Why all my new game purchases will be on CD

A lesson that I’ve learned is that when you buy digital download games your “ownership” of that game is only as good as the customer service department of the company you bought it from.

I’ve been a digital download person for a while, I bought the steam silver package, suscribed to totalgaming.net, and I bought Fate. I thought the future was in the digital download until totalgaming changed their format.

They made us old subscribers a generous offer that was discussed in another thread. However when I was switched over I lost access to four of the games included with my original subscription. The games I “lost” were games I had downloaded and then deleted later so this may be where the bug is coming from. I’m not too excited about playing the games I lost however not having acces to them if I would like to play them is annoying.

I sent an e-mail to stardock customer service and got a reply back that I still had all 10 of my tokens. I asked if the solution was to purchase the games and then get a token refund from them, they sent back the same reply. I wrote back stating that they obviously weren’t understanding the problem. I got back a third e-mail stating that they would reply within two days and haven’t heard back in a week and a half.

This isn’t as much a story about bad customer service from Stardock as it is a point that this could happen to any or all of my digitaly purchased games.

I actualy think that experiences like this are to the detriment of small publishers. I don’t think they’ll be able to sell their games at retail stores soon since PC game space is getting more and more precious. I doubt best buy will push aside any sims expansion in exchange for a game like Fate. Will people be willing to purchase directly from a small publisher?

I’m thinking that the unfortunate direction this will probably go is that a large company with a good customer service department already like Amazon or Microsoft will take the forefront of digital purchasing of games. The sad part about this is that again the focus will be on the profitable big name games so they may not be willing to work with smaller developers and also since they’ll want a big cut of the sale price it will lead to higher prices as well.

I definitely sympathize. You can only download an Itune once, so I was fucked after my Hard Drive died! I don’t like these digital downloads. They’re only doing even more to take rights away from the consumer. I endured Steam but I’m not sure how far I’m willing to go.

My sister’s laptop bit the shit but she emailed Apple and they allowed her to re-download the songs.

Don’t get your hopes up though.

I’ve taken the position that I’d rather not download a product if I can get a softcopy on CD/DVD. There is so much uncertainty with downloading a program. Once the developer/publisher shuts down, how are you going to re-install the software? I can still enjoy Total Annihilation today, for example, since I have the CDs, but how about Half-life 2 in say 5 years? Would I be able to continue enjoying Half-life 2 independent of Valve’s fortunes? (I bought a digital copy).

The digital distribution model isn’t perfect. We may have to be content with its flaws for the moment.

Thinking ahead, perhaps a global data exchange could be established which would hold a copy of every commercially-purchased software with identity verification. e.g. Valve would file a copy with the said data exchange and forward all purchaser information and linked encrypted keys to the said global data exchange (GDE); this institution could be statutorily established to guarantee reliability and existence (and subject to federal regulation).

Publishers/developers could pay a one-off fee for each purchaser ID sent to the GDE (on top of a yearly fee), whereupon the exchange could serve as a databank for software, which would survive independent of the future of the publisher/developer. e.g. you could buy a copy of Halflife 2 today, and receive a soft copy with an encrypted key even 15 years from now upon supplying GDE provide proof of your identity, since they would have it on record that you own a copy of HL2. Perhaps transfers of ownership could be arranged for a small fee with the GDE (maybe $5? this would cover additional bandwidth for the new buyer to download the software).

The above system would go a long way in encouraging the digital distribution model. It would not, envisionably, be a burden on tax payers (being self-funding).

This is only the beginning.

not sure why most companies don’t follow the audible.com model. When you buy something, you get eternal rights to dload it from their server. You can keep it on your drive if you want, delete it if you want, doesn’t matter. you can always dload it again.

Stardock does follow that model. He’s just having issues communicating. It’s one of TG.Net’s selling points.

I can’t believe iTunes doesn’t, though. Surely they have a transaction log that says “Yes, this person paid for that.” don’t they? It’s asinine that they still have the music up there and you can’t re-download it. Though, frankly, I can’t imagine downloading music as a primary acquisition source anyway, between the marginal price reduction, the quality reduction, and shit like this, I’ll continue to buy CDs and rip them for myself.

TGs selling point used to be that you could backup your downloaded games and restore them freely. I noticed that they nowadays have some sort of activation system, which (if I understood it correctly) kinda sours the deal. Maybe Brad of someone else can correct me if I’m wrong, but I got the impression that the current system requires you to connect to the Stardock server in order to restore a backup, which sucks as a long-term backup plan.

The bolded part is why your particular complaint is silly. You no longer have files that you deleted… well, no shit! When you buy a CD-ROM, then crack it in half and throw it in the garbage, I bet you can’t play that game anymore either. Do you then complain that the publisher should send you a free new CD-ROM?

Stardock already lets you play without contacting their server, and they also let you make self-contained backup copies that can be reinstalled at will. If you’re dumb enough to uninstall without making your own backup copy that’s really your own fault. If you had burned a CD-ROM while you had those files you’d still have them now. A publisher isn’t obliged to make up for your carelessness from here to eternity.

(I realize that Stardock actually does offer the service of re-download whenever you want but that’s just them being nice, really. Since you can make self-contained local copies they wouldn’t have to do that. Any number of tools I bought online certainly don’t offer this service.)

On the other hand, I had a hankering to play some Crimsonland yesterday. After visiting the 10tons site and downloading the latest release, I noted that the last update was in 2003 … and of course I didn’t have my auth. code to unlock the game.

One email and instant automated reply from Reflexive later, I was happily playing the game.

By way of contrast, when I lost my key for BF42, it took EA 2 weeks (with receipt of xerox copies of the BF42 CDs by fax) to send me another code.

These are merely anecdotes of course, but so is the OP.

Oh and of course: fuck Steam.

Yeah, I’m in the middle of a similar problem with Napster. I bought a 50-song pack from them and downloaded 46 songs, which all worked fine. I recently wiped my MP3 player (but not my Napster library on my PC) to rebuild the songs in there from scratch. Somehow when I did that, Napster decided I no longer owned the songs I had downloaded. I’ve gone back and forth with them several times over email and they seem unwilling to fix the problem (they keep asking me to do various things, which I do, but none of them work–as of now, their last request was that I delete and reinstall Windows Media Player, although I can’t imagine how that would help since the point is that I have no license from Napster). It’s really frustrating. I guess the thing to do is download the MP3s, then burn them as CD-audio, then re-rip them back so that they’re regular, non-DRM files (will that work?). Really annoying.

And I actually wouldn’t have cared that much if Napster weren’t such dicks about it–if I had emailed them the problem and they immediately said “No sweat, we’ll just fix it in our system and you’re good to go,” that would have been fine. For someone who is supposed to be competing against free pirated MP3s, they really seem to go out of their way to make things difficult, which is just inexplicable to me.

The bolded part is why your particular complaint is silly. You no longer have files that you deleted… well, no shit! When you buy a CD-ROM, then crack it in half and throw it in the garbage, I bet you can’t play that game anymore either. Do you then complain that the publisher should send you a free new CD-ROM?

Well, except that in this case he was told that he COULD delete them and just re-download them, so that may have affected his (or anyone else’s) decision not to back up. Isn’t that kind of the whole pointof the digital distribution model?

“Thanks for your purchase. You can delete the files and download them again any time.”

“Okay, I"ve deleted one and I’d like to download it again.”

“Hoo-hoo, you are SCREWED.”

No, this is an extremely ridiculous point you’ve made. Ok, I load something on my PC from a CD and then I uninstall it later. At that point do you have to go buy another copy of the game? No, you can reinstall it from the CD. Way to jump the shark completely with your example.

Utterly off topic, but that’s the most bizarre use of “jumping the shark” that I’ve ever seen.

I don’t think this phrase means what you think it does.

I know what it means, dammit. He took his example way too far to the point of absurdity.

I’m the most respected Yogi Berra on this message board by far.

I think you mean ‘way to miss the boat…’ though I guess if you miss the boat you could probably jump a shark in the process so I’ll allow it.

Note that itunes tells you that you have to keep a backup of your songs. Also another way to handle DRM is to have a backup of your hard drive. I ghost my hard drive every night and archive games I’m not playing that are DRM. An external hard drive can be gotten for under $200.


Digital downloads are still in their infancy. There are problems and rough bits atm for sure and boy can that hurt :( Still customer service on “hardcopy” games is also often not ehm topnotch… to put it very midly.

They’ll grow up quickly.

I really think its the future of PC gaming. Well, it will be buying an EA game or a small developers digital download :D.

“Jumping the shark”

Jumping the shark is a metaphor used by US television critics since the 1990s. The phrase is used to describe the moment when a television show or similar episodic medium is in retrospect judged to have passed its “peak” and shows a noticeable decline in quality.