kingdom, Might & Magic Heroes VI & Might & Magic X: Legacy
I will state that I could not find more games to add to the pile, but I think it's fitting...

I never had much issues with Uplay, though I will say it's a pretty terrible thing; regardless, the achievements are probably the best thing about it, Upoints are things that more platforms need to do.

Galaxy is great concept from trustworthy company, but it's bare bones so far. Just for sake of competition i will buy every game on GoGG.

PS Don't forget to register you digital and physical copies of Witcher 1/2 on GOG (no matter where you bought them), you'll get another ones on GOG for free and price of wither 3 will drop.

MysticSlayer:

Doom972:
I wouldn't say that it's much of a war. Both Steam and GOG have large loyal customer bases, and the rest are fighting over the small market share that's left.

EDIT: I just realized that there was no mention of the Humble Store. They're pretty good and should be mentioned.

I think in the case of EA and Ubisoft, it is more a matter of control rather than getting what's left after Steam and GOG, as I seriously doubt either could survive on a market that small. And that's not really to say EA and Ubisoft are just that corrupt. I doubt most companies would share with Valve if given the option. It's just that, for most companies, not putting their game on Steam is pretty much suicide. EA and Ubisoft are big enough that they don't need Steam for exposure anymore, and they can certainly handle any costs associated with their own services.

Both Origin and Uplay sell games that EA and Ubisoft don't publish, so it's definitely not just about control over their own games. In the case of Uplay, they actually do sell their games on Steam, with Uplay launching whenever you want to play Ubisoft's recent games.

GOG is great. The best service I think I've had in any store not just a digital game store. The one time I did have a problem due to being double charged I messaged them about it at 11pm and they got back to me the next day at 7am.

DRM Free, fair prices, good customer service, all sorts of bonus goodies, making sure the game actually works. I hope they're able to strike a deal with Zenimax at some point, lots of games from them I'd love to be able to get DRM Free.

Charcharo:

Eclipse Dragon:
If I start enthusiasticly giving my money to GoG and supporting their new platform will CD Projekt stop making games?

Seriously, I get that the connotations here are that you dont like their games. Is that it?
But... others do. What if people made the games ONLY I liked? Wolfenstein, STALKER, some insane ultra-realistic strategy games and Witcher. That is all you'd be playing :P

Or is it a jab at valve that have forsaken the Half Life fans?

Actually I very much like CD Projekt's games and would prefer they don't go the same way as Valve, so yes, it was a jab at Half Life and more or less Valve's general behavior lately.

Eclipse Dragon:

Charcharo:

Eclipse Dragon:
If I start enthusiasticly giving my money to GoG and supporting their new platform will CD Projekt stop making games?

Seriously, I get that the connotations here are that you dont like their games. Is that it?
But... others do. What if people made the games ONLY I liked? Wolfenstein, STALKER, some insane ultra-realistic strategy games and Witcher. That is all you'd be playing :P

Or is it a jab at valve that have forsaken the Half Life fans?

Actually I very much like CD Projekt's games and would prefer they don't go the same way as Valve, so yes, it was a jab at Half Life and more or less Valve's general behavior lately.

Well then I am sorry mate. The Escapist has gotten very cynical and dreary (to be fair, so has the internet in general) and at times it is hard to understand.
Some people HAVE basically stated the first option :(
As sad as that is.

And yes, I do not want them to stop making games. As long as there is passion, even if I dont like it, dont stop doing it.

What, no Green Man Gaming? Functions like gamersgate, using it's own download or keys for a required service. Amazing deals on big title games on and before release (usually 15-20% off), great customer service (so far), and Steam keys if possible for most games. Granted the whole initial big deal about digital trade-ins that was touted when it started have been kinda narrowed down to near uselessness, probably due to publishers and indies requiring their games to have SOME kind of drm client, but the deals! I don't think I've paid more than $53 (many times much lower) for a new release in the past year because of the deals.

Also Humble store because, you know, chairty, plus Deals.

As an aside, I've started to use GoG Galaxy over the past few weeks and holy cow, if I could use it exclusively I would. I honestly loved the concept of GoG beforehand but absolutely hated the downloader, lack of a way to keep track of games, and lack of autoupdates. Galaxy, however, solves this problem for me, making it the defacto client for me because of the lack of DRM, ability to Roll Back the auto patches if it breaks something, and the fair prices, the fixing of older games to make them run on more stuff, etc. Plus those good old games!

Xman490:
Has the service completely failed that much recently? I might get Far Cry 4 on PC if Uplay isn't total garbage.

I imagine if something like those server outages came around again, you would have heard about it from someone when it was relevant.

But to my knowledge, uPlay hasnt had anything that catestrophic in the last year or so.

Lillowh:
What, no Green Man Gaming?

Last i checked, GMG is a third-party reseller, not a distributor.

Shamus Young:
Gamers Gate (not affiliated with the culture-war hashtag) is an interesting contender. They're not big or powerful, but they do offer something that the other entries don't, which is access to your library without needing to use a client.

Complete nonsense. The GoG Galaxy client is entirely optional, and the vast majority of people still access their libraries through the normal web interface. They've explicitly stated that this is not going to change. You even mention this later on, so why lie about it here? GWFL also doesn't require you to use it to access your games, for the most part it's nothing more than a pointless overlay that gets slapped on top of your games when you install them, not a client to access them in the first place.

But there's a new contender on the field. Good Old Games

Again, complete nonsense. GoG was launched in 2008. Uplay was launched in 2009, Origin in 2011, Impulse in 2008, and even GWFL was only 2007. Calling one of the best established players a "new contender" is just ridiculous.

I have no idea what GameStop is doing with it these days.

Two seconds with Google would have told you it was shut down a year ago. If you don't have a clue what you're talking about and can't be bothered doing even a few seconds of research, why even bother writing the article? Actually, don't answer that; we all wish we could get paid for just making up random shit with no need to worry about little things like facts. Keep living the dream.

It's not that I want all the headaches that come with platform wars. (Exclusives, lock-ins, juggling multiple accounts. Just ask anyone who owns more than one console how fun it is.)

There are no headaches. The problems with platform wars only exist when they require you to own additional hardware, or at least pay something extra, in order to use the different platforms. The console wars exist, for example, because most people can't afford to buy four separate computer systems just to ensure they have access to all games. But that's simply not the case here; these are shops, not hardware systems, and every single one of them is free to use. The drive space and RAM required to install and run the clients is so small as to be irrelevant (especially with GoG and GG which don't need a client at all), so the only thing that could possibly be any kind of issue at all is remembering passwords for them, and for the most part that means typing it in once and then letting the client and/or website remember you (or you're sensible and use a password vault anyway).

 Pages 1 2 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here