Games On Demand – The Future?

Computer, 1950 style.

If there’s one thing I really enjoy about life, it’s living in the future. Think about it a moment, and you’ll realise that the future really is now. We’ve got an omnipresent source of all knowledge (the internet), can contact people from just about wherever we are thanks to portable telephones, and increasingly, we can even use those same phones to hook up to that crazy knowledge source from wherever the heck we like! Seriously, the future rocks compared to what the dumb us’es thought it was going to be like. I remember reading my dad’s Dan Dare comic when I was young: In one episode, this kid went into the future in order to steal… an adding machine! Yep, it was a crappy calculator that was bolted to the floor for a whole classroom to use. Wow, am I glad for the microprocessor.

Of course, it’s thanks to the fact that we live in the future that our pastime exists in the first place, and has advanced year by year — can you imagine if we were still playing Tennis for Two?Beep... ...Boop... ...Beep... ...Boop... One of the most recent advances in the future has been connecting games with the internet. On the one hand, you have great uses within games for network connectivity — multiplayer, achievements, gamerscores, yadda yadda. But the other great revolution has been in the delivery system of games. Steam stands out as an early and huge success story. It turned Valve from being another innovative studio turning out great games, into a content delivery king with a model that few others have managed to better. There are other models, though, for other interests within the sphere of gaming. Good Old Games have just celebrated their first birthday. They specialise in bringing classic titles to the attention of modern audiences. They package the executables so that they run on modern operating systems, and usually throw in a whole bunch of other stuff too — wallpapers, art assets, soundtracks, and other goodness they can wrangle out of the IP owners. I’ve been fortunate enough to be with GOG nearly since launch, and it’s dangerously easy just to chuck in $5.99 or $9.99 (there are only two price points) for something that looks interesting. It’s all DRM free, too, which is a most enlightened stance to take. Going on holiday? Throw a couple of installer packages onto your laptop and you’ll never have to suffer the gamer’s most dreaded event — downtime!

Likewise, there’s another service that packages more modern games for mass consumption, and has had some real success on both sides of the Atlantic. In the US, it’s known as Gametap, in Europe, Metaboli (Metaboli bought Gametap out in 2008). The defining feature of Gametap/Metaboli is that it’s a rental service. You pay a fixed rate every month — something like a third the cost of a single title — and you get the all-you-can-eat-buffet of gaming. Hundreds of titles, nothing more to pay. Like a buffet, that means it’s a great way to sample a huge range of different styles and flavours. Here’s the catch though — since it’s a rental service, every time you play a game through it you need to authenticate to their servers. What that means is that no internet = no game.

Taking it even further, Sega’s casual gaming portal recently came to my attention. ‘Casual gaming? That’s for Wii owners and kids!’ I hear you cry. Well, #1, the Wii is I called my character you fool. It makes the whole game more funny.still awesome, even if it’s not 1337 h4XX0rz hardcore. #2, PlaySega recently added a whole bunch of MegaDrive (Genesis to you Americans) games to the service. You can now play Sonic, Gunstar Heroes, Shining Force and a whole bunch more, directly in your browser. No download required, just a java plugin. It’s hugely compelling, and the only downside is the relatively high price — $14.95 a month for the US, and £14.95 for the UK! That’s not nice, Sega.

So basically, what I’m trying to say here is that living in the future is awesome to be able to play all kinds of games in all manner of different ways. The only downside? We’ve not yet really done the whole space thing. Where are my tribbles, damnit?!


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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