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GameStop Buys Impulse From Stardock 109

Daetrin writes "It was announced Thursday that Stardock has sold Impulse, the digital game store, to GameStop. Stardock founder Brad Wardell gave an interview to Joystiq talking about the sale and the reasons behind it. GameStop also announced their acquisition of SpawnLabs, a game streaming company. It seems that GameStop is looking to challenge Steam, or at least avoid being cut out of the digital distribution business entirely."
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GameStop Buys Impulse From Stardock

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  • One more... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Daetrin ( 576516 ) on Monday April 04, 2011 @11:38PM (#35716754)
    And here's another article from 1UP. []
  • Especially if GameStop can afford larger discounts for the sales. Impulse never let anything go at prices as attractive as Steam.
    • by Daetrin ( 576516 ) on Monday April 04, 2011 @11:50PM (#35716804)
      Impulse kind of suffers from being halfway between Steam and Good Old Games.

      On average Impulse doesn't have base prices as cheap as Good Old Games.
      On average Impulse doesn't have sales discounts as large as Steam
      Impulse has more DRM than GOG.
      Impulse doesn't have as many really old games as GOG.
      Impulse doesn't have as many big new games as Steam.
      Impulse doesn't have achievements or community features like the Steam client does.
      But Impulse does force you to use a client, unlike GOG.

      I like Impulse, and i have bought a number of games from them, but they're certainly not the ones that i've bought the most games from. For just about any single category of comparison either Steam or GOG outperforms it. If it was just a competition between Impulse and _one_ of the other two they'd probably be doing pretty well for themselves, but as things stand...
      • Impulse has more DRM than GOG.

        The reason buying games from GOG is a no-brainer for me is because they don't have any DRM, and are vehemently against it on principle. Just to be clear, as suggesting it has less DRM is like saying your drink has less urine in it than this one over here... no urine for me, please!

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The problem with Steam competitors is that Steam is intrinsically locked in... even though you're free to leave Valve. Everyone likes the simplicity of having one central hub. Steam essentially won by being good enough and by getting there first.

        • This is an old argument. There is a way around it.

          1 - Steam doesn't ever include DRM on their end. If the application in question does install DRM as part of the setup, you can safely excise it from your system and the game will still run since the Steam application actually controls your right to access it/run the program. A typical Steam re-install is to download everything and then purge SecuRom. Thankfully virtually all of the games on Steam use this, so one brute-force purge at the end is enough to

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            This is why Steam is successful: fanboys. It's like with Apple. Guys like you simply redefine things out of existence, even if they are as worse than elsewhere.

            Steam IS DRM. It's online activation, tied to an online account, client-overhead laden, they-control-everything DRM. Sure there are some community features but first and foremost, Steam is DRM. Every single game on Steam contains one of the most restrictive DRMs.

            If Ubisoft or EA do it, it's utmost evil. If Steam doesn it, hey it's not even DRM, it's

            • by Tukz ( 664339 )

              Steam is acceptable DRM, therein lies the difference.

            • by DrXym ( 126579 )
              Steam is DRM all right. As far as DRMs go it is fairly innocuous and transparent when you stay on its good books. But we've seen numerous stories where people have been shut out of their own accounts containing hundreds of dollars of purchases for alleged transgressions.
            • Every single game on Steam contains one of the most restrictive DRMs.

              No, not [] every [] game [] does.

              • You're wrong. All of those games are wrapped in Steam. Steam is DRM.

                • You didn't even bother checking my links, did ya?

                  While strictly speaking, not all games returned by those searches fit this profile, I was providing a list of games that use DOSBOX. :P
                  • Yes, but Steam wraps DOSBOX in DRM too.

                    • Erm, could you explain please? So far I have been able to take any Steam DOSBOX game, put it on a PC that has never had Steam installed, and play it just fine. That to me says "No DRM Here".

                      Now granted, I don't think I've tried using the version of DOSBOX that came with the game... is that what you mean?
                    • Yes, that's what I meant.

            • Well, Steam has never killed one of my systems. Also, Steam is a serious value add for me. I have repurchased games on Steam so I don't have the problem of either not being able to find the disc, or, more currently after a move, being able to find the discs, but not the CD key. Plus Steam adds the ability to find friends I might want to play with. So, I consider it a fair swap. Some control over the digital rights on my software for a seriously value-added proposition.
          • by Mascot ( 120795 )

            1 - Steam doesn't ever include DRM on their end.

            Were that the case, you'd never need to go online to use a backup of a Steam game on another computer. Heads up, online activation = DRM. Steam = online activation. Personally, I find it acceptable because it doesn't limit the _amount_ of activations, and also because it is fairly weakly implemented. Doesn't mean it doesn't exist though.

            And you can't just "purge" third party DRM easily. Were that the case noone would have worried about schemes like Ubisoft's a

            • by Plekto ( 1018050 )

              Yes, technically you have to connect to download them and buy them, but remaining connected is optional. So if their servers die you can still run your games. Very few people know this, though. I found it out when I moved a couple of years ago and it took them 3 weeks to get DSL service in. Steam still worked. That shows that they are at least making an effort to ride the fine line between DRM that works as a business and DRM that is there to just piss off everyone (Ubisoft and Sony, for example).

              I don

              • by Mascot ( 120795 )

                Yes, technically you have to connect to download them and buy them, but remaining connected is optional.

                True, but only for that computer. If the servers die, you are now forced to keep that computer running, because you have no way of activating your Steam account on a new computer. If it wasn't DRM, I would be able to do a restore of a Steam backup on an offline computer, and start playing. You can't, you need to go online at least once to log in.

                Then there's all the third party DRM that's added into most

              • You can only start Steam in offline mode if you've started all your games at least once while being connected to their servers. If you got one game installed that you haven't run since you (re)installed Windows and/or Steam you're unable to start Steam in offline mode. I found this out the hard way when I was without internet for a couple days after a recent reinstall so many installed games had not been launched since the reinstall.
                • by Plekto ( 1018050 )

                  I forgot to mention this as well. It's a fairly minor and normally routine step, though, to run and configure the video settings for each game that you install.

                  • What if internet is unavailable and you want to reinstall that game you've made a nifty Steam backup of explicitly for this purpose? No gaming for you!
                    • by Plekto ( 1018050 )

                      Unless you have to do a complete system install, you can backup the right files right into the directory again (you can't just back up the entire Steam folder - it's a little more complicated than that). Then again I don't see Steam dropping this service for the next decade or more. By the time that Steam dies and the servers switch off, we'll all be using quantum computers or the machines will have taken over. ie - when Windows dies and is gone for a decade like DOS is, then you'd have to worry about yo

                    • Actually, I have over a hundred games on Steam and I'm reasonably happy with it. It's just that you said the problem is minor, but it has affected me at least a couple of times now. And I don't believe it's at all unreasonable to ask that my backups work without an internet connection. Steam could encrypt the backup with a key tied to my account upon creation and, yes, if it later decrypts, just believe it's mine and let me run it. Such backups would be useless to anybody else, and the verification you spea
                    • by Plekto ( 1018050 )

                      Yeah, that's probably true. It's also why I install Steam first and then make a disk image with it, the OS, and a few other things as a backup. If there's a crash, it's easier to just reinstall everything that way. But, yes, D2D does make it easier as the installers work just fine even years later on a different system.

      • You don't need to use the impulse client, if you spend the time on some extra hacking. Sadly, I didn't feel like spending the time again to get the newest update of Sins of a Solar Empire work the windows 2000 box(no impulse).

    • One of the only reasons I ever used Impulse was because I liked Stardock as a company (particularly in their attitude to DRM). Other than that, it's a bloaty client and not the best prices.

      Without the incentive to support Stardock, I'll be moving to a service that doesn't bother with the client (GOG, GamersGate,, etc.). Without Stardock, Impulse is basically Steam Lite.

      • Impulse -- Bloaty client? It has an offline installer that ranges in around the 20MB download range... As someone living in South Africa where the broadband is expensive and I rarely connect to the Internet - using Impulse is a dream compared to something like Steam - which from what I gather: A) doesn't have an offline installer (correct me if I'm wrong here - I scoured their site for hours on Friday at work) B) the offline installers I have found seem to be hacked together, and in the range of 700-800MB..
    • The reason it got sold, according to Stardock's owner, is that it has been growing really profitable and taking over a lot of their business. That isn't what he wants for Stardock, he wants it to be Brad's Ye Olde Software Shoppe more or less so when Gamestop started sniffing around, Impulse was sold.

      Could he be lying? Sure, but I cannot see why he would. Remember Stardock is not a public company and is not beholden to investors. It is owned and run by Brad Wardell and is his toy to do with as he likes.


      • by mcvos ( 645701 )

        Brad is incredibly lucky. He can make business decisions based on what he likes, rather than on what makes the most profit. A very enviable position.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          I've heard from insiders at Stardock that it was sold because they're very rapidly approaching insolvency.

          Their desktop modification business is beginning to fail with many of the new initiatives Microsoft, Dell and others are taking in regards to cleaning up the Windows desktop to take on Apple.

          Their games business has never really made money I guess. Impulse was an easy way to keep themselves out of the bank's clutches for a couple of years.

          • by mcvos ( 645701 )

            I thought their games business had some pretty big successes on pretty small budgets.

            And if Impulse is the only think keeping them alive, wouldn't it be rather stupid to sell it?

    • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
      Steam? Attractive prices? You know you can usually download new releases from Amazon for about $5 less than from Steam, right?
  • So we're going to see a mix of Steam and OnLive?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @12:13AM (#35716910)

    It was an Impulse buy!

  • People like steam because it's NOT gamestop. Steam evolved as a response to everything that was wrong with gamestop. Buying a new storefront isn't going to change the problems with gamestop, it's only going to ruin the storefront.
    • Re:And They'll fail (Score:5, Informative)

      by Lord_of_the_nerf ( 895604 ) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @12:28AM (#35716944)

      People like steam because it's NOT gamestop. Steam evolved as a response to everything that was wrong with gamestop. Buying a new storefront isn't going to change the problems with gamestop, it's only going to ruin the storefront.

      GameStop doesn't have the same worldwide recognition as Steam either. Where I am, Steam is a positively recognised brand and GameStop is virtually unknown. Unless GameStop/Impulse are planning a massive marketing push, I don't see them as having the visibility of Steam internationally.

      • Good point. Steam is known around the world. GameStop is just an American (and Canadian?) store (honestly don't know - never heard of it myself).

        * * *

        OK instead of just posting the above drivel I looked it up on Wikipedia. GameStop is originally American but has acquired games stores in many other countries. So while I'm Australian and have never heard of GameStop, they are the parent company of EB Games (which we most definitely do have here). In fact it appears they trade using quite a few different names

        • Name recognition won't be their problem. Gamestop and the retail stores have always been in the pocket of the major game publishers like EA and Ubisoft. Yes they had disputes with them over resale of used games but otherwise they bowed to their wishes. Impulse will be changed, it will get some nice draconian DRM installed and all it's advantages against Steam will be destroyed. With the few advantages gone the company will die quickly. The game publishers will see to this even though that won't be their int

        • 2-3 years ago steam was charging the same US price in Australia which made it about half price. Now my guess is that the some publishers have closed that loop hole so we get a price much closer to the brick shops in Australia than used too. Australian Dollar is roughly has the same value as the US one at the moment.

          For example I just looked up steam

          Games ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, steam ,,,,, EB games

          Shogun total war,, AU$ 89 ,,, AU$ 98

          Dragon Age 2,,,,,, AU$ 69 ,,, AU$ 88

          AC Brotherhood,,, AU$ 49 ,,, AU$ 88

          The sam

          • OOPs, so many mistakes in my above post! The one with huge discounts is steam and not impulse.
          • by romiz ( 757548 )

            [It] gave me a message about the game not being available in my region. Never had that experience in Steam.

            That's because Steam doesn't always display this kind of message. Any info corresponding to a game not available in your country can be hidden, as if it never existed. You can search for it, but you will find nothing. Yet, if you go to the 'Achievements by game' page, it is there all right in the list. But you can't buy it, you can't even see the store info for it.

            • Not only that, if you move countries, you may find that all of a sudden, all the games you legitimately purchased on Steam no longer work (if you are detected to be connecting from a region that differs from the license region you bought the software in). Tends to happen most often on games that were purchased in a 'cheap' region, then played in an 'expensive' region (e.g. buy game from Steam while in Brazil, then attempt to play it on a PC in the USA).

        • Actually I live in the EU and we have Gamestop over here as well, where I live it is the only real store where you can buy used console games to a decent price, we have other stores as well, but they tend to sell the used games only 1-2 Euros cheaper than the new version.
          Speaking of a ripoff, while Gamestop is considered a ripoff by many it is the least ripoff of all games stores we have here.

        • It is in Ireland also.
    • by Hatta ( 162192 )

      Steam evolved as a response to everything that was wrong with gamestop.

      Really? Steam can help me buy games for the Sega Saturn or Neo Geo Pocket Color?

  • I love Fences Pro. I bought it legit even though it requires Impulse to install and update, which is complete overkill.

    I was always willing to risk Impulse going under. I didn't even conceive of fricking GAMESTOP buying it. That's not gonna stay on my computer, so now it looks like I need to pirate an app I legitimately bought. Thanks Digital Restriction Management.

    • by Yaur ( 1069446 )
      Impulse is almost entirely drm free.. so your softwae probably still works. I know mine did after uninstalling impulse and if gamestop trys to retroactivly change the terms of sale at some point down the line to force DRM on products I already purchased I don't think its really piracy to continue using it under the same terms even if cracking is required to do so.
      • by Sarusa ( 104047 )

        You're right, Impulse always had the dire warning about 'this will delete everything under Stardock' so I left it alone, but I just backed it all up and uninstalled and Fences Pro is still breezing along. Thanks.

    • by LatenightWithJB ( 2033940 ) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @01:23AM (#35717154) Homepage
      Hi Sarusa. This is Jeff, Fences' developer :) We will be making standalone-installers available for all future versions of Fences Pro (and our other desktop apps), so don't worry about the dependency on Impulse. That said, Impulse is under great direction at GameStop so I wouldn't let that damage your opinion of it; they're operating with the same mission of quality that we always were. Thanks again for your purchase and I hope you enjoy Fences!
      • by Sarusa ( 104047 )

        Well thank you for this, then. I'd have downgraded to Fences Free if I'd had to, but the transparency settings and auto-assign are pretty useful.

        I'd also mod this up if I could, it's useful.

      • by dstyle5 ( 702493 )
        Being a non-Impulse user I have never heard of Fences. To me it brings to mind a rancher simulation game where the main gameplay element is building and repairing fences in order to keep your livestock fenced in, in turn maximizing your profits. Am I close? ;)
    • by jaronc ( 68205 )

      I also bought Fences Pro. Despite the website saying you require impulse, the confirmation email they sent contained a direct download link for the program as well as a link for Impulse. The config screen for Fences allows you to both manually check for updates as well as set it to automatically check. I have not had to install Impulse to download, use or update this program. I think in this case they must have realised forcing the use of Impulse for a simple util was overkill.

      • by Sarusa ( 104047 )

        (Dup of what I said to Yaur, but you deserve a thank you as well.) You're right, Impulse always had the dire warning about 'this will delete everything under Stardock' so I left it alone, but I just backed it all up and uninstalled and Fences Pro is still breezing along. Thanks.

    • I was always willing to risk Impulse going under. I didn't even conceive of fricking GAMESTOP buying it.

      It was always guaranteed to be bought out by SOMEONE, even if they didn't continue it, just to get the mailing list. At minimum when it was carved up for bankruptcy the interesting part (which includes the mailing list) would be sold off.

  • "OMG! A game I'd actually like to buy. That doesn't happen very often. It's cheaper on Steam, but I'll pick it up here anyway to support the little guy."
    -Not available in your region.
    "Right, Steam it is then."

    Unless that changes (both of the points), Impulse is going to remain largely irrelevant. It seems they realized this themselves, when they started allowing third party DRM to bring some major titles onboard (though, as mentioned, with region restrictions Steam did not have). It seems rather likely Star

  • I don't want 10 different applications stores in order to stream my games. I want one place to go and download from, I don't want to think did I buy that 5yo game from steam or gamestop or ... Though I get around Steam's stupid prices by looking for the games that are "Steam based" but in retail.
  • I'm not a huge fan of Gamestop, but at least they as a company seem to be at least trying to recognize a coming trend and hopping on board rather than whining and complaining to legislators.

    It just remains to be seen whether or not it's too little too late. I'll admit that for myself, I'm already pretty heavily invested in Steam and won't likely be using a different service unless it offers a specific advantage (namely, price - get some weekend sales on games that Steam ain't discounting and I'd look at it

  • by HalAtWork ( 926717 ) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @10:56AM (#35720678)
    I look forward to the future when I have 36 different online storefront applications on my PC. Each one sending me emails, billing information, sales updates, and advertising in my face. When I turn on my computer there will be 36 different splash screens and I'll be greeted by 36 friends lists and 36 different updates will download and then I will see 36 different changelogs asking me to agree to the 36 new EULAs and I will have to click 36 different checkboxes and press 36 different OK buttons. I will enjoy looking for the best prices across 36 different apps and backing up my games and savegames in 36 different ways. In the far (but bright) future, I might even have to pay 36 different monthly fees. I will also have 36 different usernames/passwords to remember, and 36 different sets of rules for account/computer activation/deactivation, as well as how many times I can download and install my games. I will also get to pay for this in 36 different ways (Credit/PayPal/Cyclos/Ploids). Brilliant, I can't wait.
    • by brkello ( 642429 )

      Welcome to the Internet. You have managed to get an e-mail and a Slashdot account. I think you can get through this as well.

This login session: $13.76, but for you $11.88.