How is it that despite a 10 year head start on the Internet the online experience of PC games is so much worse than consoles? XBox Live is worlds better than the pastiche of special accounts, downloaders, and patch systems of PC games. Yesterday I decided on a whim to buy Battlefield 2142. And since I was lazy, I bought it online rather than at a store. If I'd known it would take six hours to install during which time my computer wasn't fully usable, I wouldn't have bothered.

I now have three or four different systems for installing and managing games on my PC: Steam, Stardock, etc. All of them suck. And every single game has a different login system, a different account, a different way to find friends online and play. Compare to Xbox Live, a seamless integrated experience. PC games are screwed.

Here's all the idiotic steps the install took.

  1. 15 minutes to install EA Link, their toehold on my computer. It runs everytime I reboot now.
  2. 4 hours to download the 2 gigabyte game installer. There's no bandwidth throttling so I can't play other online games while downloading.
  3. 15 minutes to download the 30 megabyte manual pack which includes 16 PDF files in different languages. If I ever need an Arabic manual, well, I have it already.
  4. 15 minutes for install stage one where I watch a yellow progress bar creep up twice with no ETA displayed. What's it doing? Making two copies of the 2 gigabyte installer.
  5. 15 minutes for install stage two, the hideous InstallShield. It thrashes the disk so hard my machine is non-responsive to other activity.
  6. 3 minutes watching intro movies I can't skip. Those movies added 10% to the game download time.
  7. 5 minutes creating yet another login account with yet another password.
  8. 5 minutes "optimizing shaders" when I start to play.
  9. The cruel joke: another 45 minutes downloading the 200 megabyte patch for the game I just downloaded, necessary before I can play online.
It's not just that it took six hours for the game to be ready. It's that it took six hours of dominating my PC making it hard to do other things. And two of the six hours were a cruel taunting joke where it looked like I was going to be able to play any second now only to find yet another period of waiting or another download. Is this really the best that EA can do? They deserve to be destroyed by a Microsoft monopoly.
  2007-06-17 15:53 Z