EA's "Extended Download Service" Ruffles Feathers
The debate regarding physical vs. digital media will continue to rage for quite some time, but if you think it'll always be cheaper to download a game from home, new evidence may contradict that belief.
As most of you understand, when you purchase something online, it downloads to your machine - be it PC, PS3 or whatever - and this seems like a relatively straightforward process. If the Internet is disconnected during this time or your system fails and the download is interrupted, you can still download it at a later time. You've already purchased the product; you need only go into your download history and try again. But what if someone decided to make the game re-downloadable for a fixed period of time? Leave it to EA to think of that... An ArsTechnica writer stumbled upon a little caveat when going to EA's online store to pick up Spore. Upon doing so, he was charged an automatic $6.99 fee for an "Extended Download Service" (think of GameStop's "Extended Service Agreement"), where EA would keep your game on file for two years in case your system collapses and you lose it. See, there doesn't appear to be an indefinite download option, and if you want access to that game in the future, you need the "EDS," which is evidently mandatory. The upside to this is that if your system does indeed fail and you lose the game entirely, you can redownload it without purchasing it again.
For PC users, Steam doesn't have this EDS thing, and PS3 and 360 owners don't have to worry about it on the Store and Marketplace. But how much longer will this last? How much longer before everyone else picks up on the concept and begins to focus more on digital distribution? The idea is still in its infancy stages, and when it begins to grow, certain companies will quickly find ways to increase their cash flow. So the question is, what else might they be able to charge us for in the future?
12/31/2008 Ben Dutka