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 


  • ComradeKhani - November 12, 2010 12:52 a.m.

    steam is the greatest though...
  • kyle94 - November 12, 2010 12:53 a.m.

    If they try to fight against Steam and Valve... ... ... They will die I mean lose!
  • ventanger - November 12, 2010 12:55 a.m.

    Yea, great idea brick and mortar retailers, stock FEWER games in your shops, that'll really help business! Sell Less Games -> ??? -> PROFIT!
  • Tenfey - November 12, 2010 1:23 a.m.

    Apples and pears and threads on a bobbin.
  • Crabhand - November 12, 2010 1:26 a.m.

    It's likely an empty threat, but I've seen publishers act on dumber things. At any rate, I doubt publishers will stop working with Steam, it practically IS the PC market. The only major PC publisher who doesn't work with Steam is Blizzard, and their worse half does put games on Steam.
  • ThePurpleDragon - November 12, 2010 1:47 a.m.

    They try to get rid of Steam because of how they're losing business, but why would you try to force a distributor that's done well and provided millions of hours of entertainment to people suddenly stop. What if Steam had only 20% of the market and retailers like them had the other 80%. Steam trying to stop them is just as stupid when you think about it. They're trying to start a war that they don't know they can't win.
  • Eliath - November 12, 2010 1:47 a.m.

    Seeing as PC is my platform of choice, if retailers stop carrying PC games that integrate with Steam, then I will stop shopping at their stores. Steam is generally a better cost anyway.
  • StrayGator - November 12, 2010 1:49 a.m.

    As if they stock more than laughable selection of PC games as it is.
  • killerflyingsquirell - November 12, 2010 2:28 a.m.

    This depresses me. Stop your whining and sell more pc games.Then, and only under certain conditions, i.e cheaper prices, would i stop using steam.
  • Crimmy - November 12, 2010 2:36 a.m.

    Ban Steam? Ha, good luck with that.
  • SideOfBeef - November 12, 2010 3:01 a.m.

    Steam did what these retailers are trying to do with digital, they did it better, and they did it sooner. Retailers should either admit they lost or step up their services to match Steam. It's classless for them to try and just muscle Steam out.
  • drgnrbrn316 - November 12, 2010 3:09 a.m.

    This likely won't fix anything since all those people are already buying the games on Steam anyway. They're only chasing away the customers who would actually buy the game from the brick and mortar stores.
  • MonkeyMagician - November 12, 2010 3:39 a.m.

    Okay, so it's two major UK games retailers? So that's Game and...erm...Gamestation? Neither of these businesses offers anything to the consumer that can't be found more easily and cheaper online. Beyond cost and convenience, where Steam is really wins for me is a lack of human contact, as bad as that sounds. When I'm buying a game I don't want some know all employee being obligated into coming over to pester me. When I bought a 360 earlier this year I had a Game employee try to upsell things to me in spite of me telling him that I knew what I wanted and the fact that I ended up correcting him on some fairly basic product knowledge. The only thing going to a shop actually gets me is the opportunity to look through their pre-owned section for bargains and the possiblity of being asked if I want to buy a guide for the game I've just bought as if I'm some special needs moron incapable of actually learning how things work by myself.
  • RonaldRayGun - November 12, 2010 4:38 a.m.

    You go a hear and not sell games. I'll get my copy over steam, suckas!
  • RonaldRayGun - November 12, 2010 4:38 a.m.

    correction ahead
  • Heyexclamationpoint - November 12, 2010 4:43 a.m.

    People still buy pc games in stores?
  • Yeager1122 - November 12, 2010 4:50 a.m.

    @Heyeclamationpoint Of course where else are you going to get those excellent nancy drew titles shoved into a tiny corner in the back?
  • tyler_14_420 - November 12, 2010 5:19 a.m.

    Steam succeeds because it's good. These retailers are just bitches who can't win through quality so they use stupid tactics to try and weave around Steam rather than addressing the problem, that their digital distribution service sucks. The conveniency of so many games being available also means that you don't need to run 4 distribution services to talk to your friends playing different games. Hell, Blizzard's distribution service is great and as far as I can tell, it's doing pretty well (Something about some buyable mounts making millions...?) Maybe Steam should be separate from Valve because issues can rise from that, but they made it fair and square, and I don't see any reason why anyone should dislike it.
  • jmcgrotty - November 12, 2010 6:56 a.m.

    Steam is a fucking cancer. I'd subscribe to a service that assured me that it went out of business. It's offensive and offers not a single benefit for anyone.
  • 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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