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Andytizer

Working on Availability template

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Just wanted to announce that I will be working on this in the coming week or so. One intention is to move it out of OS headers and make a general header. This is so that you can easily refer to it to know exactly where a game unlocks, including which OS's as well.

 

I'll be including new account unlocks such as Ubuntu Software Centre, and also a method for adding accounts and stores more easily.

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I'd suggest replacing the unlock column with a DRM column. This would convey the same information while also highlighting unexpected situations, e.g. games that have SecuROM on the Steam version.

 

This would mean the currently uninformative "retail" unlock type would be replaced by the specific DRM used on the disc, and it would also eliminate some of the redundant combinations of the current system (e.g. specifying a GOG.com unlock type when GOG.com games are never sold elsewhere anyway).

 

EDIT: example of DRM instead of unlock, to clarify what I'm describing. :)

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I'd suggest replacing the unlock column with a DRM column. This would convey the same information while also highlighting unexpected situations, e.g. games that have SecuROM on the Steam version.

 

This would mean the currently uninformative "retail" unlock type would be replaced by the specific DRM used on the disc, and it would also eliminate some of the redundant combinations of the current system (e.g. specifying a GOG.com unlock type when GOG.com games are never sold elsewhere anyway).

 

EDIT: example of DRM instead of unlock, to clarify what I'm describing. :)

 

I understand the argument for 'DRM column' but I think DRM is better left in the notes section, and keeping the account unlock column.

 

The Availability table is really for glancing and helping to guide a purchasing decision, and seeing if a game is available on your preferred 'account' or client. People don't like opening new accounts or using new clients - the first question most people ask is: does it unlock on Steam? Can I get a DRM-free exe to download?

 

DRM belongs in the notes because each DRM is almost always implemented differently - SecuROM has different activation limits, GFWL has different types of activation requirements, etc.

 

It would also mean not having to make individual DRM icons which are not informative (SecuROM icon doesn't really tell you anything unless you know which kind it is).

 

It also gets us out of argument of whether Steam is or isn't DRM. Obviously it is DRM, but to list it in this quick-glance type table would be meaningless - most people are interested in what third party DRM is being implemented and how obstructive it is.

 

GOG do actually get sold elsewhere, for example you can redeem your Steam version of Witcher and Witcher 2 on GOG. Future CD Projekt games will probably redeem on GOG as well.

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The account column is a bit confusing imo - especially with the use of symbols such as Ubuntu and GOG, when both services do not use DRM. When I look at the account column, what it screams to me is that that purchase is locked to an account with that program/site. At the moment its not clear to readers what it actually means - definitely need to look at this.

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I agree with the DRM instead of unlock option (it never made a lot of sense, especially when one of the options is no DRM). I'm thinking that as it stands, it's a minority of games that have an unlock to an online service (referring to the massive backlog of games prior to the rise of Steam and similar services). It's pretty obvious that buying a game on Steam unlocks the Steam version, so that's not helpful. I'm wondering about a DRM-Free game that is also sold on Steam, or such as well.

 

I do think it is important to mention games that unlock on other services (Unreal Tournament 3 Retail also unlocks a Steam copy), and games like Civ V where buying a retail copy is effectively a Steam copy. I think this is enough of a minority of games that it can be mentioned in comments.

 

Also, when a game unlocks copies for other systems, that should be noted (buying Civ V automatically unlocks the PC and Mac versions on your account. You don't have to buy it twice or worry about getting the wrong one).

 

DRM is a serious concern for some users...some people will not buy a game knowing what DRM is in it, for legit reasons. I find it very useful to indicate any DRM in the game in an appropriate place. I can't see adding yet another section to an article just to mention DRM, or hiding it in the bottom because it is important. I think it should just be mentioned in the availability table. The only problem I can think of already exists: what to do when there is excessive DRM. Arkham Asylum on Steam, for instance, uses Steam, Securom, Games for Windows Live, and a CD-Key as copy protection. A simple "multiple DRM" icon would suffice here, with clarification in the comments.

 

The Steam is/is not DRM debate is pointless. Steam is a form of DRM. It is also a service. That it functions as both is why it works. It gets interesting when you see games like Civ V (I like mentioning Civ V) where Steam DRM is mandatory. It doesn't simply make use of the Steam service, it also uses a function of Steamworks where Steam activates and validates the game before allowing it to be played. So I see two things going on, not one. Steam as an unlock, and Steam as a DRM.

 

As a solution to coming up with dozens of icons for every possible DRM (like mentioned on the DRM page here, it's quite a long list and that's just a general overview), instead, just make two icons. DRM-Free, and DRM. Then let the comments explain what DRM is in the game. (If you do this, you don't need to use the multi-DRM idea, but it would still work if you wanted. Maybe a bit unnecessary though).

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I've wrote up this potential alternative to the current Availability Table. Any thoughts on it?

 

This looks good Soeb, I'm happy with this implementation. I wasn't so sure about moving from 'Account unlock' to DRM column, but it does make some sense.

 

I think that a blank in the DRM column should mean 'no additional DRM'.

 

I was thinking that a 'DRM-free' icon could indicate that an EXE can be downloaded and launched without an additional client. This would mean Fallout on GOG.com is DRM-free, but not on Steam (even though on Steam, you can launch it without the client, but you need Steam to download it in the first place. Maybe it could say 'DRM-free installer' or 'DRM-free DL'.

 

Any thoughts?

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I like you're idea, Soeb, but my first thought is it looked a bit messy on the platform section. Not sure how to improve it without losing information though. So it's fine.

 

The DRM section looks good, I just hope we're not trying to make icons for every single DRM. Just icons for the major ones (Steam, GFWL, Securom, Uplay, maybe), and an icon for "DRM Free" and an icon for "Other" if it's some obscure DRM, or a solution like always-online or something. Just to keep the icons down a bit.

 

I think if a game is sold with DRM, but unlocks with a download, go ahead and list it as having DRM, but mention the download in the comments area.

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