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Games sold on Flash Drives

(+10, -10)
  [vote for,

Instead of CDs or DVDs, computer games should only sold preloaded on USB flash drives. The flash drive would also work as a dongle, so the game couldn't be played unless the flashdrive is present. This would save substantially on storage space, and have the added advantage of being able to play your game on any computer without having to install it. Naturally, save-games woulld also be stored on the device. Actually it would be cool to have BioShock enblazoned across a FD.

[edit] to clarify the idea and make it sould less like WIBNI

simonj, Dec 20 2007

Not such a bad idea after all http://forums.whirl...plies.cfm?t=1337126
Movies sold on flash drives, why not games? [simonj, Dec 09 2009]

Hard-drive game cartridges by [Dickcheney6] [notexactly, Dec 21 2019]


       Not really an invention, baked, WIBNI, also, what do you think an old-school game cartridge was?   

webfishrune, Dec 20 2007

       [-] This is slightly less ecologically friendly than deploying optical discs.
ed, Dec 20 2007

       [ed] Why?
simonj, Dec 20 2007

       What wfr said.
DrCurry, Dec 20 2007

       [webfishrune] Okaaaaaay....so my invention is an old-style games cartridge that you can plug into the USB port of your PC.
simonj, Dec 21 2007

       This idea isn't that bad, is it?
BJS, Dec 21 2007

       Well, the U3 flashdrive folks will sell you games to run on their drives. U3 is supposed to allow you to take programs from computer to computer, installed on the drive. Make the software copy-proof, and this idea is easily do-able with present technology.   

       But U3 sucks, and you have to have it enabled on any computer--which may not be happening. Still, it shows this idea is possible. [ ]
baconbrain, Dec 21 2007

       This is actually already done. Not with full games, but I have seen flashdrives with small games pre-installed on them. More of a marketing ploy, but a really good one if you ask me. It was a staples brand flashdrive... Ill try to link it
evilpenguin, Dec 21 2007

       I would end up with a drawer full of flash drive, to go with my drawer of tupperware cold cut containers and my jelly glasses
jhomrighaus, Dec 21 2007

       I don't know why this idea has been fishboned so much. Seems pretty good to me. Even if it's just an installation medium it's a lot more convenient than carrying DVDs about.   

       The main problem I can see is the 'without having to install it' feature which would really make it useful. Most games could in theory run straight from the CD with a little bit of hard disk space to store saved games and preferences on, but very few do. (For example, the recent 'Orange Box' by Valve wants 20GB for a full install) I don't know why but I suspect it's because optical drives are slower and decompression takes time. You would have the same speed problem when running from a flash drive.
Srimech, Dec 21 2007

       Tree killer.
ironfroggy, Dec 22 2007

       Could someone explain to me these annos claiming that a game sold on a flash drive is more dangerous to the ecosystem than a game sold on a CD?   

       Seems to me that the CD is larger, and more fragile than a flash drive.   

       Last time I checked, a CD with a game on it had to be sold in a set with several other CDs, each of which was kept in it's own jewel case, each with it's own manual, and the whole set was then encased in styrofoam, with a large cardboard box placed around it. For most gamers I know, the CDs get filed in a CD book, the booklets sometimes are included, and the codes are then written on another piece of paper, which is stuck in with the CDs. Everything else then gets thrown away.   

       I've seen encyclopedas and such sold on smart cards, which are similar to flash drives. The packaging for the encyclopedia was the same material that was on the regular smart cards.   

       A flash drive tends to come with a cover for the USB port (or it retracts) and is sold with a strap. Both of these items are then placed in a recyclable plastic container, a slick cardboard thing saying what it is, and a small user's manual folded up inside it. Presumably, all the documentation needed for a game could be inserted into such a container.   

       Thus, it seems to me that by putting a game on a flash drive, instead of a CD, we reduce waste: Instead of a cardboard box, we have a plastic container. Instead of a bunch of foam, we have a single sheet of cardboard. Instead of a jewel case, we have a cap and a necklace string. Instead of a booklet, we have a folded piece of paper, and instead of a CD, we have a thumb drive. This last detail is important as well. CDs can break quite a bit more easily than thumb drives.   

       I recently washed my backpack with my thumb drive still in it. This particular load also included three pair of jeans. All of these items (except the thmb drive) had multiple metal buttons and zippers. Once I was done washing this load, I put it all inthe drier, and an hour later, when they were done, I found my thumb drive, blew the lint out of the cap, and plugged it back into my computer to find that all the files still worked. try doing that with a CD!   

       Incidentally, the thumb drives would likely be reusable as well. Currently, if you tire of a game, you must dispose of the CD in some way. Thumb drives can store whatever you want when you're tired of them. This fact could also boost game sales, and increase the value of older games, as the games get deleted in order to make room for other things on the thumb drive.
ye_river_xiv, Dec 23 2007

       I like it. Stores that sell games now only have to have a poster with all the pertinent info that used to be on the box; ask at the sales desk to get your copy.
Also, flash-drives are more expensive than CD's, but that wouldn't make much difference to the customer for a $50 game, but it *will* make a difference to a pirate used to burning $0.10 CD's.
The portability factor, too, obviously, and USB is more prevalent than CD drives in smaller laptops.

       Also, one of the aspects is similar to an idea I had for CD's: RAM and RW on the same; that way you could put patches on the game CD instead of the HD (okay, I had in mind business programs, but still...)
FlyingToaster, Dec 23 2007

       I had pretty much the same idea, but with movies instead of games. It would be a lot smaller, and DVD players could be drastically reduced in size as well, since they wouldn't have to hold an entire disc. [+]
Lord Kyler, Dec 09 2009

       This seems like an even better idea now than it was on Dec. 9th, with hardly any computers having optical drives these days, and USB being far faster than it was then. Also, today, the flash drive could come with a desktop version of the game and a mobile version, and you just plug it into either your computer or your phone (USB Type-C for both) and play the corresponding version of the game.   

       Even with game download services like Steam, there are still advantages to this method of distribution. The game doesn't take up space in your computer's or phone's storage. You don't have to wait for it to download, or use up some of your monthly data quota if applicable. You can more easily move it to a new computer/phone, lend it to a friend, or sell it when you're done with it. You can keep it forever without having to rely on a server continuing to be available to re-download it from if you delete it to free up space or move to a new computer. It would even allow the return of game rental as a business model (though would not guarantee its economic viability).
notexactly, Dec 10 2019

       The down-side is of course that flash drives, being re- writable media, are a horrible vector for malware.
Loris, Dec 10 2019

       That's very true, it's possible to install windoze from flash drives ...
8th of 7, Dec 10 2019

       Can the "re-writability" of a USB drive be switched off? Surely there's a ROM option.
(SD cards (the full-sized ones, at least...) have the little "Lock" switch on the side, but that relies on the matching "reader" in the SD slot; and can be easily mechanically hacked...).
neutrinos_shadow, Dec 10 2019

       //Can the "re-writability" of a USB drive be switched off? Surely there's a ROM option.//   

       Yeah, that would solve it. Either ROM with the game on, or a WORM (write once, read many) option for small publishers.
Unfortunately both these would negate the reusability advantage.

       At one point PCs could get a speed gain by using the empty space on a flash drive as extra storage space. That probably doesn't happen much now HD technology is transitioning to flash as well.
But along those lines, if you're doing custom technology (ROM flash drive) you might be able to transfer some game logic to the USB drive as anti-piracy protection. I've had thoughts along those lines before. Some game console carts had custom chips in to speed up some critical calculation.

       People do hate dongles, though. Partly that was because you needed the dongle in to use the software - but more importantly at some point the port becomes obsolete, and it gets harder and harder to use.
Loris, Dec 11 2019

       //reusability advantage//
Meh, they're cheap enough now that that's moot.
//port becomes obsolete//
I don't see why the hardware needs to keep changing. A USB- A plug/socket is good; USB-C didn't NEED to be a new shape (invertable is nice, but whatever...), just the different software and internals. Backwards compatibility is largely ignored these days. An old dongle/cable/whatever should still work; it's mostly a software problem.
neutrinos_shadow, Dec 11 2019

       // The down-side is of course that flash drives, being re- writable media, are a horrible vector for malware. //   

       Apart from making the drive read-only, you could potentially solve that by having the legitimate software be cryptographically signed by the publisher and verified at runtime, as is already commonly done for downloaded software. This would have the advantage over read- only drives that it doesn't prevent reusing the drive.   

       If, after you reuse the drive, you want to reinstall the game on it, you could just download it from the publisher and install it again, the key being kept safe in the meantime in a special small, read-only partition on the drive. Actually, it should be a special partition plus cryptoprocessor that doesn't allow reading OR writing, just verification, like smartphones have now (e.g. Apple's Secure Enclave), because pirates could just copy the keys out of it onto another specially partitioned drive otherwise. (This is quite vague, because I don't really know how software license keys are used to verify the licensedness of software.)   

       But it would be nice to be able to install additional licenses on there, for other software you've purchased and downloaded, and to be able to move a license to another drive. I'm not sure how that could be accomplished, but I'm sure somebody like Steve Gibson or Satoshi Nakamoto could come up with a good system in a few minutes. (I probably could in an hour or so, if I understood how license keys work.)   

       // People do hate dongles, though. Partly that was because you needed the dongle in to use the software //   

       If the drive is not a physically small one, it would be especially annoying to have it sticking out of your phone while playing a game. But it could be a specially designed drive that can fold out of the way while plugged in, or it could come with a short cable (with as small a plug as possible) so it can be positioned in a comfortable place such as behind the phone or dangling.
notexactly, Dec 20 2019

       I think on a phone even a small dongle would be an annoyance.   

       The main objection isn't the protrusion of the device (although I take the point) - it's having to find the dongle and plug it in, when you've unplugged it for something else.
Having copy protection which makes a legitimate copy harder to use than a pirate copy is contraindicated.
Loris, Dec 20 2019


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