So, the software company behind the “Half-Life” series and the (relatively) recent “Orange Box” collection, Valve, started up a digital distribution service known as Steam to help disseminate their games, and others, online. Services like these are cropping up pretty frequently now and, as with the advent of iTunes, it’s a sign of the times where in the not-too-distant future, there will no longer be Gamestops, or software sold at Best Buy, or movies sold at Target: it’ll all be distributed digitally.
Anyway, one of the really neat things about these services is that companies can release older content that they otherwise wouldn’t have a market for. As in, why recreate all the packaging from old games to sell them in a store when you can just have them stored on a server somewhere for people to download and play on their modern systems?
Steam released the classic game, X-Com: UFO Defense, late last week for $4.50 (special price…it’ll be $4.99 after this Thursday). This game was released in 1993 and is considered by some (IGN, at least) to be the greatest PC game of all time. The idea is that you run a government-sponsored organization that tracks alien ships landing on Earth. More often than not, you land a squad of soldiers to take out all the aliens and then claim their technology, that you then have your scientists research until they can build you better weapons and ships to make the job easier. The game is a turn-based strategy game that involves quite a bit of resource management, from how many scientists to devote to a particular project, to how much money to spend on a veteran vs. a rookie soldier that you can train yourself.
So yeah, I grabbed this game last night and, while the graphics are rather dated (yeah…it’s a 15-year-old game made to run on a pre-Pentium based computer with 4 MB of RAM…), it still brings back some fun memories. If I recall correctly, this was one of the first (if not the first) PC game I got for myself that wasn’t something Mom or Dad picked out (yes, Kristen, I remember “Avoid The Noid,” which while an awesome game from 1989, it wasn’t quite as definitive in the eyes of PC gamers).
Regardless, we’ll see if it stands the test of time, but so far, I’m having a good time with it.
Edit: Here’s a blurb from ArsTechnica on this very subject, in an interview with CEO of GameStop, Dan DeMatteo.