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silentbrad points out an article about the gradual shift of video games from being 'goods' to being 'services.' They spoke with games lawyer Jas Purewal, who says the legal interpretation is murky: "If we're talking about boxed-product games, there's a good argument the physical boxed product is a 'good,' but we don't know definitively if the software on it, or more generally software which is digitally distributed, is a good or a service. In the absence of a definitive legal answer, software and games companies have generally treated software itself as a service – which means treating games like World of Warcraft as well as platforms like Steam or Xbox LIVE as a service." The article continues, "The free-to-play business model is particularly interesting, because the providers of the game willingly relinquish direct profits in exchange for greater control over how players receive the game, play it, and eventually pay for it. This control isn't necessarily a bad thing either. It can help companies to better understand what gamers want from their games, and done properly such services can benefit both gamers and publishers. Of course, the emphasis here is on the phrase 'done properly.' Such control can easily be abused."

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The furore last week over GameStop's decision to remove OnLive redeem codes from US PC versions of Deus Ex: Human Revolution overshadowed what must surely be one of the most gutsy, impressive marketing moves we've seen in the industry for quite some time.

The notion of including another SKU of the game within the PC release not only adds a great deal of value for the end-user but is a superb promotional idea from OnLive. It also challenges sceptics to play the exact same game both locally and via the cloud and invites them to make their own conclusions about the quality of the service on offer.

The inclusion of Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a canny choice for many reasons. For a start, it's the biggest game we've seen released in months, establishing OnLive in users' minds as a service that can attract big-name games day and date with existing platforms - even though EA and Activision releases remain conspicuous by their absence. On a technical level, Human Revolution is a game where the visual make-up and basic gameplay style is a relatively good fit with a system that exchanges fidelity for convenience. In short, OnLive has limitations, but the make-up of this game won't particularly highlight them at anything like their worst.


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