Murphy's Law: Gaming? Open? Ha!

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I Jedi

Hey Murphy,

 I do see your point with there needing to be a univeral all-in-one place for gamers to go to. However, right now, the gaming industry is new to the idea of online content, and it is just a fact that competition is going to arise in trying to take over this new business model.

 Eventually, someday, we will see online markets (Steam, GoG, D2D) finally take their rightful position in the world of online distribution and content as the kings of online gaming. Innovation and competition are fueling these shattered online gaming services to strive ahead of one another and gain a larger crowd than their competition. It's never bad to have a lot of competition, Murphy. Mind you what happens when a company has no competition... It becomes lazy, set's its own standards, and can put the price wherever it wants to because of no competition.

 Again, I agree that one day there needs to be a "king" of them all, and they need to find ways to allow us to more freely and openly use our games. For now, let's just enjoy the nice competition, prices wars, and what have you that's going on with the current online distributers. 

 Tyler

 

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semillertime

Murph, if I can extend the pipe dream a little further, I would love to see the download services evolve into platform independent repositories for game saves and settings.  If I have Dragon Age on my PC and 360, I want access to my saves and be able to continue the game regardless of platform.  Saves could still be made locally, but synchronized with the online service.

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std error

I like the multiple download services if only for the fact that they compete with each other on prices. The same way Wal-Mart and Amazon compete. For Modern Warfare 2 they were matching each other's pre-order bonuses dollar for dollar within hours of either of them making a move.

Now thats golden for us consumers!

If we have one universal "Steam" then what we have is games that simply don't change in price forever.

Sure Steam has weekend deals that are attractive, but you think they'd have that if they were the sole place to get a game?

Think about how often exclusive titles on PSN or Xbox Live go on sale. Never.

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Elric

Monopolies may be bad but open standards are good. A LOT of digital media, not just games, desperately wants an open to all vendors merketplace/licensing/distribution system. Movies, music, games, all of these industries would be much better off and the consumer would benefit infinitely but the vendors are terrified of changing their business model or betting on the wrong horse.

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zepontiff

I'm going to disagree on this. The individual developers are still going to be competing with each other for your dollar on a universal service. The amount of competion that goes on between services for the same title I don't believe is driving prices down much if at all.

The weekend deal is not about competition. I think its to get people into a game they have no previous knowledge or interest in or one that is just not moving at all. I've picked many a game I would have never even thought about that way.

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std error

What you say about developers competing is correct. But surely you see that additional competition between brick and mortar retailers is beneficial to us consumers. This pretty much applies to everything from tube socks to LCD TVs. If you think that competition between download services isn't driving prices down then there already is a problem! We need more competition then.

I also think that when developers or publishers compete it is more on the quality of games rather than price, like Coke and Pepsi (competing on experience). Have you ever seen a Coke ad saying it was cheaper than Pepsi? They know that if they did that they would kill themselves until the price was driven to zero, then they'd be buried.

Retailers on the other hand have little ground to compete on but price.

Regarding the weekend deals, as with most things there is no one universal reason for something, and again your reason probably goes into the decision process at Valve.

Still wouldn't it be better if they also watched other companies prices? I think it is funny that Fallout 3 non-goty is selling at $49.99 on Steam while Amazon's and Newegg's GOTY edition is $39.99. Perhaps this may be more of a reflection of Valve's poor management than competition in the industry.

In any case, I would be happy if what happens in brick and mortar stores happens on internet download services where they follow each other's (even B&M stores) prices on everything, not just video games. Walmart managers frequently tour nearby Targets to check prices and availability for example. They bring along PDAs or to record data.

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TheMurph

Hm.  Perhaps not "exclusive titles," but I Xbox Live does frequently have deals and discounts for... older... games on the service.  That's something, eh?

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Biceps

Mr. Murphy, you don't have an MBA, do you?  That is your problem.  If you DID have an MBA (and therefore absolutely no soul) then you wouldn't waste your time writing a letter to the total A-holes who run the gaming companies (with their MBAs).

Props to you, Mr. Murphy, for this article - I couldn't agree with you more.  Too bad it won't change anything.

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TheMurph

I believe you'll find this line in the third paragraph:

"But when I ask, "Why must it be this way," I don't say that expecting any kind of change in the way this evolution is progressing."

Will anything change?  Of course not.  The gaming companies will do everything they can to squeeze the blood out of their fans' stones.  Unlike Winston Wolf, this column identifies problems--it doesn't always solve them.

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fry

Welcome to the world.

No longer is anyone interested in selling a product. It's all about selling a fee schedule.

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TheMurph

And don't forget, when you purchase software... you aren't purchasing a physical disc, you're purchasing a license to use the software that can be altered or revoked at any time. 

...but that's another column.  ; )

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AntiHero

Well, this is where it's going, a whole digital world. Xfire, my favorite chat program, now has a store. With all these direct 2 download sites, there needs to be a universal solution, otherwise we will all have many accounts. Sure, Battle.net can be its own, and i like how it's done because they manage their games and their games only, Valve used to do only Valve games on steam, but with Modern Warfare 2 needing to be registered on steam, it's pushing the program to become the top of it all.

Great article Murphy, once again making me think/start myself into what could have been a long, long comment.

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TheMurph

At the very, very least... I would appreciate publishers finding a way to merge digital copies and physical copies.  That's the Battle.net style -- no matter where you buy the game, you can always access a downloadable copy online, as your CD key is the activation process to unlock the digital version (if you purchased the game from a store, for example)

 

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Wingzero_x

I would love to be able to convert my disk games to my Steam account, and be able to play without the hassle of having to have a disk in the drive, a no-disk hack, or simply dealing with all those disks when installing it. (I have the CD versions of BFME, and COD2)

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Phosphorous

That can actually be done in Steam.  I currently run my COD-WaW game from my Steam account.  I got the CD version when I bought my GTX280.  I have it in my Steam account games list so I don't need the CD anymore.  I also did this with Might and Magic.

Can't tell you offhand how I did it anymore because it was awhile back, but I'll check when I get home.

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TheMurph

It's even more frustrating given that some Steam games will support this functionality and others simply don't.  Full list here: https://support.steampowered.com/kb_article.php?ref=7480-wusf-3601#which

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DBsantos77

Another great articly Murph, well done.

-Santos

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TheMurph

Thank you kindly!

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nekollx

 to be fair though CrypticPoints arent only for Champions they work cross game for anything Cryptic makes. And if CO holds true early adopters get "bonus points" so those 400 CP you got would be what a $5 you could use for items in World of Star Potter Wizards of the Coast Craft and if you pre ordered that youd have another 400CP right off the bat.

 

Though i think DDO did it a bit better with subcribers geting a free stipend every month of dragon points

------------------------------
Coming soon to Lulu.com --Tokusatsu Heroes--
Five teenagers, one alien ghost, a robot, and the fate of the world.

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TheMurph

Which is all well and good, but points are still points.  Developers use points to further tie you into their marketplace offerings--both because the level of committment is considered less due to one's inability to directly tie point values to real-world cash equivilients (quick, how much are 500 microsoft points worth in $$$?) and because once you've bought a block of points and are left with a weird balance, you'll want to reload your card and spend more versus letting said points just languish.

A quick take on it here!

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nekollx

 that is one way to look at it, but again their are often free point you get for pre orders and the like. And i kind of like the idea of boying say Tie Fighter and geting a cupon for free DLC for say Bioshock.

------------------------------
Coming soon to Lulu.com --Tokusatsu Heroes--
Five teenagers, one alien ghost, a robot, and the fate of the world.

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Who

You want developers to band together to make an Itunes-esque platform, except Itunes is something that created by a single developer for, more or less, its specific Ipod utility, to have content controlled by one company, itself...

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TheMurph

I meant iTunes as an example for functionality's sake -- there really isn't a great example of an all-in-one open service for the PC that people can contribute to / download items from / et cetera.

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bjtalbot

Dual licenses!

 

This is something that I would love to see. I have thought about his a lot since I bought Borderlands for the X360. I would love to pay a little (mind you: a little) bit more to play the same game on my PC. How cool would that be. You're already buying the game, you are just paying a bit more to use it on a different platform. I would spend up to 20 dollars for a new X360 game to also be able to play it on the PC.

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lunchbox73

That would be awesome. I play Left 4 Dead on my PC and my kids and wife play it on our xbox (which I never touch). Believe me, there have been some arguments about L4D2 in my house because they want it for the 360 and I want it for my PC. I can't justify paying over 100 bucks right now to buy it for both. Unfortunatly I may be on the losing side...

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ajuhawk

Do I buy game X on the PC for a better experience, or do I buy game C on the 360 so I can play multiplayer with my friends (who aren't PC players)...  In the end, the 360 multiplayer (ease of use) usually wins out and I'm not going to pay $60 so I can also play it on the PC....but I would pay $20!

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TheMurph

I like it!  Just imagine -- you purchase the game for the console, input your UPC code somewhere, and receive a code to download the title straight from the manufacturer / direct-download service of your choice for a nominal fee.

I, for one, would love to have Dragon Age on the console and PC.  I just don't see the point of paying $50 a pop.  Then again, I'm not a game publisher.  I bet they see the point of paying $50 a pop quite clearly.

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Muerte

That's actually pretty shortsighted.  There is no way in hell I'd buy a title twice for the same amount.  But I'd at least think about it for $20 and probably do it for $10.  Which is $1- -$20 more than they had before. Hell, I might even buy a console so I could.

Of course I do not know what percentage of the gaming population buys the same title for 2 platforms, but I'm guessing its pretty low.  Hell this is the 1st time I've ever heard of such a thing.

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TheMurph

Unfortunately, I venture that "Muerte" is not the average example for these games' target demographics.  I can see a lot of people buying multiple copies of their favorite titles (like the new CoD: MW2 title) just to play with their friends across both platforms.

I mean, shoot, I have Borderlands for both systems, and I'm not even that hardcore...

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mattman059

I agree with muerte...its absolutely redundant, ridiculous and a waste of money to buy the same game for multiple platforms. Yes, i have friends that play L4D on the xbox360 and i play on the PC...so i go over to their house and play L4D at their house...problem solved...Im not wasting money (and who wants to) just to buy some game thats going to cost half (if not less) as much as it did when it came out, three months later.

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Phosphorous

Ugghhhh, I can't believe you even went there.  Don't get me started on MW2.

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nekollx

 Ok Nathan holloween is over, we see though your tricsies

------------------------------
Coming soon to Lulu.com --Tokusatsu Heroes--
Five teenagers, one alien ghost, a robot, and the fate of the world.

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