ultranos: greyscale photo of laptop and coffee mug filled with some beverage (coffee and data)
I've been playing my way, slowly, through a second run of single-player for Portal 2, taking the time to really appreciate the level design and voice acting that Valve put in here, not to mention just trying for Achievements (in interest of not spoiling, two with the least-spoiler-tastic names I'm working on are "Smash TV" and "Overclocker", which I keep missing by seconds, damn it). I'm also playing through co-op with a friend, which is also a lot of fun and takes some amount of mind-bending to figure out.

Which means I'm also glad that Valve announced Friday that they're going to be releasing free DLC sometime this summer that includes new test chambers and challenge levels. Score.

The "problem", and I use that word lightly, here is that the time I spend playing Portal 2 means time I'm not playing any of the other games on my very long list of games on Steam. Or on the PS2. Or PS3 or 360. My life is hard.

Actually, it's kind of interesting. It took me a very, very long time to warm up to Steam. I was wary of it. "What if it goes away and takes my games with it?" "I like physical discs." "I have to have internet to use it. That sucks." In fact, the first game I played on it was Portal, back in 2007, and I only downloaded Steam then for that reason. That was on Erebus, my old Toshiba laptop.

And then something amazing happened: I built a desktop, Bahamut, and built it to be a gaming computer. And I had these discs for KOTOR, and Supreme Commander, and Neverwinter Nights, and it was a pain to install all of them on Bahamut, to the point where I didn't bother except for SupCom (because Erebus couldn't handle it anyway). But when I installed Steam, oh hey, it downloaded and installed Portal for me. That was neat.

And then, Erebus died. Which was upsetting for other reasons, but Bahamut was my gaming computer, and I didn't lose anything there. And new laptop Marduk didn't have to be able to play games at all.

But then, back in August 2010, Bahamut suffered a complete OS crash and I had to upgrade and install a fresh version of Windows 7. Which means reinstalling everything. But Steam took care of my games, which was one very nice thing to not worry about in between reinstalling Python, LyX, and other things.

Gradually, I found myself buying and playing other games on Steam, especially indie games. I took advantage of various sales, especially over the winter holiday shopping season, and picked up games that ranged from Things That Looked Mildly Interesting to Things I Have Been Meaning To Play For Years Now. Next thing I knew, my Steam library had gone from 7 to 60+, and had no intention of stopping. ("When did I buy all these games? Why?")

I found out that I really liked Steam. Which is strange, because given my general stance on DRM, I should really be all over GOG.net and the like. But I'm not. I don't mind Steam's mild DRM. It's a small compromise to make for having access to your games as long as Valve's cloud survives, with no arbitrary limit to how often you can download them. I like how I can make a purchase, and be instantly gratified to see it downloading and installing itself on Bahamut with no further input on my part. I like the community aspect that makes it trivial for me to see what games my friends are playing at the moment, to chat with them, and to set up a co-op game with voice chat without having to run through an outside server like Ventrilo.

The arguments I've seen against Steam are mainly that it does have DRM, although mild, and that some people think it's a monopoly. The people who dislike Steam's DRM are more picky about DRM than I am, because Steam's is practically invisible to me, and DRM and I have had a long-standing mutual...disagreement. (There was a point in time I refused to buy music off iTunes because of Apple's DRM.) Because of this, I can't entirely fault them for it. The monopoly argument, however, really confuses me. Yes, Valve controls the largest digital distributor for games. The real issue is that they have no direct competitor who does it as well as they do. Stardock has Impuse, which is cute, but has nowhere near the library that Steam does. EA has their own digital distribution method, but that's only for EA games. Steam not only is cross-company, but with its release on PC, Mac, and now PS3 (at least, as soon as Sony unfucks it's security issues with PSN), it's also cross-platform. It's basically the same situation processors are in, with Intel vs. AMD. Except right now, there's no AMD-equivalent to challenge Valve's Intel-esque position. Which is arguably a problem, but not Valve's fault, really.

What we're seeing is people really starting to embrace the concept of digital distribution. And some companies are moving in the direction consumers are going with the "yes, you do own this, we'll just store the data for you, you can pull it out whenever you wish". You see it with Steam (and Impulse), with Amazon Cloud and Kindle, with Dropbox. Other's are getting there with the "buy it and download it from us", with iTunes and AmazonMP3, etc. It's the future, and sure, there are some companies and organizations that are fighting it. It's the reason for the problems the RIAA and the MPAA have been having for the last decade. The world's changing fast, and the old rules that went with the old methods of distribution don't really apply anymore, and trying to force them to apply is where the huge issues with piracy come in. Most people don't want to pirate, most people are quite happy to pay some amount of money to get a digital thing. But the trick is to not treat people like thieves, to give them reasonable options and costs, or else they will become pirates. The companies that get this, the Amazons, the Valves, the Hulus and Crunchyrolls, the tiny indies that'll release their stuff for free with only a PayPal "Tip Jar", they're the ones who suddenly start seeing a dramatic drop in piracy and a rise in profits. They're just the ones leading the way, because they realize that their customers want this.

And so, I give these places my money. I want them to succeed. Sure, sometimes they screw up, but they come back being honest about it and trying to do better next time. (As an aside, this is part of the reason I will continue to defend Amazon to the death with regards to the Kindle and other functions. They try. And when they fuck up, they admit it.) It's not a lot, but it's something. And I find it amusing that my feelings on the idea of digital distribution follow the timeline with my relationship with Steam. Which makes sense, because really, the day I hung up my tri-cornered hat was the day I realized my Steam library had well over 80 games, and I had bought every last one of them.

Anonymous( )Anonymous This account has disabled anonymous posting.
OpenID( )OpenID You can comment on this post while signed in with an account from many other sites, once you have confirmed your email address. Sign in using OpenID.
Account name:
If you don't have an account you can create one now.
HTML doesn't work in the subject.


Notice: This account is set to log the IP addresses of everyone who comments.
Links will be displayed as unclickable URLs to help prevent spam.


ultranos: cecilia adelhyde holding spell book (Default)

Memoranda from the Usual Suspects

Media List:

Currently Watching:
-- Supergirl(hiatus)
--Pitch (hiatus)

Currently Playing:
--[null] (PS3)
--[null] (PS2)
--Fire Emblem: Awakening (3DS)
--[null] (PSP)
--[null] (XBox360)
--Endless Legend (PC)
--Fallout: New Vegas (PC)

Currently Reading:


-The Rook, Daniel O'Malley
-Fortune's Rising, Sara King

-Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy, David Daley


"So she's good cop, he's bad cop, you're morally-questionable cop, and I'm set-things-on-fire cop."

"Sounds about right."


"WARNING: When attempting to be clever, make sure you not actually just being stupid."


"Did you remember to sacrifice the goat before burning the ISO to the DVD-R?"

"Crap! Um, I've got a charred piece of meat here."

"That's called a steak. That's dinner. What about the sacrifices?"


"I escape through quantum-tunneling. What do I need to roll for that?"


"Why is it called a 'Monkeylord'?"

"Because it looks like a spider."


"I have a moral objection to this problem. It implies microwaving a steak."


"Did you eat the crazy cookies this morning?"


"The GPU goes 4 by 4, hurrah, hurrah."

April 2017

9 101112131415

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags