Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
How big is too big?
Published on June 20, 2004 By Draginol In Gaming

Many popular PC games are huge nowadays.  I mean literally over a gigabyte.  The million dollar question (literally) is how much is too big? What what point is the file size such a barrier to entry that it becomes economically unfeasible?

In the recent World of Warcraft beta, the download size was in excess of a gig and there are thousands and thousands of people happily participating in that.  I am a big believer that people (like me) want the convenience of pressing a button and having the game.  No CDs to mess with (or lose or damage), no wondering if it's out of stock.  But there has to be a limit on how big a download can be before most people, even those with cable modems, won't be willing to do it.

I wonder what that size is.


Comments
on Jun 20, 2004
BTW, for myself I'd be willing to download probably up to about a gigabyte in a half as long as the download speed is good (i.e. 50k per second or better).
on Jun 20, 2004
Depending on what it is, I'd download 2 GB and more, if I feel it's worth it. I very frequently download demos of games of up to 1 GB, just because I can, and I end up never installing them. So I guess it's not about "is it worth the download?", it's "is it worth my time?". If it's worth my time, whatever the download time/size is, it's going to be worth downloading.
on Jun 20, 2004
I think more than a question of size, it's a question of time and reliability.

I would be willing to start a download at night and leave it running while I was sleeping and at work the next day if I was reasonably sure the download would be successful.
on Jun 20, 2004
I normally just leave downloads running overnight. There are exceptions though - it took me three days solid to download Galciv, what I am trying to say is that if the game is good enough people don't mind how long it takes.
on Jun 20, 2004

Remembering those days when I'd use to download an entire CD's worth on dial-up, I think I'd accept anything that doesn't exceed a week in download time.

I'm with Madine though. The reliability is the important thing. If a 2GB file screwed up near the end, I'd be so pissed, I probably would say "To Hell with this game!"

on Jun 20, 2004
I don't think there is a maximum file size for game downloads... Look at people who pirate games nowadays, with some games ranking over 7gb, it doesn't stop them.

I think the compromise is to offer games in both distribution formats, simply because there are people still on modems or people who want to have the physical box, manuals and CDs. If someone wants to purchase a game electronically and download it, size won't be a barrier to them in general.

Just break up really large games into several chunks... like 1/2 CD sized chunks to avoid frustration from corrupted files.
on Jun 21, 2004
Another consideration is download limits set by ISPs. I've read several stories about very disgruntled users that have found download limits of of 1 gig a day and worse. One story I read about a local ISP set the limit on a gig per MONTH. Supposedly once you met that you paid a premium price or was cut off. A quick Google would probably bring you a lot of examples.

Wasn't there something about the MPAA and RIAA lobbying ISPs and even lawmakers about download caps? Their logic was that 99% of people who download tons of material are guilty of piracy. Not unlike our right to make copies of media we own, I guess they'd like to end-run set rights with technology and technicality.

I've downloaded in excess of 1 gig in a day with no qualms, and I usually get about 60-80k on my DSL. The bigger the download, the less forgiving I am, though. If I spend the day downloading a demo or a game and it ends up buggy or sub-par, I probably wouldn't devote the time again to the same developer.

As an aside, my main beef with downloading games is the use of these big game portals as hosts. I *despise* the "custom software", spyware, and other such tactics these sites use to make money. I once created an account specifically to sign up with one of these services and the spam started within 3 days, with no other use of the account.

I guess I don't mind the size of the download. As always the hassle getting it and the quality thereafter is all that matters.

on Jun 21, 2004
server speed is more an issue than size for me (like robot. i remember the all-week dialup downloads all too well; the killer was waiting that long for a file that was corrupted during the process)

I once created an account specifically to sign up with one of these services and the spam started within 3 days, with no other use of the account

check out bugmenot.com or mailinator.net. i havent used either of em yet, but one of the two might solve the spam problem..
on Jun 21, 2004
king: I keep my main email fairly "clean", i.e. I don't sign up for anything on it. Even the email I use for most stuff, like here, devart, etc., doesn't get any spam, maybe 3 a week. In that one instance, though, I signed up for the one site and 20-30 marketing emails came in the few days that I checked..

Spyware is a problem with these sites, too. I remove literally dozens of them from friends' computers regularly. So when I tell those people, "be careful what you download, especially free demos and such", it isn't good for the poor game developers, and it really isn't always their fault.

I don't mean to get the thread sidetracked. I just think that the download size is secondary to most people, especially if getting the file itself involves a lot of hassle with a third party. I'd be curious how many people are capped by their ISPs too. I have no problem with straight-from-the-developer downloads of any size.
on Jun 21, 2004
I think that the maximum dowload size tends to be directly proportional to the percentage of games with broadband access.
on Jun 21, 2004
I am still on a dialup so a gig really sucks for me. Not to mention that i only have 650meg download limit. I am working on getting ADSL on my line, but even then i have a 3gig on peak/3gig offpeak cap. So i think it also has to do with your location. What do you guys in the US get as a standard download cap?
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