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UK Games Retailers Threaten Boycott of Steam Games 443

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the but-we-like-it-our-way-better dept.
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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UK Games Retailers Threaten Boycott of Steam Games

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  • Okay... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @10:20AM (#34196496) Journal

    More sales for Steam then?

    • Re:Okay... (Score:4, Informative)

      by chemicaldave (1776600) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @10:26AM (#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.



      • 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... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @10:47AM (#34196834) Journal

          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: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Darinbob (1142669)
            I used to visit a store that would sell used games for about $10-20. And give you about $5-$15 for them. I got quite a lot of great games that way, many of which I played many times. Then I moved silicon valley and nothing like this existed. People pointed me to Game Stop and I thought $40 for a used game was the height of stupidity, even if the game is over a year old. I could go to a normal retailer and wait a month or two and the new game will drop to that price.

            Still, it's better than Steam.
          • That happened to me (Score:4, Interesting)

            by lullabud (679893) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @03:24PM (#34200316) Homepage

            Last winter I was trying to buy the Super Mario Wii game for my nieces, but after waiting in line for like 15 minutes I found out it was sold out even though they had like 50 boxes on the shelf.

            Just as I was expressing my frustration at having waited in line expecting them to sell me a game for the box I was holding in my hand a woman came in trying to sell her disc. It didn't have a cover because the dog had eaten it. Not only did Gamestop allow us to do the sale inside their store instead of outside in the icy cold, they also gave me one of their empty boxes off the shelf since they were unable to sell me the game even though I'd waited in line.

            It was surely not the kind of thing that corporate would recommend them to do, I'm sure, but it was a great gesture on their part and definitely placated all of my complaint that they would advertise the availability of a game on their shelf when they actually had no copies in stock.

      • 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... (Score:5, Informative)

          by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Thursday November 11, 2010 @11:45AM (#34197588) Journal

          But on the other hand things like Steam (or worse AC2 style online "activation") are killing the used PC game market for ALL of us not just Gamestop. And don't forget this is DRM folks, which means you play THEIR game by THEIR rules, because YOU never own it! Want to mod it? Not allowed unless they say so. Want to sell it? Not allowed. I don't see how this is ANY different from the Apple walled garden approach, since they have all the rights to do as they please AFTER the sale.

          So while I think Gamestop can be serious asses, let us not forget that ultimately all these Steam style distribution methods make for a great run around our first sale rights, and make every "purchase" nothing more than a really expensive rental. They can pull your account, take your games away from you, they have ALL the control in their walled garden while you have none. That is why I have been putting my money where my mouth is and been shopping at Good Old Games [gog.com] where at least I OWN what I pay for.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Enderandrew (866215)

            I'm not a fan of DRM. It doesn't stop pirates at all, but punishes paying customers.

            That being said, 99% of PC games ship with DRM either way. Steam however gives me great sales and digital downloads. So I prefer Steam over the alternatives, such as supporting places like Gamestop which are like pawn shops for kids.

            And are you sure gog.com doesn't include any DRM whatsoever? That shocks me. And technically you never own software. You license it.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by cenice (42933)

              And are you sure gog.com doesn't include any DRM whatsoever? That shocks me. And technically you never own software. You license it.

              Check out point three on their about page [gog.com] for a pleasant surprise.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by bhcompy (1877290)
            I don't sell my PC games(and I don't buy console games I intend to sell, GameFly takes care of that), so I don't care about resale rights(and I could always sell my Steam account if I wanted to).

            GameStop has shit selection of PC games in store, and second hand PC games are useless since the ones that are not tied to a persistent online service(be it Steam, Impulse, GFWL, Ubisoft, etc) have CD keys that in modern times are one online at a time(like original HL) or use limited(like Spore).

            Steam is DRM,
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Zerimar (1124785)
            But Valve (and to a lesser degree, Blizzard) is almost single handedly keeping PC Gaming alive and well. Steam has been amazing for the PC gaming ecosystem - especially for the little guys. Does World of Goo get noticed without Steam? Probably not. Defense Grid? I doubt it. Puzzle Quest and it's derivatives? Nope. Crayon Physics? No. Plants vs Zombies took off with help from Steam as well, although Popcap is a fairly large developer at this point. I'm against DRM as much as the next guy, but I st
          • Re:Okay... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by kungfugleek (1314949) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @12:35PM (#34198240)

            and make every "purchase" nothing more than a really expensive rental.

            Almost every game I've purchased on Steam was under $5. Some even less. Never more than $10. Not that expensive as far as a "rental" goes.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by robpoe (578975)
            But on the other hand things like Steam (or worse AC2 style online "activation") are killing the used PC game market for ALL of us not just Gamestop. And don't forget this is DRM folks

            I'm tired of invasive DRM. Steam handles DRM quite nicely. I'm not totally against DRM if it's not invasive.

            You don't want any DRM? Ok, so take a look at Crysis - probably (arguably) the most pirated PC exclusive FPS made. And let me tell you, that game was pretty damn good! Now, because of piracy, Crytek (the makers o

            • Re:Okay... (Score:5, Insightful)

              by wjousts (1529427) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @01:18PM (#34198714)

              Now, if it'd been offered in Steam and the DRM (which you cry so hard about) keeps the piracy numbers way down -- ultimately the company makes money and piracy is much lower.

              I assume you have a source to cite that proves piracy is much lower on Steam DRM'ed games? Because I'm pretty sure everything on Steam is out on the torrents somewhere...

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by DeadTOm (671865)

            But on the other hand things like Steam (or worse AC2 style online "activation") are killing the used PC game market for ALL of us not just Gamestop.

            I agree on this point, I really think steam needs a feature that allows you to de-license a game and gift that license to a friend. Would be a nice feature. I'd love to be able to give some of my older games to my kids but I'm not going to let them get on my steam account.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Want to mod it? Not allowed unless they say so.

            Do please point out a game that people want to mod but cannot because Steam prevents them.

            Oh, wait, Steam goes out of its way to ensure that games remain moddable, and some mods are even distributed officially on Steam. Never mind then. I guess you're just spewing scaremongering bullshit like every other Steam hater.

          • Except .... (Score:3, Interesting)

            by King_TJ (85913)

            How much of a "used game market" has there EVER really been?

            If it was there, I managed to miss it completely for years .... On many occasions, I've tried to resell my used game software I no longer wanted, only to find I couldn't get more than a buck or two per title out of it. When you're only fetching that on a site like eBay, then you're usually better off just keeping the thing than spending the gas money to take the thing to the post office plus the cost of the packing tape and time/effort to box it

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by DrSkwid (118965)

            And yet I have all my Steam games sat wherever I have a connection. I have NO IDEA where my Half-Life CD is but I can play it whenever I feel like it.

            yeah, that sucks!

    • by mwvdlee (775178)

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

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOsPam.gmail.com> on Thursday November 11, 2010 @10:20AM (#34196498) Journal
    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: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by somersault (912633)

      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: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Nursie (632944)

      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.

      • by Pojut (1027544)

        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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Ephemeriis (315124)

        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: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Gizzmonic (412910)

          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: (Score:3, Informative)

          by asdf7890 (1518587)

          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.

          Only in theory though, speaking in terms of the license you agree to when signing up.

          I've not read Steam's license in detail, but most systems like it make it a rule that you should not maintain multiple accounts and if multiple accounts for one person are detected all are possibly subject to deletion.

          Also the terms of most services explicitly state that accounts are not transferable and if an account is detected as having been transferred it will be cancelled. This is required because if you transfer

    • by RogueyWon (735973) * on Thursday November 11, 2010 @10:32AM (#34196654) Journal

      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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        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.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 11, 2010 @11:14AM (#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.

          • by ifrag (984323) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @11:53AM (#34197688)

            Impulse still falls short of Steam in my use. There are some serious problems with their backup system. A backup can only be restored to an matching OS install for some reason, which makes no sense. I tried to backup all my games in Impulse when going from XP to Win 7, only to find out the backups were entirely useless. Of course I could still get my games back through downloads, but 50 GB of downloads is nothing to sniff at even on broadband.

            Steam on the other hand was about as transparent and easy as it could get. Simply copy /steamapps folder somewhere safe, reinstall steam on the new OS, and copy /steamapps back in. Everything basically just works, and I'm saved the re-download hassle, fortunate considering I'm probably around 100 GB in steam at this point.

            • by Chelloveck (14643) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @01:11PM (#34198630) Homepage

              Impulse still falls short of Steam in my use.

              I use both, and I agree with you. I've had consistently better luck with Steam. I think the marketplace is big enough for both, and I hope Impulse does well -- competition is good, and all that. But for now I'll choose Steam if a game is available both places.

              The fact that Steam supports my Mac and Impulse doesn't is another big incentive for me to use Steam. I love how you can buy a game once on Steam and, if it's available for both Mac and Windows, play it on either one.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by DavidTC (10147)

          The thing is, using monopolistic practices usually requires some sort of lock-in effect, where it's hard to change.

          It's hard to see how this could happen with Steam. You just need a small program installed to use Steam and each competitor. That's it.

          As long as you have a Steam game installed, you have to keep Steam installed, but Steam is hardly going to stop you buying games other ways, and you don't even need to 'use' Steam...you can launch the game, and Steam starts up silently in the background.

          Likew

      • by gozu (541069) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @11:51AM (#34197658) Journal

        Steam uses DRM, which is evil, and does not provide a way for customers to resell their games, which is also evil. In addition, it strangles LAN play by requiring an unnecessary internet connection, which adds some more evil to the mix.

        I am saddened by the popularity of steam and deeply disappointed by the decisions Valve made regarding their customers' rights and privileges.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by DeadTOm (671865)
          I've played steam games over a LAN with no internet connection, it can be done very easily.
      • by Aceticon (140883) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @12:01PM (#34197786)

        No refunds on PC games (though they might reluctantly exchange a damaged disc)

        Actually they do refund non-functional games - I've gotten refunds myself from Game, twice. They will try to squirm out of it but all you have to say is that the game does not work in your system and is thus "Not fit for purpose" (this expression has a special meaning as per UK-consumer laws).

        Their hole deceitfull approach to making people believe that they can get no refunds at all is say that they will "Refund within 30 days if not open" making the buyer think that (that's the deceitfull part) they cannot get a refund at all if the package is open. In fact, as per UK consumer laws, you can get a refund at any time if the product is "Not fit for purpose" (i.e. does not work, does not do what it says it does, does not work as a "reasonable" person would expect) - what Game is offering is the possibility of getting a refund within 30 days without specific reason if unopened in addition to any refund you might be entitled under your consumer rights for a defective, non-functional or misrepresented product.

        I suggest you check the Trading Standards [tradingstandards.gov.uk] website to learn more about your rights as a consumer. You'll find that there are a lot of rights that you have as a buyer, which of course, sellers will never tell you about.

        PS: I learned all of this because at some point I had my own company selling products online - so I read all about the rights my customers had ... and about the rights I had as a seller.

    • by swright (202401)

      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 eve

      • 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)
        • by Nursie (632944)

          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?

    • 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: (Score:3, Informative)

      by BradleyUffner (103496)

      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.

      • by Rogerborg (306625)

        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: (Score:3, Funny)

          by DavidTC (10147)

          A disk is like a flash drive, but it's much bigger and write-only, and you need a special port on your computer to use it.

    • by Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @10:37AM (#34196714) Homepage
      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.
      • by Dr_Barnowl (709838) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @10:41AM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TheRaven64 (641858)
        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: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ikkonoishi (674762)

        Two nights ago you got some of the benefits.
        http://store.steampowered.com/news/4629/ [steampowered.com]

      • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @12:17PM (#34197990)

        So as a user, Steam offers some value:

        1) You don't have to worry about losing your DVD. Once registered with Steam, the game is on your account and can always be redownloaded. If you lose the DVD, no problem, just download it again (Steam will also allow you to create a new backup DVD, if you wish).

        2) For games with an online component that make use of Steam's services properly, Steam can handle aspects of match making, such as allowing you to join a server your friends are playing on. The game has to be designed to use it, of course, but the service is provided. Also in all games it provides IM communication with your friends, that functions as an overlay that does not interfere with the game.

        3) Likewise Steam allows for small amounts of data to be saved to the Steam Cloud. Things like save games, keyboard mapping, and so on can be saved meaning that when you go to another computer, that all follows you.

        4) Steam provides globally viewable achievements. Maybe you think that is silly, but people love achievements. It provides and easy interface so games can grant them, and people can see and share them. Achievements are a massively popular part of XBL, and Steam is a way to get that on PCs.

        Now from the publisher's perspective, Steam provides two benefits:

        1) Steam stops used game sales. Once a game is activated with a Steam account it may never be sold or transferred. So buying a game on Steam is forever. Once you enter the code for install, that game is yours now and you cannot sell it. Publishers dislike the used market, of course.

        2) Steam, or rather Steamworks, is a free, fairly effective, DRM. Steam allows you to use their DRM at no charge, only requirement being your game must be available through Steam. You can sell it other ways too, you just have to allow them to sell it on Steam. For that you get no cost DRM (most DRM solutions are rather expensive) that does a good job of stopping casual game sharing. A normal user can't just copy a game for a friend, it won't work. The warez groups still crack it, as with any DRM, but it stops the casual stuff just like other DRM and doesn't cost anything to do it. Also because Steamworks is a transparent part of Steam many users do not find it objectionable, since they like Steam.

        So there you go. Now please, please don't get all bitchy and whiny and point out that the publisher's stuff isn't a value to you. I know that. Like I said, what the value is depends on who you are talking about. I am showing you why they want Steam, why you might want Steam, and so on. I am not advocating it, I am just showing you the reasons that some players like it, and the reasons some publishers like it.

    • by Antisyzygy (1495469) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @10:40AM (#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: (Score:3, Informative)

        by McKing (1017)

        This is off topic, but thank you for the proper use of the "eat your cake" figure of speech. I hate when people say it backwards.

    • by qoncept (599709)

      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

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dr_d_19 (206418)

      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: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Fozzyuw (950608)

      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 ahe

    • by Aceticon (140883) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @11:13AM (#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.

      • by ADRA (37398) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @02:14PM (#34199404)

        "In fact I have been boycotting all games that use Steam for that reason (and because they cannot be given, lent, traded or resold"
        Yup, unless the game publisher wanted to allow it (I'm sure Valve would allow it if the pub wanted it)

        "because they do not work on machines without an Internet connection"
        Apparently there is offline mode. I've never used it because I have the internet on my PC, but whatever

        "because I would like the option to install them in 10 years time if I feel like it"
        Anyone else see games pulled over time? I haven't. Half-life 2 came out in 2004 and I can still download and play it on any machine I'm logged into steam on.

        "because I do not want that the distributor of the game has the option to remotelly disable my game at will"
        Hypothetically possible, but I don't see any publisher being self-suicidal

        "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"
        Vs. what exactly? The games that I buy on Steam are good games, and quite often the same or cheaper than boxed copies of the same thing. I find value in not needing to have boxed copies of software that end up gathering dust 90% of the time.

        I think some of the things you listed -could- happen eventually, but not nearly as nefarious as you propose. Steam like many services are in an industry of trust. If we stop trusting Steam, more people will simply stop using it and force developers to stop using it through lack of sales like you seem to be so firm on doing. Developers and publishers hate (real) boycotts. If Steam ever becomes evil I'll stop using them. If you pulled your head out of your butt, you may start to see that the service works just fine as it is.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      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.

  • by Dalzhim (1588707)

    More sales for Steam alright.

  • 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 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?
    • 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.

    • by MaerD (954222)
      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 p
      • by Zeek40 (1017978)
        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.
    • by Ogive17 (691899) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @11:11AM (#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.
  • by ledow (319597) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @10:24AM (#34196546) Homepage

    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.

  • by Anonymous Coward

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

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

    • 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

      • by wjousts (1529427)

        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: (Score:3, Informative)

        by icebraining (1313345)

        "In information technology, a backup or the process of backing up refers to making copies of data so that these additional copies may be used to restore the original after a data loss event. "

        I don't like Steam because it depends on a central service. I still play dozens of 10+ year old games. Who knows if the Steam servers will still be online ten years from now? Or 15?
        Also, it's annoying to have to create a new Steam account for each game, and having to login/logout if I ever want to resell it. And yes, s

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by wjousts (1529427)
      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.
  • 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: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sockatume (732728)

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

  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @10:31AM (#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.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      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.

  • 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?

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

  • 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 (Score:5, Funny)

    by lennier1 (264730) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @10:49AM (#34196842)

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

  • 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.
  • 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
  • Steam always has good discounts and sales going on and a couple FREE games...what retailer does that?
  • by wjousts (1529427) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @11:01AM (#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: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Bvardi (620485)
      Actually I see the chances of being able to replay a game years down the line as INCREASED with things like Steam. No more lost CD's/cd key since its part of your account. Better chance of support for games on new operating systems/Hardware, since if they make even a few bucks now and then from sales a publisher has incentive to keep those old titles compatible. And worrying simultaneously about Steam becoming the de facto monopoly AND then going dark? So it's too successful and yet will die leaving yo
  • 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.

  • by unity100 (970058) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @12:03PM (#34197806) Homepage Journal
    they dont force onto you a restricting client, you never have any issues with modding the games or patches, and most of the games are drm free even.
  • Stupid ruckus (Score:3, Informative)

    by MrNemesis (587188) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @12:55PM (#34198482) Homepage Journal

    The idiocy in this statement is strong, for reasons that alot of non-UK gamers might not be aware of.

    Backstory is that I bought the orange box in april this year (I'm not much of a gamer), so I could give portal a whirl as I'd heard nothing but good news about it, in full knowledge that I'd have to begrudgingly install steam. Ended up loving the whole bundle, and finding that steam was alot less painless than all my other CD/DVD-based games had ever been *.

    Most stuff sold via steam in the UK however, is often cheaper at retail, thanks to exchange rates, VAT, and some other things that I don't really understand - so if I'm going to pick up a game that needs steam, I'll almost always check retail before I buy it, as buying the DVD will often save me a few quid and mean I don't have to use bandwidth pulling down the initial 5GB of textures. So don't get me wrong - potentially I'm a strong contender for buying games as retail. But, as other posters have pointed out, the retail sector for games (especially PC games) have been doing plenty to actively keep me away from them.

    It's next to impossible for me to pick up PC games at your stores (thanks to being relegated to a couple of shelves, one of which is the PC top 10 and the other one being a bunch of "edutainment" games marketed to parents for kids, or "100 classic card games on one DVD!" bullshit compilations), and despite being an affluent professional in his 30's you seem to train all your staff to think that all their customers are priapic teenagers that are prepared to put up with your short-back-and-smarm "well why don't you pre-order it?!?!?!?!?!?!" fucknozzle attitude if for some inexplicable reason I'm not interested in a wide range of used console beat 'em ups and footie games at the low low price of £5 below what a brand new copy costs. And even if you did have more than three interesting games in the building, how in fucking tardwarks am I meant to browse when I have one of your "can I interest you in our store-encompassing selection of shitty s/h games" mantras engaging in a futile impression to charm me every five minutes? If anything is keeping me away from your stores, it's you. The only place I've ever gotten a halfway decent selection is in the larger outlets of HMV, which are big enough to not give a crap about s/h sales anyway. 99% of the time I just buy the game from amazon, and that's cheaper still than steam or the high street.

    So in the immortal words of the heavy: cry some more, little babies! Boycott steam games and you'll just make yourself more irrelevant to people who already detest the way you do business.

    On top of that, steam makes a big thing about promoting all kinds of little known/indie games, both by selling them in dirt cheap bundles or by letting people play them for free for a weekend; 95% of my steam purchases so far have been these cool little indie titles, often with quirkily brilliant game mechanics. Something the high street stores do absolutely nothing to promote, therefore helping perpetuate the sausage machine of identikit FPS games. Most of the fun I've had gaming over the last year that wasn't TF2 or portal has been darwinia, defcon, braid and defence grid, none of which I'd have heard about if not for steam promoting them (inoffensively, I might add).

    * Yes, I'm aware that it's "for as long as steam keeps working!". I don't pick steam games because they're the best solution, they're just the least worst for those of us that don't like to pick up gloriously non-DRM'd games off P2P. Steam is a system made by a business for gamers, GFWL is made by a business that maybe drove past the iD offices once.

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