Yeppers! It’s definitely a time to start musing about games again. Seriously. As all of my 0.2 readers have doubtlessly noticed, The Gameless Game has changed its blogware again. We’re back on Movable Type - the fabled version 5, which was not supposed to run on SQLite, but it somehow does.
What I’d like to ramble about is the state of PC gaming. I’ve not really paid attention to PC gaming much, since for a long time, I didn’t even have a PC to game with, and most of my hardware is really too slow to play games on.
Now I have a netbook that runs Windows. I’ve had some fun with games from multiple online services. And I specifically have to proclaim my unending love for GOG.com. I’ve also had great fun with a whole lot of Humble Indie Bundle games, some older Steam releases, and even a few games I got from Desura.
To put it simply, it’s just incredible how well the digital download systems seem to work these days. I’m still definitely not saying that we should move all games to digital distribution, but it’s definitely good that the back catalogue is available.
And GOG’s support for games is nothing short of absolutely incredible. You don’t get any tactile bits for old games, but you damn well get everything else. You get extra content, you get patches, you get a whole experience of the game right away. It’s almost as amazing as buying a new game off the shelf and discovering all this cool stuff in the box. Only when you see the game switch to 640x480 default resolution or give you ridiculously low-polygon 3D models you actually remember that the game is a decade old, but by then, you’re already gripped.
Which kind of brings me to another point.
Why aren’t other digital content retailers doing something like this?
I’ve also bought some ebooks and music online. Ebooks have usually been pretty much top-notch; publishing industry tends to have pretty good eye for making the books almost flawless, no matter what weird format the readers need their books in. The only big annoyance is the DRM, which means I would be confined to read the books on allotted reader software, but there’s Calibre plugins for everything, and some publishers are already moving away from DRM. I’ve bought music from iTunes, and iTunes is likewise moving the hell away from DRM. If there’s anything to complain about ebooks and music, it’s that the end result can be a little bit sloppy. I just can’t trust the music metadata from iTunes, it’s full of typos. ebooks don’t necessarily have proper bibliographical data either. Nothing musicbrainz wouldn’t handle and hand-tweaking metadata is always helpful, yeah, but still…
…and then there’s films and TV shows.
I’m still buying the DVDs, thank you very much.
Can we imagine how awesome film distribution would be if it was anything close to what video game distribution is right now?
I just pay a small amount of money, and GOG, Steam and Desura will theoretically forever list me as an owner of the specific title. They provide a copy of the game that will be installed and should work by the standards of the day. If it’s listed on my account, I should be able to play it.
And my GOG collection has a copy of Fallout, which was given out as a freebie one day. It was a promotion. I got the game then. It just sits on my account, they’re not going to take it away until I pay for it properly. Maybe I’ll pay for Fallout 2. =)
The film industry doesn’t seem to get this sort of stuff where people pay for a video game once and are somehow guaranteed that the game actually works later on.
Why is the game industry making money out of this? Because they’re not only selling great products, they’re selling participation. Gamers are community-builders, in a way. Game companies are realising this. They’re saying “Welcome to the great community built around Game X. Oh, by the way, if you want to buy the game, it’s right here. It was released years ago, so we’re giving it away pretty cheap.”
Could the same thing be done with films? I suppose, but I don’t think the film industry actually cares about the fan participation as much as the game industry.
…okay, this was a boring blog post, but I hope this will inspire me to write more stuff in my blogs. =)