Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
Old titles don't fade away, they just evaporate suddenly
Published on June 21, 2004 By Draginol In Gaming

Drengin.net is going to be expanding hugely soon. We've been signing deals (announcements coming soon) with various major publishers to put their games on Drengin.net. The idea isn't to necessarily put their latest/greatest titles on there but instead focus instead on games that are on their way out from retail.

The example I love to use is Total Annihilation. It's discontinued now (I'm sure you can find it somewhere) but it's a game that was just awesome in its time and graphically it still looks  pretty good. And that's an unusually old game. But that's the idea, not to just pick any old games but find the best games of all time and save them. Make sure that great games don't just disappear after 6 months at retail but instead find a home for them where people can keep playing them and build communities.

And so that's what I want to do with Drengin.net.  Put our games and top games from other publishers on there that aren't necessarily "brand new".  But there's a gotcha, one that has been a bitter pill to swallow. Royalties on Drengin.net tend to fall between 0.5% and 1% per title. So if Drengin.net goes up to say $100, that means they'd only get 50 cents to $1 per sale.

The thing is, if we can get dozens of titles on there, it will reach critical mass. That's the challenge: Getting enough games on there where the gamer will see it as a "no brainer".  If you get that critical mass, you could end up selling 50k units annually (with 100k being a possibility).  Now, a royalty of $50k to $100k per year may not sound like much. But odds are, it's vastly greater than the revenue these games get today and that's not counting the revenue from selling the games stand-alone as well for electronic download.

There are places already out there that sell games electronically, but they tend to look at things very differently than I do.  Guys like me are the target audience. Electronic distribution isn't about money. It's about convenience. If it's about money I'll bargain bin shop at EB. For me, I want to press a button have it, and know when I lose the file I downloaded 8 months from now I can press a button and get it again. Using my Total Annihilation example, I have four copies of that game..somewhere. Not sure where. I stopped playing it because I got tired of having to install the game, download the patches, apply the patches, put on the various expansion packs, etc.  I just want to press a button and have it all at once. When I blow away my machine, I want to be able to go back and download the game manager again and press a button and get all my games again.

That's what Stardock Central does. Even today, if you buy Galactic Civilizations in Germany and register with Stardock.net, you can lose your CD, lose your serial #, and in 2 years still come on and press a button to retrieve your serial # and press a button to download the latest version of GalCiv.  That's what I want.  And I suspect I'm not alone.

But for that to work, we have to be able to convince a lot of publishers that it's in their best interest to let us sell their titles as part of a mega subscription where they might only get 50 cents per copy sold and focus on that critical mass. I'd rather make 50 cents on something that sells 100,000 units annually than $5 on something that sells 500 units annually. Those who have sold their games or programs through an on-line distributor can probably attest that the sales figures on those things aren't terribly impressive. It's about critical mass.


Comments
on Jun 21, 2004
I think the demand is there for older games, especially ones that are discontinued and completely unavailable (any old Interplay title for example). Publishers can't keep their older games on the shelves because space is at a premium... Classics of yesteryear, no matter how stellar, can't compete effectively with Doom 3 or Half Life 2... and publishers are looking for any way possible to queeze that last drop of cash out of the gaming audience, but the cost of doing a physical production run is prohibitive, online distribution is a win-win for them. 0 distribution costs in the form of boxes, manuals, cd cases and printed cds... no shipping costs to get it to retailers, and no returned stock sitting in a warehouse.... all the stock is in the form of 1s and 0s on a set of servers in your company's datacenter. All they do is provide the code, and suddenly they have a new source of income from titles that they would never see another cent from, and they did almost no work. Free money for them.

The key I guess is convincing them that this is a service gamers want. Problem is they wouldn't see the blockbuster sales they want to, they aren't going to be selling millions of units of a given game through SDC, but they will be selling more than they currently are (that being next to 0) and they generate good will with the gaming public, which to be honest, is something developers and publishers need to work on, with how they've been acting in recent years.

This is not a deal that is going to save any of them from financial woes, but it is something that will pay off for them in the long term... I hope you can convince enough of them of that
on Jun 21, 2004
Total Annihilation is a fantastic game. I think it was way ahead of its time (it was overshadowed by starcraft which came out just after it). The modding community for TA is still very much alive though. TA made it very easy to make your own units (models, sounds, behavior) and use them in the game. Given this, there certainly might be a way to revitalize interest in it. On a side note the music for the game is orchestral and is more varied and powerful than many movie scores. I recently gave a friend some .wav rips of the music. (which is on the first CD on can be played in any CD player).

Another game in this same vein is Conquest: Frontier Wars. It was made by Ubi-soft (the maker of Splinter Cell and numerous other fantastic games) but wasn't promoted much by the publisher. It has very unique gameplay and awsome graphics but never got a fair shake. I still love playing both these.
on Jun 21, 2004
Cant wait, now i'll have a reason to join.
on Jun 22, 2004
I think this would be great.

One thing that would be nice about getting discount games from Drengin is that you don't have to worry so much about buying "dud" games because with the subscription you aren't paying for a particular game.
on Jun 22, 2004
Ohh yeah TA I remember modding it a lot. Man been years.

I agree with the fact that Drengin.net could be the future of gaming.
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