Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Game ‘downloaders’

I hear that a certain game portal is now not only giving away a game for FREE, but it actually gives you some vouchers for use at an online store with the ‘purchase’. Effectively they are PAYING you to have the game.

What generosity!

But of course, there is a catch. You HAVE to install the game by downloading their ‘game browser/downloader/client thing’

I understand why they do this. They want to get a foothold on your desktop / web-browser. They figure that if they bombard you with enough ads and promotions and pop-ups and reminders through the thing, that you will end up spending more money with them. It probably works. It’s probably good business. But I hate it, which is why I don’t do it

The ferengi businessman in me would love to do it, but the part of me that is actually a gamer, and someone who wants to entertain, rather than pester/nag people, stops me doing it.  Like most people who program computers, I’m always fixing friends and families PC’s, and its a rare day indeed that you find someone whose PC isn’t running a load of startup crapware/bloatware/adware that they didn’t want, use, need or remember even saying yes to. Even if I forget all sense of morals and trying to be the nice guy, I’d still be opposed to it, because anything that makes it annoying or ‘risky’ to download and buy a game is bad news in the long term for devs like me.

When you buy a game from me, or from people like me (sillysoft, puppygames, winter wolves etc), you just get a game installer. No crap that runs at startup and send you adverts, just a game. The game you bought.

Isn’t that how it should be? Imagine if everyone you bought a DVD from had their own stupid system of ‘launchers’ and ‘players’ that you needed to keep around while you owned them? You just want to buy a DVD, or in this case a game. Don’t put up with anything else :D

8 thoughts on Game ‘downloaders’

  1. Sooooooooo true, i miss the old times when you popped the game cd into the computer, no menu only a fast install-shield-wizard would pop up.
    Next, next, next, finish, play.

    But its not only that, i think the bast game UI of all time was the Unreal Tournament UI. There was only a windows like menu skinned. You had 2-3 skins to choose. Easy, simple. But now, developers spend tons of time and money to have kick-ass menus with 3d effects and whatever. Who the hell cares how the menu looks like??? Its the game that counts. As long as the game is not launched from a command line with parameters i`m happy.

  2. I completely agree. I remember popping in a 5.25″ floppy and typing A:\install — no fuss, no oddball “3rd party offers” to deal with. Of course, that was the same era that required messing around with high/extended/upper memory stuff just to play. Why, I had bootdisks specifically for each game … and I’m rambling.

    How times have changed. Even AAA titles seem to be sneaking more and more extra crap into an installation for the sole purpose of getting me to buy more stuff.

    Indy developers that avoid that temptation have my sincere respect. I’m sure they could make (possibly more) money by “partnering” with shady business practices, which is certainly import and absolutely understandable, but I would hesitate to buy another title from someone that forced me to deal with extra ad software.

    That said, your latest game is looking pretty fantastic. Reminds me of Babylon 5 + Star Wars with a little Star Trek mixed in. And I loved Babylon 5 battles, crummy as the CGI is by today’s standards, so I might have to dig into my shallow pockets and buy it — just don’t tell the wife. She’d eat me alive!

    Good luck, I wish you the best — and I hope you get a nice payday on release! :-)

  3. I absolutly agree, but as long as the smart people always give in, the idiots rule world…

    Let’s hope this will change some day…

  4. Although I completely agree, I can see it as a good way of getting an “indie steam” on the desktop foothold (minus the ads/nagging/startup stuff)

    For example, a free, decent game which requires a steam-like app to be installed as well (but the app isn’t badware or the like). This makes good business sense, because provided it’s implemented correctly (easy to purchase from) the steam-like app can expose the downloader to a gallery of cheap paid games: So the free game is a way to expose the user to a gallery of easily installed paid games. Would make good business sense to me (“First hit is free” logic)

  5. basically everybody is in the business of “add on installs” now and days.

    Java updated just the other day, and I had to tell it not to install the Yahoo Toolbar not once, but twice.
    After I boot up I have to open Task Manager and kill useless process such as “Acrobat SpeedLauncher” and 3 different “Google Installers” (why it needs 3 is beyond me).
    My mother got FiOS recently, it reset all her defaults in the browser, forced her to switch from Thunderbird to Outlook (not giving an option), installed a “FiOS Speed Monitor with MS Live ID” (still trying to figure out what it does beside updating MSN Messenger)… and I know most internet services do this as part of the setup program.
    I’ve helped people who have 5 or 6 “toolbars” installed on their browser, I’m not even sure how they read the info on the webpage sometimes.

    This is the sort of business the Internet is now…

  6. I buy a lot of games through steam and everytime I login there is a pop up saying what new games are available. You can disable the pop-up news when you login, but I have found that I *LIKE* to see the steam popup. There are only a few things there, often there is a 50% off deal or the like.

    I would *HATE* it if it were before the game started, but it only comes up if you launch steam directly. So if you click the link for a game on your desktop you just get the game.

    That’s good design.

    What I hate with a passion though are DVD previews. I paid for the DVD, I do not want to watch previews. I want to go direct to the menu without having to see the damn piracy notice or previews you can’t skip.

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