Strategy First is first publisher to team with Valve/Steam

Links: Press Release and Gamasutra News Item

I am entirely biased as to the significance of this decision (since it has a notable impact on my livelihood) but I do think this is big news. Having looked at the innards of Steam and participating (in a very small way) in the movement towards digital download as a viable vehicle for game distribution, I can say that I’m excited about the future of Valve and their technology.

Strategy First and Steam bashing aside, I’m interested to hear how you guys feel about potentially buying your PC games in this manner in the years to come? “Brick and mortar” will never go away when it comes to PC game sales, but my hope is that it will not be the primary avenue of our game purchasing for much longer.

For FPS and RTS type games I think it’s great but for something as deep as DW I need the printed manual. Granted there’s always the .pdf but those are no fun :{

I don’t think the manual thing will be that big a deal. Game devs can adapt their games to the circumstances. If digital distribution means devs cant rely on manuals to teach tricky game concepts or interfaces to users then the games will just get better tutorials, better in game help, simpler interfaces, etc.

The problem is Dangerous Waters is all about the simulation and the feel that you are in the sub/helo/frigate flicking the switches yourself and following the real procedures of the servicepeople. All that goes away with a simplified interface. Better in game help and actual tutorials would be very helpful though.

We have a bunch of printed manuals that will be available for purchase by any Steam customer (or retail customer, for that matter). It’s an additional cost, but if they want it, it’s there as an option - so hopefully that will not be an issue.

We have a bunch of printed manuals that will be available for purchase by any Steam customer (or retail customer, for that matter). It’s an additional cost, but if they want it, it’s there as an option - so hopefully that will not be an issue.

Oh goody! Now we can pay full retail price for a game that has none of the usual packaging costs!

And then we can pay an additional fee for the cost of a manual that used to be included in the full retail price!

Now, that’s progress! Makes me wish everyone would switch over to digital distribution immediately.

One of the obscure shortcuts in steam - right click on a game in your games menu, and if it has an online manual it will offer you a link to take you there.

We are working on making this consistent (all games having a manual). For some games that change, like multiplayer games, I think having a dynamic ever updated manual online is preferable.

Not to add too many questions, but even if a manual is online, do people prefer to have a printed version as well? Does printed count if it is just a pdf or printable website, or does only a bound manual count?

chet

Even so, computer gaming is still about the cheapest entertainment you can get. Besides, it’s not like the gas and time to trek to the store is free either.

I’d much rather deal with direct downloads, which for me seems better for all parties included – except the middleman.

I hear what you’re saying, and for smaller companies with tiny games, I agree. But how much does Valve pay in bandwidth costs per month, I wonder? I’m sure they could knock a few dollars of the price, but I’m sure even they have a cost per unit associated with the download model.

Heh, tis true at the moment 8) … but the idea is that you DON’T have to pay full retail price for a game because the revenue sharing is higher for the investing publisher/developer and less units are needed to be sold in order for that pub/dev to make a return on their investment… that’s the long-term goal at least. :roll:

It really depends on the game. For a generic shooter, no. Every shooter has WASD, multiple weapons, and plays just like any other shooter. In fact, I’ll go so far to say that most games on the market today have very basic play mechanics that only need a 10 page help file at best. Then again, World of Warcraft and Civilization have massive manuals, don’t they?

I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for RPGs with huge manuals that help in setting the tone and the story with their contents. But for your typical 10 hour game today, no, a manual is not necessary.

I vastly prefer online manuals, because they’re searchable and can be kept up to date. Most people seem to prefer an actual manual, professionally printed; not sure if they’re willing to pay for it once it’s price is itemized and made clear though.

Heh, tis true at the moment 8) … but the idea is that you DON’T have to pay full retail price for a game because the revenue sharing is higher for the investing publisher/developer and less units are needed to be sold in order for that pub/dev to make a return on their investment… that’s the long-term goal at least. :roll:[/quote]

I’ll believe that when I see it. So far Valve themselves havn’t done this as HL2 cost the same digital as retail.

The only time I use a manual, printed or otherwise, is to read up on the game before I play it or when I start it. I’ll take the manual into the bathroom with me and see if it’s any good (most aren’t). The only manuals I’ve used before that first glance/read through are those for RPGs where the manual might actually have useful information (i.e. - NWN manual).

But to be perfectly honest, I don’t really give a shit about them. They are spiffy and all, but I’d MUCH rather have the game explain it to me, or be intuitive enough so I don’t need it, than HAVE to read a manual to understand the game.

It’s a matter of reference. If you need to refer to the manual to figure out game procedures or check on the attributes or stats of a game piece, then yes, a printed manual is much preferred.

If you don’t need the manual while you’re playing the game then online should be fine.

But if it is all downloadable, do you prefer the manual to mimic a regular printed manual with extra graphics etc (be a pdf), or is just a more straightforward manual? Does it make that much of a difference?

Jason, Darwinia is cheaper through steam than buying a boxed copy.

A manual can be nice depending on the game - some games don’t really need them. Other games really benefit from a good manual. I don’t think it’s a dealbreaker not having a paper manual though if the in-game help is good.

What purpose does Strategy First serve in the equation now? It’s like the game has two publishers now. Anyway, I hope the developer is getting more per unit sold out of this deal at least since the retail sector is being cut out of the equation.

Apologies in advance if I’m using the wrong terms; I don’t know the first thing about designing webpages.

If I’m not going to have a hard copy, my first choice would be a hyperlinked series of webpages (HTML files?). I’d like the ability to click on APPENDIX and get to that section easily.

Second choice would be a PDF document that embeds these hyperlinks; some have the ability to skip right to a specific chapter when you click on that chapter title in the table of contents. I could care less about pretty pictures, although graphic depictions of tech trees would be helpful.

Third choice would be a plain manual like the fan submissions on GameFAQs. A lot of these have great information, but it can be difficult to find the relevant sections. Repeated Edit-Find searches are clumsier than hyperlinks.

An online pdf manual would be fine with me. I really don’t like large printed manuals with my games.

Just like any website, I’d appreciate it looking like the game, for the most part. No extra story or such needed though…if you’re telling me your story in the manual, I’m assuming it’s not really pertinent to the game.

Though, I would prefer HTML (or whatever) to PDF as the download time is much faster on a website, usually.