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Reader Comments (22)

Posted: May 24th 2009 8:38AM (Unverified) said

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You forgot to mention Second Life, where all content is streamed on demand- Free Realms & Fusion Fall preload content to give a smoother experience (something that is difficult to implement in an environment where everything is created by the users and can change at a moments notice)

For a game that can *only* be played online, there is little point to purchasing a boxed copy:

1) Digital Distribution allows for content to be delivered in an encrypted form, so stuff can be ready to play the moment the content is meant to be launched (retail copies require you to either queue at a store or pre-order from amazon etc. and hope it gets delivered on time)

2) Digital Distribution allows the installation to be kept more up to date than a retail copy. For those installing WoW from a boxed copy, how long did you have to wait for all the patches to download ?

Purchasing an MMOG at retail is only beneficial for the extras you get in the box, or for those not comfortable with ephemeral content (like my mother who my siblings and I have turned into a gamer :-P )

Posted: May 24th 2009 8:46AM Krystalle Voecks said

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Touche on SL. It does indeed stream as you move from area to area as well. Point well made.

With that said, I don't believe SL, Entropia or any other VWs currently on the market have a retail box to begin with? Whereas it would be noted that at least FusionFall does have a box option currently for an installer.
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Posted: May 24th 2009 11:05AM Myria said

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Problem is I've never seen a digital distribution that was up-to-date and didn't need to be patched. Usually what you get is pretty much the same as what's on the disk -- last major release DLs first, then patches. Sometimes that's handled relatively transparently, but that's what happens. Fact is, it doesn't make sense for game companies to do otherwise. Slipstreaming takes time and resources they don't want to spend, easier just to give everyone what you know works without having to create an entirely new version of the game every time you do an update.

That, and the bandwidth game companies tend to allocate is paltry at absolute best. I DLed the Bullroarer (beta server) client for LoTRO for the stress test and it took a day and a half -- mind you, I have a fast connect and routinely transfer far more data then that a day, the laconic pace of the DL was definitely on their end. To add insult to injury, even after it was down and installed it had to then download over 600 updated files, taking another hour or so.

The way LoTRO's system handles updating files -- DL one small file, decrypt, install, rinse and repeat hundreds or thousands of times -- seems purposefully designed to be slow. It's quite aggravating, really. If I remember right FFXI was even worse, you could have multiple birthdays waiting for their game to fully install. Blizz is the only one I can think of that's relatively speedy with their DLs, their heavy use of torrents and huge install base no doubt help a lot there.

However that does bring up another issue with DLing games. If you pick the torrent version of Eve to DL (comes down at a good clip, though it's so relatively small that it's hard to be impressed) you also end up with a silently installed DNA client that hangs around, eating up your bandwidth and, depending on your network drivers (it and Nvidia drivers so don't get along) starts causing blue screens. Too much of the tech that game companies seem to turn to for easy DL solutions is like the bittorrent/DNA package -- cheap and easy for the game company, not at all good for the customer.
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Posted: May 24th 2009 10:49AM (Unverified) said

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Well I would imagine the reason that Second Life doesn't have a boxed copy is that the viewer is generally less than 50mb for each platform, so having a CD in a box would be rather wasteful- and you've probably noticed that Linden Lab like to describe themselves as a "green" company.

Fusion Fall probably has a boxed copy for marketing purposes- it is from Cartoon Network, after all.

I would imagine if Free Realms got a boxed copy, it'd probably come with a starter pack for the TCG, and possibly a redeemable item exclusive to the boxed copy. So again, for marketing purposes.

Putting Free Realms on a boxed copy would be *extremely* wasteful, since if you remove the DirectX installer files from the Free Realms setup file, you could fit it on a floppy disk. twice.
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Posted: May 24th 2009 9:12AM (Unverified) said

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Digital downloads in the UK usually cost more than the boxed versions. Example; DoW2 from Steam was £35 (std ed) and game was £25 for the steelbook edition.
Until Steam checks national pricing, it won't get a real foothold. Amazon, Play and Game *always* beat Steam for pre-orders.
It's only long after the game is released and Steam do a 75% off is it worth looking at their store.

The situation is also not helped by traffic shaping/capping and all that surrounds fair use and ISP small print. Normal people don't download games so expect to get dirty letters from your ISP claiming fair use abuse if you do it more than once a month and don't like leaving your computer on over night.

Posted: May 24th 2009 9:20AM Greeen said

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Good point Jon, I also bought DoW2 as boxed because it was cheaper. Also, it is sometimes nice to go into a store and browse the titles. on the other hand, once a game has become "old", digital downloads can become cheaper (but not always).

Other than that, esp. MMOs where the games changes so much, and the manual of the boxed version isn't more than an introduction after the 1st patch, it feels pointless with a boxed copy, esp. if you can download and install the game from your account.
Now a Special Edition is something different, then again, they are seldom that great (massively had a thread on this a while back, yes?)

Posted: May 24th 2009 9:25AM Myria said

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I guess I mostly prefer getting a box. It speeds things up a bit (even with the install disk LoTRO and FFXI, to name two, can take days to bring up to date even with a good connect), I've been around long enough to remember when game boxes sometimes had interesting stuff in them, and, perhaps most of all, it placates my husband, who holds on to the old fashioned notion that if you don't have something physical you can hold you got ripped off.

Unfortunately the box is sometimes a borderline rip off, or, at least, not nearly worth what they're charging for it. I feel this way about the Eve special edition box. It comes with 60 days play (and/or turn to plex and sell for 340 or so mil isk per 30), a bunch of junk no one cares about, and a special edition shuttle. Only problem is, you only get the shuttle if you start a brand new account. No adding to trial accounts, no adding to existing accounts. Personally I think that bizarre at best, and the fact that it's not clear on the box or the web site (you have to dig through the forums to find it, or ask one of the ISDs in newbie chat) is wholly unacceptable.

As for streaming game pieces? Guild Wars does something like that, and frankly it gets pretty annoying. If there'd been a major update (especially back when they were releasing new content -- Sorrow's Furnace -- and expacs) there'd be a wait every time you went through a portal that could sometimes be substantial and was pretty much always annoying. Fortunately you could just use the '-image' switch to grab the whole thing before you started.

Kind of tells you what the player base thought of streaming when a very large percentage of them were using a little-documented command line switch to get around it.

Posted: May 24th 2009 10:23AM Halldorr said

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Grr yes, I just bought the EVE special box as I was moving from a 21 day trial to a monthly subscription and thought it was that I'd get a new ship...then when I got home and started upgrading ont he site it said it was only for new accounts *sigh*
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Posted: May 24th 2009 9:33AM TheJackman said

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I think any real MMO that got like 8 to 15gb clients need to offer both box and download.... Not everyone have a fast connection and some people can not take down big clients and like to buy a retail box! You also have other people that like to collect that boxes! So for me they need give people a option.

But in any case the download need cost less money them the retail box!!

Posted: May 24th 2009 10:11AM Miffy said

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I prefer to download on Steam cause all you have to do is click a button and it downloads and no install is even needed. Then if you uninstall it then you can reinstall some point in the future with no fuss. I hate boxes because they take up space and you never look at them again or even care that you got them and installing through DVD is slow and if you have to change discs in install it's even more annoying.

Posted: May 24th 2009 10:07AM (Unverified) said

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I always prefer the Steam/Impulse/ version. There are no gaming or electronics stores easily reachable by public transit where I live, which means any game that I choose to buy the physical version of necessitates a dedicated and out of the way car trip. Oddly, I happen to live very close to a major national (Canadian) network hub, so high-speed internet access is very prevalent and very fast. This generally means that I can literally get a game faster by buying it over Steam than I can if I were to drive to the store and back and install via disc.

Even if I was close to a game store, and if my internet connection wasn't fast, I would still choose the digital version. While most game companies are starting to release games that no longer require the disc to play, some still do. And I prefer the fact that I don't have to research whether a given game does or doesn't require the disc. I also tend to futz with my system more than the average user, which means I tend to wipe my system more often than most. I like the fact that restoring my games can almost be entirely reduced to 2 steps: Install Steam, install Impulse, done. From that point on, I can simultaneously download and reinstall the few games that I intend to play immediately while I finish restoring other crucial apps.

Plus, I'm a stats/achievement whore. If the game is natively available from Steam, I have more ammunition in the e-penis war between my friends and I.

Posted: May 24th 2009 10:45AM (Unverified) said

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i prefer digital downloads like steam, cause then i dont have to run around looking for discs and so on.
neither will i loose any cd keys.....
Steam is sometimes very overpriced but i like to think that their service is worth the extra bucks the game costs.....

Posted: May 24th 2009 10:45AM J Brad Hicks said

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The last time I bought an MMO in a game box, there had been so many patches between when the disks went gold and when the game went live that I ended up downloading at least half as many gigabytes as it would have been to download the whole client.

I know the old joke about the bandwidth in bits per second of a jumbo-jet full of DVDs flying cross-country. (I'm old enough to remember when that joke was told about a station wagon full of 9-track magnetic tape.) But from now on, I significantly prefer direct digital download of the client to having to mail-order a tiny little DVD in an oversized cardboard box (as likely as not, itself shipped in an even bigger cardboard box full of foam peanuts) or having to track down a store that has a copy. How about I just pay the money, click one button, and get the game the same day? I'm paying for high-speed internet for a reason.

Posted: May 24th 2009 11:27AM (Unverified) said

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I live in Alaska, and I tell you this only so you can understand how terrible the internet service is up here compared to someplace in the lower 48 states. I'm paying fiber-wire price for 512kbps DSL because that's the best and cheapest-for-the-speed offered in my area.

I have Steam; I use it only for the Orange Box games and Left 4 Dead. Downloading Left 4 Dead took hours, and patching took another one for good measure plus an annoyingly long installation time for no good reason. For inconvenience reasons and the speed of my internet, it's not for me practical to download more than the patches necessary to play when I can get the 7gb (in general) on CD format and save all the bandwidth.

There are likely as many reasons to use Direct2Download as there are not to. Everyone's circumstances are different, and judging from the comments above, both make sense to different people.

Posted: May 24th 2009 11:33AM Pingles said

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I had Steam on my old machine and moved to a new PC. This was after quite a while and was no longer playing any games on Steam.

When I DID find a game using Steam that I wanted to play I realized I had no idea what my password was and no longer had the email I used to sign up for it.

At that point I REALLY wished I had a retail box.

Posted: May 24th 2009 1:37PM elocke said

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Personally, I think it should always be both options available, never one over the other. My reasons for wanting boxes from retail outlets are numerous. First, if every I get a new PC(which is inevitable due to technology growth), or if I wipe my hard drive for whatever reason or if I get a NEW hard drive, having the disk readily available makes reinstalling the product extremely easy.

Second, I too like Box art and some of the extras that come with the package.

Third, believe it or not, but having the boxes in the stores is another form of advertisement for the game, which for MMO's is a huge deal, as the more the merrier and the better the game experience.

The only time I prefer downloading a game, is when it IS like Free Realms, an extremely casual game that I only play every now and then. Or, when a game I want has stopped making hard copies and are very difficult to find in retail outlets, then I definitely would like to get it via digital methods.

Posted: May 24th 2009 1:47PM (Unverified) said

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I love Steam but like others I wish that their pricing was more competitive for new releases. On occasion I have resorted to buying a retail box and using the retail key to install under Steam. Steam allows you to do that and it means you get all of the benefits of Steam for the cheaper retail price.

Posted: May 24th 2009 3:32PM ColdCoffee said

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STEAM is PC Gaming. Its been so long since I've bought any kind of media. Maybe World of Warcraft was last guy I bought just because they didn't have the option back in 04.

Posted: May 24th 2009 4:10PM Graill440 said

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I guess if your inept at downloading or choosing where to put a saved file and like ignorant amounts of security that serves one side (not the user) then steam is for you. I dont use steam and never will, if a game looks interesting and has steam intertwined into it, it's an auto pass, regardless of how much i would have liked to play it.

A retail box should always go hand in hand with the dl option, it gives you choice, its the smart marketing thing to do.

As for the third "option" it is already out there, i can remember the game name but it was an overseas title and when moving to a new area it would dl, very annoying, it came off the drive after a couple hours.

Posted: May 24th 2009 6:38PM RogueJedi86 said

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I hate when Direct Download costs the same amount as retail. You aren't getting any of the manuals or disks, it should cost less. But some companies charge the same amount for both, a major rip off. I'm looking at Blizzard mostly in this case. I got tired of it by the time Lich King came out, and bought that at the store so I'd at least get the manuals and stuff. It just bugs me that they charge just as high for download, when it actually costs a lot less for the company, since nothing has to get physically made.

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