UK Retailers Accused of Blacklisting Steam-Required PC Games

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UK Retailers Accused of Blacklisting Steam-Required PC Games

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Russian publisher 1C says that brick-and-mortar retailers are refusing to stock PC titles that tie into Valve's Steam platform.

The struggle between firmly-established physical retail and up-and-coming digital distribution is only just beginning, but there's no lack of conflict already - though it's primarily in videogame forums and blog comment threads. Last year, though, MCV UK reported that many of the UK's largest game retailers were threatening to refuse to stock PC games that required the use of Valve's Steam service to install or operate.

According to Russian PC publisher 1C Company, those threats have materialized - and UK retailers have told publishers that if their game mandates Steamworks, don't expect to see it on their shelves. "[Steam's confidence] compares very favorably to that of the retail chains," 1C's UK publishing director Darryl Still told CVG in an interview. "[Those retail chains] recently sent a command to publishers that if they include Steamworks in their title it will not be stocked."

Understandably, Still didn't have a very high opinion of those retailers, who he said were no better than schoolyard bullies abusing their influence. "Those guys need to grow up, stop bullying, and focus their attentions on making their offerings as attractive as the people they are obviously looking over their shoulders in panic at."

It made sense for publishers like 1C - the maker of cult hit titles like IL-2 Sturmovik and Men of War - to focus on digital distribution, said Still, even if it were only a matter of finances. If a game sold for £20 ($32.49) at a brick-and-mortar store today, he explained, after various expenses and parties had taken their cuts, 1C would see £7 ($11.37) wind up in its bank account sometime in September. The same £20 game sold on Steam - or another digital retailer - would not only earn 1C £14, it'd reach its coffers much sooner.

It's tempting to just point at the retailers and wag one's finger for screwing over little developers - and, make no mistake, if this is true then what they're doing is absolutely sleazy. But on the other hand, there's no easy solution: Steam controls a huge majority of the digital distribution market, and publishers tying massively popular games into the service like Fallout or Call of Duty doesn't make it any less of a potential monopoly.

Competition in the digital distribution market is a good thing and should be encouraged - but threatening publishers into avoiding it entirely? That's pretty low.

(Via CVG)

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That's funny, I'd imagine doing that would earn them less money, overall. "Hey, nobody has this game I want?" "It's on Steam!" "To Steam, with our CASH!"

Err...last time I checked the PC game shelves in my local gamestop and other electonic stores, there's Fallout: New Vegas and several other game titles with steamworks logo...damnit, forgetting titles..atleast I know it says steamworks on most of them, I've checked.

So, this only in the UK then or happening other places?

Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.

Why are so many Developers/Publishers/Whatever, avoiding the UK now?

Homefront and Red Faction couldn't be pre-ordered on Steam and now this?
Has the UK done something to game developers to piss them off or something?

Mis-read the article.
UK retailers are being stupid.
But as therandombear said above. There are plenty of Steam games in my local retailers. They all still sell The Orange Box for one thing.

Why is a Russian magazine reporting on this, and not, say, a British one?

Booze Zombie:
That's funny, I'd imagine doing that would earn them less money, overall. "Hey, nobody has this game I want?" "It's on Steam!" "To Steam, with our CASH!"

yeah i agree. this is kind of a dumb move by retailers. anyway steam is cheaper so stores are only for people without broadband or have a console.

BrailleOperatic:
Why is a Russian magazine reporting on this, and not, say, a British one?

Probably because it barely qualifies as news.

OT, which retail chains? I imagine they would have listed them.

BrailleOperatic:
Why is a Russian magazine reporting on this, and not, say, a British one?

Both CVG and MCV are UK-based sites, as far as I'm aware.

therandombear:
Err...last time I checked the PC game shelves in my local gamestop and other electonic stores, there's Fallout: New Vegas and several other game titles with steamworks logo...damnit, forgetting titles..atleast I know it says steamworks on most of them, I've checked.

So, this only in the UK then or happening other places?

You have shelves dedicated to PC games in your shops?

Now there is just a spot for WoW right next to the 360 shit in my local gamestop.

Might not buy so many games through digital distribution if the retailers actually sold any...

Bobzer77:

therandombear:
Err...last time I checked the PC game shelves in my local gamestop and other electonic stores, there's Fallout: New Vegas and several other game titles with steamworks logo...damnit, forgetting titles..atleast I know it says steamworks on most of them, I've checked.

So, this only in the UK then or happening other places?

You have shelves dedicated to PC games in your shops?

Now there is just a spot for WoW right next to the 360 shit in my local gamestop.

Might not buy so many games through digital distribution if the retailers actually sold any...

Ya, there's a PC games shelf, and a Blizzard shelf..with SC1 with expansion and WC3 + expansion and ofc WoW + expansions and SC2 xD

EDIT: Diablo 2 + expansions too ofc >.<

I really sympathise with these guys. The way digital disribution is going, Valve have basically set up a monopoly, and will, in the same way as Microsoft and Apple did, probably be very very hard to dislodge now.

What I see Valve as having done is very sneakily gone behind everyone's backs, and very under the table, and set up Steam before the advent of digital distribution, and I think in the coming years we are going to see their company practices get very ugly as theystruggle to maintain their vice-grip on the industry.

But yeah, Valve are teh aw3som3s, greatest videogame developers, they made half life and thus everyone must worship the ground they walk on. Anything I say will just be ignored and get me attacked by the legions of Valve fanboys, when they're not being bent over the table by the ep 3 release date.

For years retailers have been treating PC gamers like crap. Go into any game shop and if you're lucky to even see a PC game shelf at all it would have been stacked with WoW and Sims. PC gamers have been starved of choice for as long as I can remember, retailers clearly favoring the consoles.

Retailers have created (and continue to feed) their own problem by not being competitive enough (really not even giving a shit) and by banning steam games they are only turning away more customers. If retailers were serious about PC games they would be looking at ways to encourage customers to come back to their shops after the first purchase, heck even make an effort to get us in your shop in the first place with some displays of what PC gaming can provide because I can't even tell you when the last time I seen an instore PC gaming demo/machine, that would be a good start.

Retailers you can stop bitching and start doing something about your problem, because doing nothing will no solve it for you.

So retailers are giving people another reason to just buy off Steam instead of at their stores? Way to go guys.

In all fairness. If you're going to buy a game that requires steam, why not just buy it from steam?

I get why they've done this, they've probably had complaints that certain games make them download steam, and if they're anything like most of my friends. They don't want it or care what it is, they just don't want to have to install a secondary program to play it.

Everyone, everyone should refuse games that require internet connection, DRM or any other shit, such as terrible software client running on the background all the time, if I'm buying a retail copy of a single-player game at a store.

10 € games with no DRM from gog.com? All right. 50 € games on a DVD that require Steam? No. Never.

I want to store my game on a shelf and install it whenever I want, even 20 years from now, on any computer I want, without any stupid passwords.

I wouldn't notice since I don't even bother to patronize my local video game establishments unless I actually want to make a rare console gaming purchase. The rest of the Steam-enabled titles I buy, well, on Steam.

Abandon4093:
In all fairness. If you're going to buy a game that requires steam, why not just buy it from steam?

I get why they've done this, they've probably had complaints that certain games make them download steam, and if they're anything like most of my friends. They don't want it or care what it is, they just don't want to have to install a secondary program to play it.

I bought retail version of Fallout: New Vegas and same for Dawn of War 2+expansions, cheaper. :3

I can understand that some don't want to DL another program to play a game they just bought, but if I didn't have steam I would lose control of my games and the update games thingy and whatnot.
I bought retail version of Borderlands..I had to download the update patches, no problem..but when I unzip it and install and I keep getting same error that it's been installed wrong or something is missing, even though I followed the steps...it's easier when steam updates and installs it for you >.<

Sorry for the rant.

My gamestop has plenty of games that require steam to play, and they say that there is good demand for them and I can see it on the shelves. They even ran out of portal 2 on release.

John Funk:
many of the UK's largest game retailers were threatening to refuse to stock PC games that integrated Valve's Steam service into the package.

John Funk:
According to Russian PC publisher 1C Company, those threats have materialized - and UK retailers have told publishers that if their game mandates Steamworks, don't expect to see it on their shelves.

There's a big difference between a game integrating Steamworks and mandating it. If a game's avalible to buy on Steam and in a retailer, cool. If I buy a game from a retailor and take home my shiny new disk only to find it's just a particularly solid activation key for a Steam game (lookin' at you MW2) I'm going to be annoyed.

If it's the first and retailers are refusing to stock games because they have a little competition then they're firstly moronically stupid ("oh no we're loosing some sales to Steam! Let's refuse ALL sales, that'll make it better!") and also attempting to bully publishers, which I can approve of condeming.

If its the second and the retailers are refusing to stock disks which don't actually contain your damn game, then good on them. Round of applause.

I haven't bought a game from a shop for acouple years (I'm not counting ass creed 2, that was a Pc World gift card) because steam is far fucking better.

Also, who buys from shops anymore? I'M NOT SHOWERING FOR ANY NEW RELEASE*

*I shower before bed, i'm not some supercrusty nerd. Red Ryder BB gun reference.

therandombear:

Abandon4093:
In all fairness. If you're going to buy a game that requires steam, why not just buy it from steam?

I get why they've done this, they've probably had complaints that certain games make them download steam, and if they're anything like most of my friends. They don't want it or care what it is, they just don't want to have to install a secondary program to play it.

I bought retail version of Fallout: New Vegas and same for Dawn of War 2+expansions, cheaper. :3

I can understand that some don't want to DL another program to play a game they just bought, but if I didn't have steam I would lose control of my games and the update games thingy and whatnot.
I bought retail version of Borderlands..I had to download the update patches, no problem..but when I unzip it and install and I keep getting same error that it's been installed wrong or something is missing, even though I followed the steps...it's easier when steam updates and installs it for you >.<

Sorry for the rant.

I much prefer steam myself. I only buy a solid PC game if I just happen upon it and it's dirt cheap. I think the last solid PC game I bought was either 'The void' because it was cheap or Ghost warrior... because it was like £2.

The annoying thing is when a game requires you have steam even if it's from retail. I don't think that should be allowed. As much as I love steam, you shouldn't force people to download it if they don't want.

Okay, good one stores. Now people are just going to go to Steam and give them all your money, and now you don't get any of that sale. Genius.

And the world keeps spinning.

I hate that we require web connection for most games(but to be fair i mostly play MMOs, online co-op, and online RTS so my point could be strange) but i don't want to get a new RPG, take it home and find out i need to wait 10 hours on a download because i need STEAM or worse ORIGINs.(origin is worse because i would need to download that after making space on my PC)

Worse is since it runs through STEAM i have a 50-50 shot at NOT getting to play in offline status because for some god awful reason i need to be online. I like that i CAN connect my games to the steam cloud and have them download ready, hold the repeated code inputs. I don't like having to play them through STEAM. Sometimes i want to play my games and not be bothered by STEAM friends.

I realize some people are going to go defend valve but point is we should not need the register the game online, punch in a key code, download the game(when we own the fucking disk), and then install it because someone is afraid of piracy. And for the record pirated games cut through that yellow tape so if i get sick enough of the DRM policies and what not for a game i bought i will torrent the game and lay it free of STEAM, origins, and all the DRM forced in my face.

I believe Steam should be optional, never mandatory. Steam functions like an anoying DRM, I remember buying Half Life years ago and yet I couldn't install it with the disc because I needed to register it on Steam. It wasn't till years later when I got internet access that I could finally play a game I bought.

I support any game retailer that doesn't want to sell games with that horrific DRM.

MelasZepheos:
I really sympathise with these guys. The way digital disribution is going, Valve have basically set up a monopoly, and will, in the same way as Microsoft and Apple did, probably be very very hard to dislodge now.

What I see Valve as having done is very sneakily gone behind everyone's backs, and very under the table, and set up Steam before the advent of digital distribution, and I think in the coming years we are going to see their company practices get very ugly as theystruggle to maintain their vice-grip on the industry.

But yeah, Valve are teh aw3som3s, greatest videogame developers, they made half life and thus everyone must worship the ground they walk on. Anything I say will just be ignored and get me attacked by the legions of Valve fanboys, when they're not being bent over the table by the ep 3 release date.

I've heard of damning with faint praise but this is praising with faint damnation. Valve went under the table by offering a service nobody else did. Then they "bent [their fans] over the table" by not yet releasing the concluding episode to a game series everyone loves. They suck at being evil.

Well, if these tantrums spread to Canada, I'll have EVEN LESS use of game retailers (considering they only stock maybe six or seven different games at a time anyways).

RT-Medic-with-shotgun:
And the world keeps spinning.

I hate that we require web connection for most games(but to be fair i mostly play MMOs, online co-op, and online RTS so my point could be strange) but i don't want to get a new RPG, take it home and find out i need to wait 10 hours on a download because i need STEAM or worse ORIGINs.(origin is worse because i would need to download that after making space on my PC)

Worse is since it runs through STEAM i have a 50-50 shot at NOT getting to play in offline status because for some god awful reason i need to be online. I like that i CAN connect my games to the steam cloud and have them download ready, hold the repeated code inputs. I don't like having to play them through STEAM. Sometimes i want to play my games and not be bothered by STEAM friends.

I realize some people are going to go defend valve but point is we should not need the register the game online, punch in a key code, download the game(when we own the fucking disk), and then install it because someone is afraid of piracy. And for the record pirated games cut through that yellow tape so if i get sick enough of the DRM policies and what not for a game i bought i will torrent the game and lay it free of STEAM, origins, and all the DRM forced in my face.

rather the best argue agaisnt steam ive heard. most people just shout it as an abomination,it should be purged and we should just use physical copies forever, when really, its the future of society to integrate evth possible thru online communication. that being said, games run in offline mode in steam, so your point of the RPG is a lie. there are cases where steam freaks out and doenst let you, but thats the exception glitch, not the norm. even then, you are right on some point. games bought on steam or with steam should allow for individual execution, without the need for the program to turn on. that is my one complaint of steam. that it is always mandatory to be running, even when it is pointless.

Bobzer77:

therandombear:
Err...last time I checked the PC game shelves in my local gamestop and other electonic stores, there's Fallout: New Vegas and several other game titles with steamworks logo...damnit, forgetting titles..atleast I know it says steamworks on most of them, I've checked.

So, this only in the UK then or happening other places?

You have shelves dedicated to PC games in your shops?

Now there is just a spot for WoW right next to the 360 shit in my local gamestop.

Might not buy so many games through digital distribution if the retailers actually sold any...

There's like a two game wide 5 game tall section of the wall "devoted" to PC games at gamestops in my area, but that's it. I've been hitting up Amazon for my games lately, you preorder them and get 10-20$ Amazon Credit

Abandon4093:
In all fairness. If you're going to buy a game that requires steam, why not just buy it from steam?

Because some people do like solid merchandise, and even though I like getting my games with less hassle digitally, I can understand that. But taking those games off their shelves is only hurting the retailers, as that is lost sales to them. The game producers lose a lot less in the increased profit share they get with digital sales. When you don't have to count part of that price tag to compensation for burning discs and printing out boxart, it adds up to a lot of saved change.
(Why do you think Steam is so crazy with sales all the time?)

I get why they've done this, they've probably had complaints that certain games make them download steam, and if they're anything like most of my friends. They don't want it or care what it is, they just don't want to have to install a secondary program to play it.

I shouldn't have to install that shit Games for Windows Live on my system to play a game, and yet I don't hear the retailers complaining about that. Need I remind people that GFWL has its own digital store as well. Steam is the best digital system right now, though that can always change. And though you may have to install it to run the game, you don't have to keep it online in order to be able to run the game without having your disc in the drive.
From what I hear of the UK Retailer Game, this doesn't surprise me that they would be this stupid. This move will only hurt their own sales while trying to make a point that is entirely pointless. Do you hear GameStop complain about Steam? No. GameStop instead is rolling up their sleeves and getting into the digital marketplace themselves. There's competition and then there are petty whiners who don't want to do anything to change with the times. The internet is here people, with its big brother broadband. Having a solid disc and box is nice, but there are times when you just don't want to be bothered to go into the city and deal with long lines just to get a game. Or wait for the postal service or UPS to deliver it.

It's a brave new world. You can either adapt to it and make your own footstep, or just go away. Game is doing the latter, it would seem.

Not cool UK retailers. Not cool. *Sigh* I hope we come up for a solution to all this by 2020.

Since when did UK games stores carry PC titles anyway?

I've been to GAME, Gamestation, HMV and Game City retailers in Dorset, Hampshire, London and Cornwall respectively. Other than London (which actually did have a list of new pc releases) the best they had was a concealed corner display with some marked down 1990-ish titles and a few shelves of WoW: Cataclysm on the bestsellers.

If this is the next move of brick stores, then PC games are about to vanish from real world shops, and they put in the final nail themselves.

samsonguy920:

Abandon4093:
In all fairness. If you're going to buy a game that requires steam, why not just buy it from steam?

Because some people do like solid merchandise, and even though I like getting my games with less hassle digitally, I can understand that. But taking those games off their shelves is only hurting the retailers, as that is lost sales to them. The game producers lose a lot less in the increased profit share they get with digital sales. When you don't have to count part of that price tag to compensation for burning discs and printing out boxart, it adds up to a lot of saved change.
(Why do you think Steam is so crazy with sales all the time?)

I get why they've done this, they've probably had complaints that certain games make them download steam, and if they're anything like most of my friends. They don't want it or care what it is, they just don't want to have to install a secondary program to play it.

I shouldn't have to install that shit Games for Windows Live on my system to play a game, and yet I don't hear the retailers complaining about that. Need I remind people that GFWL has its own digital store as well. Steam is the best digital system right now, though that can always change. And though you may have to install it to run the game, you don't have to keep it online in order to be able to run the game without having your disc in the drive.
From what I hear of the UK Retailer Game, this doesn't surprise me that they would be this stupid. This move will only hurt their own sales while trying to make a point that is entirely pointless. Do you hear GameStop complain about Steam? No. GameStop instead is rolling up their sleeves and getting into the digital marketplace themselves. There's competition and then there are petty whiners who don't want to do anything to change with the times. The internet is here people, with its big brother broadband. Having a solid disc and box is nice, but there are times when you just don't want to be bothered to go into the city and deal with long lines just to get a game. Or wait for the postal service or UPS to deliver it.

It's a brave new world. You can either adapt to it and make your own footstep, or just go away. Game is doing the latter, it would seem.

Everyone complains about windows live. Even windows live employes don't like windows live.

The point is that you shouldn't be required to download an extra piece of software, that you don't technically need, to run a game you just physically bought.

I get all of my PC games through steam, but I get why some people feel like they're being forced to use something that they don't want.

Xan Krieger:
I believe Steam should be optional, never mandatory. Steam functions like an anoying DRM, I remember buying Half Life years ago and yet I couldn't install it with the disc because I needed to register it on Steam. It wasn't till years later when I got internet access that I could finally play a game I bought.

I support any game retailer that doesn't want to sell games with that horrific DRM.

Indeed. Though I kind of like steam, I agree that it should always be optional. Unreal Tournament 3 did this, and I loved that it did this. You could install it normally, or you could activate the product key on Steam and install it that way.

I wish more games did that.

draythefingerless:

RT-Medic-with-shotgun:
And the world keeps spinning.

I hate that we require web connection for most games(but to be fair i mostly play MMOs, online co-op, and online RTS so my point could be strange) but i don't want to get a new RPG, take it home and find out i need to wait 10 hours on a download because i need STEAM or worse ORIGINs.(origin is worse because i would need to download that after making space on my PC)

Worse is since it runs through STEAM i have a 50-50 shot at NOT getting to play in offline status because for some god awful reason i need to be online. I like that i CAN connect my games to the steam cloud and have them download ready, hold the repeated code inputs. I don't like having to play them through STEAM. Sometimes i want to play my games and not be bothered by STEAM friends.

I realize some people are going to go defend valve but point is we should not need the register the game online, punch in a key code, download the game(when we own the fucking disk), and then install it because someone is afraid of piracy. And for the record pirated games cut through that yellow tape so if i get sick enough of the DRM policies and what not for a game i bought i will torrent the game and lay it free of STEAM, origins, and all the DRM forced in my face.

rather the best argue agaisnt steam ive heard. most people just shout it as an abomination,it should be purged and we should just use physical copies forever, when really, its the future of society to integrate evth possible thru online communication. that being said, games run in offline mode in steam, so your point of the RPG is a lie. there are cases where steam freaks out and doenst let you, but thats the exception glitch, not the norm. even then, you are right on some point. games bought on steam or with steam should allow for individual execution, without the need for the program to turn on. that is my one complaint of steam. that it is always mandatory to be running, even when it is pointless.

Glitches are exceptions shouldn't have been mentioned. But for some reason(anger mostly) i mentioned a glitch from my ME2 play through(most recent) where it required me to set my client to online so it would stop crashing.

Unrelated note i came to accept the same price for no box vs a box because brick and mortar-retail are a bunch of crying piss pants that threaten not to carry XXX 4 or whatever because STEAM or some online retailer got a discount for sales because they don't have as much cost. Since they don't set the price themselves(STEAM) and their competition(the dumb shits behind a counter at gamestop or whatever) would complain if they did.

Bah. I never buy games from brick-and-mortar games shops any more anyway. The vast majority of my purchases nowadays are through Steam, or if I feel like having a boxed copy, Amazon.

It's no wonder physical games retailers are stooping to tactics like this really. They're becoming increasingly irrelevant.

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