Tag Archives: Digital Distribution

The Last Weekend Before Diablo III

The installer is sitting there on my hard drive, waiting for the 15th.

Sitting… waiting…

I was ready for the game last weekend.  I was feeling a bit of MMO ennui and could have used something new to dive into.  I could probably go for it this weekend as well.

But we all have to wait until Tuesday.

The installer has been on my hard drive since mid-March, just waiting for its time to come.  Waiting because, well… it doesn’t do anything yet when you try and install.

It does update its install packages when you launch it.  I have done that a few times to ensure that I am up to date and do not have to patch quite so much next week.  I am not sure that updating the installer is covered in the Blizzard launch day guide, but I would recommend it.

Otherwise, the installer doesn’t do the one thing we all want… actually install the game.

This, naturally has some of those at the forefront of the digital distribution age a bit annoyed.

Penny Arcade has a comic up bemoaning the need for those who with the installer already in our possession having to wait for physical boxes to catch up via the old school brick and mortar distribution system.  The comic wraps up with an analogy (what, is May national bad analogy month?) that compares the digital vs. physical distribution conflict to making automobiles drive slower so as not to hurt the feelings of horses.

Today, in 2012, creating any general traffic laws to protect travel by horse would be crazy.  Unless you live in a rural area or are a member of one of a couple of religious sects, you probably don’t even see a horse on the road on a regular basis, much less use one for transportation.

The problem with the analogy… which actually isn’t that bad of an analogy, it is just being mis-used… is that the ratio of sales for, and importance of, traditional physical retailers today isn’t anything like the complete lack of significance that horse travel represents today.

Rather, physical and digital sales today are more like the horse and the auto relationship of 100 years ago.  At that time, automobiles, like digital sales today, were coming into their own and represented a significant part of the market.  But the horse was still there and still represented the reality of travel to a lot of people much as the physical box of software does today.

And there were plenty of laws at the time restricting automobile use in ways to ensure that those whom still depended on the horse were not adversely impacted.  Speed limits in cities, for one example, which were enacted not to spare the feelings of the horse, but to ensure safe travel in an environment where automobiles and horses were in close contact.

Likewise, today, a software company cannot screw over the brick and mortar retailers… or even the online retailers that will ship MANY physical boxes… because they still represent a significant part of the sales channel.   EA says they love their retail channel.  Blizzard, I am sure, is offering up plenty of advertising co-op dollars to help physical retailers promote the Diablo III launch and offering incentives to have midnight launch events.

Fairness has nothing to do with it.  Maintaining a good relationship with the people who sell a a lot of your product does.

And lets face it, if you go down to Fry’s, you will see games from Valve, the biggest player in the digital distribution market, on the shelf.  Valve fully believes that the future is in digital.  But even they, with so much invested in digital, know that the physical box is not dead yet.

And so those of us who ordered digital versions have an installer that just says this when you launch it.

No install for you… yet

The future is not here yet when it comes to digital sales.  For big titles that are releasing across multiple sales channels, things still have to stay synchronized.  And so we must wait, sitting in the metaphorical back seat, repeating that oft heard chant.

Are we there yet?

I Would Buy Civ II Again… If I Could Find It…

One of the things stopping me from writing up what I think about Civilization V is that I cannot find my 1996 Civilization II disc.

Best Civ Ever... Maybe

Civ II is still my gold standard for Civ games.  I played the original Civilization back in the day, but once I picked up Civ II, I never went back.  Civ II was clearly superior in every way over its predecessor.

Not so the games that followed however.  Alpha Centauri was very good.  I played a lot of that.  But I never liked the fact it wanted to be played full screen rather than in a window and I was never big on the alien landscape.  So eventually I went back to playing Civ II.

Civilization III had merit, but it never really clicked with me.  There were features I liked about the game certainly, but I never found it as satisfying.  I went back to playing Civ II.

Likewise, Civilization IV.  Civ IV is probably the version I have played the least.  I went almost straight back to playing Civ II.

And then last year came Civilization V.  Civ V felt to me, after all these years, like it got back to some essence of what made Civ II such a good game.  But to really put my finger on what it is, I want to go back and play Civ II.

Only I cannot find my disc, which is where I started this post.

I did find my copy of the Mac version of the game.  But that doesn’t do me any good, as I would need to drag my old PowerMac 8500 (with the G3 processor upgrade card) out of the closet to play, and I am not that interested in playing.  (Plus I am not sure where the ADB keyboard and mouse have gotten to.  That keyboard turned 25 years old this year!)

Somewhere around the house there is at least one, possibly two, Windows copies of the game.  I can dig around in my office some more I suppose.

But ideally though, Civ II would just be available on Gog.com for $9.99.  That is where I got my current copy of Alpha Centauri. (Which is what reminded me of the whole “must run full screen” thing.)

My second choice would be to find it available on Steam.  As much as I still resent having to have internet access in order to play a single player game (so Steam has taken the sting out of that Diablo III reality), it is mighty damn convenient.  But while they have Civ III, IV, and V available, Civ II is nowhere to be seen.

This leaves me with physical means, finding another disc for sale somewhere.  Not an impossible task, but it means I cannot have it RIGHT NOW!

I guess this is a sign that I have accepted digital distribution.

And while I am thrashing around on this, maybe I should take a look at FreeCiv, which looks very Civ II-like.  And I can download it.