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zersus

Distribution via Steam and GOG (DRM-free)

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Hello ever buddy I just recently rediscover Project Eternity (PE) and my mind was blown again :).

It is been a long time since I heard about PE, and I can't understand how I could have lost track of this game.

 

Anyway, I'm happy to see it again and here is my actual question:

 

What would you choose, steam or GOG?

I have a steam account and I have purchased some game via GOG, but I fail to see the benefits of being DRM-free when it comes to digital distribution. Can someone evaluate for me where the advantage and disadvantage is in buying the game via steam or GOG? I mean, I can't resell a digital copy of a game like I could to it with a boxed game, and I can't borrow it to someone, so where are the advantages?

 

Looking into the future I think that steam is very consumer friendly. You can user your power PC, and stream the game via a smaller notebook on you big TV screen, or even switch to a steam box. They store your games, so you don’t lose them (well if they get insolvent you lose it), and you can install it on any of your devices by using your account, even on SteamOS.

Of course they could do more, like allowing reselling your right to play a game you bought a long time ago. Reselling games is damaging the marked only in the very first months anyway. (I think that steam even violates the European law, by not allowing us to resell something that you own (but that is OT)).

On GOG on the other hand you get the game DRM-Free. But what exactly are the benefits?

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For me, the most important reasons are political. I disapprove of DRM for reasons of principle (although not so much I'll refuse to use DRM'ed software if no other alternative is available). Therefore I'd rather support solutions which don't have it.

 

Given a choice, I'll also always support the little guy where possible. Steam is nearing market domination on digital distribution for the PC, so if it's available somewhere else, I'll pick that. Monopolies are bad, m'kay?

 

Secondary benefits are technical. DRM always adds complexity to the product. It's yet another thing which can and does go wrong. Steam games start up more slowly, the Mac Steam client is a bit wobbly e.g. I often have to restart it between restarts of a game or wait for it to auto-update before I can start playing, or re-authenticate after using it first on one computer, then on another, and so on. Minor inconveniences to be sure, but they still detract from the experience.

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I have a project. It's a tabletop RPG. It's free. It's a work in progress. Find it here: www.brikoleur.com

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I have a steam account and I have purchased some game via GOG, but I fail to see the benefits of being DRM-free when it comes to digital distribution. 

 

... okay, I've finished rolling my eyes now.

 

It's a very good question, zersus. Valve is in a unique situation because they are, unlike every other company in the computer world, at least marginally registering the fact that the entire PC market, like any other luxury good market, is built on consumer choice. And that the bottom of the market will fall out, as it has in the past, when that choice is deliberately removed, or the product is not good enough. When the consumer choice is limited to which company you should go to, rather than picking the product you want, that does what you wish it will do.

 

Valve are of course bound by industry tropes, and they are in this way required to spend a large amount of money on making sure evil Pirates will not make a certain segment of their customers feel bad about spending money, when others get the same product for free. This is a commonly known situation, where the most shrill proponents of harsh piracy countermeasures are the kind of users who will shamelessly torrent a game themselves. Because they're weak-minded ****s - like most people allegedly are.

 

Hence, pirating a game should be difficult, or else it's always pirated in massive, unstoppable frequency, and the market dies, etc. This idea is a pure invention of larger publishers and their **** partners in the anti-piracy industry. Which they use to drive on the one hand monopoly over distribution channels via exclusively limited deployment (such as consoles or Origin, Uplay), and on the other the development of expensive anti-piracy software, or simply anti-piracy "activity".

 

Of course, it doesn't prevent any person who wishes it to circumvent the DRM. But what it frequently does do is make sure that people who might have been open to purchasing the game - just will pass on it and the entire list of opening user-accounts, registering your e-mail, sending your computer information, etc. All that signing up on a portal, or being locked into a specific console, etc - is limiting.

 

And Valve is marginally aware of this, responding to the PC market in the least disastrous way so far. But what Steam does provide outside of the platform "security" requirement is:

-cloud saves.

-patching facility.

-access to download your games online.

-adding dvd-media titles to the library.

-an overlay with semi-useful functions.

-competitive pricing.

 

Now, if any company would offer those same options in an online client. And allowing you to play your games independently of the client software. You own a game, you simply add it to the overlay, and use the overlay's community functionality for text and voice-chat, etc. Then that would instantly outcompete Steam. 

 

There are also many ways those functions could be instantly improved over what Steam provides. In terms of network code, overlay quality, the way the patching facility works (what are you actually downloading? Do you really want the patch? What is put in upstream and when? Can you for example read the notes from the developer and decide to wait until the next stable version? None of that exists in Steam). 

 

Such a service could also have better options for tracking how people actually use the service, since if the use of the platform typically is required when you purchase something on that platform, the purchases done on other services or through other channels won't be registered. There will be a confirmation bias involved that favors the platform itself. And that idea will always be maintained on these distribution locked channels, no matter how much the CEO is actually not a complete dreg of a person, etc. In addition, the audience you might be able to reach with a platform-independent, non-channel locked overlay will be bigger. So there's also marketing and PR reasons to choose a solution like that.

 

Problem being, of course, that such a service doesn't exist. And in the meantime, should you:

1. Buy as many programs as you can, and have them locked to a specific service, so no amount of competition can make you switch over?

or.

2. Prepare for a competing service by buying drm-independent packages. That also can be saved on your backup hdd, so you don't have to download 20Gb over again every time you do a reinstall, etc.

 

I mean, I realize that some people genuinely believe that unless they essentially do whatever EA says, and pay any amount of money for a product - then the industry will implode, and the CEO-santa will take all your toys away, and so on.

 

But there could be a reason to pick options that might in the long run benefit you as a consumer. Rather than force yourself to pay insane amounts of money for a product, as well as accept a bad sub-par service for it (servers that don't work, filtering options that are non-existent, online high-score tables that fall off the grid during peak hours, etc), allow it to become unavailable the instant the company decides it no longer earns any money on keeping it alive, and generally open your computer up to any whim the company will come up with at any time. Including, but not limited to such things as selling your credit card information, selling your personal details, randomly raising prices, randomly locking out content as extra payable content.

 

Just saying that there might be reasons to pick an option that will make that scenario impossible.

 

When one is actually presented to you, and the product indeed is identical to the other option beside it when it comes to ease of use. Or when it's even easier to use than the other, which does require you to confirm your account, create an account, and will prevent you from ever making a backup, always force patches on you, etc., etc.

Edited by nipsen
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I'm going to redeem PoE on Steam and then buy it on sale through GOG sometime down the road. Why?

 

1) Exposure. My friend's feeds will have PoE all over them for at least a few weeks after release. I can't do that with GOG.

2) Ease of use and 'bells and whistles'. Autoupdate, family sharing, cloud saves, screenshot uploads, hour count, being able to add it as my favorite game on my profile, steam overlay... 

 

The benefits of GOG have already been covered but I'd buy my secondary copy through them just because it's DRM-free. In any dystopian future where Steam shuts down and still leaves the games client-locked and the client with online check-ins, I'll still have my GOG downloads squirreled away somewhere. Hopefully. 

 

Something to note, though, is that there are Steam games that are DRM-free. They're still account tied, and you still have to install them using the Steam client, but afterwards you can do whatever with the files, including running them on a computer without Steam installed at all. GOG's DRM-free installers are still superior for backups, though, because transferring games from computer to computer without proper installation usually isn't a good idea. 

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Thanks for all the answers. I think I will go with GOG again, and put PE into my RPG directory on my backup HDD ;)

Maybe get it on steam for streaming when the steam sales hit the price very low. <10$

 

PS/OT: Is it correct that I need to pay extra 25$ to the 35$ to join the Beta? If yes, I will pass.

 

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-cloud saves.

-patching facility.

-access to download your games online.

-adding dvd-media titles to the library.

-an overlay with semi-useful functions.

-competitive pricing.

 

Now, if any company would offer those same options in an online client. And allowing you to play your games independently of the client software. You own a game, you simply add it to the overlay, and use the overlay's community functionality for text and voice-chat, etc. Then that would instantly outcompete Steam.

 

You may be interested in looking into GOG Galaxy, which is something GOG is coming out with to address much of this. Not sure of all the details yet, but they plan on coming out with Galaxy as a similar and DRM-free option to Steam's services.

 

As for DRM-free or Steam, aside from the philosophical considerations, the biggest draw for me is I have a couple rigs that are not connected to the internet. DRM-free games from GOG can be played on them without hassle. Steam games... not so much.

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I'm rolling with Steam because I wish to be one of those that does not perish in Gaben's Great Fire.

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My physical copy will go right on the shelf, likely without ever seeing the inside of a DVD drive.

 

I'll redeem my digital copy on Steam. Cuz easy updates. Once the expansions have been compiled into the inevitable "gold" version, I'll probably buy it on GOG, too.

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I never liked the idea of DRM or online authentication. I dont like that stuff on my PC where apps do things i dont know exactly what is it communicating etc. To be honest i hate DRM stuff and i appreciate GOG´s attitude in that regard.

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I buy most of my games through Steam but I have about 20-25 titles on my GOG library. I'll be getting it from GOG to support the little man in this case and to get it DRM-free. I have no problems with Steam's DRM but given the choice I'll take DRM-free.

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You may be interested in looking into GOG Galaxy,

You mean the service that CD Project is in the small beginnings of testing right now, that they announced a couple of months ago, and would make massive headlines with if any gaming magazine out there had any interest in informing their readers rather than advertise for their partners?

 

Never heard of it! We all hope it disappears, so the peasant masses won't start to get a taste of anything other than the normal soylent green feed.

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Yes, that's correct. You're probably wise to pass; you'll enjoy the real thing more. I meant to but failed my Will save.

I don't even need the 'Iron Will' for this, 25$ for a Beta is like paying some one, to do their job:

Dude, I pay you 50$ if you allow me to mow you lawn / I pay you to $$ if you allow me to run a bugfix in your Framework / etc.

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Yes, that's correct. You're probably wise to pass; you'll enjoy the real thing more. I meant to but failed my Will save.

I don't even need the 'Iron Will' for this, 25$ for a Beta is like paying some one, to do their job:

Dude, I pay you 50$ if you allow me to mow you lawn / I pay you to $$ if you allow me to run a bugfix in your Framework / etc.

 

 

I think it's possible you might be missing the point of crowd funding. Many, many people have happily dumped more cash into this project than it's objectively worth because they wanted to see this game get made. Paying to help make it the best game it can be (i.e., provide beta feedback) makes perfect sense in that context.

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Good point, of course. Which is why they shouldn't have used, or shouldn't use, the same "sell" as other "early access" projects.

 

And maybe going for, for example, saying that anyone above a certain pledge limit would have the opportunity to help Obsidian test abilities and skills in a sandbox area, to help shape how that part of the game will play, and to help them iron out animation/interaction problems, graphical glitches, etc.

 

Instead of saying: "gain access to the beta-test for $25". And then getting into a sort of obligation problem where they have to specifically draw up areas for people who don't want to be spoiled story-wise and in perhaps some sense have to warn people about the high-level spells not being shown (and are those not going to be tested, since people might not want to show - or be shown - all the abilities before the game is released).

 

Because it really becomes a paid sandbox area with a separate branch of the game, that may or may not be useful in the end for Obsidian as a beta-test. That also may very well have cost more work hours than it's worth in terms of actual output to the final product... 

 

I mean, I'm being overly critical and cynical - and I don't think the "beta" will be useless. But there are ways this could have been done that could have allowed structured and useful testing of the game for practically no money whatsoever. I know lots of people here would have appreciated that as well, even if they "paid" a sum for it initially (i.e., you'd get the beta-access together with any extra merchandise on the site). Not just because there'd be no reverse obligation for Obsidian to present the snapshot perfectly. But also because structured/boring testing doesn't spoil you as much in terms of figuring out the mechanics. Leveling up and actually playing, instead of just having the entire tree and testing things systematically is very different. And I think that if they thought about it a bit more initially, the type of beta that seems to be shaping up now - where Obsidian obviously is very worried that unpolished footage of the game will come out, etc. - wouldn't have happened.

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Yes, that's correct. You're probably wise to pass; you'll enjoy the real thing more. I meant to but failed my Will save.

I don't even need the 'Iron Will' for this, 25$ for a Beta is like paying some one, to do their job:

Dude, I pay you 50$ if you allow me to mow you lawn / I pay you to $$ if you allow me to run a bugfix in your Framework / etc.

 

 

I think it's possible you might be missing the point of crowd funding. Many, many people have happily dumped more cash into this project than it's objectively worth because they wanted to see this game get made. Paying to help make it the best game it can be (i.e., provide beta feedback) makes perfect sense in that context.

 

 

Crowd funding (FC) is absolutely OK for me. But there is a difference between CF and milking the consumer. The CF is finished; it has more money that they have asked for. Now it is time to deliver the promising.

Obsidian is continuing to collect money and this is somehow OK from the standpoint of the company. But we as investors could stop paying, and let them first deliver what they have promised and let them earn our trust, so that our leap of faith pays out. Paying them more money what they have asked for could be even toxic for the whole project, and before you throw money at them, you should at least try and think about what I was trying to tell you guys. Maybe, just maybe it would be wiser to make a step back, wait a little and see what Obsidian would deliver.

 

BUT! Asking people to pay for a Beta accesses is milking the consumer. And there is absolutely no room for discussion here. This is a method to try and get as much money as possible out of the costumer. The project is founded, and a beta is a tool to get feedback and use it to fix bugs and collect statistics as well as feedback. And paying for a beta is literally paying them, and doing their job.

A Beta is something that they should have offered every purchaser for free, so that they could collect the mentioned points. It is in their interest of having a beta so that the final product doesn’t fail. Our interest here is to get what we are promised, and you guys already give them money even tree times more than they have asked for. Nearly every backer is willing to help, but not pay again for the help. 

 

Besides the entire critic I’m making here, I’m still planning to buy this game as soon as it is released. But I think I will follow my own words now, take a step back, wait and see what they deliver with three times the money they have asked for, before give them anything.

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BUT! Asking people to pay for a Beta accesses is milking the consumer. And there is absolutely no room for discussion here.

 

Oh, well, if you say so.

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I wasn't aware that Obsidian was forcing you to buy beta access,zersus.

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"You're a fool if you believe I would trust your benevolence. Step aside and you and your lackeys will be unhurt."


 


 


Baldur's Gate portraits for Pillars of Eternity   IXI   Icewind Dale portraits for Pillars of Eternity   IXI   Icewind Dale 2 portraits for Pillars of Eternity


 


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I wasn't aware that Obsidian was forcing you to buy beta access,zersus.

 

No my friend, no one is forcing me. I just don't agree that you have to pay a company extra to participate in a Beta. And that customers should 'think/be careful about' before paying even after the company already reached their needed goals.

You are showing you willingness to help buy beta-testing, and now they even ask you to pay for it. This is what bothers me.

After the CF is completed I will wait for the released product before I pay anything. This discussion could end here if every buddy is OK with that ;).

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If you think Obsidian is milking its backers zersus, then let me introduce you to Star Citizen.

Yes I know :-/. But at least they are adding new features http://kotaku.com/star-citizen-teases-racing-and-first-person-shooting-1622717882

I would be more happy if they would finely deliver the game, and patch the other stuff. Hopefully (for all the backers out there) Star Citizen will see the light of day, and don't choke on his own high expectations.

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Well, if this was publisher funded I might say that argument has a leg to stand on. Seeing as publishers rarely allow betas of this nature I can't say much more there. Steam Early Access has become popular among some developers. Most of them are small time, at best mid level, so power to them as well. I am not too apt to pay for those game's alpha/beta access because they typically aren't games I would care too much for. So I am not paying for that privilege.

 

However, as a crowd funded game the developers have 100% carte blanche to maximize funding in whatever way they see fit. It is also a game that is spiritual successor to a group of games I loved (and still play today) made by a developer that whose products I enjoy. I want to help and I want to play the title. I want to see how it feels and give feedback. I want this style of RPG to come back. I am completely willing to give Obsidian $25 to help with funds for the game and enjoy playing the beta while trying to help find bugs, balancing issues, etc to help make the game the best it can be. If Obsidian is successful then we may see more games like this and not just from Obsidian themselves. We could see other Studios make similar games. A cRPG renaissance, if you will. Well worth $25 in my book.

 

Milking consumers would be if EA put a game of this type, and equal level funding, on Origin for $60(which I am sure would be the amount EA would try to charge) as a beta (with equally limited content). A company with enough money to fund this game hundreds of times over asking $60 to test 3-6 hours of content is 100% consumer milking. A mid level developer that couldn't fund the game without crowd funding asking $25 is not.

 

I am also someone of very modest means. I am definitely not loaded.

 

Also, there is always room for discussion.

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Given the choice I choose GOG over Steam unless the difference in price is big. I just like DRM-free solutions and opt for them whenever possible.

Now steam is a decent platform and it is certainly better than the other DRM-platforms out there and I like many of the functionalities steam offers but in this case I will get PoE on GOG.com.


"How was I supposed to know it was that stone that held the dragons at bay... I mean it just stood there looking dull anyway"

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