Another Artificial Market Created Thanks To Copyright: Download Insurance?

from the oh-come-on dept

Sneeje points us to a screenshot that's making the rounds (thanks, not surprisingly, to Reddit), demonstrating that GameStop is apparently offering consumers the ability to buy "download insurance" for an extra $3.95. Apparently, that extra money lets you redownload the product in the future (assuming GameStop still exists and/or any DRM servers are still functioning):
Of course, plenty of online sites that sell digital goods offer the ability to redownload what you've already bought as a free service to everyone, but not at GameStop apparently. This is, of course, a ridiculous concept. I really do wonder if anyone actually signs up for something like that.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    AdamR (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 11:02am

    Years ago when i bought zone alarm from checkpoint they offered the same type insurance option for a price. I gladly declined and made sure to backup the file to multiply places.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    A.R.M. (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 11:49am

    This article is forgetting something!

    Don't forget the asses at EA are trying to kill of the secondary market. GS is realizing the losing battle and trying to capitalize while they still can.

    P.T. Barnum's the first in line.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    ComputerAddict (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 11:49am

    Yea I've seen this offered for years on software from games to anti-virus software, nothing new to see here.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Scote, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 11:51am

    Fraud?

    I don't think this is new. I seem to recall a retailer that had two price tiers for software downloads. One being a "we take no responsibility if your download fails" price, and a second, higher price that allowed re-downloading.

    Seems to me that what GameStop is saying is that if the initial internet download fails they take no responsibility for the fact that they never actually delivered a product to you but will keep your money anyway. With physical products, if you don't receive the product the implied contract has never been completed and they still owe you. I'm not sure why that should be any different for a digital product.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    ltlw0lf (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 11:55am

    Re:

    This was the last straw that got me to dump e-music. I was a happy user, until they changed their system to not allow redownloads, because somehow they magically knew whether the download completed successfully or not.

    However, I downloaded several songs after they instituted this change, and ended up repaying and redownloading them because somehow they got corrupt during the initial download (one was a 130k file, when it was supposed to be several mb, so it looked like the download failed.) Add to it their crappy software that routinely blew-up, and it was nothing but fail. Now, of course, I go without, or download music I like from the band's website directly, but I know others that dropped e-music and went back to torrents and piracy.

    Yet another painful example of the company greed (in this case, the company accepting bad licensing from the majors to "access" their material,) driving the customer away...but this is status quo for copyright maximalists, who would rather see the world burn than treat their customers well.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Mike, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 11:56am

    Why is this a "bad" thing?

    The Reddit complaint is largely that it is automatically selected. But the idea of paying $4 so that the game is available for download again doesn't seem like such a bad deal especially for large games requiring large amounts of bandwidth or space.

    And, I don't see anything that says you couldn't just make local backups. And this has the added portability and security.

    Finally to say that some services offer this for "free" is true only if you assume that such amounts aren't already priced into the cost of the original download. I can't tell but it seems, for example, that the Gamestop "total" price for the same game is currently less than Steam.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    The Buzz Saw (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 11:56am

    Hello, Steam!

    No one gets it except Steam. If you honestly believe that you are selling licenses (and not the game/movie/song itself), do you not have some obligation to ensure that the customer is able to enjoy the product for the duration of that license? I'd like to see such a contract out in the real business world.

    "The 10,000 widgets will be assembled and delivered for $450,000. Oh, but if our truck driver falls asleep and zooms off a cliff, tough luck. You'll have to buy the whole load again. However, for a mere $75,000, we will add insurance!"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 11:57am

    Re:

    And that brings up my question. Is this a complete installer file that you can backup, or is it like WOW and you have to re-download it every time you want to install it (if you didn't pay a lot for the CDs)?

    I started thinking of this when I started buying stuff off of Steam and thought "I really don't want to re-download all this again." Then I found I could export the files for a backup.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 12:12pm

    Back in late '09, the Windows 7 Digital River student deal offered a $5.95 "Extended Download Service" on the $30 software.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 12:17pm

    Re:

    It does sound similar to something EA has had for a while for its digital downloads, though they don't call it 'insurance'. I forget the details, something like 6 bucks to be able to redownload the game that you purchased if you have a problem or change comps for a 2 year period?

    *ha, I probably have that all goofed up, but this scheme does have a familiar ring.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 12:21pm

    Re: Hello, Steam!

    Wait, don't most carriers offer insurance on their shipments?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 12:21pm

    and here I thought that download insurance was, "If you accidentally download protected content, we'll insure you against liability".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 12:22pm

    Re: Why is this a "bad" thing?

    Steam does it for nothing. Gamestop is pulling its usual schtick.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 12:27pm

    That's ridiculous. I purchased the very same game from steam and I can download it as many times as I want. Saem with gamersgate games. They just want to sucker people into paying more, shame on you gamestop.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    SD (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 12:30pm

    Re: Fraud?

    Seems to me that what GameStop is saying is that if the initial internet download fails they take no responsibility for the fact that they never actually delivered a product to you but will keep your money anyway.

    I don't think they operate that way, since they could easily generate and verify a SHA1 hash on completed downloads to save themselves from a lawsuit.

    I bought a game from them the other day and when I just checked my account it says "Activations Remaining 3"... whatever that means.

    The CD Key also was importable into Steam(a rarity) so I didn't pay the inflated insurance price or download it directly from them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Bengie, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 1:06pm

    Re: Re:

    You can always just make a copy of your WoW directory as it has no DRM.

    Also, the new WoW client only downloads something like 120MB to bootstrap it. After that, you can start playing and WoW will just stream the content as requested and download the remaining content if you're not immediately requesting something.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    Mr Claypole (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 1:07pm

    I run a digital product site, and we have always allowed our customers to re-download their purchases for free, as many times as they wish. Stuff the bandwidth costs, it seems so anti-consumer to make them pay extra for access to something they've already bought. And it's not like the file isn't always sitting on our servers anyway. Seems like just another way to gouge money from people.

    I just never understand putting artificial limitations on these things, like stock image companies who make a download link valid for 1 hour. Why do that? Or only allowing you 3 download attempts before the link locks out. It doesn't stop piracy, it just makes genuine customers pissed off.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    Keroberos (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 1:08pm

    Download Insurance is a service that provides for a back up copy of the Digital Good(s) in your shopping cart to be stored for future download. A back up copy of these Digital Good(s) will be available to you for download for up to eighteen (18) months from the date of purchase.

    Now there's no need to worry should your computer fail. Just login to your account to download the Digital Good(s) again.


    Hmmm...No need to worry...At least for 18 months...Then you're screwed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 1:15pm

    And this is why...

    ...absolutely ALL of the software I have is FLOSS, and has been for many years. (I'm reasonably sure that the last bit of software that was otherwise was SunOS 4.1.4, and I stopped running that circa 1995.) Buying proprietary/closed-source/DRM'd software means buying into a never-ending cycle of hell. Best to just avoid it completely...and that gets easier every day.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 1:25pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    WOW is a portable game? There's no registry keys or shared DLLs to get in the way?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    icon
    Overcast (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 1:28pm

    "Apparently, that extra money lets you redownload the product again in the future"

    No thanks, I'll take the DVD with a side of common sense.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 1:29pm

    Re: And this is why...

    Unfortunately, there are few games that are FLOSS, unlike most other types of software.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    John85851 (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 1:35pm

    The wrong way of looking at it

    You're looking at this the wrong way: it's NOT "download insurance" for the customer but another source of income for the company.

    I've been to a number of sites selling digital content that offer this re-download service for a fee. Most them do it for one reason: they hope the customer doesn't catch the extra fee. And if the customer does catch it, so what- it's only $1.95 or $3.99, so it's not that big of a deal.
    Multiply the $3.95 charged by GameStop by 1,000 customers and that's an easy $3,950, which is pure profit for the company. After all, it doesn't take much effort to allow the customer to re-download the file. But it takes effort on the customer's part to UNCHECK this "insurance".

    I'm surprised it's taken this long for this practice to come under fire.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    weneedhelp (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 1:36pm

    Re: Re: Hello, Steam!

    "don't most carriers offer insurance on their shipments"

    After 100 bucks. Paying 3.95 "insurance" for a product that costs 4.99 is mighty excessive.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 1:37pm

    These types of policies is why I avoided digital downloads for the longest time. As a gaming geek, I'm building, rebuilding, new computers 2 or 3 times a year.

    So limiting the number of activations/download generally takes me out of the market for their products.

    Steam, however, does get it right. I can install on as many computers as I like and makes recovering/rebuilding very fast and easy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Danny, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 1:43pm

    Re: Re:

    Gee you sound like one of those law biding customers who was pissed off and turned off from a service because of ridiculous attempts at stopping piracy.

    I think Mike has spoken about folks you a few times....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Danny, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 1:49pm

    Re: Fraud?

    With physical products, if you don't receive the product the implied contract has never been completed and they still owe you. I'm not sure why that should be any different for a digital product.
    Because with a physical item there is shipping (which leaves trails) and of course the item itself (like if you got it but it was damaged) whereas with a download they can literally lie through their teeth and say that they have a record of it being downloaded by your account and there would no accountabilty for it.

    With a physical product there is some chance for getting hard proof you didn't get it or you got it but it was damaged. With a download its nothing but you word vs. theirs.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Bengie, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 1:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I've always just copied it to and from computers, much faster than installing.

    I've ran into some issues with the patching system sometimes getting mad because of permission issues and temp folders, but that was years ago; not sure about that anymore, haven't tried.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    icon
    Chosen Reject (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 1:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I don't know about WoW, but I'm pretty sure I've done this with Warcraft III. I Moved the whole directory to another drive and reinstalled the OS, the went to playing Warcraft III right after that. It's been a while, so I might be forgetting details.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 2:00pm

    Re: Why is this a "bad" thing?

    "requiring large amounts of bandwidth or space": I bet the 'insurance' probably has a clause that says the service can be taken offline at any time without any prior notice so in a sense you are paying for insurance without guarentees. This is not like auto insurance where the company would be liable for claims against you because of existing regulatory bodies. It seems to be a trend of "pay me know for a feature that I can revoke at will in the future."

    Again, I am guessing about the whole clause thing because I would never care to read such a disclaimer or pay for such a service. (my opinion)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    HothMonster, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 2:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    just did this on my gfs computer a few weeks ago. Moved it from her C: drive to a new hdd we bought. Just had to move it to the new directory than the exe auto-corrected any errors that prevented it from starting. Took about 10 minutes to repair itself than she was gtg.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    HothMonster, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 2:17pm

    A lot of this probably stems from the retailers lack of margins on new games. I know bestbuy only makes like 75 cents on a new video game, I imagine gamestop is in the same boat. That profit probably barely covers the cost of hosting and distributing the game, let alone having to maintain the files for ever and allow multiple downloads.

    Not saying it isnt a shady practice and why anyone shouldn't just by digital from Steam or something like it but that is probably their reasoning.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    icon
    Overcast (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 2:22pm

    This is like an extended service plan.

    You need them, because the core service/product is so crappy they have to offer extra protection.

    When I bought my dishwasher, they asked about the extra insurance... I asked them if the product was junky enough that it needed it... lol

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    icon
    Qritiqal (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 3:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Yes, WoW is completely portable. You can copy/move it around on one computer or to others and it works perfectly (just by executing the launcher.exe or wow.exe in the main WoW directory).

    Can you imagine the headache otherwise?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    icon
    KingPin (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 3:08pm

    Re: Why is this a "bad" thing?

    Because we live in the era of steam.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 3:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I can because unfortunatly most programs are not this easy to move around and don't have a self repairing exe.

    Thankfully blizzard cares because its like a 20gb download now with all the exspansions

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    DCl, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 3:37pm

    Re: Re:

    EA did have a program like that but it ended years ago. Now you can re-download games via their download client whenever you need to like getting a new pc.

    There is still a DRM layer to go through though.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 3:56pm

    It’s All In The Name

    If they call it an “extra charge”, people get upset. But if they use the word “discount”, people are happy.

    Instead of offering the multi-download option at a higher price, they called that the “regular” option, and renamed the cheaper one as a “single-download-only discount”, we probably wouldn’t be having this discussion.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    icon
    Tom Landry (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 6:12pm

    Unfortunately I did it when I bought Crysis through EA's download app a few years ago. 10 bucks gets you three years of download time.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 7:19pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Eve online is portable as well. They also allow players on a test server. You can just copy your main directory to another, point your launcher to the new directory and test server address, start it, and let it update to the current test client version. Quite slick.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 7:26pm

    Re:

    You sound like you "get" what your customers want. That's probably why you don't understand this. ;)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    icon
    Casey Bouch (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 8:35pm

    Steam

    So I'm adding Gamestop to my boycott list. Techdirt has really helped me compile this...

    From someone who has over 90 games on Steam... (credentials, check) I can't imagine how this is anything more than pulling money from loyal customers. It will make them some money in the short term but I believe this kind of practice will only push people towards Steam. I haven't even considered unlimited downloads a 'Feature' until today because of Steam. Add to that their regular discounts and their ability to give Indie games a competitive boost... (Terraria as a current example)

    I guess the only thing I'm hedging on is that Steam won't disappear in my lifetime. If it does, they have promised us the ability to download each game DRM free before it happens. (prepares 10 TB hard drive). Hell, before I die I plan on including my steam account in my will. Something I could do before with DVDs but now I don't have to worry about format changes, scratched discs, etc...

    Does Gamestop allow me to do this?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Jun 2nd, 2011 @ 12:06am

    Re:

    Which is clearly why Gamestop do a 250% markup on trade-ins. Add to that selling used games as 'New' and you have a major problem.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    -, Jun 2nd, 2011 @ 2:12am

    I remember the times when good retailers would accept unreadable CD that was too scratched after 10 years of use and send a new one...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    icon
    DataShade (profile), Jun 2nd, 2011 @ 2:39am

    Re: Fraud?

    I don't think that's true; I'm pretty sure you get a window of like 7 days from purchase to download the game. The 'catch' is that once you've downloaded the game, you have to make a backup in case you have a hard drive failure or whatever, whereas better download services (like Steam, Good Old Games, etc) allow you to redownload it free at any future point (and you can always make a local/physical backup of your download if you'd prefer to avoid the bandwidth consumption).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    icon
    DataShade (profile), Jun 2nd, 2011 @ 2:49am

    Re: This article is forgetting something!

    I don't think that has anything to do with it. While Reddit just picked this up, this isn't actually new. Gamestop's digital downloads have always been limited; you could only ever re-download after purchase for like 30 days at best.

    (As an aside: I'm kind of ok with the $5 "online pass" thing, because GameStop buying a used game from you for $5/$10 store credit, then selling it for $44.95 always cheesed me off - and it made me, and a lot of my friends, just pass around games we were done with instead of throwing them into the churning maw of the beast.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    icon
    Marcel de Jong (profile), Jun 2nd, 2011 @ 5:54am

    Easy solution

    Ditch Gamestop, go to GOG.com for your games.
    Cheaper games, no drm, and no download insurance.

    Disclaimer: no, I'm not affiliated with gog.com, just a happy customer.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2011 @ 6:33am

    Re: It’s All In The Name

    This is absolutely correct.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
    icon
    Phillip Vector (profile), Jun 2nd, 2011 @ 7:37am

    Re:

    "Hmmm...No need to worry...At least for 18 months...Then you're screwed."

    Umm.. No.

    "A back up copy of these Digital Good(s) will be available to you for download for up to eighteen (18) months from the date of purchase. "

    18 months is the max. They can turn you off 1 week after you bought it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
    icon
    Phillip Vector (profile), Jun 2nd, 2011 @ 7:54am

    "We will unlock Everything" Myth

    Actually, I've been hunting this down for awhile now and have come to the conclusion that this is incorrect.

    No where does a Valve Employee ever state that they will do this. They might have said they have the potential to, but no one has ever said they WILL do this.

    This is a myth. Pure and simple.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
    icon
    Phillip Vector (profile), Jun 2nd, 2011 @ 8:03am

    Re: "We will unlock Everything" Myth

    As a side note, if you can point me to a URL that quotes a valve employee by name and says this, I would be most grateful.

    BTW, any gaming site that has this MUST state what Valve actually said. Allot of them say, "According to Gabe, they will offer it after Valve goes bankrupt". This is not a valid quote. I want to see the actual words spoken (or listen to them if on a video).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
    icon
    Jeremy Lyman (profile), Jun 3rd, 2011 @ 7:10am

    What are they buying?

    This brings up the old question of what people are buying when they download a digital copy of something. If they're paying for that particular downloaded file itself then not allowing free re-downloads seems reasonable. However if they're paying for the right to use the download it should be made available to them for as long as they've purchased user rights. (re-downloads are go!)

    Of course in the case of the former I should be allowed to do with my legally purchased file that which I could do with legally purchased physical content; ie back-ups or loaning to friends. Where as the necessity and practice of backing up and loaning licenses is not a consumer right.

    There are trade-offs and benefits for both retailer and consumer in both cases, and the seller needs to make clear to the buyer what transaction they're offering for sale.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
    icon
    Jeremy Lyman (profile), Jun 3rd, 2011 @ 7:19am

    Re: Re:

    "Up To" advertising is worthless and should be banned. I usually complain about it in ISP speed claims, but it's getting more common all over the place.

    Would you rather have "up to one bananna" or "at least one bananna"?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54.  
    icon
    Jeremy Lyman (profile), Jun 3rd, 2011 @ 7:24am

    Re:

    I went back and forth like this for 5 minutes with a Best Buy rep over a TV once.

    "you want the insurance?"
    "it's going to break?"
    "no, but if it does..."
    "so you think it's going to break."
    "no, it's a good set."
    "okay i'll take it."
    "you want the insurance?"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55.  
    icon
    Jeremy Lyman (profile), Jun 3rd, 2011 @ 7:27am

    Re: It’s All In The Name

    Very true. Although then their normal price wouldn't seem as cheap compared to other places.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 4th, 2011 @ 2:07pm

    here's another service offering insurance if your house burns down:

    http://imageshack.us/f/803/extendeddownloadscrap.png/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This