Direct2Drive Video Game Download Service Review

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  • Editor's Rating

    Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

      • Design
      • 5
      • Performance
      • 5
      • Total Score:
      • 5.00
      • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10
  • Pros

     

    • Fast download speeds

     

  • Cons

     

    • No automatic game installation
    • No offline mode
    • Limited social networking features

     


 

By: Charles P. Jefferies

Game download services are taking over the game distribution role from brick-and-mortar stores. Today we take a look at one example,Direct2Drive, the first of many services in our review queue.

 

Interface

Direct2Drive uses a manager, GameSpy Comrade, to handle its game downloads.

Direct2Drive MyGamesThe main interface is tab-based with five sections. The MyGames tab, shown above, lists installed games; Comrade scans for games on a user’s system and adds shortcuts here. There are two types of layouts: tiled as shown above or as a list.

Mousing over any game provides options to play or find a server (SmartMatch). Overall the game layout is functional but unexciting.

The My Files tab lists downloaded files such as game installers. The Shop D2D Store tab is as the name implies, and the Profile tab shows the player’s profile and select information about them. Lastly, the SmartMatch tab helps users find servers for online gaming. We will look at all of these items shortly.

There is also a compact version of the main interface.

The color scheme is functional and clearly separates different parts of the interface, aiding navigation; we had no trouble finding our way around. There are no built-in ways to change the theme and the interface is not as polished as we prefer; the text sizes and formatting seem to vary randomly and the program feels unwieldy.

Store Integration

Direct2Drive StoreThe Direct2Drive store is weakly integrated into Comrade. While it lists games and prices, this interface is essentially a just collection of links that launch a web browser when clicked. All store purchases and downloads are initiated through a web browser and not Comrade, which we find disappointing.

On the Direct2Drive website, the game purchase process is similar to buying from any other online store — add games to a shopping cart and check out.

Game Download and Installation

Direct2Drive MyAccountOnce purchased, game downloads are initiated through the user’s online account page. The Comrade program then takes over and handles the download. Games can be downloaded from Direct2Drive more than once for no additional charge.

Downloaded games are found in the “My Files” tab. Comrade can interface with other sites such as FilePlanet, and this is where downloads from those sites as well as from Direct2Drive show up as well.

A percentage indicator shows the download rate and percentage complete:

The download rates we received were very good, about as high as we could expect based on our Internet connection speed (1.2 — 1.5MB/s).

It is important to note here that all Comrade does is download the game installer files; users must manually install the games on their PCs by clicking “Launch”. We found this inconvenient — the manager should automatically install the game. On top of that, the installer files are not removed from the user’s computer after install; therefore, the game takes up twice the space it should. Lastly (and this is a kicker) the “My Games” tab is not updated with newly installed games; we had to tell Comrade to scan the hard drive for newly installed games as it does not dynamically detect them.

Overall we liked the fast download speeds but wished the install process was smoother on Comrade’s part.

Social Networking Features

Direct2Drive ProfilesThere is no shortage of social networking on the Internet and for gamers it is becoming increasingly important to be able to share relevant information with each other. Comrade provides a limited amount of functionality in this area. The following information can be shared: E-mail address, Country of Residence, Birthdate, ZIP code, Time Logged in to Comrade, Comrade Count, Installed Games, and Comrade List.

Positives: Comrade allows players to invite each other to games, a feature we like. We also like how players can share their installed game lists — this avoids the “thanks for the invite, but I don’t have that game” situation. One other feature we liked was SmartMatch, which lists servers for a player’s online games and what features those servers support, information not always provided by an in-game server list:

Direct2Drive SmartMatchNegatives: We would like to see more extensive game achievement sharing between players; currently only a handful of games are outfitted to support this feature. Additionally, we would like to see more information displayed on a user’s profile page such as recent activity, recent games played, and so on. Comrade currently does not provide this functionality; this program is somewhat behind the times when it comes to what is expected in modern social networking.

Overlay

Comrade does not have an overlay feature, which would allow users to access their buddy list and other features in-game. This is no doubt missed since competing services like Steam offer it.

Offline Mode

Comrade does not have an offline mode, which is a downer. However, games can be launched manually via the Windows Start menu.


 

Conclusion

Direct2Drive can be summed up as follows:It saves a trip to the brick-and-mortar store. Direct2Drive’s game manager, GameSpy Comrade, is an unwieldy application that does not try hard enough. Comrade lacks a built-in store; users must go to a web page to purchase and initiate game downloads. Comrade handles the downloading but does not install the games, delete the installation files, or update the user’s installed-game list — all items we feel should be done automatically.

We found Comrade’s social networking features to be outdated relative to what is provided by competitors and other social networking services. Specifically, we would like to see the ability to share a larger variety of information with others.

Other features Comrade lacks are an offline mode and an in-game overlay to access friend lists and so on.

Strictly as a game download service, Direct2Drive is functional and we liked the fast download speeds. As an integrated gaming client, however, GameSpy Comrade needs updating and overhauled feature-support to make it worth using; as it stands, Direct2Drive is recommendable as a game download service only.

Pros:

  • Fast download speeds

Cons:

  • No automatic game installation
  • No offline mode
  • Limited social networking features

 


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