Thursday, July 19, 2012

Gamefly Doomed, Next Gen Looking Scary

So, I recently tried to log into my Direct2Drive account, for those who dont know it was a digital download gaming service owned by parent company IGN. I had been using it for years and overall, while it wasnt as good as Steam, it was perfectly fine and I had some older games on there. I like digital download because I dont have to worry about losing or damaging the disc or keeping track of authorization codes, and as a general rule I dont pirate software (or music, or movies for that matter - almost never).

So, when I logged in, I learned that D2D had been sold to gamefly in August 2011, and that all my games would be over there now. Now, as a former gamefly member, I wondered how it would work in terms of merging my accounts, as I get offers from gamefly to renew all the time. I logged into my GF account, and lo and behhold, there were some games - but, not all of them. I checked around and learned that only a fraction of the games people bought on D2D were ever transferred to GF - the rest would possibly "be added later," had some legal issue which prevented the transfer, or were "older games" which GF had deemed not even worthy of adding to their servers because only a few hundred people would ever download them. The outcry has been phenomenal.

So in the end, the customers got screwed. We paid for games, so we could have them indefinitely, and because D2D sold to a buyer who had no experience in the digital download market and no incentive to provide servers and updates and authorizations for older games, and various DRM issues with some newer ones as well - we now have a fraction of what we paid for. The GF client interface sucks, and from what I can tell its also some sort of evil spyware that wont ever close unless you end the process from the Task Manager.

If the rumor is true, and the next generation of consoles doesnt allow used games to be played without paying for an authorization, Gamefly is going to go out of business. Most of their money comes from renting and selling used games, and if this latest fiasco is any indication, they have no idea what they are doing in the digital download marketplace. Competitors like Steam and EA will eat them alive.

Im concerned about the next generation, between the lack of used games, online games only being active for 2 years, integrated motion controls for every game, and Sony filing a patent for in game advertisements which stop the game and force you to watch a commercial. Talk about breaking the players immersion, something like that would positively shatter it. Im sure they will find ways to get us to buy their next gen consoles, mostly by selling us remakes of games we already played which have since been taken offline or which will be remade in HD, offering features which we had and were taken away, and of course needing to buy one to play Bungie's next gen IP or Half Life 3. The greedy, money-sucking face humping vampire squid that is the gaming industry will find a way to get us to buy one, just like they did with the 360 and the Xbox and PS2 and N64 before it, ad infinitum, but that doesnt mean I wont do so kicking and screaming.


md said...

Another reason digital distribution scares me - you don't actually own a tangible item, but more of a license to use a service. If that service dies, so does your right to play the games you've paid for.

The future scares me too. The used game rumors are nauseating. I find it hard enough as it is to get myself to spend $40 on a used game. I can't remember the last time I made a day-one purchase. And if I know I'll never be able to get any of my money back in the case that I dislike a game, it's going to make that $60 decision that much harder. Game sales would decrease substantially. People aren't going to take the $60 anymore if a title gets mixed reviews. Good luck selling games with review scores lower than 8.5/10

md said...

EDIT: "People aren't going to take the $60 CHANCE anymore if a title gets mixed reviews."

Chronic said...

Yeah, a lot of people refused to buy Diablo 3 because it requires an internet connection at all times to Blizzard servers. Sure, Acti-Blizzard is healthy now, but what if they decided to merge with EA? You can bet that server wouldnt be online for more than a couple years.

Game sales will probably be flat next generation even if they grow the install base, because if they dont allow used games sales, its going to have a devastating effect on developers - fewer games will get made, especially big budget ones. Risky titles like Spec Ops The Line or Mirrors Edge wont get greenlit because the risk of mediocre reviews means extremely low sales. Im was fine buying a game like Army of Two or Mercenaries 2 - games you know you will only play once - because I can put it on ebay and recoup 50-80% of my investment.

I guess it all depends on how much they charge for each authorization. If its only $10-15 to authorize a used game, the used game market might still have some life. Im curious to see how this all pans out.

James said...

Gamefly absolutely ruined everything that Direct2Drive built, I hate that they auto download games too.

umo said...

Games now seem to want you to invest more of yourself in them, so what they're doing by then locking away those games is stealing parts of your soul.

It was the Dreamcast that first showed me the artificial content lock dilemma. My favourite levels on a game were 2 bonus levels you could only unlock by going online with Dreamarena. Now only a save file with those unlocked allow you to play them.

The fracturing of games with more and more DLC chunks is really bad for a game's community too. With various content possibilites everyone ends up with different versions of the game/multiplayer unless you all buy everything or nothing.

MD we need ot play more Red Dead Redemption, book a schedule for the posse to ride out.

md said...

I MAY be able to play this Friday, but not into the wee hours. I am driving to Michigan early on Saturday and will need SOME rest. I will be on as soon as I can be this Friday night.