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UK Games Retailers Threaten Boycott of Steam Games

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the but-we-like-it-our-way-better dept.

United Kingdom 443

RogueyWon writes "Games industry trade site MCV is reporting that two major UK video games retailers are threatening to ban Steam-enabled PC games from their stores. The as-yet-unnamed retailers are apparently concerned that by selling Steam games, they are pointing their customers towards a competitor and will by trying to bring pressure upon publishers to strip Steam functionality from their games. This could prove an interesting test of where the real power lies at the retail end of PC gaming."

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443 comments

Okay... (4, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196496)

More sales for Steam then?

Re:Okay... (3, Informative)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196566)

More sales for Steam then?

Sort of. Having worked at Gamestop in the past, I can say that their revenue comes from resale, not first time sales. If it wasn't for the face that broadband isn't accessible to everyone, there would be PC games sold in cases. The profit earned on new game sales is negligible. I'm assuming these companies work in a similar fashion so not selling PC games in the store isn't going hurt their bottom line very much. However, this will prevent some customers from ever entering the store which is one thing that helps drive sales.

Re:Okay... (1)

twoallbeefpatties (615632) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196764)



And that's the big danger that Steam really brings to the retail world - a digital copy of a game can't be sold back to Gamestop so that they can resell it as high profit margins.

Re:Okay... (4, Interesting)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196834)

I can't remember if it was on here or some other site but I read a bit where a guy went to go buy Oblivion from GameStop and he just so happened to enter when someone was trying to sell their copy of Oblivion to the store. The used copy from the store was going for 30 or 40 bucks while they were only willing to pay like 10 dollars for buying it back.

The guy interrupted and offered $20 for the exchange and the two of them left the store happy.

I think I may do this with some of my older games - I'll go stand right out front of Gamestop and huck my goods.

Re:Okay... (1)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 3 years ago | (#34197104)

Malls will kick you out of you do that openly, and if not in a mall, I would assume Gamestop would kick you off their property.

Of course, nothing would stop you from standing on the sidewalk...only large cities have any rules about street vendors.

Re:Okay... (1)

Count Fenring (669457) | more than 3 years ago | (#34197204)

Unrelated note: Your sig is beautiful.

Re:Okay... (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196946)

Well yes, their revenue comes from there.

Steam However, doesn't have to worry about the distribution costs so much, so they make more per sale than Gamestop does - so the amount of Sales that Gamestop loses (regardless of revenue) would go to people using Steam.

Essentially, it seems like Gamestops revenue won't change much, but Steams is likely to go up.

Re:Okay... (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196868)

Are these the same retailers that are making most of their profit selling games second hand, from which publishers see nothing at all?

Structural Unemployment for Middle Men (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196498)

The boss of the UK game retailers said:

Publishers are creating a monster – we are telling suppliers to stop using Steam in their games.

No, publishers are finding new innovative revenue streams that cater to the customer. The only reason it's a 'monster' is because you perceive it to be a threat to your business model and, surprise surprise, you're not a part of that revenue stream so it's the devil. And you don't understand it, that is painfully evident by the 'stop using Steam in their games' part of your statement. They don't use Steam in their games anymore than they use Wal-Mart in their games.

If you understood that this is increasing revenue and profits to the publishers, you might also start to see that it increases the number of copies sold. Now, if more people are buying the game it is possible that Steam will expand this market and leave some of the sales to the brick and mortar stores. It is, however, a possibility that you are correct in that your model will become obsolete -- such is the nature of business. You can either respond by being a jerk about it (although you're holding aces backed with eights as a large middle man), you can attempt to become part of that distribution model (have you thought about selling steam gift cards?) or you can do nothing. If you lose your business, well that's just some good old structural unemployment where the hostile market of capitalism violently guides you to better serve the consumer in a new and -- here's the scary word -- innovative ways. Seriously though, when is the last time you did something new and interesting aside from unboxing the latest game and paying some high school student minimum wage to set up the Halo display and cardboard cutouts?

Hey man, if you want to make me pick between you, the distributor, and the publishers that actually make the games I cherish ... you aren't going to get very far in my book. I mean, Steam has DRM but it saves me gas and money and puts me a little closer to that little developer that spends countless nights slaving away over code. That's where I want the bulk of my money to go when I purchase a game -- to that guy.

Re:Structural Unemployment for Middle Men (1)

ELCouz (1338259) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196556)

puts me a little closer to that little developer that spends countless nights slaving away over code. That's where I want the bulk of my money to go when I purchase a game -- to that guy.


I'm sorry but like most publisher they take a large part of the money... often only 15-20 % of the sales go to the creator if it's not less!

Re:Structural Unemployment for Middle Men (2, Interesting)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196944)

often only 15-20 % of the sales go to the creator if it's not less!

Is it less? You tell me. Steamworks doesn't publish how big a slice of the cake they take - you have to present them with an actual game. Have you? How much did they take?

Or are you just another random intartubes commentard bullshitting numbers because it makes you feel like you're a part of something?

Re:Structural Unemployment for Middle Men (1)

ELCouz (1338259) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196972)

Sorry did i mentioned steam in my reply ?

Re:Structural Unemployment for Middle Men (1)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 3 years ago | (#34197170)

Steam isn't a publisher. They're a distributor/reseller.

Considering that games are often using Steam even when sold physically (And I don't mean just Value games, Fallout New Vegas did it.), I'm forced to assume that Steam isn't actually taking that big a cut. I don't know how much licensing a DRM solution costs, but apparently using Steam is cheaper now.

I suspect they take a large cut when selling the game, equal to the normal store markup, but still.

Re:Structural Unemployment for Middle Men (1, Offtopic)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196576)

Yeah, the whole idea is rather amusing. It's like an independent book store threatening to stop selling any books that are also available in eBook format.

Good luck guys, you are just guaranteeing that you will get left behind.

Re:Structural Unemployment for Middle Men (2, Interesting)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196634)

The only thing that worries me about this whole thing is resale.

I like to buy second hand games, I occasionally like to be able to sell them, or loan them to friends, or whatever. Much like with books. Steam doesn't really do that AFAICT.

Re:Structural Unemployment for Middle Men (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196668)

I've only resold a couple of PC games (interestingly [or not], I just sold my copy of Call of Duty 2 on eBay last night.) I've resold a bunch of console games, but for some reason I tend to hold on to PC games. Not really sure why...

Anyway, these days I don't buy games unless I plan on keeping them anyway. If not, I'll just borrow it from a friend.

Re:Structural Unemployment for Middle Men (2, Insightful)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196892)

The only thing that worries me about this whole thing is resale.

I like to buy second hand games, I occasionally like to be able to sell them, or loan them to friends, or whatever. Much like with books. Steam doesn't really do that AFAICT.

Steam is certainly not designed to allow this. Which is good for folks who release their games on Steam, as there's no secondary market of used games. It's bad for retailers, however, since they make so much more money off used games.

You can, however, sell a Steam account just fine. Just like people sell WoW accounts. And it is done.

You could, in theory, have a seperate Steam account for each game. Which would allow you to sell each game individually. But it would certainly be a hassle.

Re:Structural Unemployment for Middle Men (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34197124)

You can, however, sell a Steam account just fine. Just like people sell WoW accounts. And it is done.

If you're not willing to abide by the rules, you might as well download the game in the first place.

Re:Structural Unemployment for Middle Men (3, Informative)

Gizzmonic (412910) | more than 3 years ago | (#34197194)

You could, in theory, have a seperate Steam account for each game.

That's against the Steam TOS and it could cause you to lose access to all your games. Don't forget, as with all DRM schemes, Steam is the true owner of all your games, and they could choose to boot you off for any reason. They are an awesome service so far, but who's to say if you'll actually be able to access your games in 10 years? If that's important to you, then you should probably go old-fashioned and get a disc.

Re:Structural Unemployment for Middle Men (1)

pcolaman (1208838) | more than 3 years ago | (#34197148)

Most game stores do not allow trade ins for PC games anymore anyways. That practice stopped many years ago, due mainly to the fact that they couldn't get as good a margin on used PC Games and in many cases, had a harder time reselling the used PC Games.

Re:Structural Unemployment for Middle Men (4, Interesting)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196654)

I feel so conflicted over this one, to be honest.

On the one hand, high street game retailers have nobody but themselves to blame for their woes, particularly where PC games are concerned. Going out on a limb, I'd guess that the two UK retailers the story refers to are Game and Gamestation. Of course, both of those have the same owning company, so maybe there's actually another retailer out there who's thinking the same way, but I wouldn't bet on it. I think HMV (our major music/dvds high street retailer that also does games) is too diversified to be really worried about the PC gaming market.

The main difference between Game and Gamestation is that the latter is almost entirely used games sales, while the former generously gives over a good 25% or so of its shelf-space in the average store to new games. Occasionally, they'll even let you buy one without a pre-order.

Gamestation is, in my opinion, pretty much unspeakable. They have a business model that revolves around buying copies of Fifa Soccer off teenagers for £3 (or £5 if they accept payment in store credit) and selling them on at £30. I've nothing against used games sales, but really, people could be getting a far better deal either as vendor or buyer from ebay. And that's basically the entirety of Gamestation.

Game used to be somewhat better. Sure, they have the same used-games model, but they did at least used to be a reasonable place to buy new titles. These days, however, if you want anything other than the last couple of big releases for each platform; well, I hope you pre-ordered. They have a small number of flagship stores that are slightly better, but shopping in the average branch pretty much comes down to "Do you want Fifa new or used (oh, and the right answer is "used")?". I remember when Valkyria Chronicles 2 came out... I was told by the staff at the Game branch in London's Victoria Station that I had no chance of getting one without pre-order. So I walked a few yards to the (tiny, cupboard-like) branch of HMV and got one there.

And as for PC gaming, both chains have completely neglected it since the start of the current console cycle. If the store had a PC section (and not every store did) it was usually a single rack with a new release or two and a collection of 5-10 year old casual titles. No refunds on PC games (though they might reluctantly exchange a damaged disc) and, with no used market, the retailers weren't interested. And yet now, with the current gen consoles looking a little bit tired (with no successors in sight) and Valve having revived the PC market quite effectively, high-street retailers decide that they want a slice of it. And apparently they want it handed to them on a platter.

And at the same time, Steam is, in many ways, an extremely good service. As DRM goes, it's not offensive. It's tied to an account, not a PC, and you can redownload data as many times as you want. There's no need to put any kind of game disc in your drive. And Steam does generally seem to offer at least an alternative to the kinds of hideous DRM we've seen elsewhere. Plus it's a well-rounded platform that includes achievements, friends lists and most of the other features we expect from the (subscription based) Xbox Live service.

However... there are aspects of Valve's business practices that are starting to worry me. I have no sympathy for high-street retailers, but I do think that some of Valve's online competitors are being very hard done by. It must suck for direct2drive (who I have used and who are fine, if not as good as Steam) that every copy of Call of Duty: Black Ops they sell has to be installed within Steam, sending customers direct to their main competitor. Steam has, thus far, been a net positive for PC gamers. But should Steam become the only platform in town, then I don't think that's going to work so well for the customer. Ideally, we need some of their competition to get their act in gear and improve their own services to the point where they become a valid alternative.

Re:Structural Unemployment for Middle Men (2, Insightful)

twoallbeefpatties (615632) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196850)

I think there's a good reminder about monopolies in there. There's nothing inherently wrong with a monopoly that comes into power simply by being the favorite choice of customers. The danger is when it starts to use monopolistic practices, or maybe some other legal term. Right now, Steam is the big dog of online sales because they have an easy-to-use system with a number of beneficial perks that their customers enjoy. There's nothing wrong with that as long as Steam won those customers fair and square. If Valve starts using its power to coerce the publishers into only going to Steam, using bargaining power to push competitors like Direct2Drive out of the market, that's when there's a problem.

I'd like to have a little faith and say that Steam is going to continue to be strong just because it is what it is, but historically, power corrupts...

Re:Structural Unemployment for Middle Men (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34197176)

Having used Direct2Drive off and on over some years, and even within the last couple months, I assure you that what will push D2D out of business will be D2D. Their install experience is an inconsistent frustrating mess, they do nothing to remove CD keys from the activation process, and then they add another key on top of it, and finding the ones that actually work for both of these activations is a unique little puzzle to solve for each game you download. Oh on top of it, the activation has to run as administrator or it simply doesn't work -- this information is only gradually bubbling up through their support pages. Their idea of support is to send you to the publisher who will of course have no idea exactly how D2D broke their game.

Oh and if you're dumb enough to use Comrade (which they've been packing in as a drive-by install of some games not on D2D now) then it will "helpfully" find your other games, such as Steam, and offer to overwrite them with patches. Since Comrade can't install anything transparently, at least it isn't going to break your game automatically, yet. And all this, I've yet said nothing of Comrade's store, which pretty much just sends you to the web page -- but the fact that it might prevent you from buying a game off D2D makes me construe this lack as a feature.

Now I do agree that Steam could still become an abusive monopoly, and does need competition to push them to continue to innovate and keep its quality high, but D2D doesn't exactly set a high bar. I could see Impulse being that competition, but not D2D: I will dance on Direct2Drive's grave when I'm done pissing on it.

Re:Structural Unemployment for Middle Men (1)

swright (202401) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196664)

They don't use Steam in their games anymore than they use Wal-Mart in their games.

Not sure I'm completely understanding your point - but "using Steam in games" can be a whole lot more than just as a distribution channel.

Steamworks integration provides copy protection, social networking, cloud storage of settings/savegames, achievements, leaderboards, etc, etc, etc.

I for one (and I know I'm shallow) pretty much only buy games with Steamworks or GFWL integration (unless they are truly excellent).

Oh, and for PC, I can't even remember the last time I bought a physical disk/box. My PC is even arranged now so I can't even get to the DVD drive......hate them...

Re:Structural Unemployment for Middle Men (1)

ottothecow (600101) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196812)

Last time I bought a physical disk, I am pretty sure I just typed the CD key into steam and never even opened the disk container (it was being sold at launch for for less at best buy than on steam)

Re:Structural Unemployment for Middle Men (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196922)

That's my only problem with the online distribution thing - they usually cost more than the store copy.

hell, when SC2 came out it was 99 AUD online, or 69 bucks at Game. With a T-Shirt. So, umm, why am I paying so much less for physical goods?

Re:Structural Unemployment for Middle Men (1)

FTWinston (1332785) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196684)

And you don't understand it, that is painfully evident by the 'stop using Steam in their games' part of your statement. They don't use Steam in their games anymore than they use Wal-Mart in their games.

That'd only be true if you had to actually go to Wal-Mart every time you wanted to play your game. Steam's integrated achievements, tracking and the like are very literally in most Steam games.

Re:Structural Unemployment for Middle Men (3, Informative)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196708)

They don't use Steam in their games anymore than they use Wal-Mart in their games.

While this is true for most games, it's not true for all. New games like Just-Cause actually have steam programmed in to them. They won't work without steam, and you must install it as part of the installer. Once you install the game it's instantly linked to your steam account and you no longer need the disk. I think this is the type of steam integration they are complaining about.

Re:Structural Unemployment for Middle Men (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196840)

you no longer need the disk

Uh... the what? I'm sorry, you'll have to remind me. It's been a while. A long while.

Re:Structural Unemployment for Middle Men (5, Insightful)

Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196714)

Having recently purchased Fallout:New Vegas, and discovering Steam needed to be installed, I've yet to see the value added proposition that Steam brings to New Vegas. Did I miss the button I'm supposed to press and someone from Steam will arrive with a pizza or some other form of bribe so I'll run around proclaiming Steam the greatest thing since bread came in a slice? I only ask since I'd manage to avoid Steam for so long while still purchasing PC games.

Re:Structural Unemployment for Middle Men (3, Insightful)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196752)

The value added is for the publisher ; by locking your game to a Steam account, it's now not resaleable. Which is what this fuss is all about - most of the revenue in these stores comes from second-hand games trading.

I suppose you do also get some other benefits - if you lose the media, you'll still be able to reinstall the game from the content network.

Re:Structural Unemployment for Middle Men (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34196908)

You can log into your Steam account from any computer and download the game to that computer for free; the disc never needs to leave the case again.

Re:Structural Unemployment for Middle Men (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34197126)

You get some moderate convenience. For example, you can now lose the disk and download the game from Steam (unless Steam decides unilaterally to ban you, in which case you can no longer play the game and have no recourse). If you continue to buy games from Steam, eventually you will have so much money invested in DRM-infested crap that you will feel it necessary to tell everyone that Steam is more convenient and the DRM doesn't affect you, in order to justify your decision.

Re:Structural Unemployment for Middle Men (1)

raculot (1143839) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196726)

What they're talking about here is the use of Steam as a copy-protection system, which is completely integrated into a game, including the retail "disk" version. When one installs it from a disk, it first prompts you to either log into steam or make a steam account, and then it installs the purchased game into the Steam folder and activates it on your steam account. The first games to do this were official retail release of Valve games, but since then, many other games have implemented it due to the various advantages of using Steam in your game (good copy protection, Achievements/stats tracking integration, ease of updating, multiplayer server browser, etc). What they're trying to say, essentially, is that these "other" retail games are promoting their competitors, and they don't like it.

If we have to have DRM... (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 3 years ago | (#34197202)

What they're talking about here is the use of Steam as a copy-protection system, which is completely integrated into a game, including the retail "disk" version.

Given a choice between an old-fangled, non-DRM'd disc from the high street or Steam DRM I'd go for the first - unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be what is on offer. We worry about what value our games will have if the DRM servers go down, but, last time I tried to revisit an old disc-based game, my modern computer wouldn't read the silly fsked-about with copy protected CD anyway, so forget that.

So, if DRM is unavoidable, I'd rather have a well-thought-out system like Steam (or iTunes App Store) with a big user-base and solid industry support than a mass of different half-baked product activation and online play systems. As well as being more likely to disappear overnight, the latter tend to be far more restrictive in terms of (e.g.) letting you install the software on all the computers you own. Not to mention the ones that install rootkits and spyware.

I can see the stores' frustration, but... high-street sales of digital media are going the way of the dodo, canals, blacksmiths and photo processors so they'd be better off diversifying or planning their exit strategies than whingeing.

Re:Structural Unemployment for Middle Men (4, Insightful)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196732)

Its ridiculous. One major hypocrisy here in the US is "We believe in capitalism, so long as it benefits us". They are complaining they aren't making money and want to restrict the market, all at the same time having the benefits of a capitalist society, i.e. the ability to innovate and try to out compete without being interfered with by the government. Maybe they should try including some service along with the game Steam does not supply, or maybe they should target the DRM nature of Steam and sell only Non-DRM software, or maybe they should give everyone that comes in the store a free hot dog and a coupon to save on gas. Its simply a case of eating your cake and expecting to have it afterwards.

Re:Structural Unemployment for Middle Men (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34196778)

Completely agreed.

I would buy Steam gift cards, or "Steam credits" if they and Valve worked together. I prefer to not use cards when doing any online transactions, it's just me being crazy, even though the chance of a middle-man attack is so stupidly low it isn't even worth worrying about unless i had pissed off some government or agency with the resources of a medium-sized country.

It is the same deal with downloadable platforms like PSN, XBLA and WiiWare. They sell cards for them, so why not Steam too?
For people who don't have internet service, Valve could help stores set up a hub that contains the games.
These hubs can be accessed by staff and only staff. Customer comes in, selects a game or patches they wish to have copied to their drive, staff takes drive to hub, transfers game, bham, done.
Of course, the "drive" part isn't really here yet, SSDs will be that drive, hard drives are too awful to carry around because of their terrible design that manufacturers refuse to change. (don't get me started on external hard drives)
Either way, this will allow the brick and mortar stores to stay around for those who lack a good enough internet connection for Steam or downloadable games in general. They'd probably have to extend on the DRM system to work with this new method since they might never be online.
Steam profiles could be saved to a separate location, easy to move around so the next time they go to a store, their details can be synced.
They could probably even sell hardware that syncs up near said "Steam hubs" to save a lot of hassle.

It is a huge mess of a system that i have explained terribly, but it could be done if they'd only work together.
Same goes for Sony, MS and Nintendo if they are around for the digital download age of gaming.
This would actually allow a digital download system work without locking out the large chunk of users who don't have a good enough connection.

Re:Structural Unemployment for Middle Men (1)

qoncept (599709) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196914)

You can either respond by being a jerk about it (although you're holding aces backed with eights as a large middle man), you can attempt to become part of that distribution model (have you thought about selling steam gift cards?) or you can do nothing.

Wow, I can't believe these game retailers don't see it the same way you do. Try telling a mouse in the clenched teeth of a bull snake "you can either wriggle around in a nearly hopeless attempt to save your life or just submit." How do you think that would work?

well that's just some good old structural unemployment where the hostile market of capitalism violently guides you to better serve the consumer in a new and -- here's the scary word -- innovative ways

Seriously? I'm sure most businesses are founded with the idea that they exist because they can treat the customer better than the next guy, but it doesn't take long before dollars and cents speak louder than satisfied and dissatisfied customers. Do you work because you want to provide a service, or do you work because you like to be able to eat?

Tell that same mouse it's alright that it's about to get eaten because it's natural. Cycle of life. Fuck self preservation. Whatever.

Re:Structural Unemployment for Middle Men (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 3 years ago | (#34197136)

Seriously? I'm sure most businesses are founded with the idea that they exist because they can treat the customer better than the next guy, but it doesn't take long before dollars and cents speak louder than satisfied and dissatisfied customers.

That's what makes steam so great! It has great customer service, everything just works for the most part without any major hassles.

This is just another battle of Automation vs Human workers, in this case, Automation is winning out yet again.

Re:Structural Unemployment for Middle Men (1)

ELCouz (1338259) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196942)

if you want to make me pick between you, the distributor, and the publishers that actually make the games I cherish Neither make games..! You have the distributors, publishers and the creators. Publisher are in charge of publicity and distribution management and money investment.. beside that there are not involve in any creation

Re:Structural Unemployment for Middle Men (2, Informative)

dr_d_19 (206418) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196966)

They don't use Steam in their games anymore than they use Wal-Mart in their games

Uhm, yes they are. Call of Duty: Black Ops (released a few days ago) is sold in stores as a DVD that installs steam and then installs the game as if purchased online via steam. This has been true for many titles before this one.

Basically, since users now has steam installed (and a steam account created) the barrier for further purchases over Steam has been lowered significantly.

I'm not saying it's a bad thing, but I guess that's what they mean.

Re:Structural Unemployment for Middle Men (2, Informative)

Fozzyuw (950608) | more than 3 years ago | (#34197080)

They don't use Steam in their games anymore than they use Wal-Mart in their games.

Actually, that's not true. The "use Steam" probably means having Steam enabled achievements, "cloud" storage for things like game saves, etc. Steam is more than just a content delivery method. You see, one could sell a box game at retail that has Steam support. The retails are complaining that selling such games will drive awareness of Steams sales channel.

Now, I agree with the part that retails complaining about digital downloads and "banning" said games is like biting the hand that feeds you. Go ahead! Ban the games! You'll soon have nothing to sell in your stores and customers will *still* know how to get the game they want.

What's next? Retails QQing about WoW: Cataclysm is being offered as a direct sale from Blizzard with the benefit of no-installation, retail per-order lines, etc? The only thing you miss is: a) CE editions and b) the "party" a store might throw.

In other words, if a game store says "We're not going to sell Warcraft if you offer direct sales!" do you really think WoW players will notice? They'll get their game one way or another. The one thing game companies have done is offer company specific in-game times. To continue to use WoW as an example, they might offer a "Best Buy" or "Target" tabard if you pre-order the game through those stores. I've seen that before on some games. The "Wal-Mart" colored armor set, etc. To avoid the immersion perspective, it oftne times just translates into "an armor set unique to retail store X" which is usually the same as other stores but with a different color shade.

That way, "fans" of said store can feel equally motivated to get it from them.

Anyhow, I should disclaimer that I like Steam, I use Steam and I do enjoy very much their specials and convenience. I also had CATA pre-ordered, but just went and bought the digital update from Blizzard and canceled my pre-order. It will save me a trip to the store and generating packaging waste.

Re:Structural Unemployment for Middle Men (4, Insightful)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 3 years ago | (#34197162)

No, publishers are finding new innovative revenue streams that cater to the customer. The only reason it's a 'monster' is because you perceive it to be a threat to your business model and, surprise surprise, you're not a part of that revenue stream so it's the devil. And you don't understand it, that is painfully evident by the 'stop using Steam in their games' part of your statement. They don't use Steam in their games anymore than they use Wal-Mart in their games.

WTF?

Ever tried to return a digital download game in the UK?
You can't. Even if the game doesn't work at all in your PC and you are per-UK consumer regulations entitled to a refund (since it's not "fit for purpose"). The digital download company is based in a location with little or no consumer rights (*cough* US *cough*) and they'll basically laugh in your face.

Ever tried to return a store bought game in the UK?
They sometimes bitch and moan a bit, then you say the magic words ("Not fit for purpose" and "Trading Standards") and lo-and-behold - you get your money back.

I for one am pretty damn scared of the rise of Digital Downloads for games and it's associated importing of minimum common-denominator consumer protection laws and do want the option of returning non-functional games that a bricks-and-mortar store gives me. From my point of view, anything that allows those stores to survive is a good thing.

In fact I have been boycotting all games that use Steam for that reason (and because they cannot be given, lent, traded or resold; because they do not work on machines without an Internet connection; because I would like the option to install them in 10 years time if I feel like it; because I do not want that the distributor of the game has the option to remotelly disable my game at will). It's just too bad that most game buyers out there are more than willing to bend-over and pull their pants down in exchange for prettier graphics.

The way I see it, in this sea of ignorant, self-deluded and low IQ consumers, the only chance that the few of us with more than 2 neurons have of, in 20 years time, still being able to return faulty games is if bricks-and-mortars manage to survive.

Re:Structural Unemployment for Middle Men (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34197164)

Publishers are creating a monster - we are telling suppliers to stop using Steam in their games.

No, publishers are finding new innovative revenue streams that cater to the customer. The only reason it's a 'monster' is because you perceive it to be a threat to your business model

Do you enjoy being able to nip down to the shop to buy a game? That's all over if Valve has its way with you via Steam. Do you enjoy being able to resell software? Steam is the beginning of the end of software-as-a-product.

Steam is a monster. It's cute and fuzzy but it'll still be happy to chew you up and spit out all but your wallet if you only let it grow big enough.

Aye (1)

Dalzhim (1588707) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196502)

More sales for Steam alright.

Good luck with that! (1)

chalkyj (927554) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196518)

I'm pretty sure nobody walks into a retailer looking to buy a game, finds that it's not stocked then just completely gives up. No, you simply walk into a different retailer and look for it there. And if you can't find it anywhere, you think "well, that was a massive waste of time, I should have just bought it online". Like on Steam for example.

So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34196524)

If a game is on steam, i wouldnt go to a store to buy it anyways.

Following in the **AA's footsteps? (1)

Zeek40 (1017978) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196530)

So how much longer till we see the GameStop's of the world start trying to use litigation to defend their obsolete business model? I'm actually surprised game stores even carry PC games anymore, don't most of them make the vast majority of their money selling used copies of console games?

Re:Following in the **AA's footsteps? (1)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196694)

I'm actually surprised game stores even carry PC games anymore, don't most of them make the vast majority of their money selling used copies of console games?

Yes. But a major focus is retaining customers by getting them to come in the store. For every customer that buys a game online, they miss out on the chance that customer will buy a used item while in the store. The notion that this wont hurt their sales because so many people buy online is wrong. There are a lot of people who cannot get or afford the Internet connection required to buy games online. In the end it only hurts the retailers AND Valve.

Re:Following in the **AA's footsteps? (1)

MaerD (954222) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196772)

Meh. To be fair, Gamestop is not mentioned anywhere. Just a "trade group" which actually appears to be more of a "trade magazine" with people who work at unnamed retailers.

In fact, the only company with someone who is named is Gaikai, a "a cloud based gaming service intended to make video games more accessible to a wider audience" according to Wikipedia. Based on that description, they aren't even a brick and mortar and are more of a competitor, so I'm not suprised they have a problem, but for the most part this is a list of sources who don't even say the company they work for is planning a boycott, and are odd positions ("digital boss"? What does that even mean?).

In short: Bad reporting, bad sources, tempest in a teacup, if even that. Give me the names of retailers and people who will stand up and say "Yes, we are going to boycott steam-enabled games" and I might believe some of it.

Re:Following in the **AA's footsteps? (1)

Zeek40 (1017978) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196846)

Yeah, I didn't mean to single out GameStop, It was just the only retail video game store I could think of as an example at the time.

Re:Following in the **AA's footsteps? (3, Interesting)

Ogive17 (691899) | more than 3 years ago | (#34197128)

I don't like Steam for the simple fact that I can never sell my copy of Civ V unless I want to get rid of my entire account. Right now it's not a big issue since Civ V is the only game I own that uses steam. I also don't appreciate the ads that pop up every time I start up a game. I paid $50-$60 for Civ V (way more than it's worth, IMO, not terribly impressed), stop trying to sell me other games on Steam.

Personally, I would like Steam for games that released over a year ago.. get them at a cheaper price and no physical media. Brand new games at full price requiring Steam, hate it. I'm paying for 3rd party to be involved that I want nothing to do with.

Oh noes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34196542)

They won't be able to buy back used games for $5 and resell them for $40. Good riddance.

A store? What's that? (4, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196546)

I haven't bought anything in a real store for ages, PC-games-wise. Why bother? All they stock is the expensive shit and anything older than 3 months is in the "Pre-owned", scratched-to-death pile and still costs 2/3rds of its original price. Plus a lot of PC gear can't be played second-hand anyway (and not because of Steam but because of other DRM) so there is no "cheap" game available in those shops.

I just order a retail box online (rare anyway) or I just buy from Steam or GOG. Stop charging me £60+ for a game that'll last a couple of hours and start stocking things that sell. Steam make a killing by selling things like PopCap games, World of Goo, Altitude, etc. - I never, ever see those in the shops and if I do, it's on a shelf in a big department store, not in the "games" store. You aren't complaining about XBox Live or PSN, so you can't really complain about Steam either. The fact is, though, that anything you do stock in my price range I'm more likely to be buying it online - quicker, cheaper, easier.

Give it up - either charge sensible prices, increase your stock range to appeal to customers or damn well concentrate on games console where you make an absolute FORTUNE.

Re:A store? What's that? (3, Interesting)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 3 years ago | (#34197058)

I have never seen a PC game (outside of Collector's / Special Editions) which costs anywhere near £60. £35 is the current top-end PC game price. You'll pay £45 for a AAA console title at launch, but even CoD:Black Ops is retailing at £34.99 in Game stores on the PC.

I Love Steam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34196560)

I hate hunting down game updates.

Also, it seems like when I buy a game in the store, half the time the CD key has already been used.

The last PC game I bought in a store was Starcraft 2, because it wasn't available on Steam. Fortuntately, unlike the huge amount of Console Ported Garbage, Starcraft 2 was competently programmed and patches itself.

By the way, Call of Duty Black Ops sucks on the PC. all kinds of unnecessary performance problems . Probably sucks on the consoles too. I need to stop buying games the day they are released.

Re:I Love Steam (1)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196816)

Yeah. Long live steam. The only drm I would say that about.

None of those things require DRM. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34196920)

None of those things require DRM. So why is Stream with DRM so good because of these? Just have the company who sold the game and refuses to give anyone else the option of making a derivative (patched version) of "their" product will have to host the patches.

What hunting then needs to be done?

None.

So why is Steam DRM great because of this?

This is great. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34196568)

I love that game retailers are just now catching on to the fact that they have been essentially selling a market place with every steam game effectively circumventing the need to go to a retailer. It's obviously not in their best interest to do so. I wonder when this will catch on in the U.S.

Screams of a dying breed? (1)

Nemyst (1383049) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196592)

You bet.

The real power is the individual (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34196594)

I don't like Steam, so I've never bought any Steam delivered games.

I rarely, if ever, buy products from companies I dislike.

Re:The real power is the individual (1)

JasoninKS (1783390) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196718)

You're quite correct though. It's the consumer that holds the power. If someone wants a Steam game, they'll go elsewhere. So many of these companies forget that *I* the consumer, with *my* dollars, decide whether you live or die. I don't like what you offer or how you offer it? I can go elsewhere.

Fair enough (1)

tygerstripes (832644) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196786)

Not looking to start an argument, but why don't you like Steam? They're a bit Googlish in their ubiquity, which has the potential to be a problem if they start dicking around, but on a personal level I think it's great.

It saved me a lot of grief when my RAID array crapped-out (incautious youth) and I had to reinstall from scratch. I didn't have to hunt around for the individual media (half of which I'd lost) and then patch the old games up individually - just setup Steam and they were all there waiting for me. Absolute godsend.

Don't lose the media. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34196934)

Don't lose the media. I've not lost any media, so how the hell have you managed to "lose" half of them? OR is it be "lose" you mean "sold on and kept a copy"? Well if you give your Steam game to someone else, you won't have anything to retrieve when your RAID dies again.

Re:Fair enough (1)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 3 years ago | (#34197044)

Not looking to start an argument, but why don't you like Steam? They're a bit Googlish in their ubiquity, which has the potential to be a problem when they start dicking around, but on a personal level I think it's great.

FTFY

Re:The real power is the individual (2, Interesting)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196902)

I won't buy Steam delivered games or games that use Steam for DRM (looking at you Civilization V, FO:NV and the lastest Total War games - all series I previously supported). It worries me deeply that the industry seems to have dumped all their eggs in the Steam basket without any concern for the hulking monopoly they are creating.

Re:The real power is the individual (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34197178)

Regarding the DRM, seeing as the publisher can just release a non-Steam patch any time it wants, it really isn't much of an issue (assuming you bought the game via retail). Hell, the DRM on steam is optional - publishers can turn it off if they wanted to (hahahahaha).

It gets more complicated when developers start using Steamworks (matchmaking, achievements, cloud storage, etc), but that goes for any online persistance framework that you don't host yourself (GFWL, etc).

Unnamed..? (1)

bhunachchicken (834243) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196614)

The as-yet-unnamed retailers...

Given that there are really only two major retailers in the UK: GAME and GameStation, it's most likely them. Of course, it might be HMV, but they're not exactly specialist game retailers.

Re:Unnamed..? (2, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196702)

GameStation was bought by GAME a while ago, it's just a sub-brand of the same company now.

Re:Unnamed..? (1)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 3 years ago | (#34197220)

The as-yet-unnamed retailers...

Given that there are really only two major retailers in the UK: GAME and GameStation, it's most likely them. Of course, it might be HMV, but they're not exactly specialist game retailers.

Could be Play.com - no one said it was defiantly high-street retailers.

Impotent rage (1)

falldeaf (968657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196616)

I wonder if horse carriage makers were super pissed about automobiles. Maybe a half-assed attempt at competing with online distributors is due diligence for the stock holders of brick and morter game retail stores? I doubt there's even going to be plastic, physical media much longer, all the consoles already have built-in digital distribution mechanisms and internet just keeps getting faster. Any business that currently depends on selling plastic cds to be solvent should either be furiously brainstorming new business models or packing up their desks and putting down a deposit for uhaul trucks.

Irony...given the used game article (4, Insightful)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196648)

A couple months ago we heard how game stores were using used games to cut the publishers out of the revenue stream for a game. They were buying back games for $10 and reselling them for $45 and pocketing 100% of the $35.

There was a great brouhaha.

Now the return shot. Game publishers intent to cut game stores out of the first sale AND not publish any physical copies to resale.

Re:Irony...given the used game article (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196748)

Don't forget that many PC games now force to you register the key online, blocking resale. I suspect they make very little money on PC games these days because they're a one-shot, so the "boycott" is probably more like cutting the least-profitable part of the business. Dressing it up this way just makes them seem like the victim.

Funny enough... (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196658)

You dont see Walmart, Target, et al. Making this argument with the iPad and iPod products for media. Probably only a matter of time.

To be fair though, games sellers ONLY sell games. I think they have a point but I don't think that it's compelling enough to merit worth listening to. Steam is nice and all, but game shops still aren't obsolete yet. Never under estimate the bandwidth of a bag full of DVDs and a car versus any home Internet connection. Even if it is 100mbps. Plus are there any PC only shops?

Re:Funny enough... (1)

guyminuslife (1349809) | more than 3 years ago | (#34197102)

You don't see record stores making that argument for digital downloads for media, either. Personally, I haven't seen a record store in a long time.

Who will notice the difference? (1)

machinder (527464) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196660)

Granted, its been a while since I've been in a Game or UK HMV, but my experience has been one small set of shelves given up to recent release titles, and the rest of the PC gaming section awash in 3 for £10 or 2 for £25 deals, and addons for simulators. My employer gave me a gift certificate to HMV last Christmas, and I went to about four locations on Regent St and Oxford St before I could find L4D2 and Fallout GOTY, both of which were recent releases at the time.

I read that "UK Gamers" at first... (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196662)

I wouldn't be too surprised by their boycott at some point, too - about curious exchange rates.

Re:I read that "UK Gamers" at first... (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196716)

Exchange rates have been fine this generation, when you account for VAT.

Ah... (1)

JasoninKS (1783390) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196688)

And yet another graduate of the Rupert Murdock (sp?) School of Business. "We don't understand what it is or how to adapt to it, but it's different than what we're doing therefore we must repeatedly try to crush it, regardless of how many times we smash our heads against the brick wall."

Steam for the ps3 (1)

Robadob (1800074) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196746)

Portal 2 in February(?) is said to be coming to the ps3 with some form of steam, are they going to cockblock this aswell?

Boycott seems to be an inappropriate term (1)

Saishuuheiki (1657565) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196794)

It seems to me that it's "Retailers demand exclusivity, threaten refusal to carry games"

Personally I think of boycott being something consumers do, not retailers. Walmart doesn't boycott products from 3rd world child labor, customers do.

Strange (4, Funny)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196842)

Why do I get the feeling they'll still find a way to somehow blame this on piracy?

It isn't doing EVERYTHING right... (1)

Ziggybee (1938738) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196844)

https://support.steampowered.com/kb_article.php?s=3584a3bb4ea90284f57d4e4dd4e4141d&ref=1456-EUDN-2493 [steampowered.com] It eludes me why we have to cope with custom ports & firewall rules just to login to a service and download software that could be delivered using HTTPS and web services. Note that I don't mean to play online but to merely log-in in the service, browsing the catalog, spend my money and download software. That's why other Digital Deliverers (mostly represented by Impulse) are gaining ground over Steam. I guess that iTunes will marginalize Steam on Mac as soon Apple will deply the new MacStore, since it is a lot easier to live with it on very strict network configurations.

Steam (1)

Burnhard (1031106) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196864)

Again what we've got here is an industry (or part of an industry at least) who have been slow to see that their business model is doomed by new technology and changes in customer behaviour. They're wedded to retail, which has got to be the most expensive way to distribute bits and bytes, compared to the other methods available now. They're pretty irrelevant. I do buy hard-copy sometimes (usually at xmas), as gifts. Otherwise I can't remember the last time I bought a hard-copy game for personal use.

They've sown the wind (2, Insightful)

Vehlin (1221094) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196906)

Brick and mortar game retailers have been the architects of their own demise on this one. For years they have devoted the majority of their stores to the various different console platforms and their customers upped sticks and left. I've watched the PC section in my local Game store go from 8 panels back in the days of the XBox and Playstation to 2 panels today. Why would I want to buy a game from a store like this? The choice is more or less limited to the latest chart games and new releases. Steam lets me choose from a vast catalogue and find the games I want to play. The convenience of the games stores was their main driving force, if I wanted a game I had only to go into town and buy it. It was faster than Steam and you also got a nice box and manual, or at least you used to. These days if you want a boxed PC game you have to order it online as the local shop won't have it in stock. If you're going to have to order it online, you might as well use Steam, you'll get it faster.

Where are the PC games? (1)

Dark_Matter88 (1150591) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196916)

Last time I went into a games store, the section dedicated to PC games was a tenth of that dedicated to Xbox 360. Maybe I'd buy more PC games in Game or Gamestation if they actually had a selection. They killed their own sales.

I'll stick with Steam (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196958)

Not in the U.K., but if U.S. retailers decided to try this, I'd easily pick Steam instead. When Steam came out for the Mac, I got Portal for FREE, HL2 + episodes for $10, Torchlight for $10, Civ IV + expansions for $10, etc. As long as you don't need to absolutely get a game the minute it comes out, Steam will always have a good deal at some point in the near future. Sometimes games are so cheap I buy them even if I don't have any plans to play them more than a few times. I just got Day of Defeat for $2.49 yesterday.

Re:I'll stick with Steam (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 3 years ago | (#34197108)

This is what makes the Steam DRM tolerable.

Why pirate when the prices are so reasonable? The music and movie publishers could learn a thing or two here.

Cater to the customer. There is no ????, just profit.

--
BMO

I'm steamed! (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196992)

Steam always has good discounts and sales going on and a couple FREE games...what retailer does that?

All the wrong reason (5, Insightful)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 3 years ago | (#34197014)

Although they are doing it for all the wrong reasons, I applaud any effort to stop this Steam juggernaut from becoming the de facto DRM monopoly and the single point-of-failure for entire game collections. It's just not healthy.

One day Steam will go dark, and then you won't be able to reinstall any of those games.

Footnote: "blah, blah, blah,...but they said they'd release a patch....blah, blah, blah". Please show me the legally binding clause in the Steam TOS that guarantees that.

Re:All the wrong reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34197150)

I'd mod you up, but I already posted. 100% correct, and worth an "Insightful," IMHO.

Same thing (1)

C_Kode (102755) | more than 3 years ago | (#34197024)

Isn't it the same thing has having two different retail establishments selling a game? So GameStop and Best Buy both sell a game, will GameStop stop selling it because Activision is also selling it through Best Buy?

This is just behind the curve retailers lashing out at the fact they are behind the curve. I'm sure Blockbuster was mad as hell about Netflix before they broke down and tried to compete.

Re:Same thing (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#34197074)

As pointed out elsewhere, retailers make most of their money on second-hand game sales. Steam etc. deprive them of that source of income.

Steam check-in (1)

jitterman (987991) | more than 3 years ago | (#34197082)

The trend towards a game having to start and register with Steam for me to play it has got me doing the following: I purchase the game (from the store), then download a cracked version to actually install. Steam initially seemed like a great idea, but the more intrusive it gets, the more annoyed I get, and now I avoid it altogether. Retail stores for me, thanks.

RIAA and the cd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34197116)

The Retail publishers are making the same mistake as the RIAA has thye need to evolve their buissness model

that's why wal mart failed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34197134)

in other news, best buy, wal mart, target and fry's have stopped selling any PC with itunes, MSN, or Amazon pre-loaded.

Selling Fax Machines in 2010? (2, Interesting)

zpeidar (969377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34197190)

This is entirely the wrong approach, and an act that demonstrates unwillingness to change, much like what we've seen in certain other parts of the entertainment industry. But seriously, if you owned and operated a shop selling music, would you be scared of iTunes and the likes, your only real choices would be to evolve and give better service than them, or just close up shop, the choice of abolishing internet music isnt really up there on the list of sane choices, atleast it didnt use to be. What if you sold horses when cars first became available, would you try to abolish cars altogether, or perhaps change your business into something that fits the market thats coming? Or what if you suddenly found that you'd been selling fax machines well beyond their obsoletion? Would you rage out and try to abolish the internet, or perhaps just realize that you should try to save the scraps, and turn your shop into selling something that people actually buy? Trying to force the market to do something can be tricky...

Steam sales Second hand (1)

HertzaHaeon (1164143) | more than 3 years ago | (#34197196)

I've bought a few second hand games in my days, but rarely so cheaply as the games I've bought during Steam's many sales. Many of those sales have had ludicrously low prices, like just a few euros for Bioshock or Team Fortress 2.They usually knock off at least 50% of the price. Except for getting awesome deals, I also like that it's still the game maker's decision and they also get paid. With second hand games you're giving all your money to the reatiler, and they allegedly make an undeserved killing from it.

A losing battle (1)

Alioth (221270) | more than 3 years ago | (#34197210)

The retail shops are fighting a losing battle: they will all have disappeared in just a few years, along with non-specialist music stores (i.e. stores selling things like vinyl that customers generally want to look at first) and anything else that can easily be delivered over the internet. They can no longer stop the ultimate disappearance of the 'high street game store' market than King Canute could hold back the sea.

Boycotting Steam games will just hasten their disappearance, since customers won't be able to find the games they want in the stores, and will naturally go for downloads instead.

Cutting off noses (1)

HalAtWork (926717) | more than 3 years ago | (#34197218)

Whether or not they include Steam functionality is moot, the stores are selling the games, and people still buy them from said stores. By stopping to sell these games in stores, the retailers are in fact pushing potential buyers to use Steam, accelerating their own irrelevance, and promoting their local competition as well as online retailers such as Amazon. Have they gone mad?
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