May 14, 2001 2:51 PM   Subscribe

RealArcade is the future of gaming. Online downloads, rating, message boards, and high score lists are just the beginning of this game distribution-turned-instant-community application. When you can buy games online like this, whats the point of having a shrinkwrapped CD? (note most games are win95/8/ME only)
posted by mathowie (27 comments total)
Printed instructions. And the warm happy feeling of having spent your money on a physical object rather than a "license."
posted by aaron at 2:56 PM on May 14, 2001

please don't be owned by Real,
please don't be owned by Real,
please don't be owned by Real...

OH MAN! it is! it's the same bastards that brought us realplayer and realjukebox.

no thanks. I will not install anything on my machine that attempts to take it over, corrupt my files, and install needless crap in my system tray.

nice idea though
posted by kzam at 3:12 PM on May 14, 2001

I love the idea, I dislike Real quite a bit.

The first time I played a graphic game online was back on my C128D, over GEnie, and it was incredible. If you haven't played anything online, you really owe it to yourself to check it out - I think it's a boffo form of entertainment.

That said, the idea behind RealArcade is fine. I really don't enjoy having 500 gazillion CD-ROMs laying about. Why should something ultimately intangible take up space, anyway? Never understood that.

But Real, no. RealPlayer is a crash-prone chimera. RealJukebox 1.0 still pleases me, but 2.0 was godawful.
posted by hijinx at 3:17 PM on May 14, 2001

Wow, I'm gonna echo everyone when I say, "Oh, Jesus, WHY REAL???" They're worse than Microsoft.
posted by solistrato at 3:21 PM on May 14, 2001

I agree, no cd's would be awesome. But who needs streaming data to score games when broadband technology makes a solid download faster and more stable? Plus I bet REAL has plans to use this as spy-ware to track your gaming habits.
posted by crackheadmatt at 3:31 PM on May 14, 2001

I was hesitant to even install it, but after seeing it firsthand - you find a game, click a button, and you're playing the demo a few minutes later, I was amazed.

I know Real is a small division of Satan, trust me I know. But this was easily the least annoying Real product I've ever run or used. The interface is terrific, it didn't install a million and one apps and run in my taskbar. It only comes up when you launch it, you can close it anytime.

It is beta, and perhaps their evil claws will be in the final release, but for now, it's great.
posted by mathowie at 3:45 PM on May 14, 2001

I've bad mouthed real in the past and I have since found that you can install realplayer in a way that doesn't suck up your resources. It takes a while to uncheck this and that, but it works. They really should have a 1 click vanilla install without someone going through 6 or so screens.

Anyway. Real networks is hardly the only folks doing this. Wildtangent is working on this in a different way.

Not to mention all the totally independant folks giving away their game like the folks at subspace.
posted by john at 3:50 PM on May 14, 2001

C'mon people... I'm the most paranoid, privacy-portecting, slim-machine freak, and I still have RJB 2.0 and RP8 on the machine (although I did do away with RealDownload). Real is certainly not as bad as Microsoft...

I can understand the idea of hating a company's products (Microsoft comes to mind), but I know a lot of people at RNWK and to the person they are some very fine individuals who are busting their butts to make good products.

I have a feeling that the Real-vitriol is in part fueled by community stigma. Without everyone else around you saying it's bad, you probably wouldn't think it was all that bad.

All of you people who say that Real software takes over your computer (like being stalked by some psychotic clown from a Stephen King book), I say "bunk". Everything is configurable at installation time and again anytime you peek into the preferences. It just takes diligence to make sure that the software does what you want it to. The only reason they do it is because they feel they have to in order to stay ahead of Microsoft, who gets the luxury of having a desktop OS monopoly that they get to bundle WiMP into. When you look at it from that vantage point, one could understand...

I will give you one thing though: RealPlayer and RealJukebox are too fat. That's my main complaint with them.

As far as the privacy stuff, I know first-hand what happened and I can tell you that NO ONE, and I mean NO ONE ever meant for that to happen...

Re: the topic, I love the idea of RealArcade. I too hate the many CDs I have to keep around and if you lose it, you're out of luck... Digital delivery is the way to go.

Oh, and one more thing, for those of you who bring up the problems with MLB, please state whether you're subscribed to or Goldpass. As you can guess, it makes a big difference...
posted by fooljay at 3:57 PM on May 14, 2001

Some interesting things are rumored to be coming down the pipe for RealJukebox/RealPlayer. If they happen the way they're planned, I think a great many people will be pleased.
posted by jragon at 4:05 PM on May 14, 2001

fooljay: you on the take from Real? (kidding) Real installs adware of all sorts, the most insidious takeover of any software application I've ever seen. It grabs ahold of bookmarks, preferences, toolbars - whatever their slimy software can get its hands on. Windows Media is much better. Quicktime would kick both of their butts if they could hold a decent stream...
posted by owillis at 4:10 PM on May 14, 2001

I like the pretty boxes games come in. And i don't like all of my gaming to be totally dependent on net access.
posted by th3ph17 at 4:27 PM on May 14, 2001

I think people despise Real so much because they:

a) were unpleasantly ambushed by it the first time they installed it (taking over file associations, spamming the start button and the tool tray, loading itself at startup)

b) attempted to rein it in the next time running the installer and were faced with a bewildering array of hidden checkboxes (Clippy, anyone?)

c) did all that only to find subsequently it had installed *spyware* behind their back!

Who wants to fight with their software? Real has proven itself to be a selfish and ill-mannered software "citizen" and it will have to work hard to repair its reputation.

I wish the marketing hacks at Real they were reading this thread.
posted by krebby at 4:28 PM on May 14, 2001

Err anyway, back to the question about game distribution.

What's neat about Real getting into this is that it might open up the game publishing world to non-professional game houses. When getting your game on the shelf is as difficult as it is, something like RealArcade can be liberating to the industry.

Will it work or not? In my opinion it will only work for some games. I have just seen the install size of games increase over the years, not hold steady. Some games (Baldurs Gate II for example) span as many as 5 or 6 CDs. I don't see downloading it, and I'm on cable even.
posted by jbeaumont at 4:35 PM on May 14, 2001

I'd like to see game development open up to smaller houses too (EA is almost the MS of the games world). I think the same events that are opening up video making to more people to games. If only the tools were more artistic vs. technical, but I think they have to be that way by nature.... Ergo, no Photoshop for games...
posted by owillis at 4:42 PM on May 14, 2001

If this had been posted by anyone other than mathowie himself, I'd think there was an infiltrator from Real in our midst . . .

The most insideous Real product I can recall is that unbelievably stupid "RealDownload" - why anyone would need any sort of helper application simply to download files is beyond me.

Of course, the software kept track of which porn movies you were downloading, and archived your activities in a huge database out in the Nevade desert. Scary . . .

While this may be the future of gaming, I won't touch it if it's at all associated with those bastards at Real.
posted by aladfar at 4:52 PM on May 14, 2001

What krebby said. I'll never trust Real again. The thing that makes me the maddest (among several equally viable selections) is the nagware aspect: they update the Real protocol frequently, with very little backward compatibility, and force you to upgrade, with the idea that you'll return to their online store and they have a shot at selling you the pay version. Not so bad, just 3 or 4 times a year, right? Try it on your typical array of machines for work and home, and you'll be installing a new version of Real practically every week.

If they weren't such assholes about it, I'd actually consider purchasing.
posted by dhartung at 5:55 PM on May 14, 2001

Obligatory "Real sucks" remarks about their player and other software.

What I really don't like is that it effectively turns Real into a publisher. So instead of there being a bottleneck at Best Buy's, where game companies fight for the prime shelf space, you get Real's always wonderful portal designs, with game companies fighting for placement. This arrangement seems to only benefit Real. Are they doing anything with thier download player that is better than just downloading the game? Some kind of "push" mechanism? A download that resumes if the connection is lost? Or is it just a web page in a non web browser that directs you towards games. How is this any different than

It sounds like a product that doesn't do anything other than a focus group of problems.
posted by captaincursor at 6:11 PM on May 14, 2001

I downloaded it and am impressed, especially since it is beta.

captaincursor: yes, it does have a push mechanism. you simply click what you want, and it downloads it, then simply prompts you to install the games. pretty easy. and yes, it does resume downloads where they are left off.

i think its pretty cool software.
posted by benjh at 6:19 PM on May 14, 2001

Oy, apparently in one ear and out the other...

As for marketing, I can't say I've honestly every met anyone from marketing. In fact, many people I know are of the concensus that marketing is one of RealNetwork's weakest links...
posted by fooljay at 6:36 PM on May 14, 2001

Also, unlike Microsoft, Real tends to blur that line between solution provider and competitor. Or they try to sell ads that inevitably are helped by their customer's content... I think this will hurt them down the line.

(there's also the little matter of making money by charging for access to content they didn't own that belonged to a former employer of mine... argh)
posted by owillis at 7:39 PM on May 14, 2001

many people I know are of the concensus that marketing is one of RealNetwork's weakest links...

Obviously, because it's about as clumsy as a virgin's hands on Prom Night.
posted by solistrato at 8:17 PM on May 14, 2001

in the interests of joining in the real bashing, the thing that gets me the most, is that it's near impossible to navigate to the free download for realplayer on their website. one wrong step, and somehow you end up at the purchase page.

but on the other hand, i've downloaded this one, and it looks ok. although it doesn't seem able to download any demos for me yet. perhaps it's having issues with my firewall.
posted by titboy at 9:03 PM on May 14, 2001

fooljay, I don't think its a simple case of "in one ear and out the other" here, most people have specified actual experiences and reasons that have led to their distrust and hatred towards Real. I personally disagree that this is just "community stigma", I myself have disliked each upgrade of Realplayer long before i knew of such community feelings against it. From purely a user's point of view, Real's products have just been continually getting up my arse.

And whether or not the people you know at Real are nice, or smart, doesn't really affect it, when at the end of the day, its the products that we're looking at. By that same regard, and from my experience, there seems to be alot of incredibly smart and nice people at Microsoft, who are generally trying very hard to make a good product... but thats not what I judge them by.
posted by aki at 10:34 PM on May 14, 2001

I personally like this because it gives the slap on the ass that it sorely deserves. I worked there for a year while they were trying to do something to give on-line gaming a shot in the arm while only burning through cash faster than your mom goes through crack rock (sorry, don't know where that came from, I'm sure you mom is nice). Anyway, EA is evil, and if it takes the evil of Realâ„¢ to combat them, so be it. I'll be watching, soaked in holy water...
posted by Hackworth at 11:19 PM on May 14, 2001

aki, when I said that I knew a lot of people there and that they were quality individuals I was making a point about the "spyware" crap. I don't just mean that they are well-mannered, can carry on a good conversation and are fun to have a beer with. I mean that most that I know I trust implicitly and I trust what they do with the company and what they say they do with it. When it comes to privacy, I don't trust ANYONE implicitly without damn good reason and proof...

I feel really really bad for RNWK because I know how the spyware thing happened and it was a total unintentional fuck-up. Because of it, Real has now been lumped with company it doesn't deserve.

The other thing that has always impressed me about the company is that they listen to their customers and search out those who have complaints and incorporate those people's ideas of how to fix the problems into new products. For a company that size, it's impressive.

I may be too easy on the company because I respect it, its employees and what it has done for the internet. You all are probably too hard on it because of one or two bad experiences. The truth, I'm sure, lies somewhere in the middle.
posted by fooljay at 10:38 AM on May 15, 2001

I designed and developed one of the games REAL is distributing with their launch of RealArcade. From my perspective, this is not just a good thing - it's a great thing.

Independent game developers like me are the only remaining source of innovation left in an industry turned so derivative it makes summer movie blockbusters look like the Sundance festival in comparison. Four major Publishers control 90% of worldwide distribution. If you want to your game to be sold and played, you go to them and you sign their offensive and reproachable contracts.

REAL is not only providing distribution to their 175M customers, they're giving me a fair royalty, and most importantly - letting me retain the rights to other platforms and other territories. They're also giving away the game engine technology for free that I normaly license for $250K a SKU. That means even amature Mod teams (amature developers that create and distribute free Half Life or Quake levels) can compete - and these guys make some of the most innovative games available.

I hope RealArcade is a huge success and that it forces the major Publishers to compete with ESD channels of their own.
posted by Zombie at 11:10 AM on May 15, 2001

Congrats, Zombie, and good luck with it!
posted by fooljay at 6:05 PM on May 17, 2001

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