Game downloads and experimenting with online games

I have longer thoughts on these items, but I've talked to enough people that I should highlight this a bit. Two areas that I've been experimenting with / learning about are digital downloads, specifically of games, and some Windows-only online games that I can now try thanks to Apple's Boot Camp on my Intel Macbook Pro.

Some game/digital download services:

  • Valve's Steam system: I ended up with this on my system because it came bundled with Dark Messiah of Might and Magic (Might and Magic was also the first RPG game I played, on the Apple IIe), and this is where the adventure began; when you can buy classics like X-Com: Terror of the Deep for $2.95, or buy a more recent game for about $20, with the instant gratification of a 15 or 20 minute download....that means something.
  • Direct2Drive: used it because it was the first place I saw that had D&D Online (known as DDO for short)

So, the thought process between these online direct download services is that this is going to continue to apply to all software. And that your desktop doesn't matter: I can delete all these games, install the Steam client on another machine, and download / install whatever I have purchased. Yes, please.

Online games that I've been experimenting with (I say experimenting because it feels more like work, and because I tend to only play to understand the underlying game mechanics and/or general thrust of the game, then I quickly get bored):

  • PoxNora: a cross-platform, Java Web Start powered game that also has a browser component of managing/buying/trading/etc. collectible cards; yes, a bit like Magic or other such systems -- free to play with the starter decks, so try it out for sure; buy a minimum of $10 worth of credits/cards to get your own starter deck which can gain experience. I like this "freemium" model.
  • Dungeons & Dragons Online: what geek hasn't played/understood this game world? I had to try it out to see how it felt. I enjoy complex character creation, and a lot of flexibility is here. It's hard to play solo except with certain characters, and I don't really have time for extensive group play, so this is likely the nex to go.
  • Eve Online: a lot of people are apparently waiting for me to write a longer review on this. I was intrigued by a recent Eurogamer.net story about the company behind this game, which is now 10 years old. Other tidbits, like the fact that the entire game world runs on one giant supercomputer in London instead of on distributed "shards" like every other MMORPG, or the fact that character skills can take 10s of "real" days to train -- but that you also feel like your character is progressing when you're not playing -- make this a bit differnet. Oh, and for those that don't click the link, my very short summary is that this is a like big space sim game. It feels fun even if you treat it as a single player game -- jumping in and doing a few missions, or exploring on your own -- with the promise of much more to explore as you progress.

Take away from the (continued) rise of browser and/or monthly service games is that we have lots more to see evolve in this space, and that monthly fees are a real money maker. I have a hunch that because of how lucrative these can be, we'll actually see more freemium attempts, and that browsers are about due for some games directly within them.

OK, maybe this post was long enough that I won't go into further detail around this – at least not in the short term. Any questions or comments, I'm happy to discuss...what are you playing these days?

Oh, and if you want to try Eve, click on my affiliate enabled link below:

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