UK Retailers Threaten to Ditch Steam Games

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UK Retailers Threaten to Ditch Steam Games

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Retailers in the UK are balking at the idea of selling a rival inside their stores.

Insider sources are suggesting that the UK videogame retail sector is on the verge of a mutiny over the growing influence of Valve's digital distribution platform, Steam. Two major retailers are said to be leaning on publishers to remove Steam from their games, or the stores will refuse to stock them.

The retailers are concerned that the prevalence of Steam - used in games like Call of Duty: Black Ops and Fallout: New Vegas - will cause players to look to the service for game purchases, cutting the retailers out of the loop entirely. Further complicating the situation are retailers who are setting their own digital distribution and are reluctant to stock games that essentially promote a rival. One source, allegedly the head of a well-known digital service provider, said that Steam's digital distribution rivals have no choice but to stock Steam games at the moment, but suggested that if bricks-and-mortar retailers stopped stocking them then publishers would reconsider using Steam in the future.

The fear that Steam is in danger of becoming a monopoly is not a new one. In Issue 245 of The Escapist, M.S. Smith outlined the most salient points of the monopoly argument in his article, "Steam: A Monopoly in the Making," which said that despite Valve's good intentions, the integration of Steamworks and the Steam platform itself was still hedging out competitors. It seems though, that Steam's market share - thought to be around 80% of all PC downloads - has grown sufficiently large that retailers are aggressively trying to curtail any further growth. It's going to be interesting to watch how this develops, because while publishers need the support of videogame retailers, the retailers need the publishers just as much.

Source: MCV

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So they're going to improve their sales of games they hardly stock anyway by ditching half of them?

Right then.

OR, and this is a CRAZY thought:

They could actually run sales and promotions that would make buying from the retailer more attractive than on Steam!

I know, it's an insane thought that competition should be a core part of capitalist economics.

Simpsons MatParker116 did it.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/9.244305-Two-Major-UK-retailers-considering-ban-on-Steam-integrated-Games

I still think that they didn't have to act so childishly about the whole situation, buy whadda you gonna do?

Sounds great. When do you, retailers, start?

Apart from that, people can be much more useful in other areas than "standing and counting money all day". In the name of progress, I bless you to die.

And they're really going to not stock sure successes like New Vegas and Black-Ops?

As I said in the thread earlier Where will i get my PC games if not from the tiny plastic spinning self thats at the back of the store?

If I can, I prefer to own physical copies of my games, but Steam runs such great deals from time to time, and stock games that are impossible to get elsewhere. Even Gamestop employees recommend I buy certain games from Steam instead of their own stores because they can't guarantee that any computer game they sell me hasn't had it's activation codes stolen already.

Wwwwwwwhhhhhhhaaaaaaaat... that's just stupid on the retailers end...they get plenty of sales, steam happens to get good sales because it just so happens to be...INTERNATIONAL...
Sure, it may result in customers going to steam, but that should just ring alarm bells that maybe their products are too expensive or maybe a sale is needed...

There will always be people who prefer their games with a box and disk over digital downloading, so removing the games altogether would just cause them to make a loss.

I live in the UK and I can tell you that retailers not stocking steam games is no big deal. The range of PC games they have in stock already is PATHETIC not to mention they are over priced. Steam offers things cheaper with good support after purchase. You want to not stock steam games? Fine, you will just drive away sales and more people will use steam anyway. If you want to compete with steam try offering your games at a competitive price rather than just crying that someone has stolen your lolly pop.

_marrow_:
I live in the UK and I can tell you that retailers not stocking steam games is no big deal. The range of PC games they have in stock already is PATHETIC not to mention they are over priced. Steam offers things cheaper with good support after purchase. You want to not stock steam games? Fine, you will just drive away sales and more people will use steam anyway. If you want to compete with steam try offering your games at a competitive price rather than just crying that someone has stolen your lolly pop.

Amen. You can walk into most places like Game, HMV and Gamestation and expect to find at best one shelf section dedicated to PC games. I hate this idea that Steam becoming a monopoly is such a bad thing - they're providing an excellent service, excellent prices, after-product support and a community built up around it. I can buy a new PC tomorrow and have all my games loaded at the click of a button, along with the save games in some cases.

Long live Steam, I say. If local game retailers stopped selling PC games completely I wouldnt care in the slightest.

As much as I like Steam, I hope if it comes down the a showdown that the retailers/Steam's comptetitors win. Combining a distribution platform with DRM & development software will lead to nowhere but monopoly, which is not good regardless of what a nice guy Gabe Newell might be.

I'm perfectly fine with Steam becoming a monopoly. They are more than fair and I love the service. If the retailers ditch steam games, they're just going to lose to steam a lot faster.

deth2munkies:
OR, and this is a CRAZY thought:

They could actually run sales and promotions that would make buying from the retailer more attractive than on Steam!

I know, it's an insane thought that competition should be a core part of capitalist economics.

Exactly. The main reason I buy online (digitally or not) is because the prices are always better than they are inside an actual shop.

I like the service that Steam offers. But I think it's really questionable that I have to get Steam even for some games I bought through retail (such as Civ V). I hate the thought of having to register every game I've got with some online content provider. But of course, Steam is not just a distribution platform, but also DRM and DRM sucks monkeyballs.

I know that I am not supposed to say this, but Steam is by far the best digital distribution system I've seen. I for one cannot wait for Steamworks to come to PS3 with the release of Portal 2. The last game I bought in a store was Starcraft II, because it wasn't available on Steam and I wanted the manual. If I had known how pathetic the manual was going to be (No unit descriptions, no histories, WTF Blizzard, you used to be good at this???), I would've just downloaded it from Battle.net instead. The last physical game I bought before that for the PC, Warcraft III.

Welcome to Capitalism. Someone makes a new mousetrap and you become obsolete and die of hunger. Steam is hedging out competition because THEY HAVE A GOOD SERVICE. When did being successful make you a bad person?

IS NOT A MAN ENTITLED TO THE SWEAT OF HIS BROW? NO, SAYS THE GOVERNMENT, IT BELONGS TO THE STATE! NO, SAYS THE MAN IN THE VATICAN, IT BELONGS TO THE POOR! NO, SAYS THE COMMUNIST, IT BELONGS TO EVERYONE!

I chose...something different. I chose, the impossible. I chose, Rapture STEAM!

Living in central London gives me a ridiculous choice of shops from which to purchase my games. As Yhatzee once said, "Being white enough to afford all the consoles and a PC" I'm pretty much spoilt for choice on what game and on what format to play it on. However I can't remember the last time I went into a shop and choose to buy their overpriced games. Why should I when I can get the same game for 5, 10 or even 15 quid cheaper online, or even from across the road at places like HMV.
However for PC games, the common factor in these stores is the extensive 1 foot (12 inches) of shelf space they make available for PC games, which most recently, half of that shelf space was taken up with just StarCraft 2.
If retailers want me to part with my hard earned cash in their store then they should make it worth my while. Otherwise I'll continue to buy my PC games from Steam and console games from online retailers.
And a note of wanting a physical copy, Steam does allow you to backup your games, which I do. As such my Steam games have survived countless rebuilding of my PC over the years.

If the retailers had a bigger stock of PC games, this would be less of a problem. But of course, they've coddled to the console market for so long that they haven't noticed the elephant in the room that is Steam until it's too late.

I blame their lack of foresight, plus the fact that retailers usually have an either an abysmally small PC games section or none at all.

Steam is big today because they do things right. Quite a few competitors could learn a thing or two about that.

[/quote]Amen. You can walk into most places like Game, HMV and Gamestation and expect to find at best one shelf section dedicated to PC games. I hate this idea that Steam becoming a monopoly is such a bad thing - they're providing an excellent service, excellent prices, after-product support and a community built up around it. I can buy a new PC tomorrow and have all my games loaded at the click of a button, along with the save games in some cases.

Long live Steam, I say. If local game retailers stopped selling PC games completely I wouldnt care in the slightest.[/quote]

Well put. At the end of the day at least valve make some of the games they put on steam, and care about making good games as well as giving developers big and small a platform to sell games. There are so many indie games that don't have the cash to get into big retail that steam helps out. If Microsoft and Sony are trying to get steam on consoles as well, then what are the retailers going to do? drown in their own stupidity and short sightedness id imagine.

Cousin_IT:
As much as I like Steam, I hope if it comes down the a showdown that the retailers/Steam's comptetitors win. Combining a distribution platform with DRM & development software will lead to nowhere but monopoly, which is not good regardless of what a nice guy Gabe Newell might be.

Very much this.

I love Steam. I buy all my games off of Steam. I still find it very much mad that this community (which is at times so anti-DRM and anti-Monopoly) could argue that Steam holding a monopoly over PC sales is anything other than bad.

Anyone saying that "buying from the retailer should be more attractive then" is missing the point. If I buy Black Ops or something from a retailer, I have to install Steam - ergo, there is no competition. Brick and mortar retailer can give me as good a deal as they want, but Steam still ends up on my system, and I still have to sign in and get presented with the storefront if I want to play my game.

I imagine if you had to sign into Gamestops website to play a game bought at Gamestop - their would be uproar. This... really isn't that different.

EDIT: That's not to say a lot of brick and mortar stores have shocking support for the PC, and it's quite right that improving this service would improve sales. That's not to say that right now it really isn't a level playing field, and that they have no right to grouch about this.

Snork Maiden:

Cousin_IT:
As much as I like Steam, I hope if it comes down the a showdown that the retailers/Steam's comptetitors win. Combining a distribution platform with DRM & development software will lead to nowhere but monopoly, which is not good regardless of what a nice guy Gabe Newell might be.

Very much this.

I love Steam. I buy all my games off of Steam. I still find it very much mad that this community (which is at times so anti-DRM and anti-Monopoly) could argue that Steam holding a monopoly over PC sales is anything other than bad.

Anyone saying that "buying from the retailer should be more attractive then" is missing the point. If I buy Black Ops or something from a retailer, I have to install Steam - ergo, there is no competition. Brick and mortar retailer can give me as good a deal as they want, but Steam still ends up on my system, and I still have to sign in and get presented with the storefront if I want to play my game.

I imagine if you had to sign into Gamestops website to play a game bought at Gamestop - their would be uproar. This... really isn't that different.

EDIT: That's not to say a lot of brick and mortar stores have shocking support for the PC, and it's quite right that improving this service would improve sales. That's not to say that right now it really isn't a level playing field, and that they have no right to grouch about this.

It's not Steams fault that companies are incoporating them as a cheap DRM solution. Show me evidence Steam is twisting anyones arm or using their market share to 800lb Gorilla Steamworks into a game. DEVELOPERS are including Steam and Steam Worksas a simple, effective, and pervasive DRM/PC Trophy Tracking/Multiplayer community system.

Where are all the people bitching about Facebook being the 90% market share social website?

If you want to rectify this, you have to go back to the Developers and the Publishers, and get them to smack down the shekel to create a competing product. And good effing luck, because the more digital distributes there are the more the community splits the less money any one company makes. Theres no incentive for developers or publishers to create their own service despite the nebulous fear Steam may become a Monopoly, which is still illegal under the anti-trustfund acts I believe and if it comes to it Steam can be busted in court. It happened to MICROSOFT, a far more massive 800lb Gorilla, and it can happen to Valve and WILL.

Tiamat666:
I like the service that Steam offers. But I think it's really questionable that I have to get Steam even for some games I bought through retail (such as Civ V). I hate the thought of having to register every game I've got with some online content provider. But of course, Steam is not just a distribution platform, but also DRM and DRM sucks monkeyballs.

Its not an irritating DRM though.

Well, then the stores shouldnt stock them. Steam generates more revenue than retail outlets for PC games anyway - The whole idea of starting an arguement over it is stupid.

They're not going to stock games that use Steamworks? This won't prevent any further growth of Steam. What it will do is make digital distribution seem like that much more of a favorable way to purchase games.

I /applaud these retailers in their contradictive futility.

Seriously, I think it is wonderful someone is taking a stand against digital distribution, but the method of not stocking... and removing the option to buy a game in a store really only leaves one method for obtaining it.

I appreciate the stand you have made, now if only you had thought about a method of how to do it longer than the fact that you wanted to do it, this might have been effective.

Legion:

deth2munkies:
OR, and this is a CRAZY thought:

They could actually run sales and promotions that would make buying from the retailer more attractive than on Steam!

I know, it's an insane thought that competition should be a core part of capitalist economics.

Exactly. The main reason I buy online (digitally or not) is because the prices are always better than they are inside an actual shop.

To be fair, it's unreasonable to expect retailers to charge less for a physical box copy than a digitally distributed game. There is a heck of a lot more involved with a "bricks and mortar" shop.

That said, I think there's a limit to how much you can expect customers to pay, and as an Australian I notice they seem to almost always come at a massive premium. Buying off Steam just makes more sense to me. I have never really seen the appeal of physical disks; physical disks scratch, get lost, and take up space that I'd rather leave free for other stuff that I'm more likely to still be using a year from now. Much better that I have the ability to simply download a game when I feel like it, especially if it also gets me a constantly up to date version so I don't have to hunt through spyware infested websites for patches.

You know what? Game stores have been mistreating the PC crowd for years now, so screw 'em. They can complain about lost PC sales when they dedicate an entire wall of their shop to it like they used to, not just a small corner sandwiched between their pre-owned PS3 and DS stock. I mean I understand completely if that's all their sales warrant in store space, but if they sell that badly then they're not exactly losing out on much.

viranimus:
I /applaud these retailers in their contradictive futility.

Seriously, I think it is wonderful someone is taking a stand against digital distribution, but the method of not stocking... and removing the option to buy a game in a store really only leaves one method for obtaining it.

I appreciate the stand you have made, now if only you had thought about a method of how to do it longer than the fact that you wanted to do it, this might have been effective.

Well, I guess that is why they are only threatening now. If they just straight up said 'no more', it would be different.

dradiscontact:
They're not going to stock games that use Steamworks? This won't prevent any further growth of Steam. What it will do is make digital distribution seem like that much more of a favorable way to purchase games.

Not the the publishers it won't. Steam nets about half of total PC sales. If you give up half of your market, you lost a lot of money.

Also, based on financial reports of companies like EA and Activision, the PC market is way, way bigger than they let on.

Here's a quote from the Mysterious Digital Distributor Complainer.

Publishers don't give a shit, they don't care what happens to the customer. Which is the crucial point, because Steam do.

Spot the problem with his arguement.

Ultimately, it's a case of man up and develop a competitor to Steamworks. Developers and publishers want an SDK that does matchmaking, server listing, DLC sales, patch distribution and DRM, all for the low price of free. This is what Steamworks provides, and that is why its use is increasing. GfWL tried, but failed, was hated by the community and was expensive for the developers (patching validation costs), and overall lack of Microsoft support. Man up, develop and support a competing system, or shut up when publishers start using Steamworks. At the moment, the only potential competitor is Battle.net (Impulse: Reactor went down with Elemental's failed launch. Will it rise again? Time will tell, but for now it's out of contention) once Activision gets Blizzard to license it out, which they inevitably will, probably before the end of next year.

It's interesting that the last QQ about Steamworks by retailers was shortly after the release of Modern Warfare 2. Now it's shortly after Black Ops' release, and retailers are QQing about Steamworks. I wonder what their responce will be when Call of Duty changes over to Battle.net? Will retailers QQ about Battle.net every time a CoD game is released for the PC?

Ah, the sound of change. Precious. Reminds me of the time trains became popular and scientists said that drivring faster than 10 miles per hour would damage your brain.

Needless to say that these scientists all had an interesst in the horse buisness.

TsunamiWombat:
It's not Steams fault that companies are incoporating them as a cheap DRM solution. Show me evidence Steam is twisting anyones arm or using their market share to 800lb Gorilla Steamworks into a game. DEVELOPERS are including Steam and Steam Worksas a simple, effective, and pervasive DRM/PC Trophy Tracking/Multiplayer community system.

Oh, Steam is brilliant, and right now Valve are lovely too. Don't get me wrong - I love everything about Steam, and I totally agree that brick and mortar chains are just... really poor at selling to the PC platform.

That doesn't mean they can't bitch and moan. It also doesn't mean that I should be obligated to install Steam to play a game even if I don't buy it through Steam. It's absolutely true that the develpers/publishers are as much to blame as anyone else, but really that just means that pulling those games from shelves is an entirely legitimate strategy by B&M companies - if selling a game helps a competitor, it might be better just not to stock it.

I don't think B&M stores are necessarily the good guys, but that doesn't make their issues with Steam (or this approach against it) any less wrong.

Dogmeat T Dingo:

Legion:

deth2munkies:
OR, and this is a CRAZY thought:

They could actually run sales and promotions that would make buying from the retailer more attractive than on Steam!

I know, it's an insane thought that competition should be a core part of capitalist economics.

Exactly. The main reason I buy online (digitally or not) is because the prices are always better than they are inside an actual shop.

To be fair, it's unreasonable to expect retailers to charge less for a physical box copy than a digitally distributed game. There is a heck of a lot more involved with a "bricks and mortar" shop.

I agree, as it is more expensive for them to run and therefore they need to recoup more money to make a profit. However, they don't do themselves any favours with the way they go about it, especially in the UK. They very rarely have games that aren't currently in the charts and their prices are extremely disproportionate (I saw Gears of War 2 GOTY for almost the exact same price as the standard game second hand in one shop).

Also in my case, the closest game shop to me is about an hours round trip by car, so it isn't worth it for me unless I am in the area anyway.

Delusibeta:
tried, but failed, was hated by the community and was expensive for the developers (patching validation costs), and overall lack of Microsoft support. Man up, develop and support a competing system, or shut up when publishers start using Steamworks.

fanboy

GFWL is doing fine and is growing considerably.
It is hated, but no where near as much as Steam was when it first came around
Patches do not cost a dime on the PC side of things
Microsoft is releasing two PC exclusive titles, while revamping the marketplace, but still isn't supporting it? Okay.

/fanboy

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