Installer vs zipped folder

Discussion in 'Indie Business' started by ragdollsoft, May 9, 2008.

  1. ragdollsoft

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2005
    Messages:
    234
    Likes Received:
    0
    I currently have my games simply compressed in a zip folder which the user downloads. Of course the user must extract the content of the whole folder. Which on a decent OS (X) is as simple as double clicking the folder. But on windows is a more convoluted and you need wizards and stuff.

    Do you think a zipped folder is acceptable or you believe many users are unable to fully extract a folder?
     
  2. Spore Man

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2007
    Messages:
    843
    Likes Received:
    0
    I know how to unzip a ZIP and even I don't like it. Something really unprofessional about it, though I can't quite put into words WHY it feels unprofessional to me... I guess I like having my hand held and a nice little icon put on my desktop? Who knows...
    :D
     
  3. eric_hein

    eric_hein New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2008
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    0
    A regular installer does look more professional than a zipped folder. I personally would prefer to just manipulate the files and avoid another registry entry, but I think most users like having a few pretty screens to take care of everything for them in the background.
     
  4. lennard

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2006
    Messages:
    2,390
    Likes Received:
    12
    I used to do the same thing. InnoSetup is free, super easy to use and the resulting packages looks a lot more professional. I think there are a lot of users out there that are a bit befuddled (I used to even get an email or three from those folks) about what to do if there is no installer.
     
  5. gdunbar

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2006
    Messages:
    44
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yeah, I think a zip file doesn't look good today. And as lennard mentions you'll probably spend more time answering emails about how to install the zip file than you would putting together a setup program.

    I started out making an installer using a Visual Studio setup project. Very confusing and annoying; I don't recommend that at all.

    I've since moved to using the Nullsoft Install System (NSIS), which is free and quite easy to use. Recommended.

    Good luck,
    Geoff
     
  6. HarryBalls

    HarryBalls New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2007
    Messages:
    300
    Likes Received:
    0
    Zip vs Installer Conversion Rates

    Another way to look at the zip approach is with respect to the number of steps in the “download to purchase” path. Using a zip file rather than installer increases the number of steps just to install your product. Every added step decreases the likelihood of converting to sale 10 fold approximately. You would be surprised at how small changes on your sites, sales messaging in the games, and the shopping cart can dramatically influence the conversion rate.

    We had one client increase the size of the font of the three benefit statements for their web page for a downloadable software product by one font size and it increased their page view to download rate by 15%.
     
  7. ragdollsoft

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2005
    Messages:
    234
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yeah I agree on windows zip sucks, you could just have double click -> extract folder->play but no they had to make it microsoft style.

    But then installers are annoyingly invasive. Also you need to provide an uninstaller and crap...

    I guess it's a matter of target audience.
     
  8. Desktop Gaming

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2005
    Messages:
    2,296
    Likes Received:
    12
    I don't think its a question of the end-users ability.

    An installer looks professional (if you do it right; no dead links, an uninstall option, links to relevant websites only, no typos). Bunging everything in a ZIP file might be all well and good, and some of the more technically minded will bleat on about an installer "leaving crap in the registry", but it looks like what it is - a 'cheap n nasty' approach to game distribution.

    Meanwhile back in the real world, most non-technically minded casual game players won't give a rat's ass about you adding an extra few bytes to the registry.
     
  9. cyrus_zuo

    cyrus_zuo New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2004
    Messages:
    829
    Likes Received:
    0
    I think this is really an interesting discussion, mostly because of the beginning statement about the Mac being the starting point, and now moving to the PC.

    On the mac, .zip is I think clearly the way to go and my impression of .zip being unprofessional has everything to do with PC. The discussion is really platform dependent, and in this case, Apple has handled .zip and .app files in a way that makes .zip every bit as good as a windows installer for distribution.

    My .02...
    On PC, don't consider anything other than a .exe
    On Mac, a .zip is the best approach. A .dmg is ok, but .zip in many ways is more elegant and easier.

    Just thought I'd mention the difference in platforms, b/c it's interesting to me :).
     
  10. Jack Norton

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2004
    Messages:
    5,130
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yes I agree 100%. I was using dmg originally on mac but had more troubles than else, and a zip is also easier to create and handle.
    While on pc, a nice installer is a must :)
     
  11. Drake

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2005
    Messages:
    263
    Likes Received:
    0
    I have never had trouble with DMG files, and I like the presentation options I get by having my software on an actual volume. Style counts on the Mac! :)
     
  12. ZeHa

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2006
    Messages:
    426
    Likes Received:
    0
    Simply offer both.

    We've been doing this for our game (gloomy-nights.de - WARNING: the site is ugly and therefore currently being refactored, so better have a look at the new page which can be found here at the moment: www.christian-gleinser.de/gloomytest - there's also an english version available).

    We also put a little explanation for the two files on there, so check it out.



    BTW: We even had some nice feedback on this, comments like "thanks for also offering a simple ZIP file!" and so on ;)
     
  13. fog4711

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2005
    Messages:
    131
    Likes Received:
    0
    I used to do the same. That is offering both zip and installer. The zip-files were not so popular and so far no one have bothered to send thanks, so for the newer stuff only installers are provided and no one has been complaining so far.

    I think ZeHa is right that the new version is better. Kind of cool in a retro-style IMO. It reminds me of the old days.

    fog :)
    --------------------
    some of my stuff
     
  14. Spore Man

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2007
    Messages:
    843
    Likes Received:
    0
    I thought Mac people were used to .SIT files instead of ZIP?

    What happens if the user unzips without the "create directories" option? What if the user doesn't have WinZip installed? What if they just drag all the files onto their desktop?

    I think an installer makes things more idiot-proof. By no means does it eliminate the possibility a user will install into C: root, or something similarly stupid, but the likelihood of such mistakes are way less, and an uninstaller lets them clean up their mistakes with one click.
     
  15. ChrisP

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2007
    Messages:
    971
    Likes Received:
    0
    In Mac OS X, double-clicking or otherwise launching a ZIP file will just extract its contents straight into the current directory. (Often the desktop, since I believe that's the default download location.) So even if the user doesn't understand basic filesystem navigation, you can just have the .app folder zipped up by itself, and it will usually get extracted straight onto the desktop, with a nice pretty icon and everything. The user can handle it from there.

    That's the really nice thing about .app bundles; they are their own icon!

    I think SIT files are more of a pre-OSX thing. At least, I've never seen any of them during my brief forays into using OS X.
     
  16. Sindarin

    Sindarin New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2008
    Messages:
    57
    Likes Received:
    0
    NSIS installers and some other setup creation programs allow for custom icons too.

    I'd say .exe is more accessible as it requires the user to just double click on the file to run. The only minor problem I could see is the Security Warning dialog of Internet Explorer when the user tries to download an .exe that's unsigned. But if the user browses the web e.g. on Firefox or Opera, they won't get that dialog.
     
  17. gmcbay

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2004
    Messages:
    280
    Likes Received:
    0
    You should have an exe installer for Windows if for no other reason than it is the standard. Bucking standards for nerd-purist reasons is a dumb thing to do.

    Also, as someone who uses/codes for Windows and Mac, I've noticed there is a noticable and growing trend of professional Mac software that uses Windows-style installers in lieu of the traditional "copy folder to Applications folder" method. I'm not sure why this is, maybe because more and more Mac users are Windows users making the switch and this feels more familiar, but it is something to keep an eye on because again, unless you have a really good reason it is generally best to do things in the way most expected by your users based on their past experience.
     
  18. ATL

    ATL New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2008
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    1
    If you don't want to do to an installer (which agreeing with everybody here, you should), you can create a self-extracting zip using Winrar, which has quite a number of customisable options. You'll have to check the license though for distribution...

    HTH,
    ATL
     
  19. Artinum

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2005
    Messages:
    536
    Likes Received:
    0
    ZIPs scare the uninitiated. You should have an installer.

    As for the registry - who cares? Windows bungs far more crap in there than everything else on my computer put together. If your game runs from a ZIPped folder, it probably doesn't need to bother with the registry anyway - just use an installer that sets up a neat little folder under Program Files, unzips the files, bungs an icon on the desktop/start menu and sets up an uninstall script to reverse it all afterwards.
     
  20. ChrisP

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2007
    Messages:
    971
    Likes Received:
    0
    Perhaps I phrased that badly; I wasn't talking about custom shortcut icons, which Windows obviously provides.

    In Windows you typically hide application's folder away in Program Files or wherever and then place shortcuts to the executable within the app's folder on the desktop and start menu. The shortcut on the desktop is merely an alias to the true location of the program.

    My point was that in Mac OS X, you don't do this. The desktop icon (or more frequently, the icon on the dock) is not an alias or shortcut. It's the entire self-contained application. In technical terms, it's a folder with a .app extension. It's just pretending to be an executable. For example, TextEdit.app is the folder containing the entire TextEdit program. Within that folder is the real executable and whatever resources it needs, in a particular folder structure. When Finder (the Mac equivalent of explorer.exe) sees a .app folder, it knows to display it like an application icon instead of a folder. This special folder is an example of a "bundle", which you can read more about by searching Google.

    This is cool, because installation routines become unnecessary, and moving applications around is as easy as dragging the icon. Download a zip file and run it; it automatically extracts the program's .app bundle onto the desktop. Splat. There's your application, completely ready to go. Just double-click and go. (If it needs to do some pre-execution setup, it can do that on first run.) You can drag it onto the dock if you like. If you're a knowledgeable Mac user you might drag it into the Applications folder, but if you don't, who cares? It'll still work. Mac OS X apps simply don't care where they are in the folder structure. (They're forced to not care due to these design decisions on Apple's part.)

    Zip files don't make sense for Windows apps, but they can make sense for Mac apps. The installer route is also perfectly acceptable, as others have noted. DMG also has its points.
     

Share This Page

  • About Indie Gamer

    When the original Dexterity Forums closed in 2004, Indie Gamer was born and a diverse community has grown out of a passion for creating great games. Here you will find over 10 years of in-depth discussion on game design, the business of game development, and marketing/sales. Indie Gamer also provides a friendly place to meet up with other Developers, Artists, Composers and Writers.
  • Buy us a beer!

    Indie Gamer is delicately held together by a single poor bastard who thankfully gets help from various community volunteers. If you frequent this site or have found value in something you've learned here, help keep the site running by donating a few dollars (for beer of course)!

    Sure, I'll Buy You a Beer