Major Retailers Threaten to Blow Off Steam Supported Games

Thursday 11th, November 2010 / 18:03 Written by
in Gaming
Major Retailers Threaten to Blow Off Steam Supported Games

The grumbling has become so loud that key retailers of PC games who are of the physical “bricks and mortar” variety have threatened that they will refuse to stock games that integrate the Steam service in order to stop a growing monopoly that they believe is “killing the PC market”.

The digital PC game store and online multiplayer platform was developed by Valve, who brought the revolutionary Half-Life series into being. Through a combination of low prices, sound reliability, a wide selection of games and regular online sales, Steam has rapidly grown from its humble beginnings in late 2003 to control the vast majority of the PC game digital distribution market share.

The company now stocks the games of some of the biggest names in PC publishing such as Ubisoft, EA, Capcom, LucasArts, Bethesda, Rockstar Games and Firaxis who have enjoyed successful game launches through Steam’s distribution platform.


It is estimated the somewhere between 70-80 per cent of the PC game download sector belongs to Steam. Its competitors are in the form of a host of small digital distributors such as Direct2Drive and GamersGate, many of whom have complained bitterly about Steam’s market dominance.

Essentially, certain retailers hope to put pressure on game publishers to avoid integrating a Steam service into their games so that more physical copies will be sold in stores, or sold digitally through the smaller distributors.

However, many industry experts have caught the taste of sour grapes in the vehement Steam-bashing buffet that has been served up by the currently unnamed retailers. Steam have managed to provide a platform that allows PC gamers to quickly and reliably download the games that they want, often at a better price than the physical gaming stores.


Usually the games cannot be downloaded as quickly as they could be installed from an optical disc, but Steam users are willing to wait a little longer in order to have the security of a digital copy that is permanently saved to their account and cannot be scratched, broken, lost or stolen.

In addition, Steam offers regular patches and updates for the users’ games that are downloaded automatically when available after users log in. Thus far, no other digital distributor has managed to create a platform with the same overall quality as Steam.

The strategy of banning the sale of games that can also be bought through Steam is not without risk. Rather than driving games publishers away from Steam, such a move could simply drive them into its waiting arms.


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Ree Saunders

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24 Comments on “Major Retailers Threaten to Blow Off Steam Supported Games

  • You forgot one MAJOR selling point of Steam: SteamPlay.
    If you buy a game in a store, it will only work on one machine, on one OS, but if you buy via Steam, it will allow you to play on multiple machines (one at a time), and multiple OS’s, for the same standard price.

    This means I can play on my PC at work, my mac at home, and my laptop on the road, all for the cost of one game, and keeping all of these installs in sync so my game progress and achievements are maintained no matter where I go.

  • Nowadays bricks and mortar retail stores dont cater to pc gamers anyhow. Go into any HMV, Gamestop et al, and you will see how PC games have been relegated to the bargain buy carousel. My local gamestop store has about 45% one side of store xbox games and accessories, 45% the other side ps3 games and accessories, 5% takes up the counter, 4% used dvds/blu rays and 1% pc games in a carousel that dont stock major releases, whose decision was that?

    Tbh its their own fault, I have had no choice but to go a digital distributor for my pc games. Steam is the perfect solution with all the benefits as mentioned above. Its a little too late for them wanting a slice of the pc gaming market pie. And good luck to them with their own digital distribution platforms, steam is already well established and is number 1 for a good reason.

    GFWL is an example of a platform that is established, yet doesnt work for pc games, visit the forums of any games that has had it attached and you’ll seen see the complaints, indeed many developers have ditched GFWL because of this – take Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas as an example, Fallout 3 had GFWL attached and had no end of problems, FNV was just recently released – but with integrated steamworks instead. Publishers and developers already know that steam works, and makes more profit for them than tangible pc dvd boxes, no way they will sacrifice this golden goose.

    So any attempts at their own digital platforms will fail, the bricks and mortar stores will continue to stock budget buy bargain bin games, developers and publishers will still make console games for these stores and sell them by the bucket load, and proper pc gamers will smile and keep on gaming with steam, knowing they have the best deals (publisher and holiday specials and sales), regular updates automatically, support forums, free DLCs (for some games), integrated chat, games available on launch days, purchase games whenever you want (albeit will a small delay to download).

    Steam wins.

  • I’m a fairly avid PC (and only PC) gamer. I buy a game or two every month, typically from Steam. I used to go to gamestop to buy my games, but over the course of several years, their selection kept decreasing, and their prices kept rising. Now when I go with my girlfriend to buy a new Wii game, I feel like a second class citizen in the store.

    Ex. I want to buy a game to play Sunday afternoon. I need to get in my car and go to the store. If I’m lucky there’s no traffic and I find a place to park. Irrespective of which store I go to, there will be at minimum, a 10x12ft shelf with the new titles for each major console or handheld system and various large bins of second hand games. Somewhere in the back corner, with no clear signage and in no particular order, is half a 3x3ft shelf with the store’s entire selection of PC games.

    Invariably the other half of the shelf is dedicated to children’s Gameboy titles, so there’s some little kid standing in front of them shouting at his Mom. The clerk has never even heard of the game I’m buying. When I buy and install it, the DRM ties my new $50 game to a specific machine. I own 4 PCs. If I loose the physical media, I can’t play it even if it’s still installed. If the installed PC dies, I have to get on the phone with a call centre in India to get my key fixed up.

    Alternatively, I can go on Steam Saturday morning while I’m drinking my coffee. There are no 12 year olds shouting because Mom won’t buy them GTA. I can browse the weekly specials in the time I would have spent driving to the mall. I have single click access to detailed third party reviews, forums whether actual customers give opinions and answer questions about the game and trailers, instead of a pimply faced kid who’s never played anything except GoW and Halo. The price is half what it is at game stop. If I want that obscure indy title my friend just recommended, it’s there and with the same one-click information available. I can (typically) install the game on as many of my computers as I like, so I can play it on my media centre today, and my laptop tomorrow. If my PC dies or I decide to upgrade, it’s a matter of 3 clicks to get my game back.

    Frankly, it seems crazy to me that brick and mortar gaming stores still exist. They are inferior to direct downloads in every way imaginable. I could happily go the rest of my life without ever entering another gamestop at this point, and I imagine I’m not alone.

  • I would think there would be some antitrust issues with a major market player refusing to stock games because they are being sold by a competitor.

  • So companies are complaining that Steam is really good at what they do. Yeah, I can see how that’s not fair… I joined Steam when they gave away a copy of Portal to join. So far have no complaints about service, pricing, or anything else. Don’t penalize them for doing things well.

    • yeah i love the way they get punished for not being a part of the gaming monopoly and actually catering for pc. there not the monopoly, the stores suck, if we dont want steam to rule pc (i actually wouldnt mind) then how about you get some new stock, put a fucking sale on because its $100-$110 instead of $40-$50 and show some more support for pc games and you just might earn peoples money.

  • I don’t like buying from brick & mortar stores simply because I don’t like the waste that comes with them; I do not want to have to wade through seas of plastic wrap and then store a massive collection of cases in a closet.

    • It’s true, Steam is green, and marketing is all virtual. It’s really a brilliant ugly duckling story. Steam used to be this terribly functioning software, now it’s really a well-executed platform for networking and shopping that brings the best games to me, with about 5 clicks. I’ve bought more games than I ever would if I had to go to a store and ponder that purchase tangibly.

      While I’m all for shopping local (jobs and all that), the market will just have to adapt. Less packaging for the plethora of games that are released monthly is a huge bonus. Steam competitors really need to step it up and quit whining.

  • Usually the games cannot be downloaded as quickly as they could be installed from an optical disc, but Steam users are willing to wait a little longer in order to have the security of a digital copy that is permanently saved to their account and cannot be scratched, broken, lost or stolen.

    I think the first bit there about “longer to install” may be true if the CD magically appeared in your house, but if you balance installation versus going to the store, picking up the game and coming home, and then installing it, the Steam user has already been playing for an hour before you even get the disc in the drive.

  • thoughtyou'dliketoknow

    Good for Steam. However, there are still gamers out there that prefer a physical copy and Steam does NOT allow for burning backup of games you own. Til’ then, I’m not sure the second greedy cousin to Steam, the retailers, need worry.

    • Steam DOES SO let you back up games. Right-click your installed games and click backup. With the backup you can reinstall your games without the need to re-download them anytime and you can use that backup to install on other machines as well.

  • Pingback: Well my dear.. The problem it’s not me, it’s you. | Let's Go Phishing!

  • Funny, I have bought more PC games this year than I had in the past three years – all of them through Steam.

    And I have stopped going to physical stores entirely, buying my Wii and PS3 titles through Amazon.

  • What, you mean that flimsy rack hidden at the back of the store that carries 2+ year old games that nobody wants?

    No thank you. I’ll continue shopping off of Steam and D2D.

  • Yeah, I’d definitely go and buy my games in stores… Oh wait, GameStop, the biggest chain on the East Coast barely carries any PC games these days… that’s why I moved to Steam. Retailers need to STFU and stop crying. They are the ones who started it, in my opinion.

  • I’m chalking this up as a jealous competitor spreading a false story through a form of viral marketing gone bad. I’ve seen several versions of the story and not one of them mentions WHO the “key retailers” are. This just reeks of blatant falsehood kept vague because were they to actually mention a retailer, the story would die when the retailer put out a press release stating the rumor is false.

  • Steam usually offers a pre-load of the game you have pre-ordered. So you can download it and it becomes active on the day or release so quite often it’s a lot quicker than getting a physical copy and there is no wait.

  • I’m happy the game stores are doing this. I can’t stand Steam, GfWL, or anything else like them. I will always buy my PC games at the store because I don’t like having to install third-party spyware in order to play a game I paid full price for. Steam fanboys will flame me for this post, but the vast majority of gamers I know agree with me. Low prices? Reliability? I have heard just the opposite about Steam from my friends.

  • Just to correct misinformation by one poster. You CAN back up your Steam games and burn them to CD.

    I have used Steam for a while now and it works well. Bricks and mortar shops are dead for games, they have just not realised yet. Just another case of the internet killing one set of middlemen and replacing them with new systems, etc.

    Let them die, they charge far more than Steam for games. Who in their right mind would buy PC games from a shop now?

    • I work in a brick and mortar shop (general retail but we stock games aswell) We have between 50 & 100 PS3, wii, Xbox, DS titles, and 5, yes 5 pc games. Either way I would never dream of ever buying a game from work on any system as, like most actual stores, they are massively overpriced and seem to have no idea about the depreciation value of games, still charging £40-£50 for a 2 year old failure of a game that is readily available online for £5-£10 etc.

      Brick and mortar stores have their heads in the sand and have just looked up to realise the business has surpassed them, reminds me a lot of the music business.

  • The only reason I step into a GameStop or a Best Buy these days is purely nostalgia. One day I realized I don’t have to pay $50+ for a game that I might only play for 10-15 hours and then never look at it again. When I moved across the country the one box that got stolen was the box with my two full disc cases. In a way it was a blessing because now I own 1 or 2 boxes because friends gave them to me.

    I was able to buy most of the games I wanted off of the various distribution sites – primarily Steam – for $4.99-$9.99. Steam is superior in every way and beats physical stores hands down. The internet has changed how we shop; book stores, the post office and a dozen other places will go down because we can get our stuff cheaper and easier online with places like Amazon and Steam. Steam is the now, Best Buy and GameStop are relics of the past.

  • One thing people here are forgetting is that, when I’m done with my game I purchase from a brick and mortar store, I can resell that item to someone else.

    Purchasing games from a brick and mortar store retains my right of first sale. Steam does not.

    • ResellingPCGamesIsBogus

      Last I checked, no stores will resell a PC game. It’s virtually impossible with all the bullshit DRM on physical copies.

      If you’re reselling it to some sap who doesn’t realize that the DRM will prevent him from playing the game, you’re just an a**hole anyway. Besides, MOST people will realize that buying a used copy of a PC game usually means it won’t work for them.

  • The only reason I built a new gaming PC was because of Steam and the great deals. If it is doing anything to the PC market, it’s keeping it alive and well.


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