The Steam Review

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Prey enters pre-load on Triton

Crossroads for DiStream's system :: June 29th, 2006 :: Other services :: 35 Responses (Feed)

Triton was quietly released at E3 this year, though as a “soft launch” nothing really changed except the removal of its beta tags and the sale of a handful of disinteresting budget titles. The system is now starting to move into top gear however, with this week’s launch of the Prey pre-load (thanks Sarkie) starting the push.

Prey Triton pre-order
Triton’s interface has undergone improvement, but is still clunky.

Yes, pre-load: DiStream have sensibly followed Valve’s lead and are offering an encrypted download of the game’s content ahead of its July 11 release. Unlike Valve’s solution however, Triton pre-loaders must also be pre-purchasers; the download will not commence without the billing of the user’s credit card. Perhaps this is a bandwidth-saving move, but for my part I believe that it is to ensure that the inevitable system bottlenecks and bugs do not overwhelm Triton during its first public trial. Certainly, it is an approach that improves on the various baptisms of fire weathered by Valve and their systems.

But for all the benefits requesting card details up-front brings, the issue still remains of enticing users to hand them over. When you pre-order a game through Steam the chances are you already have it safe and secure on your system, and that leads to several subtle psychological effects. Are you really going to let it sit there and rot? Why not slap in your 16-digit string and make your time worthwhile? When you have nothing but a handful of screenshots and a PR blurb in reach, making the leap is much harder.

Add to that the fact that most will never have heard of Triton before seeing its logo in the Prey demo’s nag screen, and an interface that, while having being greatly improved from its original incarnation, is still bulky and inefficient, and you have a recipe for low uptake. Despite my knowledge of DiStream and Triton, I too am finding myself somewhat apprehensive of making the purchase, which comes to £27.35 or $49.95.

The price, like Half-Life 2‘s, is similar to that of the game’s retail release, though probably for different reasons. Valve resolved the issue of enticing buyers without undercutting retailers with it’s Bronze, Silver and Gold packages, but with only one game Human Head and DiStream do not have that luxury, piling on yet another obstacle.

Like Valve, DiStream are unlikely to release sales figures. In all but the most extreme of outcomes we will only be able to speculate on the service’s success: right now, it looks like things are tipping towards under-achievement.

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35 Responses to this post:

  1. Tom Edwards Says:

    I would have liked to have done more on this, but tomorrow I leave for a week away. If anyone reading is thinking of doing anything interesting before next Friday…please don’t. 😉

  2. Sarkie Says:

    I was going to have a party but fine it’ll have to wait.

  3. DiSTuRbEd Says:

    Interface is ewwww….I also don’t like having to enter my CC# on their site and let them keep track of it…

  4. boglito Says:

    There are _very_ few games that would make me become a customer of a service with an interface as attrocious as triton’s, but prey is one. I’ll cough up the USD50 shortly, and will probably find out soon enough wether they deserve my support or not. Online distribution is certainly good, and allthough I would have wished prey (and more titles) on steam I suppose competition might be good in the long run.


  5. Andy Simpson Says:

    Ugh, I’m irritated already. At least Steam doesn’t make you sign-up before you’ve even got round to downloading the thing.

    Also, this is convincing me that Steam should have an “anonymous mode”. There’s a whole bunch of stuff on Steam that’s free, like demos, media, and dedicated servers. You shouldn’t have to have an account to be able to get at that stuff.

  6. Andy Simpson Says:

    Ok, impressions: Apparently my driver is out of date. It uses a Virtual Drive system, the same kind that Steam apparently decided wasn’t worth the hassle. Interesting.

    The interface is excruciatingly ugly. The whole brushed metal effect is just hideous. There are no excuses. It’s, to use a cliché, so last century.

    The UI useability is just broken, too. It’s got the same problem pre-update XBL marketplace did: once I’m downloading, I’m stuck on the downloading page unless I cancel the download. Getting UI right is a hard problem, and Triton seem to have failed rather miserably.

    *Sigh* Wonder why they chose Triton rather than Steam for Prey? It makes no sense.

  7. Zips Says:

    I may have opted for this, had it not been cheaper to pre-order a hardcopy from Fry’s Outpost. Even with overnight delivery, it’s still a couple of dollars cheaper.

    Even still, it’s good to see some companies recognize how good a tool a Steam like system is. Though this implementation of it seems a bit wonky.

  8. Tom Edwards Says: