Digital downloads : do or don't ?

Dr. McKay

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 20, 2010
639
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Belgium, Europe
I've heard lots of conflicting things about digital downloads.

Some say it's convenient, it avoids having to have the disc in your drive when playing, etc.

Others say you don't get the artwork or manual, and when the company that sold it to you goes belly-up (f.e. Valve or EA), that's it for you as well, since you can never reinstall the game again.

That last thing has got me puzzled. When you buy a game online and choose the digital download version, don't you get to download a .dmg file which can then be burned to a CD or DVD ? Or has it something to do with activation.
 

txa1265

macrumors 6502a
Aug 15, 2002
858
62
Corning, NY
I've heard lots of conflicting things about digital downloads.

Some say it's convenient, it avoids having to have the disc in your drive when playing, etc.

Others say you don't get the artwork or manual, and when the company that sold it to you goes belly-up (f.e. Valve or EA), that's it for you as well, since you can never reinstall the game again.

That last thing has got me puzzled. When you buy a game online and choose the digital download version, don't you get to download a .dmg file which can then be burned to a CD or DVD ? Or has it something to do with activation.
Different sites have different policies ... for Mac games I have stuff from GameTree, GameAgent, Direct2Drive, PopCap, and GamersGate (probably more!) ... and in general you get a DMG file and a serial number. Some sites only allow a certain number of downloads (GameAgent did this) so I keep the file. Others I tend to be more lax with.

Most digital downloads require online activation.
 

0098386

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Jan 18, 2005
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A definite do from me.

I like physical items, but when it comes to PC games that have zero trade in value, then I go digital. Printed manuals are easily replaced with PDF manuals and thats better for the environment too... I guess. Boxes just take us space.

Steam's policy is that if they ever shut down, they would release a patch to unlock their games. You can already do that by replacing the executable (had to do this with my Steam downloaded San Andreas so I could use an Xbox 360 controller). I don't have any of my Steam games backed up since you can redownload from them at any point any number of times.

I don't know about downloading Mac games, but on Steam when you buy and download a game it's installed automatically.
 

txa1265

macrumors 6502a
Aug 15, 2002
858
62
Corning, NY
I don't know about downloading Mac games, but on Steam when you buy and download a game it's installed automatically.
That is why I say 'it varies' ... Impulse uses a similar system to Steam in terms of 'install in place', whereas GamersGate and Direct2Drive give install files.

Of course, GoodOldGames wins by giving you a DRM-free install file with no serial number or activation!

I recently bought an Alienware m11x which has no DVD, and just went about my merry way re-installing games from all of my digital sites, and was annoyed at needing disks for some stuff ...
 

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
May 5, 2008
17,043
16,530
The Misty Mountains
I prefer having it on DVD and prefer having the ability to sell such a game after I'm done with it or if I don't like it. With digital download, once you buy it, it's yours forever, no ownership transfers. In the case of "don't like it" that can be mitigated if there is a demo. I only choose Steam or D2D when I have no other options.
 

Dr. McKay

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 20, 2010
639
43
Belgium, Europe
That is why I say 'it varies' ... Impulse uses a similar system to Steam in terms of 'install in place', whereas GamersGate and Direct2Drive give install files.
That's something I don't like. All of a sudden, Steam for Mac doesn't seem so interesting anymore.
Having no physical copy (that includes a self burnt DVD) feels weird. Of course, having to put a DVD in the drive every time you play, annoys me even more.

And of course, over here in Belgium, a typical internet subscription will have a limited download volume per month (in my case that's 30Gb). More than that and you pay 1 euro per Gb (that's about 1.2 dollars). Couple of games, a few days of youtube and that's it.

Also, things like Aspyr's game agent aren't even available for people outside the US or Canada. Difficult decisions...
 

chill.

macrumors 6502
Sep 1, 2008
385
0
That's something I don't like. All of a sudden, Steam for Mac doesn't seem so interesting anymore.
Having no physical copy (that includes a self burnt DVD) feels weird. Of course, having to put a DVD in the drive every time you play, annoys me even more.

And of course, over here in Belgium, a typical internet subscription will have a limited download volume per month (in my case that's 30Gb). More than that and you pay 1 euro per Gb (that's about 1.2 dollars). Couple of games, a few days of youtube and that's it.

Also, things like Aspyr's game agent aren't even available for people outside the US or Canada. Difficult decisions...
the biggest benefits of steam are the discounts/deals that you get. i've seen mainstream, popular games get 90% off and go down to 1-2$. start using steam and it will easily be more cost effective than alternatives

what do you pay for a subscription? in u.s. there are just a huge amount of places that give free wireless internet, i think my local library has free wifi and so does starbucks. and i always thought u.s. had one of the worst internet infrastructures because it's so big and hard to cover so much area, and that europe was superior
 

Dr. McKay

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 20, 2010
639
43
Belgium, Europe
the biggest benefits of steam are the discounts/deals that you get. i've seen mainstream, popular games get 90% off and go down to 1-2$. start using steam and it will easily be more cost effective than alternatives

what do you pay for a subscription? in u.s. there are just a huge amount of places that give free wireless internet, i think my local library has free wifi and so does starbucks. and i always thought u.s. had one of the worst internet infrastructures because it's so big and hard to cover so much area, and that europe was superior
From what I've seen so far on Steam (on vista bootcamp), the games aren't that cheap (spore on amazon is only half the steam price).

And Europe superior ? Maybe as far as internet infrastructure is concerned, but only if you pay through the nose. The really fast and unlimited subscriptions are simply not affordable for mere mortals.
 

jaysinnva

macrumors member
Aug 16, 2008
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0
I definitely like it, especially how D2D does it with a full install, and separate PDF manual. I like Steam as well, but would want a full release of the titles if Steam went under for some reason. I hate having paper and boxes sitting around everywhere and find it wasteful, so that's another plus for digital distribution as far as I'm concerned. The used PC game market isn't worthwhile anyway, so I'm just more picky about what I buy.
 

0098386

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Jan 18, 2005
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Having no physical copy (that includes a self burnt DVD) feels weird. Of course, having to put a DVD in the drive every time you play, annoys me even more.
You can back Steam games up to DVD if you want. Once they're downloaded click Steam>Backup and Restore games. It automatically spans games across multiple discs if need be.

From what I've seen so far on Steam (on vista bootcamp), the games aren't that cheap (spore on amazon is only half the steam price).
It varies but on the whole it's cheaper though. Here GAME sells Bioshock 2 for £29.99, I believe it's £25.99 on Steam. And then theres the sales where I bought games like Bioshock 1, Mirrors Edge, GTAIV, Unreal Tournament 3, Saints Row 2 all for £2-5 each. I've seen games occasionally go for less than Steam but I've never seen a full working copy of a game go for less than a Steam sale... those things are murder on the wallet! I've got so many games I just bought because they were cheap and haven't even played yet.

And FWIW service quality changes on country. I haven't been on a limited bandwidth service since I switched to broadband in 2002. I honestly thought only the US and Australia had services with limits these days!
 

zao8350

macrumors regular
Jul 2, 2009
140
0
i really prefer physical to digital. i still buy all my games as physical copies, i like having all the cases and the DVD's install faster than dloading. I usually can get them pretty cheap if i look around for awhile. I don't like having to put in a disc, but for games that use steamworks or random other games like dead space they dont require the disc. all the rest i just patch to the latest release then dload the crack. I like this system. THe only time i dload games is when they are REALLY cheap. Like Mass Effect for $2 and all the Unreal games for $15. Otherwise, physical for the win. Even games that require steam like the Orange Box and FEAR 2.
 

Dr. McKay

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 20, 2010
639
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Belgium, Europe
I guess I could live without having a boxed copy IF at least the price for a digital download was lower than said boxed copy (it should be, really, logically).
But that's not always the case.
And even if you get the artwork and manual in some form (which is not always the case, I suppose), then it will cost you more money to print the manual, burn a copy on a DVD, etc.

As far as I can tell, the ONLY advantage of buying via digital download, is being able to play without the disc in the drive.
In spite of all the disadvantages, that's quite a big deal for me.
 

txa1265

macrumors 6502a
Aug 15, 2002
858
62
Corning, NY
As far as I can tell, the ONLY advantage of buying via digital download, is being able to play without the disc in the drive.
In spite of all the disadvantages, that's quite a big deal for me.
Also, there is the ease of re-installation. I have two large boxes filled with Mac & PC games (and another two for DS & PSP!), and more and more I am segregating them into 'got a digital copy' and 'still need disk' ... and it is wonderful, as I said before, to have a new computer and just go to accounts and click 'install' and have everything set up for you without any need to grab a disk, install, enter codes and so on.
 

0098386

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Jan 18, 2005
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As far as I can tell, the ONLY advantage of buying via digital download, is being able to play without the disc in the drive.
In spite of all the disadvantages, that's quite a big deal for me.
The advantages are;
Cheaper games (£25 v £29-39, a lot more than the cost of printing and burning to DVD :rolleyes:)
Ability to preload games
Stores settings online
Achievements/Community features
Log in and play your games on any computer
No installation, no discs, no storage required
DRM removed (most of the time, uses Steams unobtrusive DRM)
Unlimited redownloads, no physical product to protect

And occasionally;
The ability to beta test prepurchased games
Some AAA games now (on Steam) come with an extra game

As someone with boxed console games and a completely Steam-only PC library I can't see any disadvantages.
 

Dr. McKay

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 20, 2010
639
43
Belgium, Europe
As someone with boxed console games and a completely Steam-only PC library I can't see any disadvantages.
Maybe the fact that Steam for Mac is still a month away and I'm really impatient ? :D

Ok, fair enough, I guess I can at least wait a bit longer for Steam. I just hope we'll be able to download more than Valve's own games at that time. They really should make games that already have a mac version available at launch, I think.
Now, how to get Aspyr make Game Agent available to European residents...
 

Sea-Monster

macrumors newbie
Mar 9, 2010
17
0
As far as I can tell, the ONLY advantage of buying via digital download, is being able to play without the disc in the drive.
In spite of all the disadvantages, that's quite a big deal for me.
i buy all my games digitally for Mac for one simple reason.
in Denmark the release date for games is usually half a year behind, compared to Canada and lower north america.
This means i cannot get the game in a box version because they aren't in my "native" shop, but only in the apple US shop (and they wont ship to DK from there)

so i can wait or download from some of the digital download services... i dont like to wait.
 

Dr. McKay

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 20, 2010
639
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Belgium, Europe
i dont like to wait.
That makes two of us :D

One more thing : I used to play games on PC ages ago (Win 95 - 98) and sometimes a game demo I installed from a magazine cover disc wouldn't play because the demo was a US version and I obviously didn't have a US version of Windows.

Does that still happen sometimes, a bit like American console games or DVD's not playing on Japanese or European machines and vice versa (nothing to do with NTSC or PAL, just different region codes) ?
 

Sambo110

macrumors 68000
Mar 12, 2007
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That makes two of us :D

One more thing : I used to play games on PC ages ago (Win 95 - 98) and sometimes a game demo I installed from a magazine cover disc wouldn't play because the demo was a US version and I obviously didn't have a US version of Windows.

Does that still happen sometimes, a bit like American console games or DVD's not playing on Japanese or European machines and vice versa (nothing to do with NTSC or PAL, just different region codes) ?
No, it's all region free now.
 

tjcampbell

macrumors 6502a
Aug 14, 2006
825
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Vancouver
All for digital software. Recently bought some expensive screenwriting software at a reduced price and on top of that I didn't have to go to the store and I don't have the box cluttering my home.
 

0098386

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Jan 18, 2005
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They had region encoding years ago? I had imports from the US and they always worked, and I live in the UK.
 

slynger

macrumors regular
Mar 1, 2010
145
1
about the digital downloads - I am debating on purchasing the old Starcraft from Blizzard via digital download; if I do this and later want to install it on a new iMac (assuming I get one later), will I be able to do this, or is it locked on my laptop permanently?
 

MRU

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Aug 23, 2005
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I only digital download when there is a tangible saving compared to the physical. However often it's cheaper to buy the physical then download which is utterly f'd up.