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

“Publishers are creating a monster – we are telling suppliers to stop using Steam in their games,” says retail executive

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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