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Activision, Double Fine Join With Steam

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the guns-wars-and-psychics dept.

94

Gamespot reports on the expected arrival of Double Fine's Psychonauts on Steam, and the unexpected announcement that Activision is now offering games on the service. Titles from the company include Call of Duty, Call of Duty 2, and Gun, which was developed by Neversoft. From that article: "Whenever Valve does open the digital spigot on the four Activision games, they will join an increasing number of third-party titles available on Steam. This week, Majesco's critical hit Psychonauts was made available on the service, and Ubisoft's Dark Messiah of Might & Magic will launch on the service later this month."

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94 comments

Valve is becoming a publisher (3, Insightful)

yincrash (854885) | more than 7 years ago | (#16427869)

Valve is on it's way to becoming a bigger publisher of other people's games. It's a new avenue of offering games that is definitely in use.

Re:Valve is becoming a publisher (3, Funny)

chroot_james (833654) | more than 7 years ago | (#16428087)

It's almost like steam coming out of a valve!

Re:Valve is becoming a publisher (4, Informative)

NekoXP (67564) | more than 7 years ago | (#16428163)

Having pissed off their previous publisher because they wanted to do things the publisher hated, and hating everything the publisher did anyway, and knowing that every other game developer hates the way the publisher treats them, being a Good Publisher should be very easy for Valve.

And at the end of the day, giving them a feature list:

* We are not assholes like Vivendi or suchlike.
* No box costs! No crappy CD copyprotection breaking the game for 25% of your users! Automatic patching so you can keep the games notbreaking for the paying public! You get more money!

I think that is a compelling set of two-ish arguments to put your game on Steam and rake in some well-earned cash.

Some can't get broadband, you insensitive clod (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#16428729)

And at the end of the day, giving them a feature list:
  • In order to buy even single-player games through Valve, players need to sign up for residential high-speed Internet access. Many geographic areas can't get this at all; others charge $480 for the first year of service.
  • In order to buy games suitable for everyone or for teens through Valve, players need to be 18 or older.
Automatic patching so you can keep the games notbreaking for the paying public!

Widespread humiliation in the gaming press when differences between the publisher's idea of "notbreaking" and the players' idea of "notbreaking" result in dramatic changes in the game balance.

Re:Some can't get broadband, you insensitive clod (1)

Osty (16825) | more than 7 years ago | (#16429175)

others charge $480 for the first year of service.

$480/year is $40/mo which is a generally reasonable price for broadband. If you were implying that they require $480 up front for a year of service, that's different than charging $480 over a year.

Maybe other services should quote in yearly prices. I don't pay $15/mo for Netflix. I pay $180/year! I don't pay ~$90/mo to the power company. I pay $1080/year! I don't have a $3 cup of coffee once a week. I pay Starbucks $144/year!

Re:Some can't get broadband, you insensitive clod (0, Offtopic)

Senzei (791599) | more than 7 years ago | (#16429425)

I don't have a $3 cup of coffee once a week. I pay Starbucks $144/year!
A cup of coffee a week? Ok, admit it you either are not a nerd or you are a coffee snob with a secret Starbucks addiction.

Re:Some can't get broadband, you insensitive clod (1)

Osty (16825) | more than 7 years ago | (#16429939)

A cup of coffee a week? Ok, admit it you either are not a nerd or you are a coffee snob with a secret Starbucks addiction.

I'm probably just weird. I'll hang out at Starbucks for a bit on Saturdays, reading and drinking a latte. The rest of the week, I'm just too busy to get out for coffee, and the stuff at work isn't much worth drinking. Coffee for me is more of a social thing than a caffeine thing.

Internet access is sold by the year (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#16429665)

$480/year is $40/mo which is a generally reasonable price for broadband. If you were implying that they require $480 up front for a year of service, that's different than charging $480 over a year.

I was complaining that residential high-speed Internet access providers tend to want a commitment to a year of service up front. They charge $480 for the first day and $0 for the next 364 days, and spread that payment of $480 over twelve monthly installments. Such an arrangement is not practical for, say, university students home on summer break.

I don't pay $15/mo for Netflix. I pay $180/year!

But are you locked into a multiple month commitment?

Re:Internet access is sold by the year (2, Informative)

jascat (602034) | more than 7 years ago | (#16429957)

Maybe some DSL providers require a service contract, but not a single cable company I have used has required it. Besides requiring a phone line, contracts have what kept me away from DSL. That and cable tends to offer higher speeds. I can deal with a few blocked ports and a non-static IP.

And for people who don't care for cable TV? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#16431645)

Maybe some DSL providers require a service contract, but not a single cable company I have used has required it.

Cable companies, on the other hand, like to tie their Internet access subscriptions to a cable television subscription.

Re:And for people who don't care for cable TV? (1)

iocat (572367) | more than 7 years ago | (#16433809)

Nah, they don't. I mean, they may like to, and they may offer a discount if you get both, but they're happy to sell you just cable. At least Comcast is. My dad and I buy cable and Internet for our "cabin" in nothern michigan for the summer. It's pretty straightforward; easy to turn on, and easy to turn off.

Re:And for people who don't care for cable TV? (1)

Kagenin (19124) | more than 7 years ago | (#16437121)

And your argument about broadband STILL has nothing to do with Steam.

Re:And for people who don't care for cable TV? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#16439079)

And your argument about broadband STILL has nothing to do with Steam.

As far as I know, everything I've said in this digression has related to the following question: How does Steam reduce the cost to end users who purchase a PC game if a significant fraction of end users do not have access to broadband on the same machine used to play the game?

Re:And for people who don't care for cable TV? (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#16444517)

What if most developers and publishers just assume that those who are willing to keep their PC up to date enough to play games (which is an active choice when all the "office" PCs ship with integrated graphics only) are willing to get broadband internet, too?

Re:And for people who don't care for cable TV? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#16446309)

What if most developers and publishers just assume that those who are willing to keep their PC up to date enough to play games (which is an active choice when all the "office" PCs ship with integrated graphics only) are willing to get broadband internet, too?

Then they will lose customers to the larger publishers who are capable of putting boxes in stores. Developers too small to get their product into the retail chain are more likely to be developers of casual games that run fine with integrated graphics anyway.

Re:And for people who don't care for cable TV? (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#16449657)

Then they will lose customers to the larger publishers who are capable of putting boxes in stores.

Of course but I'd say they're losing more customers by pricing their game at 50$ instead of, say, 10$.

Re:Internet access is sold by the year (1)

Osty (16825) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430081)

I was complaining that residential high-speed Internet access providers tend to want a commitment to a year of service up front. They charge $480 for the first day and $0 for the next 364 days, and spread that payment of $480 over twelve monthly installments. Such an arrangement is not practical for, say, university students home on summer break.

I've never heard of this. I've seen some places that do offer yearly charges rather than monthly as paying everything up front will often be a bit cheaper (Xbox Live, for example -- you can pay $50/year or $5/mo which works out to $60/year). However, those same places also offer a monthly plan.

If you're referring to contract length, yes, most places will lock you into a year or two, but there are ways out (tell them you're moving to a location where you can't get their service). Even then, you're still not paying up front.

But are you locked into a multiple month commitment?

Nope. A cell phone is probably a better comparison. I pay $40/mo (actually a little less than that due to discounts), not $480/year, even though I'm locked into a 2 year contract (actually, I'm not -- my 2 year contract was up three years ago and I've been month-to-month on the same plan ever since). Yes, I do end up paying $480 over the whole year, but it's broken up into 12 chunks of $40, not a single lump sum of $480.

Do you really expect to change broadband providers often enough that a multi-month contract commitment is a problem? Read the contracts. They have wording that gives you ways out if you have troubles with the service, for example, so you're not going to get locked into paying for something you can't use. It sounds to me like you just want to hop introductory plans. A better way to do that is to call your provider and threaten to switch if they don't give you the introductory rate (worded nicely so that they want to help you rather than get rid of a problem customer, of course).

Internet access at a student's summer home (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#16431703)

yes, most places will lock you into a year or two, but there are ways out (tell them you're moving to a location where you can't get their service).

Good luck getting the phone company to believe this excuse three times in a row: once before the sophomore year of college, once before the junior year of college, and once before the senior year of college.

A cell phone is probably a better comparison.

No it isn't. A DSL or cable Internet access subscription covers only a single house, while a mobile phone can be used anywhere in the network's coverage area, which often spans an entire U.S. state or more.

Do you really expect to change broadband providers often enough that a multi-month contract commitment is a problem?

Yes: it's called a college student who is the only user of broadband in the family and who lives at home during summer vacation. The other household members do not have a computer, do not have Internet access, or are happy with dial-up.

It sounds to me like you just want to hop introductory plans.

If I want Internet access solely to buy a given game, which is sold only as a digital download, then do I want to spend $40 per month over the next 12 months just to play one game?

Re:Internet access at a student's summer home (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#16444531)

They don't give a fuck about people whose home connection is behind a firewall that blocks Steam (e.g. dorm connection), why do you expect them to care about the three people who leave internet coverage every now and then?

Re:Internet access is sold by the year (1)

DeadChobi (740395) | more than 7 years ago | (#16437259)

The people in the Charter Communications office where I live said flat out that when the introductory offer I've got runs out in three months, that they would be happy to sign me up with a new one if I went into their office and asked for it. I've not seen one indication that they will be holding me for any length of time on any of the literature they've given me. I think they're more concerned with keeping paying customers than with forcing me to pay for service that I can't afford. In my part of the US, no carriers hold you to a contract. The only people who would hold you to a yearly contract are the satellite providers, and if they've teamed up with DSL providers to give you a "triple-play" then they're the people contractually obligating you.

Re:Internet access is sold by the year (1)

Dev59 (953144) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430327)

I know I'm being redundant, but I've never heard of such a thing. Every cable or DSL provider I've EVER heard of uses monthly payments and not an up front charge.

Use one month, pay for 12 (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#16431721)

They charge $480 [...] over twelve monthly installments.
Every cable or DSL provider I've EVER heard of uses monthly payments and not an up front charge.

That's what I said. A lot of geographic areas don't have any form of broadband Internet access that doesn't involve a 12-month commitment. The use case is that if I get Internet access connected, pay for one month of Internet access, buy a game that is not sold in stores, and get the Internet access disconnected, I still have to pay for eleven months that I do not use the service.

Re:Use one month, pay for 12 (1)

Dev59 (953144) | more than 7 years ago | (#16433013)

Wow. Umm, I said that backwards. I've NEVER heard of a broadband service provider who demands an up-front charge. Every single one I've ever heard of wants monthly payments.

Re:Use one month, pay for 12 (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#16433403)

Every single [provider] I've ever heard of wants monthly payments.

I already said that. My point is that because of the 12 month minimum commitment for residential service, they continue to bill you after you've canceled.

Re:Some can't get broadband, you insensitive clod (1)

Sigma 7 (266129) | more than 7 years ago | (#16432861)

In order to buy even single-player games through Valve, players need to sign up for residential high-speed Internet access.


I've downloaded an ISO through a dial-up connection - it took 2-4 weeks.

I'm sure that the various single player games would take a similar amount of time - or if they are "optimized", it would download the most critical content first (e.g. models, textures) so that you can at least make some progress within the game before the next download point. I know Source Engine games have this advantage as Steam is built around that engine.

In order to buy games suitable for everyone or for teens through Valve, players need to be 18 or older.


Isn't this almost true for any online business?

In any case, if you want to make a cheque or money order payment, contact customer support. Alternativly, go for one of the "pre-paid" credit or debit cards where you don't have to have a credit rating or be over 18.

There is no requirement in the subscribers agreement stating that you must be over 18. You just need to be able to make the payment and ensure that your guardian does not contest it.

Re:Some can't get broadband, you insensitive clod (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#16433431)

I've downloaded an ISO through a dial-up connection - it took 2-4 weeks.

Compare to the 1 day turnaround of planning a trip to the local computer game store. Of course, the developer could optimize the game's file size, but not all game artists have the procedural ski11z of the .kkrieger [wikipedia.org] developers.

Isn't this almost true for any online business?

This is not true for brick-and-mortar business. The context is Steam as an alternative to distribution in brick-and-mortar stores. As of 2006, bricks and mortar are not as obsolete as some Steam advocates would claim.

Re:Some can't get broadband, you insensitive clod (1)

NekoXP (67564) | more than 7 years ago | (#16450639)

You never did complete Half-Life did you?

Re:Valve is becoming a publisher (1)

zdude255 (1013257) | more than 7 years ago | (#16428391)

True, not everybody likes to have their games through a service like valve, but for those who do valve does it well, which is the key to keeping people happy with the service. I see a lot of potential but have a feeling the growth will be gradual.

Re:Valve is becoming a publisher (1)

loraksus (171574) | more than 7 years ago | (#16429315)

Or biggest.
Any why not? Sure, they've had problems, but overall, the service is much more reliable than buying games on cds that are sometimes defective or missing cd keys because employees stole them - to say nothing of the good old days of floppy disks.

Holy Shit (1)

AcidLacedPenguiN (835552) | more than 7 years ago | (#16428213)

You mean I don't have to get off my ass to finally get my PC copy of Call of Duty 2???? I'm totally there!!!

As much as I don't like Steam... (3, Interesting)

SaidinUnleashed (797936) | more than 7 years ago | (#16428237)

If Psychonauts gets more recognition, I'll be happy. I picked up that game for :10bux: at Half-Price Books and have felt bad about it because it is such an awesome game and well worth the original proce of 50bux. Go buy this game. It is GREAT.

Don't forget GUN! (2, Interesting)

twistedsymphony (956982) | more than 7 years ago | (#16429649)

Psychonauts is an awesome game, I bought it for the Xbox when it came out.

I think it's also worth mentioning that Gun is equally an awesome game that didn't get much recognition. For those who haven't played it it's an "old-west" action game some RPG and GTA style elements thrown in, the graphics aren't the greatest but the game has a solid storyline and is damn fun with lots of stuff to explore for plenty of replay value. Most people I talk to either haven't played it/don't know anything about it, or have and loved it.

the COD games are excellent as well but I don't think they need any introduction

Just wonderful (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16428361)

Steam is THE reason that I pirate these games. Honestly, I love the HL series enough to buy HL, HL2, and even EP1, but having to run Steam to even play the games, I'd rather get the games from another source.

It insists on running upon startup. You have to start it to play any game, at which time it calls home and checks for unnecessary updates and (of course) let's the publisher know that you're still playing their games.

What happened to the days when product sales actually let the industry know how many people were playing/enjoying their games?

Re:Just wonderful (1)

PoderOmega (677170) | more than 7 years ago | (#16428803)

I'm sure it's not your only complaint, but Steam does not insist on running on startup. I simply used MSCONFIG to remove it from startup and Steam has not tried to put itself back in there like QT and Real does. I'm sure there might be a setting in Steam as well, but I have not locked.

Re:Just wonderful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16429085)

Indeed, there is. I think it's as simple as right clicking on the taskbar icon, but I never run programs at startup if I can help it, and I have Steam installed because I got HL2 with my AMD64 processor last year.

Re:Just wonderful (2, Informative)

SScorpio (595836) | more than 7 years ago | (#16428815)

If you right click a game in Steam and select properties you can uncheck the box that says "Keep this game up to date". Unchecking the box stops Steam from automatically patching the game.

The whole calling home thing is the copy protection to make sure that you are validated to play the game. At least this way you don't have to put up with CD checks like Starforce that can mess up your system. The only issue with this method of distribution is the whole selling of used games. With a CD check you can just sell the whole disk to someone and they can go play. With Steam you have to pay Valve a small fee to transfer the license to another account. With Half-Life 2 this was $10. With many games being sold on Steam for $20 this kills the resell because you'd only make $10 or the buy can give all of the $20 directly to Valve and not have to deal with you.

Thats not all (2, Interesting)

crabpeople (720852) | more than 7 years ago | (#16429079)

"The whole calling home thing is the copy protection to make sure that you are validated to play the game."

Thats not all that they are doing with steam. With episode one (and im sure everything else) they actually track such things [steampowered.com] as how many times you die, by what, what you were doing at the time, how much time it takes you to pass different parts, etc... This is kind of worrying to me, because if they are tracking that, what else are they tracking? Do they log keystrokes too? would they admit it if they did?

Don't get me wrong, episode 1 and halflife 2 are great games, but when I heard about the level of data logging that they do, you cant help but be a bit scared.
I didn't know about the resale BS.. This is why I avoided steam for so long, but HL2 is such a compelling title that I sacraficed security for a gravity gun. Its really sad how easy it was for me to compromise my security for a little bit of teh shiny..

Re:Thats not all (1)

jhembruff (996103) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430693)

That kind of data is a designer's wet dream. They can see if new engine featuers are being utilized by enough people to make it worthwhile (like HDR), how long on average people sit down to play for (to help them with pacing), how many people are actually finishing the game, or if people are giving up because it gets too difficult. As for logging keystrokes, do you get paranoid that MS also logs your keystrokes? I don't really see the gain for Valve to secretly log your keystrokes (unless they want a huge long list of WWWWWSSAWDSWWWADS) unless everyone else except for me likes to bring down the console and type in all their passwords every 5 minutes.

Re:Thats not all (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 7 years ago | (#16431127)

Yea, you got scammed, especially when you could've traded what you paid for that gravity gun for a Singularity Cannon from Unreal II, which does *FAR* more damage, to *MULTIPLE* people (and it sucks them all in and distorts their bodies in so many different ways!!!) Epic had it first, remember that one, pal. ;) You're just buying a re-hash at a lower technology scale. Would you do that in the real world? :)

Re:Just wonderful (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16429969)

The whole calling home thing is the copy protection to make sure that you are validated to play the game. At least this way you don't have to put up with CD checks like Starforce that can mess up your system.

You know, I have actually bought games that have no copy-protection, like Alpha Centauri. I paid for them because they're good games, and don't have any copy protection. The first thing I do when I install a game I paid for is go look for a no-CD-check patch.

The only issue with this method of distribution is the whole selling of used games.

Yes. The games are locked to your login or whatever. You do not own these games! You have bought a license. This is simply an attempt to eliminate the effect of first sale law. They want to eliminate the used games market. Did you hear the story about the last musician to try to make that happen? His name was Garth Brooks, and people were burning his CDs all over the country and vowing never to listen to him again. I don't understand why gamers aren't reacting the same way.

With Steam you have to pay Valve a small fee to transfer the license to another account.

Yeah, how much longer will that last? And in any case, it's none of their business.

WTF are you talking about? (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 7 years ago | (#16431073)

The whole calling home thing is the copy protection to make sure that you are validated to play the game.

That's why I bought the original Half-Life, and now that Steam *INSISTS* on me updating it (They auto-check your shit, BTW, for version compatibility,) I can't play it anymore, bcause someone with a keygen ripped off my original Half-Life serial. Yet Valve/Sierra won't do a mother-fucking thing to fix it, even though I have given them copies and OFFERED LIVE VIDEO for them to see that I truly bought the game (Hint: The actual game came with an advertisement for another Sierra King's Quest game on the actual CD Jewel Case,) and I was *STILL* refused.

Yea, lemme tell you, the Steam model works... NOT! A game I bought many years ago is now under the control of whomever pirates/registers it first on a new system. FUCK YOU STEAM AND ANYOE ASSOCIATED WITH YOU. I bought the Bronze edition of HL2 and I got DENIED in playing it, because of some cracker/hacker, and I'm now $50 in the hole. I should just DDoS bomb your ass to no end until you recapitulate, because from legal means, you'll win in court. You steal my money, I'm going to another company, plus I'm going to do all that I can to decimate your capabilities. And it *SHOULD* be legal in the USA for people tha tpay for a service, and get denied that service, to shut your ass down by any means necessary. With that power alone, companies like Microsoft (with their Vista License,) and Steam (with their BS license,) would crumble to make way for newer companies that have a constructive and realistic idea of what's best for our newer technology. Otherwise, every company needs to butt the fuck out, or face the consequences of a population suing you.

And there needs to be a new law, just as an IMHO - No corporation is allowed to lobby for new rules/regs when they're responsible originally for paying the taxes/funding of this country, as it was originally designed. If everyone on /. + digg donated at least 5 bucks, we could make a damned difference and force the companies to back off, with added provisions to the law that the companies want passed. Hey, it takes money to make money, and it takes money to get the laws you want to see passed. Deal with it.

Re:WTF are you talking about? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16432619)

Maybe they'd be more willing to listen to you if you weren't such an obnoxious twat.

Re:WTF are you talking about? (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#16444671)

Had the same problem with my HL key but after I told them I had Gunman Chronicles (by inputting the CD key of that) they suddently acknowledged that I have HL1. Not that it matters, I haven't used HL1 or the other stuff that comes with it once since I started using Steam (other than a non-Steam version that always gets used on LANs). And TBH I'd have preferred had it recognized Gunman instead of Half-Life, GC was much more fun. Wish they'd have made a sequel and episodes to that instead of Half-Life...

Re:Just wonderful (1)

kalirion (728907) | more than 7 years ago | (#16452253)

And how do you play those games if your internet connection goes down? Or you're between providers? One appeal of single-player games used to be that as long as your computer was functioning you could play them.

Re:Just wonderful (1)

SScorpio (595836) | more than 7 years ago | (#16452475)

Steam has an offline mode it falls back to if you do not have an internet connection. You must successfully connect to the server once to validate what you have access to. Unplug your enternet cable or disable your network adapter and see what happens.

Re:Just wonderful (1)

kalirion (728907) | more than 7 years ago | (#16453343)

My mistake, thanks for the info.

Re:Just wonderful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16429055)

having to run Steam to even play the games

Making Steam essentially a launcher.

It insists on running upon startup.

Easily disabled.

unnecessary updates

Maybe. From experience, most patches issued by Valve are either integral to gameplay or system stability. Updates are generally small and hassle free , so what's the issue?

let's the publisher know that you're still playing their games.

Is there really something wrong with this?

What happened to the days when product sales actually let the industry know how many people were playing/enjoying their games?

Never existed. Buying != Playing/enjoying. You get a better idea from anonymous statistic reporting (see: SiN episode 1 -- and this can be disabled too), but even that isn't exactly the most accurate way to find out if a person is having fun.

Re:Just wonderful (3, Insightful)

Keith Russell (4440) | more than 7 years ago | (#16429173)

It insists on running upon startup.

It defaults to running on startup. You can turn that off in the Options dialog.

checks for unnecessary updates

Back home, we call those "bug fixes".

let's the publisher know that you're still playing their games

Well, I haven't gotten a nastygram from Valve for not playing enough Day of Defeat:Source, so no harm, no foul.

What happened to the days when product sales actually let the industry know how many people were playing/enjoying their games?

What happened for me? Deux Ex: Invisible War. Bought it, played about two hours of it, and got sick of the console-based dumbing down, tiny zones, and constant barrage of lecturing from NPCs on the radio. Put it back on the shelf. All Eidos knew was that a particular shipment to the Best Buy on McKnight Road sold out after n days on the shelf. There's a big difference between "Sales are OK, but tapering off, and the critics aren't too happy" and "According to our aggregate numbers, everybody's giving up before the plot moves out of Seattle."

Your sig tells all.... (0, Troll)

Khyber (864651) | more than 7 years ago | (#16431201)

And I don't need to say much else, given my topic said it all. You show a heavy bias towards multi-player games with your comments, and lots for the wrong reasons. Go check some of my other posts on this thread so you get a *TRUE* consumer taste of what's up, instead of something so easily pirated like Deus Ex (I still own the original CD, yet I choose to play a pirated version because it works better without me needing to scratch my CD, thus forcing a re-purchase of a game a few months later that I already paid for.)

Re:Your sig tells all.... (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#16444689)

You can't handle a CD for months without breaking it? Even my worst abused CDs still run perfectly fine (except for the music in Total Annihilation), after I learned to put them back into their cases instead of piling them on my desk my discs don't have a scratch even a year later.

Re:Your sig tells all.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16461729)

... perfectly fine (except for ...

Heh.

Re:Just wonderful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16430851)

Those days ended when pirating skewed those product sales ;p

Why I Dont Play Half-Life (1)

Garrett Fox (970174) | more than 7 years ago | (#16432105)

As much as I'd love to play the Half-Life games, it looks like I can't. I recently saw HL1 on sale for $20 or so with Counterstrike etc., and bought it. Then I looked closely and realized it wasn't the stand-alone game I thought it was: I'd have to be online and ask Valve's permission every time I wanted to play. I returned the game unopened and tried to tell the clerk I wouldn't be buying any such game, but it didn't do any good; his reaction was basically, "Hey man, we don't make the games." Having to go online isn't always an option for me, and I'm not willing to have my computer report in like that. The thought makes me bristle. (If I'm wrong about how Steam works, please correct me.)

I'd like to see some creative new ideas on how to prevent piracy without going Orwell on customers. Until Valve comes up with something, I'm just not going to buy their games even if they're awesome.

Re:Why I Dont Play Half-Life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16432997)

You've got most of it correct, but Steam will run without an Internet connection, so long as it was able to authenticate at least once. Like all Internet based authentication systems, sometimes it needs to reauthenticate when it thinks your computer has changed too much, but at least they don't heckle you over the phone when it needs to be done *cough*xp*cough*... your username & password will do just fine.

As for Valve collecting stats about your game usage, that's something you either deal with, or leave their platform alone. Personally, I find the stats they publish (they aggregate and publish them for everyone) kind of entertaining, and I'm all for it if they can make better games with them. I mean, the level of "spying" involved isn't much upon considering how they've already got my credit card number. ;-)

Re:Why I Dont Play Half-Life (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#16444737)

You've got most of it correct, but Steam will run without an Internet connection, so long as it was able to authenticate at least once.

Yes but if you don't have a connection you probably don't have a connection when trying to authenticate, either. I know I tried to install HL2 when I was in a dorm and Steam couldn't go through the firewall so the game couldn't be installed. Fortunately that wasn't the first time I tried installing the game, I've played it before and got all I wanted to try getting out of it* already.

Like all Internet based authentication systems, sometimes it needs to reauthenticate when it thinks your computer has changed too much, but at least they don't heckle you over the phone when it needs to be done *cough*xp*cough*... your username & password will do just fine.

But with those you have the option to use the phone when you can't use the net. Steam doesn't even give you that.

As for Valve collecting stats about your game usage, that's something you either deal with, or leave their platform alone.

Obviously those of us who complain about that pick option 2. That doesn't mean we won't criticize it to make public why we aren't using the service in the hope that maybe there's enough backlash to get some of those hostile features removed and maybe make the platform ino something we can accept to use.

*=Saying "my money's worth" would be wrong here.

Re:Just wonderful (1)

Kelbear (870538) | more than 7 years ago | (#16433843)

...So turn off the run-at-startup option. A /lot/ of programs want to run at startup. I just don't let them.

Re:Just wonderful (0, Flamebait)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 7 years ago | (#16434109)

jeesh, why not just post "I am lame, I get my mom to switch on teh computar"

Re:Just wonderful (1)

UltraAyla (828879) | more than 7 years ago | (#16436763)

personally, I'd rather have this over some other sort of dreaded copy protection scheme where the game doesn't work or my whole computer gets security holes blown in it, but that's just my preference.

also, there are many ways to get steam to not run at startup, one of which is a setting withing the software, the others involve msconfig, or editing your registry. Take a look around, you'll be pleasantly suprised.

Re:Just wonderful (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#16444827)

personally, I'd rather have this over some other sort of dreaded copy protection scheme where the game doesn't work or my whole computer gets security holes blown in it, but that's just my preference.

Yes and I'd rather have the Red-Black coalition than Adolf Hitler in power but that doesn't mean there aren't better solutions. Like e.g. Earth 2160's XP style activation*, install, activate (can be done over the phone as well), done. No need to start a launcher, no need to connect to the net ever again, no CD requirement.

*= Does not apply if you bought it over Steam.

The most interesting thing about this is that (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16428571)

Steam has gone from being "stuff Valve thinks is good" to "any old shite"... I'm looking at Gun here.
This is pretty bad for the indie stuff on Steam (Defcon, The Ship). Before this it was like Valve was recommending it which is a pretty big deal for games without a marketing budget, now it's clear that it's just about cash.

P.S. The Steam-alike Triton service closed and they had to give out boxed copies of everything. Digital distribution isn't a rosy a future as many think.

MOD COWARD UP!!! (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 7 years ago | (#16431257)

I don't usually say this in defense of anonymous cowards, but this one deserves to be modded up. (check the IP addys of the post, I'm not related or even the same coward.) This person has a very short yet accurate view on what the state of downloadble games has become. Anyone with the knowledge to break an encrypted key and generate valid encrypted keys that may match someone else's account is UNACCEPTABLE. In this case, we should be suing for a bait-and-switch, even when we can prove we own the games with live realtime video. (thank you, www.ww.com for your software that allows me to use my shitty webcam to show the *REAL* fucking purchase, with the serial, and the actual CD, though nobody will visit your site just for a double-check for proof... asshole game developers/distributors.)

We need a far better system of checking. This shit needs to be linked to credit card or SSN numbers, FFS, just to prove we bought what we say we bought.

Last statement raises a scary thought to me.... (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 7 years ago | (#16431327)

...And I made the statement myself!!!!! Maybe we need a gamer ID number that spreads across a world-wide database that runs BSD or something that is FAR from hackable, then at least some people can get what they paid for. :( I'm unhappy with my HL2 Bronze purchase... can you blame me? I bought the game, only to find out my serial was already registered and I couldn't play the game no matter what proof I offered! (I threw the 6 CDs away, and went back to good ol'free Enemy Territory, and counted my game purchase as a loss.)

Re:MOD COWARD UP!!! (1)

@madeus (24818) | more than 7 years ago | (#16432183)

I bought the game, only to find out my serial was already registered and I couldn't play the game no matter what proof I offered!

That is annoying, and I've had that happen to me, it's almost impossible to prevent though (regardless of the sophistication of the algorithm used to validate keys).

You should simply have taken it back to the store where you purchased it from. They are the only ones (typically) legally obligated to give you a refund or replacement (and in most western countries they are legally required to do so). It was really your fault if you didn't, that's fairly basic consumer rights stuff I'd expect everyone to know.

Nether the developers nor distributors are obligated to help you (there are technically some instances where this isn't the case, but it's true as a general rule). For all they know the copy that you have is the one that's not legitimate, it may well have been purchased from a less-than-reputable source or even second hand off some guy off eBay. Even several well known stores have been known to re-stock returned games as 'new', it's sadly surprisingly common practice. Legal obligations aside, it makes the most sense to have to take it back to the store.

I've had that happen to me twice I think (once with PlanetSide, and before that with something like Joint Ops) but I've never had a problem getting a replacement.

Because you can't prevent all of these - and in particular you can't realistically prevent the problem of serial numbers being illegally distributed while they are being circulated during production - the only sure fire way to prevent that is to do use something like Steam / an EA account, but that essencially means not using a retailer.

(You could theoretically purchase and 'activate' something in store and then go home and play it, but that would only really be useful for people without credit or debit cards and almost certainly not worth the hassle of implimenting such a system).

IMO, that's just one more reason why digital distribution is superior (assuming you have a broadband connection) - both for developer and gamer. That, and in a similar vein there is no pressure from publishers to use retarded (i.e. Starforce*) disk copy protection or require users to 'insert the CD'. (I've complained to several games developers about that and they've all said "Yes we know it sucks, sorry, but the publisher made us.")

* I refuse to purchase any game that uses it on the grounds that it fucks up my SATA array when it's installed (I get lots of disk paging errors in the Event log, right before the system reboots) and I've been stupid enough to install it *twice* (the second time, with a different game I went 'hmm, that's really simlar to the problem I had 6 months ago' and *bingo* same cause). Beyond basic required Windows services, I run bupkis in the background / system tray so it's not like it was conflicting with another package trying to access ring0 or something (I'm really retentive like that - I only use Windows for playing games).

Re:MOD COWARD UP!!! (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#16444839)

What the hell are you talking about, he never said anything about that!

Food for thought. (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 7 years ago | (#16429141)

People can steal Steam accounts (guess the password, keylogger etc.), which means a lot more than losing say a battle.net key. It means you've lost all your games -- I've not seen any positive outcomes at the end of such instances on Steam's forums either.

Re:Food for thought. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16429439)

is this when I get to say 'It's their own damn fault for being dumb'

Or do I wait until people complain about it first?

Re:Food for thought. (1)

aiken_d (127097) | more than 7 years ago | (#16429563)

If I get hit with a keylogger, I am a *lot* more concerned with my online banking, SSN and other identity theft fodder, and confidential biz emails than I am with someone making off with a couple of my games.

-b

Re:Food for thought. (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430511)

Thank god you realize this, Ash. My Steam account was stolen (even with a ten-alpha/num character PW) and i've had no recourse as of yet for games I legally purchased. (HL2 Bronze, and even my original HL key (probably keygen'd by some asshole) are FUBAR.)

Re:Food for thought. (1)

Sigma 7 (266129) | more than 7 years ago | (#16432931)

My Steam account was stolen (even with a ten-alpha/num character PW) and i've had no recourse as of yet for games I legally purchased.

Reclaiming a Hijacked Steam Account [steampowered.com]

Most likely, one of the following happened:
  • Someone used a keylogger
  • Someone used your personal computer account.
  • Someone used a hacking beam [schlockmercenary.com] on your computer.

In any case, you should contact Valve customer support ASAP with the information shown on the support page.

eye heart steam (3, Interesting)

spyrochaete (707033) | more than 7 years ago | (#16429291)

I used to be the biggest naysayer of Steam, but now that I have a stable internet connection I just love it. I purchased Psychonauts for $20 this morning and all 3.5GB were downloaded in under 3 hours. I can't wait to get home to play it without requiring a CD in the drive.

Thus far Valve is a great publisher\distributor and I have no qualms about giving them my loyalty as a conusmer. However, it's a little disturbing to see in the EULA that I do not own any of the games I've paid for - I only rent them. I admire 3D Realms for shipping boxed copies to anyone who bought Prey over the now defunct Triton online distribution service, and I sincerely hope Valve will provide at least a means of playing games the sad day Steam evaporates.

Do *WHAT?* (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430409)

3.5 GB in under three hours? Exactly where do you live and what ISP are you using, because I can't get that at max speed on a full 10 mbit duplex network in that amount of time. If you're not in the US, then, well, what can I say, other than your analogy won't apply to most of us USA residents? The math doesn't work out, at all.

Re:Do *WHAT?* (1)

Rafe_Aguilera (987284) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430857)

"3.5 GB in under three hours? Exactly where do you live and what ISP are you using, because I can't get that at max speed on a full 10 mbit duplex network in that amount of time. If you're not in the US, then, well, what can I say, other than your analogy won't apply to most of us USA residents? The math doesn't work out, at all."

3.5 GB in under three hours is easy on 10 Mbit FD. It depends on the source though. 10 Mbit = 1.25 MByte/sec, so 1.25*60=75 Mbyte/min, making 4500 MB/hr, let's say at 75% efficiency is 3375 MBytes/hour.

I've got Surewest FTTH at 10 Mbit I can hit 1180 Kbytes/sec downloading from high-end servers like Microsoft (SP2 in 3:42).

Re:Do *WHAT?* (1)

InsaneGeek (175763) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430929)

Umm.... maybe your math doesn't

10mb ethernet = ~.8 MB/sec
3500MB / .8 = ~4375.36 seconds
4375.36 = ~ 1.2 hours

or the reverse
3500MB * 8 (convert MB to mb) = 28000mb
28000mb/ 10800 (seconds in 3 hours) = ~2.592mb/sec sustained required over 3 hours

Re:Do *WHAT?* (1)

Rafe_Aguilera (987284) | more than 7 years ago | (#16438631)

"Umm.... maybe your math doesn't

10mb ethernet = ~.8 MB/sec
3500MB / .8 = ~4375.36 seconds
4375.36 = ~ 1.2 hours

or the reverse
3500MB * 8 (convert MB to mb) = 28000mb
28000mb/ 10800 (seconds in 3 hours) = ~2.592mb/sec sustained required over 3 hours"

Looks like you screwed up your megabits to megabytes conversion there, sparky:
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&q=10+megabi t+in+megabytes&btnG=Search [google.com]

Maybe you should actually check your numbers before correcting someone, eh?

Re:Do *WHAT?* (1)

jared9900 (231352) | more than 7 years ago | (#16440571)

Not to be too nitpicky, but his estimate was low (yeah, off by .45 MB/sec) which means his estimated time is actually longer than necessary (assuming perfect conditions).
So to redo his math:
10mb ethernet = 1.25 MB/sec
2500MB/ 1.25MB/s = 2800 seconds
2800 s in hours = 7/9 of an hour, a little more than 45 minutes

Re:Do *WHAT?* (1)

InsaneGeek (175763) | more than 7 years ago | (#16452213)

Umm... have you ever been able to get 1.25MB through a 10mb connection? You can't, there's a reason I put a "~" in front of the 8, that character stands for approximately, and approximately .8MB is the effective maximum bandwidth of data that you can get through a 10mb isp connection. Packet headers alone take up ~6% of the theoretcial max, then you start adding in switch latency for each packet, etc and you get ranges from ~80-94% of theoretical max. If you have cheap nics, switches, small packet size, etc you often get worse than that.

If I would have mean exactly .8MB I wouldn't have put the lovely "~" sign in front of it. I did check my numbers, and they remain to be correct even after your supposed "correction".

Re:Do *WHAT?* (1)

Rafe_Aguilera (987284) | more than 7 years ago | (#16453169)

I was perfectly prepared to extend this argument...then I realized we weren't meant to be arguing. I'm sorry for jumping at you, your original reply was to the guy I replied to, and I mis-read your response. Your estimate was even more unkind then mine at 64% data efficiency (.8/1.25) and it still falls within the capabilities of the 10Mbit connection (~2.5 MBit/s).

Re:Do *WHAT?* (1)

spyrochaete (707033) | more than 7 years ago | (#16432539)

I get 600KB/s (that's kilobyte) downstream.

600KB/s x 60 seconds = 36MB/minute
36MB/m x 60 minutes = 2.16GB/hour

The game appeared to be about half done after just over an hour, and when I checked back after 3 hours it was completely downloaded. I live in Toronto, Canada, and my ISP is Rogers. We get 600KB down and 80KB up.

Re:Do *WHAT?* (1)

Emetophobe (878584) | more than 7 years ago | (#16434137)

At a constant 350KB/sec, he could download 3.5GB in 3 hours or less.

Sample math:
350 kilobytes per second multiplied by 60 is 21,000 kilobytes per minute

21,000 kilobytes per minute multiplied by 60 is 1,260,000 kilobytes per hour

1,260,000 kilobytes per hour multiplied by 3 is 3,780,000 kilobytes in 3 hours

My $40/month cable connection has been able to do 350k/sec for the last 8 years, how much exactly are you paying for that full 10mbit duplex connection you claim to be using.

Re:eye heart steam (1)

Omeger (939765) | more than 7 years ago | (#16434013)

Valve doesn't speak for other companies, but they have said that if they go under then they'll deactivate the Steam Authentication required in games if they were to ever go under.

Re:eye heart steam (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#16444895)

Of course that's only if they go down and close shop, not if they get weakened and bought by EA.

Steam works (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 7 years ago | (#16429773)

Though I have reservations on what should happen if your account was hacked or Valve went out of business, Steam is by far the slickest online delivery mechanism I've seen. If I had to gripe is that I've tried to buy stuff on there before and my credit card has been rejected. But for demo delivery and ease of use, it takes some beating.

I could beat it (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430591)

It's called "Quit relying upon computers and start doing human-checking to make sure the owner is who they say they are," something almost *ANY* company is too lazy to deal with - witness our outsourcing of serious problems to script-readers who will say "I need you to turn on your computer and tell me your CMOS/BIOS settings" when everytime the computer gets turned on the fucker starts smoking and burning, usually from a bad power supply. I'm not joking, my father and I both worked at Ingram Micro, and we had stupid shit like this happen EVERY DAY, even when we're higher-level techs than these outsourced script-readers are, and they *STILL* insist we turn on a non-functional computer to figure out what the problem is. It makes me doubt the QoS practices done in the eastern countries, bigtime. I say most of these outsourcers need to be sued for negligence, too bad there's no lawsuit possibility for incompetence alone. Hell, half of the world would have an immediate wealth redistribution from the utterly rich to the less well-off classes, then maybe we could have some sort of 'balance' to the world economy. As it is, China has most of our money, and if they decided to boycott us, we'd be in DEEP SHIT.

Steam Sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16430017)

I'm sure I'm not the only one thinking this here, but Steam really does suck. Even if you ignore their crapfest of an implementation. My biggest gripe is that I *WANT* the physical media. If I want to upgrade my PC, or my HD crashes or some fool decides to remove software I'm pretty screwed if I bought a bunch of stuff off Steam. I understand that publishers can be a pain, but moving that pain to the consumer is NOT the answer.
I also don't like having to sign in with the mother ship every time I want to play a game. Do you see CSS being played at LANs? No, because it's a nightmare to try to do that. This is a problem. What if my internet connection is down and I've got some free time to game?
I stopped paying Valve when they started screwing customers. HL2 may be a great game, but I'll never pay for it.
There must be a model that more fairly balances the publishers desires with consumer needs.

Re:Steam Sucks (1)

Dev59 (953144) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430423)

Ok, you don't even know what you're talking about here. If you *WANT* the physical media, you can back up all of your game files to CD or DVD! Steam has this *BUILT IN*. And if you don't do that and your HD crashes or some fool removes your software? You reinstall Steam, sign on, and it is *ALL* downloaded for you again.

Re:Steam Sucks (1)

Emetophobe (878584) | more than 7 years ago | (#16434199)

What happens if, theoretically, valve/steam goes belly up and I want to play some retro games 10 years from now? I need steam to decrypt halflife2 everytime I install it.

Personally, I have never liked steam, I find it a huge annoyance. I hate having to spend an hour decrypting my legally store bought copy of halflife 2 everytime I reinstall windows. Why does a game need to be decrypted after installation? Out of the dozens of games I've owned, none has been as annoying as steam/halflife2.

Re:Steam Sucks (1)

Dev59 (953144) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430449)

I should also add this: Yes, you DO see CS:Source being played at LANs. A lot. It's incredibly easy to set up. You can play any Steam game without an internet connection if you've already got the game on your computer. It's called offline mode.

Re:Steam Sucks (1)

MS-Wift (878226) | more than 7 years ago | (#16454729)

Here's a link to Steam's guide to the above-mentioned "Offline Mode"

Offline Mode [steampowered.com]

The future of publishing (1)

ravyne (858869) | more than 7 years ago | (#16431531)

Valve is on the right track with Steam and it, as well as work-alikes, will become the primary way of distributing most games in the future. The reason behind this is simple; Money.

As game budgets continue to grow, often exponentially, developers will have to find ways to minimize costs while maximizing profits. Requirements are only getting larger, both in programming and art; the new consoles place higher demand on looks and features than ever before, and a AAA game can now easily reach 8 figures.

There are 3 primary ways to increase the return on investment ratio:
1) Streamline Development Processes (Increased productivity, better tools, use middleware, *sell* middleware.)
2) Streamline Distribution (Cut out the middle man for yourself, become the middle man for smaller shops.)
3) Charge the consumer a higher price (Higher box price, subscriptions, add-ons, "microtransactions.")

Of these, I'd be a lot happier if more of numbers 1 & 2 went on, rather than number 3. Steam solves #2 and Valve does a great deal with regards to #1. Considering the Half-life episodes as a seperate product (and really, it is. It will have comperable playing time for a price comperable to a boxed game) Valve doesn't do a whole lot of #3, in fact games are often cheaper through valve than they are in-store and often have a small discount for early buyers. Dispite the cheaper price and after all the bandwidth, hosting, and credit card handling costs, Valve *still* makes more money per game than under the traditional publisher model.

Valve is, in my oppinion, the most forward-looking development studio there is: They know when to license technology and when to build it, the technology they do build they spend a great deal of time on to get just right, they make great products and they know what their consumers want. Its a very well-run shop.

Smaller Budgets (1)

Garrett Fox (970174) | more than 7 years ago | (#16432251)

As game budgets continue to grow, often exponentially, developers will have to find ways to minimize costs while maximizing profits.

The industry's assumption seems to be that games have to be developed with the budgets of Hollywood movies. Yet they don't seem to be getting better overall... Well, that's an old rant, but the point is that developers can also be innovative by finding new ways to use what are now old-school graphics standards.
Imagine what Oblivion could've been if the effort that went into its graphics had gone into more gameplay and AI instead, with the graphics being stuck at the level of Chrono Trigger (2D sprites, 3/4 overhead tiled backgrounds). It wouldn't necessarily have been a better game overall, but wouldn't it have been cheaper to make and with more complex gameplay?

Re:The future of publishing (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445087)

Or option 4, think up a way to make games make as much money as movies do (which only "lose" money due to creative accounting). That means widely available hardware, low per-copy costs (few would buy a DVD at 50-60$, why do games cost that much?) and more working with merchandise and advertising.

Download and forget it? (1)

swordgeek (112599) | more than 7 years ago | (#16433439)

Don't know that much about Steam. Can I buy a game, download it, burn it to CD, and then never need to talk to them again?

If so, great.
If not, they can pound sand.

Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16433907)

Yes, you can burn a backup to CD or DVD. Really, this is more for the convenience of not having to re-download the game(s) if something happens to your hard drive. In reality, you can always download the game again from Steam even if you lose your backup disc.

To reinstall, simply pop your backup DVD in the drive and run the exe that's on the disc and voila, reinstalled.

When you backup a game, Steam lets you choose if you want to split across multiple CDs or DVDs, so it'll ask you for the next disc as you are reinstalling if the game is large or you're using a smaller media format. It also lets you choose "Custom" sizes in megabytes, so if you wanted to back your game up onto 1.44MB 3.5" floppies, you could. But, I wouldn't recommend it, Day Of Defeat Source for example is 3.5GB by itself.

Hope this helps! ;-)

Re:Download and forget it? (1)

dupont54 (857462) | more than 7 years ago | (#16450517)

When reinstalling the backup on another computer, it will need to phone home to reactivate. Basic download copy protection behavior.
So no, you will have to talk to them again sooner or later (and hope they're still there and in a good mood).
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