As time has gone on, video games have moved more towards the digital frontier. With all kinds of existing distributors like Steam, Origin, and GOG, it's become easier to never own an actual physical copy of a game. This is great for those who have small living spaces or who move often. You don't have to try to figure out where you're going to put all those cases or discs, and you don't have to wonder who's going to store them while you go abroad for months at at time.
Whatever your specific case may be, there are certainly benefits to having a digital stash of video games rather than physical. But there's one problem. That stash of video games has turned into many stashes. Video game clients have started to become a dime a dozen, and there are positives and negatives to that.
First, let's look at the obvious. More game clients like Steam, Origin, GOG, result in a fragmented game collection. Think of it in literal terms. If you only had Steam or Steam was the only digital game client in existence, it'd be like having one large bookcase for all of your games. You can look at every game you own at one time, pick which one you'd like to play, or which one you'd like to display for friends to admire. Having multiple game clients is like having multiple bookcases in different rooms. Say you want to play the newest Tomb Raider. You go over to your Steam bookshelves and realize it isn't there. “Oh wait, that's on GOG isn't it?” So you have to run over to the next room and grab it from the GOG bookshelf. Or maybe it's actually on Origin or some other client, making you search for it there.
If you consider the flooded market of game clients, you can begin to see the problem. It's difficult to keep track of where you keep your socks, much less which games are on which game client. Sure, it's easy enough to figure out. Most game clients have their own search system that you can utilize to easily track down the exact title you're looking for. But you still have to have all those different services downloaded onto your computer, and you have to remember their usernames and passwords. It easily becomes one big convoluted mess. What be best is one united system for our digital games. But what if that one service sucks, overcharges, or tries any number of other worse things? Competition in any market is a good thing. It just feels like the digital distribution market has become flooded over the past few years.
In the last few months alone, I have written about Robot Cache, a new blockchain-based game service. This one allows users to buy and re-sell games to benefit themselves and the developers. It also deals in its own cryptocurrency, which is super hot at this moment in time. I also wrote up the news that Kongregate was starting up their own Steam-like game client, called Kartridge. These are just two examples of the ever expanding game client market. Many more have already released, are in the works, or will soon become a reality.
Personally I have Steam, Battle.net, Origin, GOG, and Twitch all clogging up my computer desktop. I'll be damned if I can remember exactly what games I own on each of them, especially considering how many come from bundles or are part of some free giveaway specials. I have to run from application to application before I can decide what I'd like to play or install, because I can't see the names of the games unless I'm right next to the virtual shelves.
I know I've focused almost exclusively on the negatives, as far as the number of existing game clients are concerned. The one positive is that competition is a good thing. Having many different game clients to choose from means that they will compete with each other in regards to pricing and features. This wouldn't happen if there was only one or a couple of opposing clients. There's also the fact that some of these services are coming up with ideas that none of their competitors offer. Some existing ones simply can't pull off everything they'd like to, due to retaining their brand or because they can't afford to. So the competition comes along and brings something new to the industry. These are the reasons why a flooded market isn't entirely negative. It will help companies evolve.
If there's one thing to keep in mind through all of this, it's the fact that many of these clients and companies will fail. While we of course want everyone to succeed, and would love to see communities develop around every game client out there, it's just not possible. Some clients will launch, have some manner of success or failure, and will close their doors. It's just a matter of time. The fans of those services will mourn, and eventually move on. So if you're thinking of investing your time or money in a budding game client, just keep in mind that it might not be there tomorrow. Be tentative and realistic in your support, and hope for the best.