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I prefer to have the games I purchase available for local installation from a DVD, so I can continue playing once the zombies run rampant and I figure out the whole food/clothing/shelter/electricity thing. The last few games I have purchased online, and in a store, to be delivered through a DVD have contained only a DVD with the steam/origin installer and a game code to download with. I am not an up-to-date gamer, but are any games still distributed on DVD? I know it will say it in fine print on the box, but this is not always possible to see when ordering online.

If I see that a game is available through Steam or Origin, does that mean the company has decided to ONLY use this distribution method, or is this just an option for those who want to download the game immediately instead of waiting for the physical media.

The games I am curious about now are:

Yes, I know these are all post-season, but then consider the discount.

But I am also interested in how I can determine if the game will be available on the physical media when I open the case, or whether it will contain an online game code (hopefully based on either the developer or actual game in question). I would also be interested if methods for creating a local installation disk for games legally purchased through a digital distributor exist. Thank you.

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    There is an increasing amount of games that distribute exclusively through Steam, Origin or similar (and company-specific) digital distribution systems. If these games are available in a physical box, they often only contain a card with the key on it, or a dvd which includes the installer for the respective digital distribution software. It's hard to tell which games do this, but you can usually find some information about it if they do. For example, EA games seem to be doing this exclusively, or at least, they will require Origin to be running as well. – Ivo Coumans Dec 1 '14 at 9:19
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    @IvoCoumans You should turn that into an answer! – user92092 Dec 1 '14 at 9:59
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    This is also very relevant for people who don't have a good internet connection and/or have monthly limits on their usage. – Bobson Dec 1 '14 at 15:35
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    Bear in mind that many of those games are somewhat unplayable out of the box, or at least offer a not-so-good gaming experience, due to the high amount of bugs they are released with. Some of them even have patches already available for download the day of its release. Trying to play one of this games without all the patches/updates may go from somewhat unrewarding to significantly broken (e.g. game always crashing of getting stuck in a specific place). Just something else to have in mind when thinking about having the game and content available to play. – José Luis Dec 1 '14 at 16:14
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    I generally refuse to buy any games that require Steam or the like. Games generally point that out on the box, and if they don't (or if the online store doesn't replicate the warning on their website), I consider that a valid reason to send back the product because it does not match the description by the vendor. Likewise, being an avid Humble Bundle customer, I usually set the sliders for games that only come as a Steam key to $0 and distribute my payment among the non-Steam-only games. Good luck for them :-) – O. R. Mapper Dec 1 '14 at 16:58
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I believe the retail boxed editions of all the games you mentioned are tied to one of the digital distribution services. Specifically, Far Cry 3 uses UPlay, Crysis 3 and Medal Of Honor: Warfighter use Origin, and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 uses Steam. You can verify this for these or any other game by checking the box. If they require an Internet connection to activate or play the game it should be listed as a requirement on the back of the box. If you can't check the box, you're just going to have assume it does require one.

As Ivo Coumans said very few PC games are being released these days that don't use some sort of online DRM. The exceptions are mostly indie games, and these games aren't generally available at retail. (Confusingly, the retail copy of game may have some sort of DRM even if there's a DRM-free retail version. This happened with the Witcher games.) The biggest PC game that I can think of that's been released recently and has a DRM-free version is Divinity: Original Sin. I don't think it's available at retail though, at least not in North America. The upcoming The Witcher 3 will be available DRM-free, but I don't know what the retail situation will be.

So if you want games that can still be played during the zombie apocalypse, or otherwise on a computer that will never be connected to the Internet, you have only a few options:

  • Buy old games, ones even older than you mentioned, that don't use online DRM. Be sure to check the requirements on the box though. You have to go back a very long time to find a Valve game that doesn't require Steam, so there are few really old games that do require an Internet connection.
  • Get a console. Microsoft was planing to implement online DRM for the Xbox One, but they had to back off from that, and so it's still the case that retail boxed console games don't require an Internet connection.
  • Buy DRM-free games. Anything new you'll probably have to download from the Internet, but you can burn it to a DVD and still be able to install and play it after the collapse of civilization. The site GOG.com sells nothing but DRM-free games, and other sites like the Humble Bundle Store have a selection of DRM-free games mixed in with the ones requiring Steam or UPlay.

Personally I'm not too worried about zombies, but game companies have never been too reliable. I only buy Steam/Origin/UPlay games if they're $5 or less. I figure that a fair price for "renting" (or subscribing as Steam puts it) a game for an indefinite period of time. If one of these companies goes bankrupt or just arbitrarily decides to shut down their servers (as all their user agreements say they can do), I won't feel cheated.

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  • Thank you for your answer. I was afraid it would end up being hit and miss. The other reason for my question was that in my pursuit of DVD content, I was purchasing games that said "PC-DVD" or something similar, usually at a higher price than some of the other clearly marked "online game codes" offered, only to find an online code in the box. Can be frustrating. Crysis 1 and 2 came on the DVD but required an internet connection (to be expected). Far Cry 2 also came on the DVD and required an internet connection. I will update the answer with my findings for curiousity's sake. – user58446 Dec 2 '14 at 8:48
  • @user58446 It's closer to miss and miss. While all retail box games will include a DVD-ROM disc, virtually all recently released games will include a key to activate it online. The DVD-ROM just saves you from having to download the entire game. That is, that's the theory. A number of games have had huge day 1 patches making the disc pretty much useless. – user86571 Dec 2 '14 at 9:25
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There is an increasing amount of games that distribute exclusively through Steam, Origin or similar (and company-specific) digital distribution systems. If these games are available in a physical box, they often only contain a card with the key on it, or a dvd which includes the installer for the respective digital distribution software.

It's hard to tell which games do this, but you can usually find some information about it if they do, on Google or the publisher's website for example. EA games seem to be doing this exclusively, or at least, they will require Origin to be running as well. There's a lot of companies making this move, so I can't really list them all.

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