IF this is the new paradigm for software distribution, it leaves a lot to be desired. (written in 2012, not posted until now)
Note from the year 2013: I wrote this a year ago, and sort of let it lay in the draft hopper out of apathy. It’s still all true, but I would add a small epilogue: I did finally get the software installed after two weeks of effort and lots of repeated system admin tasks…. and it sucked! The game interface is moronic, you have very little control over individual ships beyond steering them and hoping for the best, and it’s a bit of a yawner. Not really worth giving an in-depth review too. Kind of anti-climatic after all that work, no? I have to stress that Storm Eagle, cited here, did not create the software I’m trying to install in this transaction, so I can’t fault them directly for that, that’s all on Totem Software’s head. In the end, I wasted my money, and went through a lot of stress, to boot. I’m posting this a year later, really because it amuses me more than it angers me. The so-called customer service rep’s replies become blander and less officious as the exchange continues, and in the end I wondered if he could type that drivel with a straight face.
There are days when I feel like a relic, and the last four days have certainly made me feel that way. I have always had an interest in games with a military history element to them; that much might be obvious from casual reading of this blog. So when I was idly responding to an advert banner ad about Dreadnoughts at the Storm Eagle Software site, I noticed this boffo new-ish product:
They are having a sail on Totem Games’ VICTORIAN ADMIRALS collection for roughly 30 bucks. This is just ducky for a guy like me who’s nuts for the pre-dreadnought Age of Steam naval conflict era– I have reservations about the Totem Games interface– it’s a little clunky and not exactly inspirational, but the art is lovely and the history is obscure.
So I did a mental version of “Yipppeee!” and ordered it.
Full disclosure: I just ordered it. This is TOTALLY my fault for jumping and not looking. Don’t even bother lecturing me or shaking your head. I didn’t think about reading the damned fine print. I did zero research. I saw something about digital delivery, but so what? I’ve ordered games from Matrix Games with a digital delivery option, I just got a download code, downloaded the thing and that was it. I’ve even ordered from GOG.com in the past, and though it was slow, I downloaded their version of digital delivery. So what could possibly go wrong?
There was a link on the Storm Eagle website that informed me that they were selling the software as an affiliate for SES. Yeah, yeah, so…
Without reading much more than that, I paid by paypal, and was then told I had to download the STORMPOWERED application which is the way they were going to send me VICTORIAN ADMIRALS. I should have had alarm bells going off at that stage, but I complied, downloaded their “STORMPOWERED” client application, which is somehow beneficial to the software delivery process. Digital Delivery, as my hipster younger friends tell me, is the way of the future for computer programs. That’s progress.
FOUR DAYS LATER, after frequent attempts to download the product I PAID FOR, with NO CHANCE OF A REFUND, I realized that A) I was foolish and should have read the fine print, and B) this ain’t no way to run a railroad. Because we’re in the age of “Digital Distribution”, Storm Eagle Software has essentially adopted policies that preclude the customer getting a refund if he or she is dissatisfied, with no redress whatsoever. There are no reasonable alternatives offered if the client doesn’t work– I can’t get a CD download (hell, I’d even pay extra for it now). I can’t access the software from a secure FTP site, like I can with Matrix Games. Throughout the process of dealing with Storm Eagle Software’s so-called customer service agents, I have been told that this is essentially my fault. I have followed their instructions. I’ve tried to download this at home and at work. The STORMPOWERED client, essentially, is defective. It will apparently work if I add exceptions to my anti-virus software and log in as an administrator to install and run it. I have done so, and it still doesn’t work. So, apparently, I’m also supposed to do all these extra system administrator tasks to download a file. I rapidly got fed up with the defective software, requested a refund, and was told that no refunds are granted. I asked for a CD delivery, and was told they don’t supply software that way. I asked for a FTP download and was told they wouldn’t make an exception for me. During the four days of increasingly fruitless “customer service” emails from the while, every message ended with a cheerful variant of “We’re committed to doing whatever it takes to make sure you get your product”. Except, of course, CD Delivery, FTP delivery, or any other reasonable option to satisfy a very disgruntled customer.
Do you think I’m over stating this? Maybe, being a bit of a drama queen? Read on by clicking below.