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UK retailers threaten to ban Steam, claim that service is killing the PC market

We use Steam a lot. Honestly, we do. And we know we’re not the only ones. As of October 18, the download service boasts over 30 million active user accounts, which some estimate accounts for 80% of the digital downloads market. But not everyone is happy with the platform’s steady success.

According to MCV, some retailers see Steam as a threat to their own digital distribution services and stores, and will purposefully not sell titles that will integrate with Steam via Steamworks. “At least two major retailers will demand that publishers remove Steam from their games – or they will not sell them in any form,” reports MCV.

“If we have a digital service, then I don’t want to start selling a rival in-store,” an executive at one of the largest games retailers in the UK said to MCV. “Publishers are creating a monster – we are telling suppliers to stop using Steam in their games.”

“At the moment the big digital distributors need to stock games with Steam. But the power resides with the bricks and mortar retailers; they can refuse to stock these titles. Publishers are hesitant, but retail must put pressure on them,” said the head of sales for the same company.



It’s worth noting that the name of the ‘large UK retailer’ remains anonymous, as well as the higher-ups quoted. We doubt that retailers will stop carrying PC versions of popular titles, like Call of Duty: Black Ops or Fallout: New Vegas, anytime soon. And even if they did, would it really matter? We can’t remember the last time we saw a strong presence of PC titles in any games retail store. It’s usually just a tiny shelf in the back with a few big-budget titles, a Diablo II collector’s edition, maybe an old copy of the original StarCraft, and the latest Nancy Drew adventure.

In our opinion, the retail market for PC games isn’t being killed by Steam. It’s already been on life support for years. It’ll be interesting if the unnamed ‘bricks and mortar’ retailers manage to succeed with their own digital distribution services after pressuring publishers to refrain from working with Steam. We predict that this will happen on the same day when your local record store’s online shop starts selling more MP3s than iTunes.

Nov 11, 2010

Source: MCVPC Gamer 

39 comments

  • Gurkogg - February 18, 2011 3:11 a.m.

    Wal-mart has been doing a nice compromise on their site... they have a stockpile of PC games in a wherehouse somewhere and will deliver them to the nearest store for a competitive price and free of shipping fees. like having a hard copy and it works for me... although if you walk into the store and look at the selection there is a bunch of Blizzard games, some CoD, a couple other new releases and an AISLE filled with Nancy Drew and flash games. I have a crappy internet connection (if you live outside of a city you are screwed) so I order games online and have them delivered to me usually... works ok and it saves me on gas monies.
  • theprashanthkp - February 16, 2011 10:03 p.m.

    Bring down the internet!
  • BoltActionRevolver - November 12, 2010 6:54 p.m.

    Brick and mortar game store might pull them, but their equivalent of Target or Walmart will carry them. Honestly, if its like here in the US, the largest game retailer glances over PC titles. I just wounder how Tyler got the assignment and not some one from the UK office. No offense to Tyler, but the UK guys would know their side of the pond better one would think. Still, I don't think this would cause pressure on the publishers like they think it would
  • EnragedTortoise1 - November 12, 2010 6:51 p.m.

    Have fun trying to get the most widely accoladed and best digital distribution service around banned. This'll be fun.
  • BK-201 - November 12, 2010 6:30 p.m.

    On a scale of 1 to Chris Brown, how mad are these guys?
  • aliengmr - November 12, 2010 6:20 p.m.

    Talk about out of touch. If you ask me someone is a little late to the party. Year of watching retail space for PC games dwindle into nothing and now these fucks show concern? Did they somehow expect an outpouring of support for PC gamers? HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!!!!!!!
  • suicidali - November 12, 2010 6:08 p.m.

    "... will brick and mortar stores be left for dead?" *ba-dum tss* Honestly though, stores need to find ways of encouraging buyers in, rather than just attacking any potential rivals, it just makes them look bad...
  • yonderTheGreat - November 12, 2010 4:49 p.m.

    kid in store "I want to buy Game #7" Retailer "We don't sell Game #7" kid "Why not?" Retailer "Cuz Steam sells it." kid "Oh, Steam won't let you sell it, do they have an exclusive on it?" Retailer "No, we're allowed to sell it, but we think the best way to battle Steam is to sell fewer products and have more titles that are only available on Steam." kid "You're an idiot. No wonder your business model is dying."
  • Gahmah - November 12, 2010 4:27 p.m.

    isn't that uncompetitive behavior? Or does the UK not have anti-trust laws and the like? must do research
  • lionmaru - November 12, 2010 2:06 p.m.

    Steam FTW
  • NightCrawler_358 - November 12, 2010 1:03 p.m.

    Steam is past the point of no return. It's like an unstoppable beast. And it doesn't look like the new online Games for Windows store will dethrone it. (GFW store is terrible)
  • CARDYKEV - November 12, 2010 12:30 p.m.

    Why don't the retailers do a Branson and go with the flow and send us into outer space.
  • One-FISH- - November 12, 2010 8:31 a.m.

    Well, it's a good thing that them doing this is illegal. It's a violation of contract law for a customer demand a supplier to be exclusive. A supplier always can CHOOSE to be exclusive, but for a retailer to demand it would violate fair competition laws in just about major economic country. There are ways around it, but to just come out and make this threat is relatively stupid. Even if it's legal, who wants to buy from these dicks now?
  • mcoll_17 - November 12, 2010 8:19 a.m.

    The only store I trust and go to often for my PC games is Best Buy. Other than that, it's Steam. Why leave the distribution, see how much money DD makes, compete, and then say they are killing the industry?
  • Scoob - November 12, 2010 8:08 a.m.

    The only games that I ever see in EB Games here in Canada are Blizzard titles in a prominent display. Some have a shelf of PC games in a spot that is hard to notice. Oddly enough, it's Wal-Mart that has the best selection. You would figure the specialty shops would make an effort to get a nice selection instead.
  • mattdark - November 12, 2010 7:48 a.m.

    As a UK gamer, I pretty much agree with this article when it comes to the PC game market in retail. While the big consoles and the handhelds will get a healty portion of a store (or share of the video-game section) the PC section is always much smaller in comparrison. They only seem to get one shelving unit which is dedicated to new titles, and big-name brands. Then, most of the time, anything else PC related in generally dumped into the 'bargain bin' sections, with a mass of titles marked with '3 for £10', '2 for £15' special offers. Unfortunateloy, most of the titles in here generally seem to be either flash-puzzel games, unheard-of murder-mystery titles, or young childrens games, rarely will you find anything of interest to an actual gamer. Steam isnt killing the PC market, steam is keeping it afloat as retailers try to kill it by offering less and less...
  • TheVoid - November 12, 2010 7:26 a.m.

    @jmcgrotty Wow, you make SUCH a valid point. I mean, here I thought I was enjoying all of the benefits Steam has to offer, but now you groundlessly say that it has none. You also deem it "offensive", but again with no explanation whatsoever. Well shit my pants, I guess you must be right. Alas, I still have doubt - I kinda like Steam, ya know? But wait, what is this? "I'd subscribe to a service that assured me that it went out of business." Ummm...okay. Sure. Allow me to GUESS what you meant to say: "I'd subscribe to a service that assured me that (I would still retain the games I have purchased through said service if) it went out of business." You missed a few letters there, but that's OK. I'm picking up what you are putting down. At least I think so. Anyway, your (again) extremely well thought out and conveyed response does give some pause. Yes, you might be onto something... What happens to all of the games I bought if Steam goes under? Will they be gone for good? Why, yes, I suppose they would be. And I further suppose that ALL 30 million subscribers are MORE THAN FUCKING AWARE OF THAT, YOU DOLT! I mean, seriously, if we have brain enough to wrap our feeble heads around Steam as a concept, don't you think we've figured that one out? Further, don't you think we've already weighed the options and agreed that either way, we are still coming out on top? For me, I rarely play games more than once anyway. As it is I can barely keep up with all the awesome gaming goodness that pours out on a near-daily basis anyway. So I lose what I bought from Steam if Steam goes under - and that's a pretty big "if", all things considered - so what? I've already come to grips with that being a possibility but I'm still ahead having paid chump change for games that retailers are still pushing for twice as much, if not more. And that's basically the worst case scenario, which discounts how good Steam has been to its customers. Who is to say that if that day ever came Steam wouldn't throw us at least some kind of bone as a way of saying "thank you" for our mutually beneficial relationship? It has been done before, you know. Or perhaps you don't, in which case trust me on that one. And for fuck's sake you asshole - Cancer? Really? "Fucking cancer", no less? Last time I checked, cancer didn't give you much of a choice. You, on the other hand, have been granted the wonderful ability to NOT SIGN UP WITH STEAM IF YOU DON'T WANT TO, thus allowing you to continue to shove that dumb head of yours up your shit-smeared ass instead. Now go cry somewhere else, you fucking baby.
  • hardcore_gamer1990 - November 12, 2010 7:10 a.m.

    Steam ftw. That is all.
  • Hobojedi - November 12, 2010 7:05 a.m.

    Retail stores gave up on us, so we gave up on them.
  • TheVoid - November 12, 2010 6:57 a.m.

    It would help if these retailers realized that most of us were driven to Steam because the likes of them wouldn't carry anything other than the most A of A-list games (and the other requisite dust-collectors that Tyler so spot-on called out). Never mind that there is an incredible indie market that Steam has completely embraced - such retailers would never be bothered because doing so would be a financal risk. And forget that Steam actually celebrates the very-much-alive pc market with more-than-worthwhile sales, bundles, pre-order incentives, etc. Steam does MUCH more to say "thank you" to it's user base than has ever been received by a retail chain. And now these retailers think they will win us back by banning our beloved Steam? At least show your face you sore fucking losers. Have you no honor? Retailers took a dump in the face of pc gamers a long time ago. This pc gamer (and the other 29,999,999) have spoken. We want a selection to choose from. We want attractive deals. We want all of the other perks that Steam provides (i.e. quality game and friend management). Retails offered none of that, and now they are crying because Steam was more forward-thinking than they could ever be. If it weren't for Steam (and yeah, ok, Blizzard), then pc gaming would likely be living up to the "dead" moniker it has been saddled with for so long with retailers largely to blame. Now that retailers see that the pc market is thriving elsewhere - no thanks to them (or thanks in terms of their ignorance and inaction putting a greater spotlight on what Steam offers) - they want back in? Sorry fuckos, too late. I'll tell you what - I hated Steam when it first came out. Having to connect to the internet to play my fresh (store bought) copy of Half Life 2 seemed downright sinister. I couldn't stand it, and as such I only used it when I had to. But as time went on and fewer and fewer pc games could be found on store shelves, I gave Steam another look. This was no small feat coming from a guy who still isn't crazy about not owning a physical copy of something, but I had to admit, Steam's offerings were abundant and more-than-fairly priced. I still buy the occassional "hard copy" of a pc game, but otherwise I'm pretty much all Steam. And more and more of my pc gaming friends are whistling the same tune. I've even seen Steam convert more than one former pc gaming pirate because they feel that Steam represents the one and only "fair" form of DRM, which was thier main beef to begin with. So Mr. Retailer, consider this your just dessert. Forget your customers, and they will forget you. Or didn't they teach you that in business 101? I imagine you skipped that class altogether considering your reactionary plan: try to stop the leader through crybaby legal action rather than adapt to the new playing field. For fucking shame.

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