Last weekend, I decided I was going to buy a couple of games, which I haven't done in a while. I seem to remember a time when your choices consisted of either Steam, or... Steam. Now there seems to be a dizzying array of choices, including:
- Steam, obviously
- And probably a few others that I've forgotten about.
None of these companies really seem to try very hard to explain why you should buy from them as opposed to some other distributor, so I resorted to trying (and failing) to infer it from the fine print.
Eventually I gave up on doing any actual research and just (a) tried Amazon at random, only to find that they won't sell to Canadians, then (b) tried Steam at random, only to give up after being repeatedly railed by their CAPTCHA, then finally (c) tried D2D at random and actually succeeded in making it all the way to a download.
I have no idea what I actually got myself into. All I know is that I can play my games. I guess that makes me exactly the sort of consumer these companies want. Generally, I like to be a little more well-informed when it comes to purchasing.
When I choose one of these online stores, what am I actually choosing, other than price and availability?
Are these games just commodities, like the loaf of pre-packaged bread I can buy from any supermarket, or is there something about them that actually varies from one retailer to the next? Are there any interesting tidbits I might find in the TOS, or something else that might come back to bite me later - like, maybe, being unable to play my games if I get a new PC or if the company goes belly-up? Can some of them cut off my access one day on a whim and demand a hefty ransom? Anything else that might be useful for me to know?
P.S. I found this question about digital distribution services but it's basically in poll format, doesn't mention a lot of the services listed above, and much of what's in there seems to be (no offense to those who answered) vague statements based on personal opinions. I'm not looking for a list of digital distributors or recommendations, I want to actually understand my options and be able to make an intelligent decision next time I go to buy a game.