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Is Valve's Steam Anti-Competitive? 286

Posted by Soulskill
from the either-that-or-it-isn't dept.
Absolut187 writes "Gearbox Software CEO Randy Pitchford says Steam's domination of digital distribution is 'dangerous,' and exploits small developers. 'Steam helps us as customers, but it's also a money grab, and Valve is exploiting a lot of people in a way that's not totally fair. ... Valve is taking a larger share than it should for the service it's providing. ... There's so much conflict of interest there that it's horrid.' Pitchford's comments came as part of an interview with Maximum PC, and he thinks Valve should spin off Steam to its own company. Is he right? Is there a better answer?" Update: 10/10 at 02:00 GMT by SS: Randy has clarified his remarks in a comment here at Slashdot. He makes it clear that he likes Steam a lot, and for several reasons, but thinks stronger competition would benefit the industry as a whole.
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Is Valve's Steam Anti-Competitive?

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  • by maugle (1369813) on Friday October 09, 2009 @08:10PM (#29700201)
    Steam gives you an easy way to reach customers, and takes a cut of the profit in return. You think they're taking too much, don't put your game on Steam. Where's the problem here?
    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Friday October 09, 2009 @09:05PM (#29700517)

      He might have a point if Valve really had a monopoly. If they because the only way to do digital distribution, ok maybe a problem. However, that's not the case. My personal favourite for digital games is Stardock's Impulse (impulsedriven.com). Same idea basic as Steam. What I like about it is it is better on DRM. They don't apply their own DRM to all games, so some have none at all. Others use Impulse GOO, which is kinda like Steamworks but you don't have to be logged in or run the client, others use 3rd party DRM like on Steam.

      Yet another option is Direct2Drive. I'm not such a fan of this one, but it works. I've bought a couple of titles from it.

      So if a publisher/developer doesn't like Steam, well then don't use them, use one of the others. Nobody is making you use Steam. Or, for that matter, you could always use Steam but offer a better deal to the others if you like them better. Have your game for $50 on Steam and $40 on Impulse. That way you still get sales from Steam, but you can point customers to the platform you like better.

      The other funny thing about the whining is that though the digital distributors take a cut, it is way less than retail. Retail is about a 50% markup. So if you buy a game at Target for $50 the publisher sees $25. Digital distributors don't take nearly that large a cut (it is more like 20%).

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Yep, Steam isn't the only way to go. Not only is there Direct2Drive, but there's also other, smaller, online distributors like Gamer's Gate. There's plenty of room for developers and publishers to add their own distribution methods.

        This does give me an interesting idea: image a program that is the digital distribution clone of Trillian or Pidgin. Instead of having to download tons of different distribution programs, visit 50 bajillion websites to download stuff, it would be nice to have them all merged in
      • by Sir_Sri (199544)

        retail on games is more like 20% than 50, source http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2006/12/8479.ars (and that's markup, not profit, profit is probably about half of that, the last EB manager I was friends with said they averaged about 7% profit on the price of games over a particular period, which I think was summer but not sure). There's a lot less overhead when you don't have to manufacture a box, manual or DVDs, after all you have to pay for all the stuff even if it doesn't sell.

        Either way, I'm partia

      • by BitZtream (692029) on Friday October 09, 2009 @10:35PM (#29701029)

        He might have a point if Valve really had a monopoly. If they because the only way to do digital distribution, ok maybe a problem. However, that's not the case. My personal favourite for digital games is Stardock's Impulse (impulsedriven.com). Same idea basic as Steam. What I like about it is it is better on DRM. They don't apply their own DRM to all games, so some have none at all. Others use Impulse GOO, which is kinda like Steamworks but you don't have to be logged in or run the client, others use 3rd party DRM like on Steam.

        I agree, Steam isn't a monopoly, and there are are better (in my opinion) alternatives that have some of the exact same games.

        I've bought from Steam, Impulse and Direct2Drive specifically as well as a few other self distributors. So far, Impulse is my favorite, especially for items that they will sell you a box/cd and the download for a few bucks more. Direct2Drive is fine, but you have to pay extra to make sure you can redownload it later. I understand to some extent, you have to pay to get replacement cd's from pretty much anyone, if you can find someone to help you do so. Steam is okay except its constant requirement to talk to servers and that I can't transfer a game to another account, which aren't problems with Impulse.

        Clearly there is competition here, Steam has some shitty policies, feel free to bitch about them and shop elsewhere, Steam will either fix it, or have some other reason they own the marketplace or they simply won't own the marketplace, like now.

        Steam, Impulse and Direct2Drive are just examples of the Targets, Walmarts and Kmarts of the Internet, just retail stores, although they haven't worked out the details as well as the brick and mortor counterparts.

        You can bitch about them about the same way as you can bitch about BestBuy and Walmarts practices, but calling them a monopoly is just silly.

        Being silly is a valid slashdot headline/summary however.

      • I'd like to see sources on your markup price comparison. It's an interesting topic. But if you buy a game at Target for $50 on a 50% markup, then that means that the publisher sees 33$, not 25$. 25-50$ is a 100% markup.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by roguetrick (1147853)

        I'm curious if steam's distribution agreement would even allow you to put it on other digital platforms for less.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by GMFTatsujin (239569)

      GOG [gog.com] want you to own your games and play whenever you want. Steam want you to rent your games, and play when you're connected to their servers and it's economically convenient.

      What you do with your dollar is up to you.

      • by Lulfas (1140109) on Friday October 09, 2009 @10:08PM (#29700865)
        You can play when you're not connected to their servers just fine. You don't pay per month, so the "rent" thing doesn't really apply. And once you download a game, you can make your own backups from within Steam just fine.
        • by Archfeld (6757) *

          What are the options should steam go away ? I've personally only had very minor interaction with the service when it first came out, HL era. Can you expound a bit on the steam backup ? physical media involved ? What happens if/when my drive fails ?

          • by Ash Vince (602485)

            I recently reinstalled Steam on a new machine after losing my account details from the old machine and having not used my account in 2 years. I had lost access to my old email account I signed up with so I had to provide them with the credit card details I signed up with. Now I have access to all the games I have ever bought using Steam. This is better than most game I bought a physical copy of as I am great at losing or damaging the discs or manuals.

            The people here complaining about "renting" games are jus

          • by Red Cape (854034) on Friday October 09, 2009 @10:53PM (#29701109) Homepage Journal
            No physical media involved, it makes a copy of your folder so you can keep all your games/maps/etc. From there, you can move the backup anywhere. If your drive fails, well, you'll lose your personal game files if u didn't copy your backup somewhere else. But with Steam, you can download the entire game again unlimited times. The only restriction is that you can only be logged into Steam on one computer at a time. This is makes it hard to share accounts with people, which is expected. Personally, I think Steam is extremely useful. Like many others have said, if you don't like the distributor, distribute your game with someone else. Valve doesn't have a monopoly on online distribution, they just happen to be good at it.
  • by magarity (164372) on Friday October 09, 2009 @08:11PM (#29700207)

    Valve is exploiting a lot of people in a way that's not totally fair
     
    So start a competitor with policies you consider to be fair.
     
    And stop whining, btw.

    • by Delwin (599872) * on Friday October 09, 2009 @08:14PM (#29700225)
      My digital distribution channel list for work has 10 names on it and Steam isn't even #1. While it may dominate in the US it's by no means the largest channel internationally.
    • Dude, I responded the same way and went so far as to write gearbox. Randy wrote me back, personally, and cleared it up. This article is sensationalist exaggeration and bullshit, thats what it is. I knew my critic-o-meter was off today! I should have known a journalist will say crazy junk just to seem cool.

      Here is the link to my post (right here in slashdot comments) where I quote him from his e-mail to me.

      http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1399359&cid=29700749 [slashdot.org]

    • I have to agree. I've been a steam user for years and I find it useful. Anti-competitive is the term for the ones who can't compete quite as successfully as the successful competitor. What a world we live in when its possible to "level" the playground by whining about anti-competitive behavior to legislators.
  • by MagicMerlin (576324) on Friday October 09, 2009 @08:11PM (#29700209)
    A company creates a digital content distribution service that is (almost) single handedly keeping pc gaming alive and we speculate how unfair it is. To great things go great rewards...losing sight of that simple principle shows just how into twilight we have gone.
    • by maugle (1369813) on Friday October 09, 2009 @08:25PM (#29700317)
      Re: Digital distribution that's keeping PC gaming alive

      There's one other thing that's revived PC gaming for me, and digital distribution does it by default. Apart from games I bought on Steam or from GOG, only one of them doesn't force me to insert the %^&*ing CD in order to play. This is despite the fact that games load just about nothing from CD these days because it's too slow!
      • by Jared555 (874152)

        Typically they literally load nothing from the cd. They just check to make sure it is there (and legit) and after that you can just eject the disk with no issue.

    • by Hadlock (143607)

      No, I think ad revenue is down across the board and all the journalists went to a "making sensationalist headlines work for YOU" seminar, and some of the slashdot editors went along to it. Even the relatively even-keeled slashdot has become rather fox-news-like in terms of sensationalist stories about nothing. It's one thing to break news about the Patriot act, NSA monitoring US citizens without warrants, etc but putting sensationalist bullshit about a very well liked company and their digital distribution

  • Well.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Renraku (518261)

    As much as I like Steam, they'll always be anti-competitive as long as you cannot unlink and resale games to other people. It ensures that Steam NEVER has to compete with itself for a sale, that is, no one can get a Steam-exclusive game and then resell it to another person, without selling their entire account off.

    I have no issues with letting them dominate the market if they'd allow games to be resold or transferred between accounts. They haven't, to my knowledge, been anti-competitive towards other comp

    • Re:Well.. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by BikeHelmet (1437881) on Friday October 09, 2009 @08:29PM (#29700337) Journal

      It's worth noting that for Valve's exclusive games, when you buy bundle packs containing copies you already have, you get more copies which can be given to friends.

      Unfortunately, the same doesn't apply for third-party games.

      I can understand the publisher's desire to lock a game to every customer. It ensures every sale gives you profit. I also understand that in the case of Steam, that's giving us much lower prices. Unlike most other platforms, Steam is flooded with quality games that go on sale for between $5 to $15.

      When's the last time you got an XBox360 game brand new for $10? You can take your rights of sale and shove them... somewhere. I'll lose at least that much money trying to sell a game I picked up new, so resale doesn't really concern me much. Plus, after I sell it and lose $10+, I don't have it anymore.

      One thing I would like to see is Valve not allowing non-Steam DRM in games. I hate it when games have double-protection(like Universe At War), and then it doesn't work because of the non-Steam DRM.

      • When's the last time you got an XBox360 game brand new for $10?

        You mean like Turtles in Time Re-Shelled [xbox.com], which costs 800 MS Points ($10) on the Xbox Live Marketplace?

        Or did you mean other than the Xbox Live Marketplace? Of course, that would make the comparison unfair, since XBLM is the 360's Digital Distribution system.

    • by Kesch (943326)

      I'm actually pretty surprised by the prices on Steam though. Despite a strong second-hand market for PC games, the prices on Steam (and PC games in general) still seem to have some strong pressure from somewhere (piracy?). New game prices sometimes start below their console ports, and the price gap just widens from there. On top of that they offer sometimes crazy good sales and some amazing value bundles. Of course, they're not the only digital distributor with good deals. The recent D2D $5 sale has had me

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by The MAZZTer (911996)

        Well with digital distribution you cut out the publisher/distributor, and you can either turn that cost into profit or cut ti out of the cost of the game.

        And of course since it costs mere pennies to distribute, once you make up the cost of producing a game you can set the price point wherever you want and it's pure profit.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

      If you've signed an exclusive contract, then obviously you would be in breach of contract if you sold somewhere else. Duh.

      That's actually you (the developer) creating an incentive for Valve to promote your software more than they would promote non-exclusive software. It's a business decision, and the company that has to live with it is the one that made the decision.

      Re-selling is an entirely different beast. If you want to own a physical copy of a game you can sell to someone else, you should buy a physi

    • by Ash Vince (602485)

      As much as I like Steam, they'll always be anti-competitive as long as you cannot unlink and resale games to other people.

      Sorry, but you will have to explain why that is anti-competitive. It might not be the most consumer friendly policy, but it certainly does not stifle competition. I also note that most games are cheaper on Steam which is why I always thought you were not allowed to transfer ownership. Thhey are in fact completely open about this, when you buy a game you know it is limited to you, so you have choice: buy it anyway, or do not buy it and go and pay more to get a hardcopy that still probably prohibits resale, b

  • Technically the service valve provides takes the role of packager, distributor, and store so if you add up the amounts those companies normally get (on an equally priced game) and it is a similar amount then it shouldn't be any big deal (for the developer). Especially since valve may have to distribute the game a hundred times.

    • by arbiter1 (1204146)
      games on steam are same price as in a retail store, minus the cost of shipping the game to the store, box, cd/dvd.
      • If ordering online, you also save shipping and handling from the eStore to you.

        In my case - I'm Canadian - Steam saves me 12% tax. (more depending on province)

        And I usually wait for things to go 50-75% off before purchasing, which puts my Steam cost at about 20% of retail cost.

      • by Jared555 (874152)

        I was referring to the % of the price that goes to steam vs the developer compared to stores/distributors/manufacturers in retail. Sorry that I wasn't clear.

  • by MrMista_B (891430) on Friday October 09, 2009 @08:19PM (#29700269)

    How on earth is a voluntary service exploitative?

    In the same way I guess that a story exploits people who voluntarily buy from them.

    Is there something I'm missing here?

    • by Artifakt (700173)

      I'm not saying Steam is an example, but why can't a voluntary service be exploitative? People volunteer to do business with a high speed ISP, for example, but that ISP may be the only provider in the area, and lobby for laws to keep municipalities from establishing a competing service, so as to keep the price up, while also getting subsidies from the federal government. You volunteer to do buisiness directly with the company, but you also have financial involvement with them you didn't volunteer for - surel

  • by arbiter1 (1204146) on Friday October 09, 2009 @08:29PM (#29700335)
    valve made a problem that takes all the crap of needing to keep disc's around that can get scratched. plus they made a system of drm that works and don't treat everyone like pirates. Also don't crash machines and cause more headaches for the legit customer then the pirates.
  • Steam is less anti-competitive than say, The Pirate Bay?

          What's stopping game developers from hosting their own pay-per-download site, instead of whining about Steam? Then they can keep ALL of the profit (less bandwidth and marketing costs).

  • by steveha (103154) on Friday October 09, 2009 @08:32PM (#29700345) Homepage

    Has Valve somehow managed to erect barriers to entry into the market, or in any way block competitors from starting a competing service? Is there in fact anything unethical or unfair going on?

    Valve pioneered this area. Now they are reaping the rewards. Anyone who doesn't like it is welcome to start up their own, competing service.

    But hey, he's entitled to complain about it if it makes him feel better. That's less work that trying to compete with Valve.

    steveha

    • by moon3 (1530265) on Friday October 09, 2009 @09:08PM (#29700535)
      Anyone who doesn't like it is welcome to start up their own, competing service.

      Sure and LOL, they were the first carrying titles like Counter-Strike and Half-life, pretty much forcing people to install Steam in order to play these highly desired games. NOBODY would install Steam without some good game already in. You can try to start a competing company with no such games, good luck.
      • Sure and LOL, they were the first carrying titles like Counter-Strike and Half-life, pretty much forcing people to install Steam in order to play these highly desired games. NOBODY would install Steam without some good game already in. You can try to start a competing company with no such games, good luck.

        So what game did Direct2Drive use to achieve popularity, then?

        Also, even if your premise holds true, game market itself is quite competitive. It ain't cheap, but it's certainly feasible for a new entity to come up with a new good game, and then tie that to its new electronic distribution service, just like Valve did.

        So, again, what's the problem here?

  • Use Impulse Instead (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DelitaTheFridge (912659) on Friday October 09, 2009 @08:33PM (#29700355)
    So Impulse (http://www.impulsedriven.com/) is like steam, but run by Stardock. Games you buy on impulse don't require it to be running ala games on steam. I don't know how their pricing is for game developers, but they sure seem nicer and friendlier than the big behemoth to me, and I'll always buy a given game on impulse over steam if they have it.
  • Compete if you don't like it. Get a cartel of game companies to fund a copy of Steam. I doubt it will save much money, though.

    I've definitely purchased more games due to Steam. I do wish that more of the games supported online backups of saved games, and that it had a default configuration/hinting system for settings such as key and mouse binds. Movement, invert mouse, zoom, jump, crouch, prone, etc: most games of a similar type have mostly similar controls.

    Steam is great. They've had the potential to
  • I've bought games from gamersgate, direct2drive, impulse.net, gog.com and steam. Steam doesn't quite have a monopoly yet.

    But the only service from this list I like more then steam is gog.com. Steam offers a great service which offers very fast downloads, an easy to use steam app, weekend deals, plenty of community features, achievements... The only thing they seriously fuck up is their price ranges. Direct dollar to euro conversions make me feel ripped of. It also means that new games are always cheaper
  • You can put it on Impulse, GameTap, or make it a direct download on your site. You can port it to console and put it on WiiWare, XBox Live, or PSN. Seriously, there's a lot of alternatives here, and its hard for me to think of Steam as a monopoly.

  • Steam flaws (Score:4, Informative)

    by Inverted Intellect (950622) on Friday October 09, 2009 @09:11PM (#29700547)

    I'm seeing a lot of comments discussing various flaws of Steam, but nothing which I recognize as anti-competitiveness. Now I'm not terribly well informed on what constitutes anti-competitive practices, so I did what any random Joe Slashdot on the street would do, which is look it up on WP.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-competitive_practices [wikipedia.org]

    Looking at the list of typical anti-competitive practices, I see none which I can imagine applying to Valve's Steam, so I'd imagine that their high popularity with publishers given their high cut of the price is simply due to a lack of good competition rather than Valve pushing all their competitors in online game distribution off the market.

    If Steam wasn't ultimately providing a profitable service, I'm sure publishers would simply stick with the physical retail market.

  • by Randy Pitchford (547487) on Friday October 09, 2009 @09:22PM (#29700607)
    As a guy who reads, trusts and respects slashdot and the community here, I figured I'd take the time to clarify my position since my intent has been construed out of context. As a gamer, I *love* Valve's games. Hell, I've *made* some of Valve's games! As a customer, I love Steam. I like owning a credential that I can use from any terminal and I like the software. There are other things I like, too. As a businessman, I appreciate the access to Valve's customers that they are providing with Steam. I think there's value to that access. I'm really happy that the Brothers in Arms games are available on Steam and I think Steam customers are really going to dig Borderlands. I have been and hope to be a partner to Valve for many years. From an industry perspective of digital distribution on the PC, I think Steam is doing it the best right now. They're in front and they're really getting value out of their leadership position with digital distribution on the PC. From an industry perspective, I believe that Steam would be even better off if it were a separate company. Trust issues that result from conflict of interest could be mitigated if Steam were a separate company. Take that only as analysis. It doesn't matter how much I trust Valve or how trustworthy Valve actually is - it's just perception within segments of the publishing and development community that, I guess, no one is really talking about. I'm on record in this article saying how I personally trust Valve. I was attempting to comment on perception from some angles of the industry. I also believe that gamers and customers and anyone making games using 3rd party digital distribution systems would be greatly benefited if Steam had some viable competitors. Competition generally drives higher quality products and services at lower prices. I can't see how anyone could argue against that point. If we love Steam, we should hope that as competition appears that it prompts the Steam folks to go faster and better towards improving the service and the pricing. In spite of the implication made in the original source article, I do not want Microsoft to control digital distribution on PC, but believe they (and others) could enter the space if they wanted to and help the competitive landscape and even, perhaps, help to standardize the landscape a bit. I believe that because Valve is a game maker that generally "gets it" I think there's a lot of value to the position they have and I'm really excited about the risk they took and the foresight Valve showed in paving the way there. These are not mutually exclusive feelings and they are all honest and forthright.
    • by Megaweapon (25185) on Friday October 09, 2009 @09:40PM (#29700717) Homepage

      As a guy who reads, trusts and respects slashdot and the community here

      You lost me.

      • by K9black (620592) on Friday October 09, 2009 @10:58PM (#29701133)
        I really don't understand where you're coming from when you say there need to be other viable options of digital distribution services. There are. Most notably Direct2Drive. Now maybe D2D doesn't offer a "community" portion like Steam does, but who's stopping them? Honestly, the most viable option for them would be to buy out or cooperate with X-Fire and integrate its buddy messaging services with a D2D storefront and then add on some unique features. I made my Steam account on Sept 12, 2003. I hated it in beta and I hated it then. But Valve made a huge amount of changes. Many of them coming from community suggestions. About a year after launch it took on a new face and _really_ caught on. So let's face it. Valve came up with something truly original and molded it into exactly what the consumer wanted. Anyone else is free to do the same. But the question remains, who has ever done better than Valve in Valve's field of operations? Good luck.
    • by RiotingPacifist (1228016) on Friday October 09, 2009 @10:15PM (#29700909)

      As a guy who reads, trusts and respects slashdot and the community here,

      That is where you are going wrong, we are in fact 90% self righteous troll, fortunately I'm part of the 10% that responds to logic and completely agree that it would be better for everybody involved if steam/valve split. If they do not they will have to take great care to not end up running afoul of anti-trust laws as they are a major part of several markets distribution,PC FPS (particularly at a pro level),engine licensor.

    • by AugstWest (79042)

      That Randy is such a rebel boat rocker.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mordenkhai (1167617)
      Randy,
      I can respect that you are coming from the perspective of a competitor, and commenting on how you would feel better about the distribution channel if it wasn't directly conjoined with one of your biggest competitors. I can really understand that concept.

      As a customer, I hope Steam *never* separates from Valve. I trust them, as well as I can trust any corporation, as they have in the past demonstrated that they *really* want my cash, and are willing to prove it. They do it in a variety of ways,
  • Counterpoints (Score:3, Informative)

    by BinaryOpty (736955) on Friday October 09, 2009 @09:27PM (#29700631)
    Note that there's already been some counterpoints against this story posted elsewhere on the internet:
    Counterpoint from John Gibson [gamasutra.com]
    Counterpoint from Derek Smart [shacknews.com]
  • by gencha (1020671)
    You think that if I pay money for a product that can be altered at an any time through the distributor or where the distributor can revoke my right to use the product at any time is somehow bad? I can not believe what I am hearing! Here I was thinking that it was totally awesome to buy a product which I could never resell nor would I have any control over. I personally think that Steam is an awesome platform and am very happy that all these DRM practices strayed far away from it.
  • Does Steam prevent another company setting up a similar service?
    Do they force their users into an unfair contract against their will?
    Do they force the software authors into an unfair contract against their will?
    Does Steam intefere with, or say that you can't use, other similar services?

    No? Then it's probably not anticompetitive. Just because you don't like it, doesn't mean it's anticompetitive. Just because they are the only decent online to-your-desktop electronic software distribution network that is p

  • by appleprophet (233330) on Friday October 09, 2009 @09:53PM (#29700787) Homepage

    As someone who has an upcoming indie game [wolfire.com] appearing on Steam, here are my thoughts.

    First of all, there is no shortage of competition [wolfire.com] for Steam. Steam is definitely the biggest, but they are not doing anything anti-competitve.

    Unlike the console market, it is not uncommon to see a game sold on Steam, D2D, Impulse, and the 15+ other contendors simultaneously, from day one, in addition to being sold by the creator directly. In fact, even earlier than day one, due to the trend of preorders.

    If Steam pressured developers into exclusive deals (which they could easily do, due to their size), then sure, I would be kind of pissed. The fact of the matter is that Valve isn't doing that -- they are simply acting like a big, friendly store where developers can put their game for sale. They have been great dudes so far.

  • There are other digital distribution systems which are still common names and the market is still developing. Off the top of my head I know of direct2drive and I use Stardock's Impulse system when I can to buy games. It's a lot better than steam, not always cheaper for big games but you can add physical copies of any games you own to it, have it manage updates, your keys, reinstallation when you want without using the physical media. Has a lot less DRM, doesn't need to be running for you to run it's games.
  • by RiotingPacifist (1228016) on Friday October 09, 2009 @10:30PM (#29700997)

    Wow it looks like if a company is not MS or google then nobody should even question the conflict of interests they have here on slashdot!? The guy has some good points, agree/disagree but give me a break on all the "they have competitors"/"build your own nobody is stopping you!" posts, I mean most of those posts are just repeating previous ones, of 109 posts (most of them "they have competitors",etc) only 1 has any real analysis/content!

  • If Mr. Randy thinks there should be more competition, then Randy should build one on his own dime -- not try to squash those who have already done so.

    When I build successful services, and I choose to charge for them, I don't like it when other people try to make my life more difficult by forcing me to charge less because they feel entitled to pay less. What the hell?

    Free markets are exactly that -- you don't like the price, you don't have to pay it. You can offer to pay the developers directly. And they c

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 09, 2009 @11:27PM (#29701283)

    Well, for customers of Steam (read : anyone who might has a game he wants to market) it might be. But for customers of those customers (read : those who buy those games) its far from that.

    I recently bought a copy of Fear 2. Alas, when I tried to install it I got a "Fear.dll missing" error-message, maybe because my game-machine is simple not connected to the 'Net ?

    And pardon me, but there is, for me, absolutily no way I'm going to put money down for a DVD contaning some software I can't even use, everytime I want to install it (and maybe even more often ?), without contacting some far-away server from whom I can beg to please give me the content I allready payed for. Especially not when I'm known to enjoy games of yester-decade as much (or maybe even more) as the current games -- It would (most likely) be impossible for me to re-install games of a few years old onto my machine (and not because of hardware incompatibilities). Either the game will not be supported by Steam anymore (licence-to-play expired ?), I would have to prove I'm the first buyer probably by sending the origional bill to them, or even Steam has ceased to exist, leaving me with a "bought" game that has become worthless without me even knowing when it happens/has happened (throw a standard dice, divide by 2 or even 3 and add 2 to 3 years. That is, if you're lucky, as it could happen next week).

    Oh yeah, I recently (last week) bought Fear I (the origional, first version) too (I allready played part of it on a friends computer). Too bad that it suddenly cried that there "is an update available", a message which won't go away (pops up every time I want to continue playing).

    The funny thing is that an update will invalidate any saved-games you allready have. To add to this monkey business the site where the update should be gotten from is non-existant anymore. If this company can't even support its own product a few years (or, in my case, a week after I bought it (from a store) ) I allready have bad feelings about an external party like Steam ....

  • a rebuttal (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DragonTHC (208439) <Dragon@gamerslST ... .com minus berry> on Saturday October 10, 2009 @09:23AM (#29703067) Homepage Journal

    First, saying that steam is a money grab is as asinine as saying that physical media publishing is a money grab. Of course it is. It no more exploits small developers than 2K Games, Ubisoft, EA, or any other software publisher does. Which is to say, yes they all do. Attacking Valve specifically because Gabe and Doug had the foresight and vision to get a foothold in the digital distribution market before it became popular is just plain whiny. Valve's domination over the digital distribution realm is not due to anti-competitive behavior. It's due to a superior service which adapted to the market long before traditional publishers' white haired executives realized they were losing sales to steam. By then, the best option was to publish under steam. Does steam take a larger share than they should? Probably not, given the service they provide. Using physical media presented problems for consumers. Publishers, already wary of online piracy saw digital distribution as counter-intuitive. Valve presented steam as both an answer to piracy and a solution to issues with physical media. But for Valve it was much more than that. By publishing their own games, they effectively avoided issues with traditional publishers. Consumers wanted to get their games online. Traditional publishers wouldn't provide them. Blaming Valve for steam's popularity is both a compliment and ludicrous. The consumers wanted the service.

    Second, there is plenty of competition out there for digital distribution. None of it provides quite the same value as steam. Traditional publishers tried their own flavor of digital distribution. Some were very difficult to use and offered only one download of the game. None offered the community features that steam did at the time. Steam continues to improve the service at no additional cost to either consumers or developers. Only Stardock is coming close to Valve. Stardock was offering community services long before their Impulse DD store launched. Other DD game stores are web-based and don't even come close to the services and value that steam provides. So forgive me if I don't share your disdain for steam.

    I thought the idea was stupid when I first heard about steam in 2002. I didn't see the potential.

    That being said, the only dangerous part is the faith we place in the service after investing thousands of dollars on games on steam. If steam shuts down or becomes defunct, our games go poof. Granted, we have the option to backup our games, though they only work if connecting to the steam service. So the dangerous part is also the most valuable part.

  • by Aceticon (140883) on Saturday October 10, 2009 @02:05PM (#29704769)

    I buy my games ate physical game stores for a very simple reason:
    - If they don't work or they're not what's advertised I can bring them back and get a refund.

    This is true for any game I buy: there's no need to investigate the Software License of a game before I buy it (like in Steam) to make sure I can get a refund

    Try doing that with digital distribution or even online stores.

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