Where CDN’s Fail

steam_logoSo yesterday I finally took the plunge and bought Unreal Tournament 3.

I just recently got a new desktop, with a very nice graphics card in it. I haven’t really had anything super intensive to throw at it yet. Portal, part of the Orange Box, was very pretty, but I wanted something current (Portal is about 2 years old now). UT3 is on sale until March 15th for just $12 on Steam.

I use Steam regularly for a few games. I’ve gone through the online purchase process before. Instant gratification at its best. Once I bought the game, due to the bandwidth limit at school, I knew I couldn’t download the upwards of 8GB to play right away. I did know that Steam has a nifty feature of backing up games, and they can be restored on anyone’s machine. So I found a friend with UT3 already downloaded and went with portable HD in hand to get the files. Once the files were copied (little did I know the copy was bad) I brought them to a friends to copy onto his machine before heading back to my place and installing on my computer. When I get to his room, he starts the copy. Only 4 GB. Not the full install. Turned out that Steam just copied over until it was done. The HD was formatted with the FAT32 filesystem. FAT32 has a limit of 4GB to any file. So, this copy was crap.

After a return trip to my friend’s place to get the files again, we tried running the install after copying the files off the NTFS-formatted external HD. Moments after starting the install, Steam reports that the servers are too busy to favor our request, and to try again later. What does this translate to? All that work sneakernetting the files around to my friends so that we could play this awesome new game are foiled because we can’t install the game without verifying with Steam that we can install the game. (I do want to point out that you can have the game on your computer without having a license for it. It’s called preloading. You load the game before you buy it so that when you buy it you can just begin playing.)

Basically I had to wait until this morning in order for Steam to allow me to install and play the game. CDNs, or Content Delivery Networks, are a great thing. But when they’re so messed up as to not allow a local file transfer without checking in first, that’s just stupid. I don’t know if I plan on emailing Steam and asking for some compensation, because I bought the game, and they didn’t provide me with the goods and services I paid for. They provided me with a big ol can of fail!

So, if you can put up with some annoyance, and the possibility that your game will not be ready for a few days, feel free to purchase UT3. I need someone to frag.

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