Choose Your Digital Download Vendor Carefully (and Avoid Aspyr’s GameAgent No Matter What)!

Choose Your Digital Download Vendor Carefully (and Avoid Aspyr's GameAgent No Matter What)!

Earlier this week I wrote about the great 50% off sale on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare on the Mac App Store. The deal is still going on, by the way! Anyway, it put me in the mood to replay the game, so I checked Steam to see if they ever opened up Steam Play – they hadn’t.

Fortunately I had reviewed the game back in the summer of 2008 for the Mac, with a game gotten through Aspyr’s GameAgent. This meant I had a full game at some point. UN-fortunately, the install file was >4GB, and the Iomega 250GB hard drive I used for backing up my Mac had died last year, and my secondary was FAT32 and unable to deal with the file. So I had no backup.

I knew that EA used a similar Digital River download system as GameAgent before they kicked off Origin, and I know I had never had any issues re-downloading stuff I got all the way back to the original Battlefield 2142 in late 2006! So I HOPED that would be the case here.

Sadly I was mistaken – I looked for some sort of ‘download manager’ or client, but there wasn’t one. Then I tried logging in and searching for my order history – and came up empty again!

I went back in my GMail history to a discussion I had with the folks at Aspyr when GameAgent launched back in 2008 about DRM and downloads, and this is what I found:

How many licenses or activations do I get?
The Digital Rights Management (DRM) for all games purchased through allows for a game to be licensed to 2 computers. Also, for the game purchased, you will be given 10 activations.

Can I switch to a new machine and still have my games?
With all standard orders, installs are permitted on 2 machines, with 10 activations available between those 2 machines. Unfortunately, you cannot deauthorize a machine once the game has been activated and move it to another machine.

However, the optional Extended Download Service allows for multiple downloads of the game you’ve purchased. EDS essentially allows you to download your purchase again for up to two (2) years, in the event your computer crashes or the downloaded file becomes damaged or corrupt. It can be thought of as an insurance policy in case anything goes wrong with your computer or the downloaded product. When you have downloadable items in your order, you will see a link to add EDS to your order on the shopping cart page or the checkout page. Upon payment of the specified fee, Digital River, Inc. (“DR”) agrees to provide you (the “End User”) a service that enables the End User to make multiple downloads of digital computer software products (a “Product” or “Products”) purchased in a single order (an “Order”) and downloaded from this Web site (the “Site”) for a period of two (2) years after the date the End User purchases the Product (the “Service”).
To purchase EDS for download products in a completed order, you must look up your order and complete an additional purchase.

Then I headed to GameAgent again and looked – and found the same thing! They STILL restrict subsequent downloads to within 30 days unless you pay the extortion charge of ~$5 for the 2-year downloads. You are still absolutely limited to the number of installs and computers you can use. Now I remember why I hadn’t used them since getting Modern Warfare over 3 years ago!

It is just stunning to think that over the last few years, as Steam has continued to dominate on PC and has been very successful on the Mac, and as iTunes and the Mac App Store allow repeated and simple re-installs with your account, that GameAgent relies on a draconian DRM and ‘out of luck’ download system.

So I had four choices – just forget replaying Modern Warfare, play on the PC, buy it on sale at GameAgent, or buy it on sale through the Mac App Store. I didn’t even hesitate as I grabbed it on the Mac App Store!

My lesson – there are choices out there, so there is no need to EVER buy from GameAgent. I will never include them again in ANY article I write – I don’t care if they are giving out games for a penny, I won’t spread the word until they change these consumer-hostile practices.


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About the Author

Michael Anderson
I have loved technology for as long as I can remember - and have been a computer gamer since the PDP-10! Mobile Technology has played a major role in my life - I have used an electronic companion since the HP95LX more than 20 years ago, and have been a 'Laptop First' person since my Compaq LTE Lite 3/20 and Powerbook 170 back in 1991! As an avid gamer and gadget-junkie I was constantly asked for my opinions on new technology, which led to writing small blurbs ... and eventually becoming a reviewer many years ago. My family is my biggest priority in life, and they alternate between loving and tolerating my gaming and gadget hobbies ... but ultimately benefits from the addition of technology to our lives!