Category: Business

Steam is pissing me off

Are you familiar with Valve and their Steam software service?  Are you a user of their service?  If so, here’s some information you may want to know.  Because Steam is really starting to piss me off.

In general, Steam is a decent way to buy games online.  It had a horrible start with the launch of Half-Life 2 and the industry had all but written Steam off at that point.  But Valve was able to fix the problems and make Steam into what it is today.  Normally, I would be generally satisfied with that.

Unfortunately though it seems that Steam has felt the need to use region restrictions on their retail software just like the movie industry does with DVDs.  This doesn’t affect most people who only buy their games and software locally but for those of us who travel or order from online retailers, this can be a serious issue.

While I was living in Hong Kong I purchased Valve’s The Orange Box because I wanted to play Portal and Team Fortress 2.  So I took a train to a software store and picked up a copy.  Nowhere on the box or packaging does it say it’s region restricted and everything is in English like I would expect back home in the States.  Excellent.  So I install it and play and all is well.

Now I’m back home and this past weekend I decided that I wanted to play Team Fortress 2 again.  I’ve had to get a new PC since my previous one died after the move so I needed to reinstall.  So what happens?  When I try and install any of the games in The Orange Box, it pops up a message that says that the CD Key I used is region restricted and unusable in my territory.  WTF?

I tried changing my time zone and my location in Steam but nothing helped.  I guess it must key off of IP addresses since it is an online service.  So I contacted their support for help.  The answer I get?  That they can delete the region restricted key from my account so that I may be so priveleged as to purchase their software again.  Uhhh…  NO.

They referred me to a very unhelpful FAQ entry on their site that says that the message I got was from region or territory restriction and that I should return my software to the retailer.  I’m not sure if these guys at Steam have ever had to buy and return a piece of software but it’s not possible.  Stores do not allow returns of opened software.  Idiots.

And that unhelpful FAQ entry also states that all region restricted retail boxes are clearly marked that they are restricted.  I still have the case and everything that came in it.  There is not a damn thing on it that says restricted in any way.  So my next step is to scan in the sleeve from my retail box and send it to them.

I’m not asking for much.  They recently sold The Orange Box on sale for $9.99 USD.  I’ve already invested almost $50 USD into buying this software so I don’t see why they can’t just give me a new key code without the restrictions that are not listed on what I bought.

I’ll let everyone know what happens.  Because if this doesn’t end with my getting what I paid for, then I will figure out every SEO trick just to see what $9.99 USD worth of BAD PUBLICITY can really do.  Which should be interesting since I work at a PR and communications company.

Free Comic Day tomorrow

Tomorrow, Saturday May 2nd, is Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) at comic book stores across the country and internationally. Stores will be offering unique 1-day-only titles from Marvel, Dark Horse, IDW, Archie, Bongo, DC and many other publishers. Click here and look on the left side of the page for the FCBD Shop Locator and input your ZIP code to find your local participating comic stores.

The number of comics available to each customer is determined by each store but every person is guaranteed at least one free comic.

T-shirt supplier?

Has anyone worked with a local St. Louis area t-shirt supplier and printer that they can recommend?  Alternatively, an online t-shirt printer is also an option.  I’m looking for a company that uses quality materials and can be flexible with graphic placement but still competitively priced so the shirts can be resold at a reasonable profit.  Reliability and honesty would be nice features too.

If anyone could make some suggestions, please leave a comment on this post or send me an e-mail at:
spam-proof e-mail

If someone suggests a good printer that I end up using, I guarantee that I will send that person a free t-shirt.  How’s that for incentive?

Netbook fever

Hey man.  I got netbook fever and I got it bad.  I need a hit, man.  Come on… you can leave Windows off of it if that will make it cheaper.  Just give me the cash and I’ll buy my own.  I swear I’ll use the money on a netbook.  Yeah I can get one of those cheap Asus EEE or one of its new competitors like the MSI Wind or the Acer One.  I’d even be happy with the low cost Dell Mini 9 or the slightly more expensive HP Mini Mi. Those are all fine examples of the netbook craze.

But the one I really have my eye on is the Lenovo U110.  That baby is freaking sweet.  It has an 11″ screen with a resolution that is actually useful (1366×768) unlike all those others I listed.  Something else it has that none of those other netbooks have is an actual DVD/CD burner built into that tiny chassis.  No lugging around the extra weight (and expense) of a slim external USB drive since it’s built in and always there if you want it.

The bitch of it is the price.  Oh that is where it hurts the most especially nowadays.  Where as all those other netbooks listed cost anywhere from $200-$400 US dollars, the Lenovo U110 starts at $1,600 US dollars!  What the fuck?  That’s why I’m pissed about this thing.  It’s perfect.  OK not really – if it had a Blu-Ray drive then it would be perfect since that higher respolution can display 720p.  But still, does this near perfection give them the right to charge $1,200 more than the highest priced alternative?

I guess the answer is: If people will buy it for that price then yes it is worth it.  They are idiots, those people who are spending that much money on this little netbook.  Idiots.  How can they justify that unless of course they are stinking rich and don’t have to worry about cash.  Then OK, I get that.  I’m jealous and I hate those people but I get it.

So here’s the deal.  I need EVERYONE to stop buying the Lenovo U110 (especially the red one).  Drive market demand for these little netbooks down as far as it can go.  Then we all win.  We can all buy them at the same time for probably around $500.  A much more reasonable amount for such a computer.  But you have to do your part.  Otherwise it’s a failure.

Anheuser-Busch sold; goes global?

Here’s something I never expected to see: iconic St. Louis and American company Anheuser-Busch has agreed to be purchased by European based InBev for $70 per share.  The biggest maker of beer in the United States is selling to the Belgium based maker of Stella Artois and Becks.  Why?  I have no idea.  I’d never even heard of Stella Artois till I moved to Hong Kong where it’s a moderately popular brand of beer.

But why is AB selling in the first place?  Their stock prices are as high as they were years ago which indicates no serious problems.  Is the rising gas costs hurting them that much?  I doubt it since they use all 3rd party shippers.  So why is AB selling?

They say that all the breweries will remain open and that St. Louis will remain as the world headquarters of the AB brand, but it will be run and owned by Brazilian management in Belgium.  I’m still waiting to hear of some nefarious plot and the appearance of James Bond to put a stop to their insidious plans or world domination by mind control drugs in the beer.  It would make more sense that way.

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