Stupid Business Idea?

So I often read of people who are getting fed up with large downloads as they don’t live in an area of good connection speeds etc.

Business Idea for forum criticism and/or ridicule I had drinking Tea #3 today.

  1. Get a library of the 100 most popular games on Steam, sorted by large download size (I’m think I’m near that already unfortunately and accidentally).

  2. Set up an online web app that allows people to buy either a Blue-Ray BD-R or set of 64GB USB keys with one of those games on it. The format would be in Steam backup format, so it’s not like you’d own the game unless it was really in your Steam library anyway. The app would burn/load up the data quickly and be sent out to you. You’d ‘steam restore’ once you got it. A BD disk is about $2 in bulk, and a 64GB key is about $19 in bulk (plus you get to keep/use you new USB key too). Build a rack of 12 burners per PC SATA, so it scales ok hardware wise (or eventually pre-empt order and bulk duplicate via 3rd party, as bulk rates are good per BD). A variant of the USB keys idea is that you return the key and get back credit (like a loaner service RE:old Netflix)

  3. Cheap physical mail fulfillment service to mail you the BD disk or key sets. If you wanted to overnight, pay the difference etc otherwise a sliding scale of cost/time with bare cost of UPS/WhateverMailProvider gives me best deals at the time.

  4. Profit?

The business would be targeted at people more off the grid or have limits (RE:Canada) that are fed up with increasingly large PC downloads. The mark-up would be a balance of the time to mail the disks vs how unusual the game was (i.e. is it out of that 100 ‘normal’ games I’d have in a library already, remember I’d need to own the game to get the data). Things like DCS etc not on Steam would be based on demand, i.e. a couple of people wanted DCS 2 + Nevada (to be activated by them of course) then that would work too.

Insane or Stupid idea? Have at it, this is just a thought experiment for fun… :slight_smile:

As long as the Blu Ray can be delivered via an Amazon drone - I think it is a good idea (because I need what I want right now dammit!).

The major obstacle is legal I’d guess. Yes, without a valid Steam key they’d be useless…but I’ll bet most manufacturers would balk at being part of some distribution system that doesn’t involve them.

I have a better idea though - we should load the 10,000 most popular GIFs on a disk and mail them to people to preload on the computers so they don’t have to sit through all the threads where my GIFs eat their bandwidth. :smile:

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10,000 Rick rolls


Legally I think it is good. I know a good lawyer (she made Tea #2 so I owe her that) and the Steam EULA really well. Good point to consider though. :slight_smile:

If you have decent bandwidth then this isn’t compelling, but if you haven’t or at least want an offline backup anyway, then maybe there is value? Why wait 2 days for a download of 60GB on a slow connection and then overage charges when you could get it mailed overnight anyway plus get the disk/keys to keep for your next inevitable HD/SSD crash?

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This would probably work with the bundle seller websites like bundlestars. Other then that, it could be something Valve sells you, buy your steam library on USB keys.

On another note, if you see how often some developers push out patches it might become a slight problem for some.

Valve would never do it, as it’s a ‘gap service’ and they’d rather push for a world where everyone has fibre everywhere etc. This would be a niche thing.

Remember, you’re not buying the game from ‘Acme Backups’ you are buying a Bluray disk/ USB key of something you have already bought yourself on Steam, i.e. on the disk is a steam backup you need to activate etc.

For patches, good point. If you live in the woods or bad internet then multiplayer is going to be awkward anyway and is one of the main drivers for needing frequent patches. I guess you can always reorder a new/latest backup disk set, as that will have the latest patches on it? :slight_smile: It’s actually how Steamworks games arrive on PC-DVD today anyway, i.e. you Steam activate and then it asks for 10GB of patches - at least this way would be ‘better’ in that the backup could be up-to-date (no more old Skyrim PC-DVD’s that are essentially useless now without big downloads etc).

So the customer profile is:

  • Someone with limits on their net i.e. 5mb speed or limit caps or even dial up.

  • Someone that wants a PC game that isn’t in local a PC games store (few of these exist anymore selling physical media). Good correlation between these people and the low internet.

  • A price and time point to make it worth it, i.e. logistics of how long would it take to get and how much would it cost to be worth it? $5, $10?

Exactly. I feel for people with bandwidth caps and slow connections. I can’t imagine how frustrating that must be.

That’s more like it.

So overlooking the fact that any startup should have a well developed business plan before launch, an easy way to decide is to look at your margins on the widgets that you are selling and decide if it is worth your while. For instance, lets say that you have indentified a market for widget A and your cost is $3. You are selling then for $9 and you get 500 orders week 1. Do you have the time, interest, or resources to fulfill, and handle customer service? Outsourcing any part of fulfillment will obviously dilute your margin, so then you realize that you need to sell 10 times or the 100 times that much with a foreseeable sustained market to make it really worth the effort. Playing the devil’s advocate here because I’ve been through this process a few times.

Amazon does sell boxed copies of PC games as well, well for that that have ones anyway :slight_smile:

counter proposal
Low cost (to the developers) on-demand physical copies might be a niche that is exploitable, for profit mwahahaha. Boxes sales are obviously low enough that the sales vs costs involved don’t make it worth it for most to go down that route. I’d be willing to bet they have to order a set amount of course. Maybe there is something there, thumb drives, which wouldn’t really require special packaging. etc. Also far less of a legal grey area, if if the initial idea is legally ok, i’m sure you’d wind up having to defend it in court somewhere at some point, aka more costs.

Not in the software business they don’t! :wink:

Yep, for this though (being not software) it really is the gap between the fulfillment service (say, using Amazon Fulfillment on small packages about $1.50 a pop, with free Prime and free standard shipping included) and the production cost of duplication etc. A distinct selling point is the relatively ‘freshness/recency’ of the backup shipped, so that makes inventory awkward, or more on demand which makes it a bit more unusual for using a few different 3rd parties that do this sort of thing (at least different parts of the supply chain) already.

It’s probably one of those things to try out with a landing page and maybe tiny scale and then see if it validates itself in a few months or not. Very hard to predict any scale up/costs before that.

Yep, good idea of the dev service and fair point. The trouble with Amazon is that they just sell the ‘gold’ release (say, you wanted Skyrim, you today get the Nov 2011 DVD release so people get hit by patches on older stuff). It would be hard not to brand it as a games distribution service (as that is legally harder to manage those agreements) and just a ‘ship me my backup’ simple pitch thing.

I would get a script to allow people to burn their Steam Library to a USB(s), and go from there. Nobody wants to pay for games they don’t have or want to buy, atleast not in this day and age. You need to make sure you have a leg up over the ol’ retail model.

Anyway, I think the model is rather limited.

Yep, Find a friend to help you out…you come up with idea of Blockbuster. I think both stores that are left are in Alaska.