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Services like Steam and Direct2Drive continue to mount in popularity

It's no secret that digital downloads of video games -- be it on the console or PC -- are growing in popularity.  However, the latest numbers may come as a surprise to some.

According to a newly published study by market researchers at the NPD Group, entitled "PC Games Digital Downloads", almost half of the purchases of PC games in 2009 were done online.  The survey estimates that 21.3 million PC games were purchased online, while 23.5 million games were sold in U.S. retail stores last year.

That places the percentage of downloads at about 47.5 percent.  Overall Steam was the most popular download service, followed by Direct2Drive, Blizzard's direct download system, EA's direct download system, and the World of Warcraft MMO.

Online social network gaming is also on the rise with 4.3 million users jumping on board between Q3 2009 to Q4 2009.  Those gains have hurt the casual gaming download market, which was topped last year by Big Fish Games.  Casual gaming titles, which typically feature addictive gameplay and shareware schemes of some sort, are slowly losing ground as customers discover free or cheap options on smart phones or social networks.

Overall, the report delivered good news for those in the gaming industry who make PC games.  A previous NPD report had shown retail gaming sales to be down as much as 15 percent in June.  That report only looked at offline purchases, though.  The industry may have actually grown when online purchases were factored in.



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makes sense to me
By Homerboy on 7/23/2010 11:00:17 AM , Rating: 2
I can't stand fumbling with disks. I dont buy ANY anymore for anything.




RE: makes sense to me
By SandmanWN on 7/23/2010 11:08:57 AM , Rating: 5
I bought some games online for the first time in the last 2 years. Unfortunately I have run into this usage violation crap. I've upgraded my system a number of times so that my system profile doesn't match when I bought it and it throws flags and won't allow me to play some of my older games. I can't even get to single player mode in some of these games.

I have reconsidered my purchases now and have started buying physical discs again. I don't know if this is a issue depending on where I buy online or not.

Where is the best place to buy games so I don't have to deal with this nonsense?


RE: makes sense to me
By xpax on 7/23/2010 11:10:46 AM , Rating: 5
Steam. Never had problems reinstalling games from Steam on a new computer/OS.


RE: makes sense to me
By muhahaaha on 7/23/2010 11:46:42 AM , Rating: 5
Agreed. I have built several computers since I purchased the original Half Life 2 game, and when I re-install Steam, I can just re-download it.

Also, Steam has some great special deals. I bought Borderlands at half price a few months ago ($20 bucks or so), and Batman Arkham Asylum at half price recently as well as L4D2.

No longer will I get ripped off buying from a retail store.

And the license stays with your steam account wherever you go/ whatever machine you use.


RE: makes sense to me
By muhahaaha on 7/23/2010 11:57:30 AM , Rating: 2
I'll admit, I used to download games from illegitimate sources for "free".

But now with Steam, I am happy to pay for them because they are almost always cheaper than retail, often have a "free trial" weekend, and most of the money is going to the developers (no EA/Ubisoft middlemen.)


RE: makes sense to me
By Mitch101 on 7/23/2010 12:32:21 PM , Rating: 2
Worth Mentioning is the steam community. I play first person shooters like Left 4 Dead and Steam makes it great in getting a GOOD group of players together or calling in a friend when your having trouble. The only thing better is a lan party.


RE: makes sense to me
By Pirks on 7/23/2010 3:12:08 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
no EA/Ubisoft middlemen
as if valvemen are somehow better


RE: makes sense to me
By someguy123 on 7/23/2010 5:20:01 PM , Rating: 4
Considering they appear to be giving a much larger cut of the profits to the respective developers, have lower than retail pricing on majority of products, and have deals where you can get games for literally a dollar per game in a pack, I'd say they're leagues better than EA/ubisoft middle men who limit me to an arbitrary amount of reinstalls because some pirate cracks their DRM with ease.


RE: makes sense to me
By TheMan876 on 7/25/2010 4:46:27 PM , Rating: 2
If Steam has sales of "All Ubisoft games" or "All EA Games" then how is there no EA/Ubi middleman?


RE: makes sense to me
By GodisanAtheist on 7/23/2010 11:58:07 AM , Rating: 2
You don't even have to waste time redownloading it if you have an alternate drive to lead steam to. Just copy paste your entire steam drive to another HDD, format your primary, then copy paste back.

Launch steam and you'll have all your games and saves waiting for you when you open it!


RE: makes sense to me
By GodisanAtheist on 7/23/2010 12:00:29 PM , Rating: 3
Ugh sorry lemme try that again:

You don't even have to waste time downloading your games again if you have an alternate drive to load steam to. Just copy paste your entire steam folder to another HDD, format your primary, then copy paste the folder back.

Launch the steam app manually, it'll re-register itself and you'll have all your games and saves waiting for you after its done.


RE: makes sense to me
By Mitch101 on 7/23/2010 12:34:42 PM , Rating: 2
Thankyou for that tip I made the ISO's on another drive but havent burned them. Figured I would if I needed to re-install but this sounds much easier to do and I can set up SyncToy to do the copy for me.


RE: makes sense to me
By JKflipflop98 on 7/26/2010 2:50:02 AM , Rating: 2
Alot of games actually save your play data in the MyDocuments folder nowadays. Be sure to back all that up, too.


RE: makes sense to me
By Akrovah on 7/23/2010 12:41:43 PM , Rating: 3
Another option that has worked well for me was to simply install steam to the alternate drive. Then when I reinstall my OS I just re-isntall steam right over the top of the old directory, no copy/paste needed.


RE: makes sense to me
By inperfectdarkness on 7/23/2010 9:51:55 PM , Rating: 2
one critical problem:

you can no longer sell games you wish to no longer use.


RE: makes sense to me
By muhahaaha on 7/24/2010 7:45:34 PM , Rating: 2
Well, getting the games at roughly 1/2 the retail price appeals to me, and I am not so apt to want to sell them, knowing that I can always have access to them, and if I decided to switch to a MAC (purely hypothetical) I could still play most of my games with Steam.

Besides, unless you sell them yourself on Craigslist or E-Bay, you aren't going to get much ... what, $5 bucks? Might as well keep your games.


RE: makes sense to me
By muhahaaha on 7/24/2010 7:45:39 PM , Rating: 2
Well, getting the games at roughly 1/2 the retail price appeals to me, and I am not so apt to want to sell them, knowing that I can always have access to them, and if I decided to switch to a MAC (purely hypothetical) I could still play most of my games with Steam.

Besides, unless you sell them yourself on Craigslist or E-Bay, you aren't going to get much ... what, $5 bucks? Might as well keep your games.


RE: makes sense to me
By rburnham on 7/23/2010 11:50:24 AM , Rating: 3
And now with SteamCloud, I barely see a reason to buy non-Steam games. Having all my saves backed up online is a HUGE bonus. Love you Valve, even though you are taking forever with HL2:Ep3!


RE: makes sense to me
By lothar98 on 7/23/2010 11:51:36 AM , Rating: 2
I agree completely games and their usage is one of the few things where it is nice to have a software profile linked to your used id. One of the perks that you can get for playing a feature game on a pc over a console is that you don't always have to fumble around to find that game disk that you haven't used in a while if you feel like playing a different game.


RE: makes sense to me
By smegz on 7/23/2010 12:05:55 PM , Rating: 2
Yep, Steam is your friend. Moving to a new computer is a snap if you keep an update of your Steam directory. Simply install Steam then copy your backup over the install. All your games should be there waiting for you to play and you don't have to wait to re-download them again. That's what I did when I upgraded my system to Windows 7 last year.


RE: makes sense to me
By walk2k on 7/23/2010 12:27:33 PM , Rating: 2
Unfortunately the "limited-installs" crap appears on physical disk-based games now too.

Steam is not immune either. Some games you download there (Fallout 3) require you to ALSO authenticate with another service (LIVE for Windows) and won't let you play if you don't, not even offline/single player.


RE: makes sense to me
By NullSubroutine on 7/25/2010 8:17:34 PM , Rating: 2
I have FO3 and you don't have to sign into Live online, you can make a fake profile and simply play it in offline mode, you can also do this with DLC content, but I think to play that in offline mode requires hacked content.


RE: makes sense to me
By JKflipflop98 on 7/26/2010 2:53:32 AM , Rating: 1
So why dont you take the 10 seconds to make a Live account, and then check the little "save my username/password" button?

Mountain out of a mole hill.


RE: makes sense to me
By BruceLeet on 7/23/2010 1:36:14 PM , Rating: 2
ofc it makes sense


RE: makes sense to me
By hughlle on 7/26/2010 9:15:00 AM , Rating: 1
Until the likes of steam will refund me my money if i decide my [urchase is a waste of my money, as i would with any other item i buy, then i will not pay them, i will pirate the game, or i will find a retail copy. I bought Killing Floor from steam, that was the most appalingly developed, buggy, shitty game i've ever played, and while it was only £15, that was £15 for a game that was not physically playable on release, to which there was no option of a refund. Never again.


Some times the good people win ...
By nOpeMan on 7/23/2010 12:09:37 PM , Rating: 3
Valve is in the position to have the near monopol for triple A title online releases. And in fact, I'm very happy about that. They deserve it.

All they do is channel all the multiplattform triple A shootergames, which are usually cheap ports, into one system. And discount the hell out of it. Because Valve knows what is on the table (and Direct2Drive haves discounts too). Not triple A PC titles, just console games worth of max. 20 bucks.

I can get 100000 hours playtime on steam for 50 bucks or less. Most Steam users have several unplayed games in their library from sales months/years back.

Valve exploits not us gamers, they exploit the market and their own position in it as content deliver system. Third party's (EA/ATVI) produce cheap oneyear cycles to fill the content blanks with multiplattform/strategy and casual. And every year there is one or two "real" PC games published.

Here the last good bets for "real" triple A PC games... the rest are just multiplattform suckers. The last two even are on the edge to the gamepadworld because they let their greed take place of their passion.

Valve
Blizzard
idSoftware
Bethesda

Coincidentally also the company's who still give out level editors, no matter how "BIG MASSIVE TRIPLE AAA" their release is. Because they don't need DLC's, they have the community to extend the shelflife of the games. Those company's produce milestones, not crappy oneyear cycle bullsh*t.

PC gamer out

PS: Nobody mentions DICE pls, it took them months to fix the mousesupport and serverbrowser in BC2. And now they help EA to crap out MoH.




By ertomas on 7/23/2010 2:18:54 PM , Rating: 3
I think the Orange box is the best example of this.

I bought it for 50 bucks when it came out a few years ago and I have played countless TF2 hours since. This game alone was worth the money and the package included HL2 and episodes plus Portal...

Great value for the money...


By xthetenth on 7/23/2010 6:45:02 PM , Rating: 2
Don't forget stardock and their impulse. They got the ball really rolling on the sales (just steam had the sales to make the publishers accept it), their download speeds are much better, and they make/publish great strategy games.


Thank you Steam
By rburnham on 7/23/2010 11:48:19 AM , Rating: 3
Being able to pick up fairly new games like Mass Effect 2, Metro 2032 and C&C4 for around half price is a HUGE plus for Steam. And having access to older titles that I might have missed or want to play again is great. The retail stores simply cannot compete. Don't worry Best Buy and Walmart, I'll still go to you guys for the occasional console game.




RE: Thank you Steam
By frozentundra123456 on 7/23/2010 4:33:15 PM , Rating: 2
Has C&C 4 been on sale on steam yet?? I want to get the game, but since the reviews were not that good I dont want to pay full price. If it was on sale I must have missed it.


RE: Thank you Steam
By Sahrin on 7/23/2010 11:45:48 PM , Rating: 2
As a personal favor to me, do not buy this game. I blew $50 on it, and 5 hours later I felt like I had been mugged. It's not "not that good" it's horrifyingly bad.


Where to buy?
By Spivonious on 7/23/2010 11:05:12 AM , Rating: 2
I think the majority are downloads because there are very few stores that have a respectable stock of computer games. It seems that everyone has moved towards consoles these days.




RE: Where to buy?
By xpax on 7/23/2010 11:12:00 AM , Rating: 2
Indeed. I was about to say the same thing. Best Buy etc seem more interested in catering to stupid soccer moms buying crappy console titles for their kids, who apparently don't know how to use a computer.


RE: Where to buy?
By rburnham on 7/23/2010 11:49:06 AM , Rating: 2
That and the prices at retail stores are stupid.


Don't be so quick to defend steam.
By derricker on 7/25/2010 7:49:44 PM , Rating: 2
I'm an steam user, I have several dozens of games on steam, but hey, don't lie to yourselves, have you read the subscriber agreement???

Fact is, you are no longer purchasing any game, this has been true for a while now, you are just licensing the right to use it, but on top of that, valve can terminate your account any time they see fit.




RE: Don't be so quick to defend steam.
By JKflipflop98 on 7/26/2010 2:58:56 AM , Rating: 1
Yeah, cuz Gabe Newell is just sitting there in his black cape, tophat, and curly moustache - waiting for the perfect moment to hit the "delete all" button on everyone's Steam account.

That makes perfect business sense.


By derricker on 7/26/2010 2:31:12 PM , Rating: 2
Hey if you want to delude yourself into believing that you are spending $50 in thin air is a good way to invest your money, don't look at me, feel free to live your life the way you want, the mental masturbation of living in a fantasy world is hardly matched by any steam game.


Canada Loves Steam
By Pastuch on 7/23/2010 3:30:07 PM , Rating: 2
For Canadians it's insane how much Steam saves us. I haven't paid more than $45 US for a title yet and often some of the best games are 50% off. The same titles cost $50 to $60 in Canada plus %13 sales tax. So my total savings is around $20. Plus you get the convenience of Steam backing up and restoring games quickly and painlessly. I love Valve and Blizzard.




RE: Canada Loves Steam
By UnauthorisedAccess on 7/25/2010 7:09:14 PM , Rating: 2
Same here in Australia, paying in US$ means the whole steam catalogue is already discounted - even before their specials!

I still find it pays to keep an eye on JBHiFi / EB Games specials - can still pick up bargins every now and then :)


gog.com this!
By The0ne on 7/23/2010 1:16:23 PM , Rating: 3
Another cult favorite is Gog.com If you're old and a gamer like me, you wouldn't be without it :)




By callmeroy on 7/26/2010 11:31:52 AM , Rating: 2
Steam pissed me off in the past as it fumbled some previous purchases for me...but a month or two ago they ran this special deal on Mass Effect 1 and 2 - together for less than $30 so I bought it thru Steam and the process was painless and it just worked flawlessly.

I think I'll stick with online purchases...at least through Steam (I've bought from Direct 2 Drive in the past as well)...except some franchises I like getting the collectors edition version ...like Star Craft II - I orded the CE version because I'm a big fan of the franchise (plus I like sound track CDs and the art books that throw in there).




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