A familiar stranglehold

Yesterday over at The Ancient Gaming Noob, Wilhelm posted a great blog entry about platforms challenging Steam, I really encourage you to go and give it a read as my post bounces off alot of the same themes and topics. https://tagn.wordpress.com/2018/12/06/challenging-steam/.

I did starting writing a comment on that post but found that I was rambling a bit so I though I’d type it up here instead.

Kicking things off

Valve got lucky, their game distribution service was never really a store front, it evolved into a platform that other games wanted to be released on.
By reducing the difficultly of online distribution for other non-valve products, it grew into something that now dominates the gaming landscape. 

Many platforms started off like Steam being a delivery solution for one publishers titles, we see that with Origin, BattleNet, Glyph, UPlay, Station and Arc.
This works for their needs but there is very little in the form of other games and titles, the branching out was never a direction that lasted any length of time.

That isn’t to say that new blood isn’t wanted, but any new contender has to fight a battle on two fronts, firstly getting the developers to want to use their platform, secondly convincing users that it’s a platform they should move to and invest in.

Drawing in Devs/Publishers

Epic has outlined how they hope to make their platform different enough to attract developers, with a lower revenue cut of 12% on sales which is a huge reduction compared to the 30% that Valve take via Steam.
That 18% revenue increase maybe enough to encourage more games to give the Epic Store a shot, most likely alongside other digital stores to still feed the player bases established on those platforms.

As a final perk for developers, games that use the Unreal Engine will have the licence charge waive by Epic for using the platform.

Interestingly Epic have suggested that there will be a 14 day 
no-questions-asked refund policy, which sounds great however when you consider the number of smaller titles where the full game can be completed in timescales smaller than 14 days (8 to 10 hours) there maybe some reasons for smaller game developers to avoid the platform.

Drawing in Users

New users with very few game purchases under their belt aren’t going to have any issues trying out a new platform. A percentage of their game are possibly Free to Play titles and they aren’t financially invested to heavily in a single platform.

As Wilhelm mentions, for some time Twitch has been dishing out monthly free games (for prime members) to encourage users to download their Twitch Desktop App.
Epic seem to be chasing a similar model to encourage users to adopt the platform as there digital home with one free game every fortnight.

However the biggest hurdle is that I, like many other gamers, have a huge investment in Steam, not only in my game library but in the auxiliary elements that have grown around it over the years.
These include such things as : Communities, Friends, Workshop items, Guides, Achievements,Wishlist and finally the ability to purchase real world store cards.

It terms of moving away from steam I enjoy Gog and have purchased a number of games on that platform when I don’t want to have to deal with steam, usually for modding reasons.
GoG connect has also allowed me to claim some of my titles on the DRM Free platform, additionally some of my Purchases via humble bundle have also included a DRM free copy of the game.
However none of these things go far enough to draw me away from Steam for long.

Swap Shop

Competition is healthy and anything to give players more choice is a good thing. It could help to drive down the revenue cut that other platforms are taking and result in a better landscape for developers and players.

There are so many additional launchers sitting on my hard drive until such a time as I need to use them, they aren’t loading on start up, they usually take an age to patch when I have to interact with them.
This is the reality of a gamers PC, we load those most important regularly but the others just gather dust as they were the chosen platform for that one game you really wanted.

On the Epic store that game is likely to be Rebel Galaxy Outlaw for me, as I really enjoyed the first game and I’d like to try and support the developers.

Only time is going to tell what impact Epic will have on the the gaming store scene, hopefully if nothing else it will shake things up a bit.

A New Challenger Appears

I have decided that in 2018 I would like to try and play some of those games sitting on my virtual Steam shelf that have been gathering virtual dust.

I am a Humble Bundle junkie, yes it’s for a good cause as I’m supporting charities, but my Steam Library is now bloated to a massive 800 games, almost 50% of them I have never installed or played.

Products by time played

12 or more hours 85
Less than 12 hours 48
Less than 6 hours 57
Less than 3 hours 34
Less than 2 hours 47
Less than 1 hours 138
Never played 390

* Data from steamdb.info
So starting of slowly my aim is to start chipping away at the list of games in February, I shall select Fourteen games that I have never played before and see how things go.

I hope to blog about some of them as the month progresses.


Library Legacy

A clan mate and myself were discussing the use of a Steam account by relatives, that had belonged to someone that has sadly passed away.
Slightly macabre I know but as more things become released digitally, the material worth of worldly good diminishes more each year. Mine dropped greatly when I binned all fifty of my Babylon 5 VHS cassette tapes (but I recovered a portion of my house back, so you know swings and roundabouts).

Digital rights in death is not really talked with any view to a long term resolution, outside of Facebook’s memorial pages, but it’s something likely to become something more frequently discussed. If I collected Vinyl or Stamps it would be easy to pass those onto loved ones in a will, however all those films I bought on online services or music that was purchased digitally isn’t something that can be given easily, if at all, as many companies don’t allow account sharing.

So when it comes to Steam looking at something like SteamDB will tell you the current value of my Steam account, but of course all those games bought at release are now likely to have their cost considerably reduced in comparison. Family sharing maybe an option so some, but not a long term answer to who gets to inherit my Team Fortress hat’s.

Perhaps it’s just a transfer of the keys to a new owner, so no statistics or items move just the basic purchases, what do you think?

More Jumbo

I do enjoy pick up deals from the Humble Bundle website, usually there is one or 2 games I fancy getting plus I’m a sucker for game soundtracks and jump at any chance to add more to my collection.

This time around is a Humble Jumbo Bundle 2, which includes lots of titles that were on my Steam Wishlist which was nice. I have to imagine that for someone just getting into PC gaming the Bundle deals and offers are a great way of stocking up on titles.
Admittedly some of them are a little old and maybe not as high quality as a stack of newer titles, but half the fun is exploring titles you haven’t tried before and with the reduced price tag it’s not too much of a hit on your bank account.

In the Jumbo 2 bundle I choose not to pay the top tier for The Age of Empires Legacy Bundle and settled for the 2nd tier of games by paying over the average for the Bundle.

So for a Tenner (£10) I managed to get a good few games for under 10% of the cost (as priced on Steam at time of posting), which now I’m a family man is far more than I expect to spend on game purchases in a year (excluding subs).

There is more

Another nice feature that the Humble Bundle folks have recently implement was listing the games that hadn’t been claimed and that are giftable in an easy to access to location. I have a number that have been duplicates from Bundles past so it’s nice to find them without having to hunt through my purchase history.

#Blaugust #HumbleBundle #Steam

Mission achievable

Following up on my XCOM post yesterday, I think it’s safe to say have a thing for achievement hunting and it’s not necessarily that I want to 100% a game, my main weakness can be found in Steam’s global list versus my own achievements for particular game.

Once I have completed a game I often find myself browsing the achievement list to find either those I can obtain quickly or the more obscure achievements. You often find that games will place a number of achievements that can only be obtained by playing a certain Multiplayer campaign, I may try these but generally if it’s not my cup of tea I’ll ignore those and proceed with some other task.

My Rarest

More often and not there tends to be an obscure achievement that has only been unlocked by <0.4% of players. Those are my favourite as they usually mean playing the game in manner that isn’t completely within my comfort zone, yet rewarding me for doing so and I often discover better ways of playing. I have been known on occasion to have restarted a game once it’s apparent that I have missed out on a reward I was hunting for.

Defense Grid has always been a good go to game for tricky achievements that require some thought and planning in order to obtain them, I recently went back to it to complete some of the DLC that I hadn’t completed. The game is fun and getting gold on the level requires a fine balancing act as you try to avoid spending too much so you can build interest on the cash you have.

My Steam profile pages as one showcase with the rarest achievements I have collected and another that is a selection of achievements, I usually pick the strangest/fun looking ones to show off here.

My Favourites

I fondly remember the Fable 2 achievement The Black Knight with a massive nod to Monty Python, it asked you to shoot  the weapons, arms and then head off a skeleton, I must have tried it a hundred times at least before getting this one.

What’s your favourite achievement?
And do you intentionally hunt certain ones down?

#Achievements #Blaugust #Steam