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Old 30th Apr 2009, 11:30   #1
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The Downside to Digital Distribution

http://www.bit-tech.net/blog/2009/04...-distribution/

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Old 30th Apr 2009, 11:37   #2
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I've been having problems with L4D too. I've had the nv4_disp.dll crash go on, as well as a couple of others, although it seems to have sorted itself again now.

That, and the stats tracking since the update has been woeful. I've lost all my times from the in-game stuff, and had a gold and 3 silvers wiped from the achievement list as well.

At least Valve bother to patch problems though! It's not terminally broken like some games.
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Old 30th Apr 2009, 11:43   #3
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this isn't a problem with digital distribution :-/
as a multiplayer game, you'd be forced to patch the game before hopping onto a server, regardless of how it was delivered to you.
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Old 30th Apr 2009, 13:07   #4
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As Fod points out, as L4D is a multiplayer game it's rather a moot point. True back in the day you could try out the different patches to see which one broke your system, but at the end of the day you're still going to have to install the latest patch if you wanted to play the game. I guess the technition in all of us would like a bit more control, but it's not really going to help even if we could.
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Old 30th Apr 2009, 13:07   #5
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I understand your frustration but agree this is not a problem of digital distribution in itself or a Steam problem. It's a Nvidia driver issue. I'm sure one of the patches caused it, and it needs to be fixed, but this would happen regardless of how the patch was applied.
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Old 30th Apr 2009, 13:25   #6
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tbh i'll live with it occasionally breaking to alleviate the problem of trying to find patches for older games, spend ages a few years ago trying to find a good source for the 1.3 patch for BF2 the patch had been out for a while and most of sources were no longer listing it, bloodly pain in the arse.
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Old 30th Apr 2009, 13:50   #7
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I'm not really saying it's a problem or a major flaw, in fact automatic patching is a hell of a lot easier than manually downloading a lot of the time. It's more of a 'down side' hence the title! As it stands, because the game automatically patches though, I couldn't play the game AT ALL with an Nvidia graphics card, online or offline.

"as a multiplayer game, you'd be forced to patch the game before hopping onto a server, regardless of how it was delivered to you."

In most non Steam games, there's still plenty of people playing with older patches for some time after a new one is released. At least in this situation you might still be able to play the odd game instead of being totally shut out. I remember a certain patch with BF2 caused a memory leak and in the end EA advised people not to install the patch, and for those that had done already, they were forced to reinstall the game. I'm not saying that we should dissect every patch for every game before we install it, but in an ideal world there would be some kind of roll back to at least rule out a patch as being the cause of system instability.
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Old 30th Apr 2009, 15:16   #8
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The games developed some gremlins? you mean i have cousins now?
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Old 30th Apr 2009, 18:40   #9
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If you think L4D is bad, spare a thought for those of us still playing Day of Defeat Source, which gets broken every time there is an update for the OB game engine. Broken demo playback, map glitches, no-recoil exploits, game bugs. The list is endless, however with only one guy working on the game part-time now, the future is bleak...
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Old 30th Apr 2009, 18:48   #10
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I fail to see how this can be linked to the distribution method, a patch is a patch whether it be installed via disk, automatically via steam or any other method.
The problem is purely with the patch in question.
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Old 30th Apr 2009, 21:37   #11
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Now with most other games, I could uninstall and reinstall them and leave out the suspect patch to see if it was the cause, but this isn't possible in most games distributed via Steam.
Dont miss the point ppl, the problem in question is not the crashes, but the inhability to test the game with diferent patches to see witch one caused the problem, and this inhability is because the patches are distributed via steam, no matter if you reinstall the game, once you log in steam will automaticaly update your game.
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Old 30th Apr 2009, 23:22   #12
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Agreed - this is really a problem specific to Steam's auto-patching.

There are other downsides to various digital distribution systems (e.g. pricing that fails to pass savings onto customers, online activation, background processes) but a system done right (and GOG is the only example I can think of, though most shareware also qualifies) can avoid all of these.
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Old 30th Apr 2009, 23:59   #13
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Looks more like a hardware frustration blog post than something on digital distribution. Yet, not only do I agree with the author's final point, I must add the problem of not really being able to get your money back for games that don't work (E:TW, almost) or stink. I think I'll have to take the "Try before you buy" route and never again pre-purchase anything on Steam like I did with E:TW. This one should be purchased maybe a year after release with several patches on top. As a bonus, you'll likely get a better price too. Never again will I fall for this trick. :|

GTAIV could fall into the same category, but the product had less issues upon release (for me). Fully patched, it's a charm. I hope E:TW get's there with haste!
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Old 1st May 2009, 00:47   #14
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...Yet, not only do I agree with the author's final point, I must add the problem of not really being able to get your money back for games that don't work (E:TW, almost) or stink...
At the risk of going a little OT, anyone in the EU/EEA has the legal right to get a refund for products purchased online, for any reason, provided they request it (and return the item) within 7 working days. This is provided by the Distance Selling Directive which, in the UK, is implemented by the The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 (see section 10, "Right to Cancel").

Now computer software (along with music and video recordings) is exempted if unsealed (i.e. if you open it, you can't return it) but that can't really apply to downloads. And if Valve refuse to issue a refund, and you paid by credit card, you can ask the credit card company to reimburse you instead (as they are jointly liable, under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 - see here for a template letter).

The one gotcha is since Steam ties all your purchases into one account, Valve could do something nasty like disabling it completely (causing you to lose access to all your other purchases) in retaliation for any credit card chargebacks. In such an event, you could make a court claim for a refund of all content purchased, but since Valve Software do not seem to have a legal presence in the UK (nothing shows in a Companies House search), enforcing any judgement might be difficult. So this could be another downside to Steam itself.
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Old 2nd May 2009, 05:44   #15
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hhhmmm, I do not really see the reason for complaint about Steam in particular.
The reason why I say this is because if you go to the "Properties" of each game you own on Steam and then click on the "Update Tab" and choose for the game to not be automatically updated. Then if there is an update available you can view the forums for a few days to see if a lot of people are having problems with the update and then make an educated decision if you should down load it or wait for a fix.
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Old 3rd May 2009, 23:21   #16
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I know what you mean about Left4Dead, the new patch broke my graphics card. I don't know whether it exploited a vulnerability or whatever but BFG agreed to replace it and Valve said they were aware of the problem but left it there. Just on the steam forums within 3 days or so of the patch there were another 7 users with the same graphics card that was as dead as mine in the same way. Also another 40 users getting random crashes and BSODs.
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Old 5th May 2009, 15:53   #17
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Oh I get this error too black screen with a sound loop, sometimes it recovers itself other times if you Ctrl+Alt+Del then go back to the game it kicks it back into life.
After exiting the game a little ballooon tip is on the taskbar "Windows has recovered from a serious error" or words to that effect.
If anyone finds a fix for this PLEASE let me know i will be eternally grateful ( other than buying an ATI card)
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Old 5th May 2009, 15:59   #18
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Quote:
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hhhmmm, I do not really see the reason for complaint about Steam in particular.
The reason why I say this is because if you go to the "Properties" of each game you own on Steam and then click on the "Update Tab" and choose for the game to not be automatically updated. Then if there is an update available you can view the forums for a few days to see if a lot of people are having problems with the update and then make an educated decision if you should down load it or wait for a fix.
This.
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Old 5th May 2009, 21:32   #19
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Originally Posted by Nicb View Post
hhhmmm, I do not really see the reason for complaint about Steam in particular.
The reason why I say this is because if you go to the "Properties" of each game you own on Steam and then click on the "Update Tab" and choose for the game to not be automatically updated. Then if there is an update available you can view the forums for a few days to see if a lot of people are having problems with the update and then make an educated decision if you should down load it or wait for a fix.
I quite frankly have to agree with this point. Either some of us forgot about this option (I did) or we all assume that steam's patches will always work (which, unfortunately I do). The question is why do we expect all patches to work fine?

I suppose one problem with this is that if you were to play the game you'd have to install the patch if playing online.
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Old 10th May 2009, 14:32   #20
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( other than buying an ATI card)
Why? They're better than NVIDIA anyway (at least for now) :-)
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