My mom is far from a “power user” when it comes to computers. She’s never sent an e-mail. She’s never browsed the web. She probably isn’t proficient enough with a keyboard to type a simple “hello.” A few years ago, she started playing the addictive word game Bookworm on my sister’s computer, A family friend built her a simple Windows PC out of spare parts he had from other machines. Outside of the operating system, the only thing he installed on that computer was the Bookworm game. It worked fine until about a month ago. After some basic troubleshooting, it was determined that the spare-parts PC had bit the dust, and that it was time for my mom to get a new computer.
Knowing that her needs were pretty basic, I searched Craigslist and found a Dell workstation that would easily meet her needs. The computer was acquired for a princely sum of $20. I went to work installing the Bookworm game. Something I figured could be done in no time.
I did a Google search for where to download the game. This took me to the website for PopCap, the game’s developer. There, I was directed to something called Pogo. Pogo turned out to be a sort of client-based “marketplace” for games; In order to get Bookworm I’d have to get Pogo first. This seemed odd and inefficient.
I kept searching and found another site called Origin that promised I could download the game there. I signed up, paid for the game, and was then directed to download the Origin game client in order to get Bookworm! This seemed even worse than Pogo. At least Pogo was up front about the fact that I’d need their client in order to get the game.
Since I’d already paid for Bookworm thru Origin, I figured I should at least try and run the Origin client. But every time I tried to download it, nothing happened. I couldn’t find any evidence of an Origin installer anywhere on the computer. Now I was getting frustrated!
By this time, my sister had come into the room. She mentioned that she’s got an account with something called BigPond and she knew the Bookworm game was available there. So we logged into her BigPond account, found the game, installed the BigPond client and then finally added Bookworm to the computer. Now, my mom’s computer won’t be connected to the Internet. I did some testing to make sure that Bookworm would run without an Internet connection. And technically speaking, the game did work. But it seemed slower when the machine wasn’t online. Why? The only explanation I can come up with is, the BigPond client needs to phone home to check for licenses. When there’s no Internet connection available, BigPond games still work. But they’re slowed down because the client can’t complete the authentication check.
We’ve got the “new” computer setup at my mom’s place and she said it’s working fine. I’m concerned that at some point, it won’t let her play Bookworm anymore without letting the BigPond client get online to call home. This will effectively break the game for my mom, as her PC has no Internet. This whole ordeal has left me with a few questions:
1.) Why doesn’t PopCap offer a simple .exe download of the Bookworm installer, free of the need to use a third-party client?
2.) On my Mac, I’ve downloaded Bookworm from the Mac App Store. The game runs the same with or without an Internet connection. The download/install process was simple and straightforward. Knowing this, why would Windows users ever stand to put up with this kind of hassle?