The Downside of Electronic Distribution

Oct 16, 2007

This past Sunday afternoon, I made the decision to purchase The Orange Box on Steam, forgoing the traditional media route. You might recall that I did the same thing with Half-Life 2: Episode 1, swearing to never do it again. I have since changed my mind on the matter. It occurred to me that Valve is a company I truly want to support. Unlike any other game developer, I actually look forward to their game releases. Much like supporting local farmers through a local farmer's market, I decided I would buy this package right from the source, cutting out the middle man.

The only downside to electronic distribution is the fact that you have to actually download the content. Half-Life 2: Episode 2 is approximately 6 GB in size (according to Steam), so it took a while to get, even on our cable connection. Having the physical media to install with would have been much quicker, but I feel that my direct support of Valve outweighs that minor quibble.

I have since downloaded both Episode 2 and Portal, and have played through both once (I was up very late last night). There is so much I want to write about each, that I will separate my thoughts for both into two posts. Stay tuned.



3:25 PM on Oct 16, 2007
I'm not sure I understand the pricing. I already have HL2, but I never got Ep1. I want to get Ep1&2 and Portal, but that would be $70, so I'd be better off getting The Orange Box even though I already have HL2 and don't care for TF2. I mean come on, $20 for Ep1? Isn't that what it cost over a year ago? And $30 for Ep2, shouldn't it only be $20? From what I understand, part of the problem is the retail chains say they won't carry the game if people can get it cheaper on Steam, so the Steam price is stuck at MSRP. Which is ridiculous because Valve would make the same profit per copy sold on Steam if they sold it at the wholesale cost that Best Buy pays plus whatever overhead is required to maintain their servers (which couldn't possibly amount to more than Target's cut). I love the idea of Steam, I just wish the retail chains would stop holding it back. In another 5-10 years maybe more companies will start distributing digitally and stop caring if retail chains won't carry their games. Maybe in the same way iTunes has managed to push the cost of digitally-delivered music to $10 per album.


4:07 PM on Oct 16, 2007
I had never thought about the retail outlets being the cause for staying at MSRP. That's an interesting view point. Like I said in the post, cutting out the middle man helps me support a company that I really like (which is a rare thing indeed in the gaming world). I ideally would have liked to bought Episode 2 and Portal by themselves, since those are the only two games I was really interested in from The Orange Box. But the deal on The Orange Box was clearly better, so I went with that instead. As such, I've got a copy of HL2 and Episode 1 that I can gift to someone...

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