As the video game industry moves more and more towards complete digital distribution, I thought it would be a good idea to see where things stand right now in terms of how we buy our games and DLC. Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony all have platforms for digital distribution and each has strengths and weaknesses, but today I plan on talking about what I personally like and dislike with each of them, specifically, the manner in which we fork over our hard-earned cash monies.
First, the best: Sony’s PSN network is just the smoothest interface, in my opinion. No silly point systems, just straight up money. You can add a few different games to your cart and buy them all together or one at a time and they will download in the background. The only problem I have with this is that you always have to add at least $5.00 to your “wallet”, which sucks when you buy something that is only $1.99 because then you have money that you have spent in real life and is now just waiting to be spent digitally. A minor quibble, but one that can be annoying.
Microsoft comes in a close second. Xbox Live Marketplace has many of the same features that makes PSN so strong and in fact, there is only one thing that really holds it back: that mystical point system. See, whenever you go to purchase something, you need points. So you have to add points, but thankfully, your credit card is saved, so you don’t have to enter it in every time.
No, the problem here is that the points system doesn’t quite add up in the way you think. 400 points = 5 dollars. 800 points = 10 dollars. Once you get the hang of it, it’s not an issue, but it does make you pause every now and then and whip out a conversion table to make sure you aren’t paying way too much for something, like, oh I don’t know, Modern War 2 maps. If Microsoft fixed this, they would be tied for the top spot.
Finally, the weakest: Nintendo. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love me the Virtual Console. It is easily my favorite in terms of game selection and price. But the cumbersome check-out system is such an ordeal! First off, they use a point system, so you have to buy points and then buy the game. Thankfully, their point system makes sense, unlike some others I will mention later (*cough* Microsoft!). 500 points = 5 dollars. Simple, tells the story. I approve.
What I don’t approve of is the fact that it doesn’t save my credit card information, so every single time I want to add points, I have to go get my wallet, pull the unfortunate card out, enter the number using the Wii remote (shaky hands will result in frustration), add the points, hope to God it adds up to the combination of games I will be buying and then go and buy each game individually. Oh, and then you have to download them one at a time, while watching a loading screen.
Look, Nintendo, let me tell you something that I probably shouldn’t: this system is PREVENTING me from spending money like a madman. See, when I have to run and get my credit card, it makes me feel like I am spending money. Sony and Microsoft have perfected the illusion of buying something and making it feel like it’s free, at least until the credit card bill comes in. So, I am kind of thankful for Nintendo’s idiocy in this department, but at the same time, a little bewildered.
So that’s my silly opinions on this trivial for now, but soon to be important issue. Which ones do you guys like? What should be improved or changed?