Where’s My Box?

Just to clarify, I’m referring to physical game boxes and packaging in the title here not an actual cricket box. Interesting fact: I once held a used cricket box over my face when I was a child in an attempt to impersonate Darth Vader. I didn’t know what it was for at the time.

This is not the box you're looking for

This is not the box you're looking for

Anyway, I am of course referring to Global Agenda and it’s release only digitally via Steam or a special limited edition boxed version on Amazon US. Some people ask what’s the fuss and initially I was inclined to agree but after realising that I still haven’t bought the game yet, I can’t help but wonder if it’s because of this limited distribution.

Even though I’m a huge fan of MMORPGs and they are my predominate gaming genre, I still prefer to buy my software in boxed copies. Although there are obvious advantages to this form of media (not having to re-download the entire game if you want to install it another PC for example) I find that honestly I just have a strong desire to rip open the polythene wrapper, cradle the box in my arms, read the manual on the toilet, install the game on my computer and then shelf the case to stand triumphant on my bookcase. Illogical and irrational, I concede, but gosh darn it I just want to feel like I’ve bought something more than a bunch of 1s and 0s and digital signals.

I suppose it’s lot like people who resist the evolving media of electronic books and still want to buy and read paperbacks the old fashioned way. There’s something nice and distinctly natural about the need to actually obtain and hold a physical product. I love technology and I’m a big fan of the Interweb but I still like to be flexible in my options.

The price point is another issue for me. Global Agenda retails for £35/$40/$55 on Steam and that just seems a tad excessive to me. Shouldn’t games be cheaper when distributed digitally as the publishers don’t need to pay packaging or store expenses? I bought my boxed copy of Mass Effect 2 from Amazon UK for 1/3 less than that and I know if GA was more widely distributed, I’d be able to find a better deal somewhere else. I can’t even get it on Impulse for instance. I know that’s a minor quibble but I already use Impulse, I like Impulse, do I honestly need to install Steam and another piece of software cluttering up my PC?

Overall, I know that these factors aren’t truly preventing me from buying Global Agenda but they are niggly enough to give me the excuse to hold off for a while longer. I want to play GA and I will play GA but just not for another few weeks yet. Who knows, maybe it will be on sale by then…

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  1. scrusi says:

    Personally, I prefer the comfort of steam (get it right on release, install it on multiple systems, don’t bother with drm, install and run without having to find a cd, central register for my games) to box copies – especially since the traditional box is dead anyway. Yet another dvd box looks like nothing and only eats up space.
    The one real advantage I see with physical copies is that I can lend them to a friend when I’m done playing. Assuming the DRM doesn’t limit installs.

    That said, I also buy my audio books in digital form, with drm on them that might mean losing them if the company ever goes bankrupt. Shrug.

    • Gordon says:

      Running games without needing the DVD is convenient, I’ll admit but having to spend 5 hours downloading a game isn’t great for me either :( I’d just like to be able to buy a game in the shops and then play it without the disc :)

  2. jim says:

    I like boxes too. But I think if I had faster internet and downloading a 6 gig file did not take me 3 days I would be more inclined to use digital distribution. But as of right now I do not have an option for faster internet so I need a box.

  3. Rhii says:

    I think you hit on my biggest problems with digital downloads vs. boxed games when you mentioned not wanting to use Steam rather than Impulse.

    Until there’s something more akin to a standard platform for those purchases/downloads, I’m going to stick to the box method as much as possible. I’ve already got enough senseless software cluttering up my system without adding a new separate downloader for every game I buy, not to mention whatever crazy peer-to-peer client they quietly package in with it so the game company spends less bandwidth on downloads. Get enough of that stuff sort of humming away in the background and it’ll be even more difficult to navigate Dalaran than it is already.

    Add to that that lots of the game company’s downloaders are broken, and don’t have any customer support to speak of (Turbine, I’m looking at you), it took me about fifteen tries over four days to redownload LOTRO when I decided to resume my sub. Can’t reinstall from the discs because there have been too many patches since then, so you’re redownloading half the game anyway and their streaming client is so glitchy it downloads 100% of the updates and keeps right on going to around 400% or so, and then starts working its way backwards until it tells you you’re -107% downloaded or some crazy stuff like that. After I finally got the game installed without assistance from tech support (since Turbine’s idea of providing tech support ends with an email form that they don’t look at for days) I finally weeded out the Pando Media Booster that Turbine shoveled into my system.

    Standardized download platform please.

    Until then, boxes for me, whenever possible.

  4. Bart says:

    Hey. You shuld defo get the ipad for reading stuff on toilet ;-)

  5. Tesh says:

    I’ll always buy books and boxes. I don’t have to get permission to use them from an internet overlord. I want the stuff I pay for to be *mine*, blast it!

  6. Brian Inman says:

    I still admire looking at my CE World of Warcraft box. I love the digital age, but why can’t they just send me a box too?

  7. [...] Fly Spitfires has an entry up regarding Global Agenda and its decision to go the digital distribution-only method. I mentioned in [...]

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