Game download sites (legal, of course)

What legal game download/buy sites can you guys recommend?

Incidentally, I’m looking for Imperial Glory. The only place I could find it is Yahoo Games on Demand, which seems to be some sort of bizarre rental service rather than for purchase.

I bought Prince of Persia 8 or whatever it’s up to from No complaints. From what I’ve seen, most of those sites (Yahoo, Direct2Drive, Gamespot, etc) have pretty much the same selection since not a lot of publishers are willing to put out games that way, so there’s not much room for diversity.

You have probably already made up your mind about it, but, I would advice to not use most of the above companies. They place some serious limitations on the product, and some times it is not even the full thing that you would get on CD. Then there is the anti piracy thingy that all of the use that doesn’t make it easy for you etc.

And to add something constructive to my reply, stardock through totalgaming has an excellent (for me) digital destribution since it takes away all that I don’t like in the above. (hey I am tired)

Another thing to look at with the whole download game things is the fact that “normal” patches to the game don’t work…you have to wait for the download provider to supply a DRM-friendly patch. Yech.

And then there’s the fact that it’s DRMed to begin with. It means that you are locked to one machine. Which, depending on your usage preferences, can suck.

Steam is the only system I’ve used that’s even halfway decent. – unfortunately no Imperial Glory, but no ridiculous DRM on the titles they do have

(full disclosure: doing PR for Stardock. doesn’t stop the fact that the service is a good one)

I for one love buying games by download, but that’s mainly because I hate dealing with stores. I’ve got a number of games from direct2drive, totalgaming and steam. Someone said that you are locked to one machine, which is not true. I have most of the games I bought from all of the services installed on multiple machines without any issues. I can download the games at any time from any of those services and install them on a new machine. I haven’t tried running the same game simultaneously on multiple machines so maybe there is something to prevent that or not, I don’t know. I’ve been averaging one game per month from direct2drive for the last six months or so and have had no problems at all (just got swat 4 for $20 last week). One of the things I like best about getting games this way is that there is no CD to find and put in the drive. If I want to play some Thief 3 which I purchased months ago and come back to off and on I don’t need to sort through the disorganized piles of crap on my desk to find the CD, I just click the icon and it starts.

The point about having to wait for a specific patch I believe it true with these services. So far direct2drive has been pretty quick about getting the DRM’d patch out.

I want to see this trend grow. I’d love it if I never again had to go to a store, or pay shipping and wait, pay taxes, etc. on a game. What steam does with preloading games is also a great idea. Hopefully soon when a game I want is released I can be playing it within hours or perhaps minutes of the release (not two days later when the package comes, or when the clowns at EB figure out how to open a box ;)

You have to connect (after you download the game of course) online to install or play the games from D2D?

You do need to be connected to activate the game once it is installed. I’m actually not sure if it connects to verify when you fire the game up since my internet connection is always on at home. I have a vague recollection of playing on my laptop without a connection, but I’m honestly not sure.

Also, I believe that some games you can only activate them on a limited number of machines (again, I have a vague recollection of trying to install the latest splinter cell on a friends machine so we could play co-op, but I had already used my three activations or something).

Sorry for all the vague recollections.

Hmm, that patching is a bummer. I’ll stay away from multiplayer title downloads in that case.

Hmm, I just glanced at the Direct2Drive faq and they saw you can’t install on multiple machines (though I certainly have some of the games on multiple machines). Maybe something has changed recently or perhaps not every game works the same.

The DRM solution they use is “Trymedia Activemark”, perhaps their site can yield more useful info.

It depends on the service, but the three I use get patches out in a timely manner. With steam there is never a wait, and so far with Direct2Drive they usually have a patch ready around the same time the regular patch comes out (same or next day). Though since most of the titles I’ve purchased from them are not brand spanking new and they update the version you download to the latest one I haven’t had to get patches for most of the games I’ve bought so far. Totalgaming also makes it easy to get the patches. I think the only downside as far as Direct2Drive is concerned is that the patch will likely only be available on their servers, but since they are essentially an extension of fileplanet their servers are usually available and pretty quick (same for steam, you have to get the patch via steam, but that’s easy, actually steam games patch themselves in the background).

Stay away from downloadable game services like Yahoo’s. If you imagine the standard game DRM practices of CD-keys and disk checks to be the gentle, charming foreplay of young lovers, digital download DRM is like being trussed up in a moist fuirsuit and having a 4-inch wide spiked metal cock rammed brutally into your weeping mancunt.

While that is fun, how does the yahoo drm differ from Direct2Drive? Care to give actual details to your rant?

That wasn’t detailed enough for you?

I would be interested to hear more, actually. I like the idea of downloadable games in theory, but I want to be able to burn discs of them and install them whenever I want on whatever I want. I just know that if I plunk down the money to get one of these, I’ll wind up with a big worthless locked hunk of code and a fifty dollar net loss. Say it ain’t necessarily so!

I would more likely believe a baptist preacher’s review of a movie they had never seen, than believe most people’s posts here about download systems. For the most part, the biggest critics have never used them and just repeat wild rumors and fantasies they hope are true.


This strikes me as a golden opportunity for some actual investigative game journalism. Somebody needs to examine all the popular systems, and rate how intrusive/obnoxious they are.

You’re right. From a kind of general “just play” way of seeing it, I’m talking nonsense: the game is there, it works, you play, and that’s all that matters. In fact, I’m finding myself more and more happy with this kind of thing, and less inclined to whine about weenie nerd concerns like not having access to games from 5 computers, on in 25 years, or whatever.

It’s just that I grew up with games that were just there, the raw data on a tape, and I could play it wherever I wanted, take it over a friend’s house, and all that stuff. Games were actually things you owned in their functional entirety.

Now I just feel vaguely uncomfortable when I sign 4,000 word legal agreements I know I won’t read to get access to pretty much anything that amounts to entertainment.

While you’re right to have a go at me for ranting, I have used Yahoo’s Games on Demand. I remember from the TOS, they can terminate your access for all sorts of vague reasons, like violating other people’s “rights” or not acting according to the “spirit” of the terms of service. In fact, all the specific reasons just happened to end with an explicit super-clause that amounted to "we can permanently disontinue your access for any reason at our sole discretion with no notice to you and you agree not to claim we’re are liable to provide you with any service whatsoever, except in this one court somewhere in California. "

No worse than the average eula, but with a CD-ROM, I always have the feeling that it’s up the them to come after me if I fail to abide by the terms. With a digital download, it’s like they can just whip the rug from under me at any moment.

But I guess it is something of a fantasy to imagine any of this means anything when it comes to paying and playing the games in the normal course of events. And the legal jabberwocky is surely there mainly to protect them from litigious customers, or to satisfy shareholders’ lawyer’s concerns about propriety, or other sundy non-evil motives. I’m just sick of every conceivable economic event in my life being wrapped in a goddamn contract that amounts to me abdicating “fair use” notions, however irrational they may be, that I feel comfortable with.

Well I had a Yahoo Games on Demand subscription for a couple months and sorta liked it. I played Freelancer and a couple of others I’d wanted to play for awhile. I found the service to be pretty slick. Basically you download part of the game and either stream the rest and begin playing or you can opt to download the rest of the game. Everything worked well with no bizarro copy protection problems and I apparently didn’t violate their arcane clauses either.

I did have a few gripes and that’s why I quit the service. It sometimes provided you with the latest version of a game and sometimes not. Freelancer for example was 1.0 when I believe there was a 1.1 patch. The games you downloaded and played weren’t yours to keep - you were basically renting them. Now that I no longer subscribe I can’t access the games and (with a few exceptions) I can’t access their saved game files should I want to purchase the game and pick up where I left off. And I just wish they had more games available. In the 2 months I subscribed I don’t think they added any new games.