Remember my post about the unused Starbucks cards I got for Christmas? I forgot to mention that I also got an unused $25 gift certificate for Comp USA that I didn’t have a chance to use until this past weekend. I have a good excuse for that too – the closest Comp USA that I know about is completely out of my way. I regularly pass by a BestBuy, Radio Shack, and Staples which all pretty sell similar stuff.
The other day I actually made a point of going there and using up that useless piece of plastic. I walked around the store for 10 minutes and I could not see anything that I wanted that wasn’t too expensive, or stupid. So I walked over the game isle and started wading through the sea of crap that was there.
Half of the isle was taken over by a whole batch of RTS games, that all look exactly the same, have “empire” in the name, 7 sequels and 50 expansion packs each. Then there was a whole wall of MMOG’s that I just can’t afford to waste money on. And then there was sea of games that I either own, played, games I hate, and ones that I have no interest in whatsoever. So I was walking around and counting things off. Crap, crap, crap, piece of shit, hate this one, crap, Half Life 2, crap, can’t stand this one, looks dumb, crap…
Ok, here is a confession – I never played HL2 when it was released. I keep hearing good things about it, and I never fully get those head-crab jokes in online comics. I couldn’t remember why I never got it. I figured that I got distracted by bigger and better things, and just never got around to it.
So I grabbed the copy from the shelf, and looked at a price tag. It was $29.99, which was nearly a perfect fit for my $25 gift card. So I bought it, brought it home, popped the DVD into the drive and suddenly remembered exactly why I was avoiding it all this time:
At some point, long time ago, I decided that Valve is a bunch of assholes for implementing this freaky DRM thing, and I’m not gonna give them my money. Especially since I heard so many horror stories about Steam doing crazy things to people’s computers, locking up, verifying files for hours and etc. But it was to late to think about it now.
I braced myself for hard times ahead, and clicked install. 15 minutes later, the game was installed, but steam was still churning around downloading some updates, or whatever. Two more minutes and I was playing the game. So far I had no problems with it whatsoever. So perhaps steam is not that bad anymore. It seems that it matured over the las few years and seems relatively stable now.
I still think it’s a pain in the ass, and an unnecessary burden for the users who are forced to jump through the registration hoops. And it’s still evil – no question about it. But at least steam tries to be something more than just a DRM system – it tries to add value to the product doubling up as a content delivery system, an online store, a social networking tool (via the friend system which I haven’t really explored yet) and etc.
Oh, and HL2 kicks ass, but you probably knew that already.
[tags]steam, half life, half life 2, valve, drm, games, gaming, comp usa, gift certificate[/tags]