Online Distribution Services
At the moment online distribution services are springing up all over - and not only abroad, here as well. Home-made Alawar.ru, Softline, GamePitStop, DirectCOD, yuPlay, TurboDom, enaza, hitv, Disel and Stream are only a drop in the bucket of the like services. And it’s not that important how the game marketing is performed – through HTTP or P2P – in any case it’s a very profitable business which regularly returns to both service owners and games developers together with their publishers.
In order to understand principles of operation and success of all the online distribution services it’s enough to examine at least one of them. In our case it is going to be Steam. Firstly, because it’s an absolute leader on the digital distribution market. Secondly, because it is one of the oldest players on the online distribution market, has an enormous audience and it is the most popular with gamers.
The success and popularity of Steam is due to the fact that it’s not just an online shop where they have more than 1,200 projects on sale. It’s a true organization that unites gamers and offer many other services to them. Gamers can freely communicate with each other on forums and join thousands of online communities. There is a demo-version of practically any Steam’s game as well as detailed description, screenshots and a manual. Besides, you shouldn’t leave out numerous functions and technologies supported by Steam. Matchmaking system enables players to create separate lobbies and join the game. Steam Cloud enables to save game data (keyboard and mouse settings, personal configurations), which will come in handy to those who play using different computers. The proficiency level shows each player’s progress and registers their achievements in a detailed way in all the games purchased by them.
Modern Warfare 2
It’s of no small importance that Steam service is extremely popular not only with players but with game developers as well. If the latter choose this service, they can both sell their games with large profit and create promising start-ups as well as get access to the most advanced technologies and equipment. For example, Steamworks equipment set enables the creators to introduce into their games many of Steam’s facilities including auto-update, voice chat in multi-user game modes, proficiency level and registration of achievements. In real-time mode developers can get sales information, information about errors in the project, hold an open beta-test f the game.
It’s no wonder that having such a wide functional and facilities Steam is gaining this amazing popularity. At this point Steam’s audience totals 30 million people – there are about 3 million users online, and about 6 million players pop along to Steam daily. This year the rise in game sales has made up 200%, and there has been an increase in the like indicator by more than 100% for 6 years on end. In order to cope with this increasing popularity of Steam, Valve Software Company, which owns the online service, has to enlarge the capacity of the servers and data channels. Lately the throughput has been increased up to 400 Gb per second. It has turned out that this is enough for downloading all the contents of the whole Oxford English Dictionary Volume Set 92.6 times a second. The other figures impress as well - for example, Steam Cloud has a data base of more than 100 million games, and more than 200 games support Steamworks technology.
Without Right to Error
The online console services are standing apart from different digital distribution services for personal computers. Their peculiarity is that they focus only on 1-platform users. Xbox 360 console has its own Xbox Live service, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable have PlayStation Network, Wii and DS have WiiWare and DSiWare respectively. The piquancy of the situation is due to the fact that console owners don’t have such a wide choice of services for purchasing games as PC owners. Once having bought Xbox 360 you won’t be able to use PlayStation Network service any longer. In order to “get off the hook” you will have to get another platform and be ready for paying for another service on timely basis. However it has its pluses – console producers are always trying to enlarge the audience of their online services, improve them, publish handy updates and regularly organize different campaigns – either demo-version publications, lowering game prices or an exclusive access to the beta of a project.
The online Xbox Live that was officially launched in Russia on 10 November 2010 is Xbox 360 service integrated into an OS which opens up wide possibilities for a relatively small user charge. What do users get for their monthly payments to Microsoft? In simple phrase, they get their own dwelling in the huge game universe. Having clicked a mouse button a few times players can tune their avatar, view the page of their achievements in all the games, download the latest demo-versions, patches and gameplay demonstrations. Having enough Microsoft Points they can make purchases on the platform called Games of Demand – “digital shop customers are offered complete versions of all the new products, add-ins to games, avatars, themes, manuals, completion and even cheat codes for games”.
Xbox Live Russia
At the moment you can subscribe for Xbox Live in more than twenty countries – the annual Gold subscription costs $50 on average. Microsoft actively develops Xbox Live and expands the service – besides Russia, citizens of Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Brazil, Chili, Columbia and South Africa can become its users. Along with the paid subscription Gold there is a free version – formerly known as Silver. Now it is called Free, which corresponds to its status – you can use some of the Xbox Live facilities free of charge.
Xbox Live Gold Subscription Card
PlayStation Network service operates in the same way as Xbox Live. By the by, the latter’s audience is about 25 million users. This indicator is a bit inferior to the like one of Valve, but here we should remind that Steam is a completely free service. Unfortunately, Sony doesn’t inform of PlayStation Network’s audience size, but we can assume that the number of this service’s users is also close to 20 million. Like Microsoft, the Japanese company does it’s best to update its service. Recently PlayStation Network’s users were able to benefit from the agreement signed between Sony and Hulu video service, and back in the summer there started to operate the paid service PlayStation Network Plus, whose functional is really immense.