Twitch Desktop App, Addendum

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A while back, I did a quick review of the Twitch Desktop App. For those of you not inclined to scroll through old works of genius of mine, the quick review is that it’s an acceptable delivery vehicle for the monthly set of games you get from Amazon Prime, but has a lot of growing to do if it’s hoping to compete with Steam, GOG, et al.

Well, recently, I’ve come across some issues with the app. Something like a landmine, buried beneath the surface, but ready to ruin you and everything you hold dear if you make the wrong step.

Now, I’m not usually one to go back over my own words. Sometimes (but not really) I’ll be wrong about something I wrote, and I’ll quietly edit the post to correct it, but most of the time, I’m giving my opinion piece, it comes from a moment in time, where I’m at while I’m writing, and although opinions may change over time, that merits a new post rather than a revision or an addition to the old one. But not this time. This time, the issues I’m finding are big enough that I feel it’d be an integrity issue to find out about them yet leave my old post where it lies.

The first one is a huge one to me. The Twitch Desktop App has no offline mode. Any game you get on there, if your computer is not connected to the internet, you have no way of playing it. Now, I’m not one of those guys completely outraged at DRM. As long as its reasonable. If you require me to have a Steam, Uplay, whatever account to play your game, fine, I’m up for it. There’s a lot of DRM that’s gone way, way beyond what’s reasonable, but having a marketplace account to play a game, I’m fine with.

But once I own a game, I own a game. I can play it. When I want to. That’s how this is supposed to work. That’s how I think of games. Once they’re mine, they’re part of my collection. And withholding access to the games I own runs completely counter to that. You’re holding them hostage. And sure, there’s always those who say I should be fine with it. After all, who lives without the internet these days? Well, what if my router’s out? What if I’m traveling? What if Amazon discovers their desktop app can’t compete in the games marketplace because they never gave it what it needed to match its contemporaries and pulls the plug on the whole thing? Nintendo closing the Wii Shop channel ruined a lot of the trust I had in the digital distribution marketplace, highlighting that I might well not be able to continue playing the games I bought ten years prior. No, this is infuriating to me. Your DRM should have minimal impact on the people who legitimately bought the games, and withholding access because I’m not online is unacceptable.

The other is just more of a WTF thing. Like, how does this even happen? So, on my computer at least, if you have the Twitch Desktop App open (remember, it doesn’t actually close when you click the X) and your computer goes into hibernation mode, Twitch will wake up your computer and start up the last game you played.

Why? I don’t know. But I can tell you I’ve had several days where I’ve woken up in the morning and come out to the living room to find the opening of Battle Chef Brigade blaring from my closed laptop. Again, WTF? Maybe it’s just me. Or maybe it’ll happen to you, too. Make a note.

So yeah, that’s that. Does it change my opinion on the Twitch Desktop App? Well, I’m certainly not going to be tempted to buy games on there anymore even if they get their marketplace figured out, at least until they get an offline mode going. As a vehicle for the games you get as a bonus with Amazon Prime, it’s still passable. Just somewhat less so.

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One response to “Twitch Desktop App, Addendum

  1. If it’s one thing I really like about digital distribution, it’s the ability to select a game from a menu. It’s especially great for portable games so you don’t have to tote around the cards everywhere you go. That said, yeah, the system is hardly flawless, and one major problem is the one you identified; there’s no guarantee you own the games, which is especially bad should the distributors pull the plug on the service. Granted, physical games have their own brand of hell to deal with – while companies can’t make them disappear, you have to contend with wear and tear. Even so, there are a lot of flaws in the digital distribution model, and I hope companies can come up with a better one somewhere down the line.

    On that note, I really admire the GOG model where you can download the games and play them with minimal interference from the distributor. It’s a lot better than what’s going on with Steam right now where QA seems to be a foreign concept.

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