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  • #87518
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    Over the last few years, there have been a few instances where a digital product I bought was made unavailable in the relatively open format that I had been buying it in and was only given the option to continue buying through a proprietary app. These cases were:

    Battlegames (from pdf to exact editions when taken over by Atlantic Publishing)

    Miniature Wargames (from pdf to pocket editions, a few issues into John Treadaway’s tenure – not attributing this change to him btw, just using that as a date marker)

    The History of the Peninsular War audio book (on mp3 from Wargames Vault, 3rd volume onwards only available on Audible)

    As a marginal fourth case, I have never bought Wargames Illustrated digital editions, because that is through its own app.

    (OTOH, I do subscribe to WSS and buy pdfs from Wargames Vault, Too Fat Lardies, Two-Hour Wargames, DriveThru RPG, and so on.)

    Can I ask those more knowledgeable about such matters – why is this happening? Why the preference for doing things this way?

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #87520
    Mike
    Keymaster

    Not familiar with those platforms but it seems like they are moving away from downloading files that can then be passed on for free to other people, to a system that reduces/prevents that?

    #87524
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    Not familiar with those platforms but it seems like they are moving away from downloading files that can then be passed on for free to other people, to a system that reduces/prevents that?

    Possibly Mike, I am really not sure.  Although if true, it would seem odd that everyone wouldn’t then do it; and that I can buy a music mp3 from Amazon that can easily be passed for free but can’t do the same for a recording.

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #87525
    Mike
    Keymaster

    Using Amazon as an example…

    You can buy films on Amazon to watch.
    They are stored online and you access them via your Amazon account.
    As soon as you delete your Amazon account you can no longer access those films even though you paid for them.

    Or like if you are a  Sponsoring member of TWW you can access the Sponsor forums and post/view content there, but if you unsubscribe from a Sponsoring account you can no longer access that content?

    #87526
    Mike
    Keymaster

    Is there a price difference in content you can buy and own to some you can access via a service?

    So for example, you can buy a digital book to own as a file that say costs £10.00 and you can view this on any machine or pass it on, or for £2.50 you can view it online any time as long as you are still a subscriber to the service?

    #87527
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    Is there a price difference in content you can buy and own to some you can access via a service?

    Not AFAIK in the examples I gave above, it appears to be a more universal move.

    Using Amazon as an example… You can buy films on Amazon to watch. They are stored online and you access them via your Amazon account. As soon as you delete your Amazon account you can no longer access those films even though you paid for them.

    Yes, sort of.  But the difference being that (again, AFAIK) Amazon didn’t sell downloadable films in a more open format first (so I could use whichever player I liked for instance) and then decided to stop doing that and only let you watch stuff through there online service.

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #87530
    deephorse
    Participant

    For the reasons mentioned above I don’t buy downloadable content unless it is unavoidable.  I prefer to have the content in a physical form.  No-one can then take it from me.  Plus I don’t like reading huge chunks of text from a screen.  But then I’m old!

    Less enthusiasm, please. This is Britain.

    #87554
    Ivan Sorensen
    Participant

    I’d wager it’s because the proprietary formats are harder to pirate and it locks you into an ongoing service, which drives more sales.

    Personally, I’d sooner not.

    Nordic Weasel Games
    https://www.wargamevault.com/browse/pub/5701/Nordic-Weasel-Games?src=browse5701

    #87567

    My guess would be that the app contains some log-in information or a key to verify access to the actual content which is stored on the vendor’s server, not your local device. So, yeah, it’s an anti-copy measure. It’s a constant battle between authors and copyright-infringers and, like always, it’s the honest reader that pays the price.

    Self taught, persistently behind the times, never up to date. AKA ~ jeff
    More verbosity: http://petiteguerre.blogspot.com/

    #87609
    Darkest Star Games
    Participant

    I can tell you that the last set of PDF rules I wrote had 20x as many downloads from a scibbed/pirate site than were ever paid for.

    I wonder how archiving works with these sort of services.  Like, 30 years from now someone wants to look up something from way back when, would they have to hope someone screen captured the whole mag…?

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    #87636
    Bandit
    Participant

    There are several reasons for putting your content into a proprietary software solution, they include:

    • “SO YOU CAN OVER CHARGE CUSTOMERS!” – The first one many people reply with but not terribly true.

    • “Because people steal!” – The second one many people reply with and your milage may vary, but it is certainly a concern that is valid in general even if it doesn’t prove out to occur in one’s particular case.

    • “So you can control the user experience” – More true than one realizes, at least in the intent, PDF only does so much, ePUB – as an example – offers drastically more options, so when choosing a platform one evaluates the feature set and says, “Hey look at all the cool[er] things we can offer!”, whether those happen ends up being a separate decision point down the road.

    We’ve looked a lot at publishing our titles digitally and come to two conclusions: 1) Because of the integrated experience we’d want to offer, we can’t just dump them to a PDF and post them online, 2) Because of the work required to accomplish that integration, it would cost more to develop a digital version than the current print version. This hasn’t convinced us not to do it, rather it has caused us not to take it lightly.

    Cheers,

    The Bandit

    #87638
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    • “So you can control the user experience” – More true than one realizes, at least in the intent, PDF only does so much, ePUB – as an example – offers drastically more options, so when choosing a platform one evaluates the feature set and says, “Hey look at all the cool[er] things we can offer!”, whether those happen ends up being a separate decision point down the road.

    This is the interesting one to me, in that, for me, it sells me a lot of features I have no or marginal interest in (e.g. spinning around a picture to give the impression of 3D) but eliminates simple but key features that I do want (ability to transfer the product between hardware of *my* choosing; not being dependent upon internet access to access the material).

    I would be happier with the idea of buying content through proprietary software if that were given specifically as the reason for doing so and so everyone had to do it- but I can’t remember that ever being mentioned.  For example, when Battlegames was taken over by Atlantic and the digital side was run through exact editions, no party involved said “and we need to do this because Battlegames is losing out on significant sales because of pirating”.  This wasn’t given as a reason when Miniature Wargames did the same with Pocketmags after the Warner takeover.  And one would wonder what WSS, TooFatLardies and THW are doing by still selling pdfs, in that case.

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #87639
    Bandit
    Participant

    I actually addressed the points you bring up here directly in my original post that you are replying to, but to try and point them out a bit more:

    This is the interesting one to me, in that, for me, it sells me a lot of features I have no or marginal interest in (e.g. spinning around a picture to give the impression of 3D) but eliminates simple but key features that I do want (ability to transfer the product between hardware of *my* choosing; not being dependent upon internet access to access the material).

    This all depends on implementation.

    Lots of people continue to purchase cable or satellite TV. The primary feature of this product was content but there are also secondary features that these platforms offered over free over-the-air television:

    • A live, browsable schedule.
    • “On Demand” programming.
    • Bundled DVR features.
    • Parental controls over content and channels.

    Whether these are useful to a given customer will vary. For myself, all but the first one is akin to the spinning 3D picture – not useful.

    With that illustrated, I would expand on what I was saying some to explain that someone comes to you and says, “Hey magazine publisher! You don’t want to just sell PDFs, forget the piracy concerns – which we can also address – and consider all the cool features we can allow you to provide your customers! Embedded video that can be displayed and browsed both as video the user can scrub through and also as a series of key still images that you designate for those who don’t want to watch a video. Illustrations and instructions that again, can be displayed either as a series of stills, or laid out in a grid for easy reference, or played as an animation so users can see how it all fits together. And you can offer all of these and the user can choose which to use and even switch between while working on their project!”

    And it sounds great. And you buy it.

    And then you go to implement it. And it is all it claimed to be. But it is hard. And it takes a lot of time. And you settle for “just getting the thing out”. And here we are.

    As with most things, the devil is in the details, i.e. the implementation.

    For example, when Battlegames was taken over by Atlantic and the digital side was run through exact editions, no party involved said “and we need to do this because Battlegames is losing out on significant sales because of pirating”. This wasn’t given as a reason when Miniature Wargames did the same with Pocketmags after the Warner takeover. And one would wonder what WSS, TooFatLardies and THW are doing by still selling pdfs, in that case.

    As I said above, piracy is a valid concern on its face, but that doesn’t tell us if it will come to pass in your case. TooFatLardies rules are pirated, but whether TooFatLardies is concerned is a different story. Perhaps their sales are high enough that the piracy is a non-issue for them. Does that mean the same will be true for your business or mine? Neither of us know, and the decision must be made *before* we choose the platform to use because afterwards we’ve already spent the time and money and experienced whatever negative impacts there were.

    I would be happier with the idea of buying content through proprietary software if that were given specifically as the reason for doing so and so everyone had to do it- but I can’t remember that ever being mentioned.

    Though few if any companies do this ever with any products. When a car company releases a new model year they don’t say, “We changed the dash because people hated it.” When a company that makes a ball and bat set changes the packaging because kids could easily pull the ball out and it would then get lost in the retail aisle of the stores it was sold in they don’t say, “Now with more tamper proof packaging to prevent your grade schooler from removing the ball, playing catch in the aisles of your favorite store, and then leaving the ball randomly on the shelf causing the store to expense/scrap/return the product as ‘lost/damaged’.”

    It would be nice to know, you’re not wrong. But it isn’t realistic in most cases because the details are well, detailed, the motivations are varied and nuanced, and frankly, the result is that most of us would second guess and criticize the decision tree anyway. And none of which helps the company meet any of its goals.

    Cheers,

    The Bandit

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 2 months ago by Bandit. Reason: expanded, corrected which quote was quoted
    • This reply was modified 3 years, 2 months ago by Bandit. Reason: corrected the spelling of shelf
    #87650
    Les Hammond
    Participant

    I bought a couple of books in Adobe Digital Edition format. I wonder if this prevents piracy (much)?

    6mm France 1940

    http://les1940.blogspot.co.uk/
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/386297688467965/

    #87668

    Seems to me that if you’re trying to ‘control the user experience’ by adding cool features to the production, then you’re losing sight of the end product and the end customer. I’ve seen many a software project die a lingering death due to ‘scope creep’ and this looks like the exact same thing to me. And it’s even worse if you end up abandoning those features because they become too complex to implement. That just adds to the cost which inevitably ends up being passed on to the consumer.

    It would take considerably more motivation for me to make a purchase where the rules are the ‘user experience’, rather than the game with friends. For the ‘game with friends’ experience I want the rules to be as convenient as possible and that usually means as few technical requirements as possible.  The rules need to be well written, well organized, well presented and easily accessible. I appreciate the ease and convenience of electronic distribution. I understand the corresponding threat of copyright infringement. But it’s the ‘game with friends’ experience I’m seeking. A proprietary system that restricts that experience has a far, far less chance of gaining me as a customer.

    Self taught, persistently behind the times, never up to date. AKA ~ jeff
    More verbosity: http://petiteguerre.blogspot.com/

    #87680
    Bandit
    Participant

    Seems to me that if you’re trying to ‘control the user experience’ by adding cool features to the production, then you’re losing sight of the end product and the end customer.

    That is certainly a risk and one that comes to pass often – Whirlwind’s example of “spinning around a picture to give the impression of 3D” is a good one.

    It would take considerably more motivation for me to make a purchase where the rules are the ‘user experience’, rather than the game with friends. For the ‘game with friends’ experience I want the rules to be as convenient as possible and that usually means as few technical requirements as possible. The rules need to be well written, well organized, well presented and easily accessible. I appreciate the ease and convenience of electronic distribution. I understand the corresponding threat of copyright infringement. But it’s the ‘game with friends’ experience I’m seeking. A proprietary system that restricts that experience has a far, far less chance of gaining me as a customer.

    Indeed, I would generally agree. The trouble that businesses must confront is that what the customer wants often includes innate contradictions. For a very basic one, consider what you indicated above – which I think is completely reasonable – you identify three things:

    1) Well organized and presented rules.
    2) The lowest possible technical requirements making them easily accessible.
    3) The convenience of electronic distribution.

    #2 and #3 are in conflict. Now, in your case you may feel the conflict is minor, but the publisher has to judge determine if your experience is representative enough.

    The lowest possible technical requirement for the accessibility of a rule set is printed paper. It lacks the convenience of digital distribution, but any form of digital distribution has a higher technical requirement. I think you’d say that a PDF is not a very high technical requirement and I would agree, but it does mean that the customer has to either own a portable device such as an iPad or e-Reader to carry the rules around, or has to pay to print them either by owning a printer or by using someone else’s. These are higher technical requirements than the product being a pre-printed book.

    To many people the requirement of using a digital device at all is not terribly different from the requirement to use a specific app vs a PDF reader such as Preview or Adobe Reader. It all depends on where the audience is coming from.

    My argument, if one chooses to call it that, is that software is complex, both in its design and its implementation, and that good intentions commonly lead to unintended results. Thus, while Whirlwind is frustrated by the choice of a magazine publisher, they likely intended to do something they had reasonable cause to believe their customers would really value, though that does not dictate that their intent will come to fruition.

    And that is the core reason why we have avoided going digital just yet: it is easy to get right for a minority of customers but hard to get right for the majority of customers.

    Cheers,

    The Bandit

    #87903
    Russell Phillips
    Participant

    I bought a couple of books in Adobe Digital Edition format. I wonder if this prevents piracy (much)?

    Short answer: No, although it may prevent casual sharing/piracy. Adobe Digital Editions was cracked long ago, and there are now plugins for programs like Calibre (ebook library software) that will strip the DRM automatically when you add an ebook to your library.

    Like Whirlwind, I’m not a fan of proprietary solutions like Exact Editions. One thing that hasn’t been discussed is the potential accessibility issues. Formats like ePub have options for embedding metadata that helps accessibility software. A simple example – images can have descriptions attached. These aren’t displayed, but can be read aloud by screen reader software. The font can also be enlarged or changed, effectively making any ePub a large print edition. Does anyone know if/how these proprietary solutions deal with accessibility issues?

    Military history author
    Website : Twitter : Facebook

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