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I've been saying for years that US gamers have been voting for the Korean/Chinese economic model: free clients and paid content locked down on company-owned servers. Hug your local pirate; you won't be able to buy any major PC games in ten years because the notion of selling games will be quaint.

And yet the US game producers keep insisting on ridiculous (and easily crackable) anti-piracy measures.

We're also just going to have to get over the desire to charge somebody $40-50 for a game that costs them $20/mo too. That just reeks of greediness.

Valve is really starting to catch on to this idea, even without the Korean/Chinese model, they've always innovated in terms of game distribution.

I've heard people say that the Steam model - easier than piracy, lots of games, well-implemented DRM, not too expensive - works pretty well. Am I wrong?

I can only speak for myself, but quite often, steam is less of a hassle than finding a full version of a game (or other means to implement this). Combining that with steam sales or the usually low prices of steam has resulted in game sales over piracy for me already, and I'm just a poor student currently.

I haven't used Steam, but I am becoming a fan of the relatively new Gamersgate (http://www.gamersgate.com/).

It doesn't even require a desktop client, which is one of the few complaints I've heard about Steam.

However, none of the games I've purchased there use DRM at all, so I don't know for sure how DRM games work with it.

100% spot on. Steam is totally awesome. I find your reference to steam _model_ disconcerting though. If more companies try to copy it & we've got a distribution for each publisher then its back to square one. Actually make that square -1.

That's an easy one to solve...don't buy it unless it's on Steam. (though if Mass Effect 3 isn't on steam....)

With the free to play games on Steam, the two models converge. The advantage for the publishers is, apart from access to the large store window and access to the Steam tools and network for distribution and upgrading, that the micro-transactions become hassle free for the customers, as they all use the same shared Steam Wallet. The advantages for Valve is obviously that they can take a processing fee for the transactions.

It does work pretty well, but for new, big publisher games, "not too expensive" is simply not true. Buying the disc version on Amazon is usually 30-50% cheaper. I've bought indie games on Steam, though.

It is excellent indeed, for games where the developer/publisher isn't willing to publish DRM-free.

I generally go for GoG first, Steam second, then stop. I've quit bothering with physical copies a long time ago.

It's still around, and hasn't shut down, so that tells you they are doing something right.

But I dislike that this economic model is advocating "addictive" game designs (and the addiction sooner or later is just becoming grinding). An MMORPG or online shooter is never finished, it is aiming for renewing the subscription every months.

I myself am more an old-school gamer and find it satisfying to play a game from intro to outro.

While I do agree that the freemium model will be very popular in the upcoming years, games with very competitive multiplayer, where balance and equal competition are a necessity will still have the traditional model we see today.

Unless of course they make those games free with a monthly subscription to play online.

That's how Blizzard's doing Starcraft 2 in China.

Wouldn't you say TF2 was that kind of game?

Even thought it is free now, it's been sold the traditional way for a long time so I don't think it quite counts as a freemium game. Valve's already reaped most of the sales profits it's going to get from TF2.

Except for the TF2 in-game store. Valve does a pretty brisk business in hats, weapons and gadgets, so much business that they're able to offer new content regularly for a four-year old game.

TF2 is not anywhere as competitive as StarCraft 2. There's no ladder, no ranking, no matchmaking..

Not true. League of Legends is competitive, popular, and free to play. The developer, Riot Games, recently sold for $400 million. They just hosted their first major tournament which had over 200,000 concurrent users streaming the final match.

or the games of late have been without substance. TF2 was the last game I bought... until Minecraft, that is.

I am not sure if games lately are without substance, or whether they simply are not innovative. Certainly I look at a game and think, "Oh yeah, this is a clone of X, modulo plot, setting, and graphics".

Except for Minecraft. Which, of course, I've wasted good hacking hours on.

Teaching Digital Design to kids via Minecraft might be fun, I was thinking. You really have to think about the physicality of chip designs in a way that VHDL and other HDLs hide from you.

That is a good idea. I heard once that the younger generations of fighter pilots--those that grew up with flight simulator video games--made better pilots than when their elder counterparts were starting out. It would truly be awesome if kids playing Minecraft grow up to be better electrical engineers like the pilots.

I'll take that bet.

On this day in 2021, not only will there be major games on sale, but at least one of them will be in either the Starcraft, Worldcraft or Diablo franchises. While WOW might be completely subscription based, I reject outright the idea that I won't be able to go into a store, pick up a copy of SCIII (or SCIV) and quaintly zerg rush my fellow HNers.

Edit: On second thought, I'm not so sure about the popularity/utility of HN 10 years out. 10 years ago, I was on slashdot.

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