Retail threatening to ban Steam

“Publishers are creating a monster – we are telling suppliers to stop using Steam in their games.” said the digital boss at one of the biggest UK games retailers according to a report by MCV.

According to the report, at least two major retailers will demand that publishers remove Steam from their games – or they will not sell them in any form. Currently some of the biggest PC games – such as Modern Warfare 2, Fallout 3, Empire: Total War and Dawn of War II to name just a few – use Steam regardless of whether or not you buy a retail copy or purchase it there directly.

Major UK retailers are now afraid that Steam has a monopoly on the download market and that by integrating the technology in retail copies as well, that they are essentially pushing forward a competitor. According to industry insiders, Steam is currently serving 80% of the PC gaming distribution online. Some retailers are now preparing their own competing services to Steam.

As much as we here at Mana Pool like competition – we really don’t like the sound of that. It’s difficult enough keeping track of your games through all the distribution methods available now so unless they all use some uniform system for distribution and downloading, things will become very messy indeed! Never mind the various social networks, chat clients and what more that come with it. All your friends will be on different distribution platforms and doing anything together will be getting more difficult, whilst it should get easier!

Time will tell. Meanwhile, our own solution is very simple: We just don’t buy at any of these ‘major retailers’ and stick solely to digital distribution. Hey, if you don’t stock the games we love on the platform WE choose, you leave us no choice!

the author

Managing Editor of ManaPool, Peter lives in York, UK and is a great fan and master of turn-based strategy games. If he isn't playing one of those, you'll probably find him in a role-playing game instead. He's definitely not afraid to provide a straight up opinion on any game and has a strong like for indie developers. We all start small, after all.

  • Dree

    I don’t know what’s up with all the Steam hate all of a sudden. Valve’s an awesome company, and frankly one of the few remaining companies I still respect in the gaming industry. It’s not like they hold a monopoly on digital distribution. I won’t be buying from these counter-productive publishers making a stink over Steam.

  • Alratan

    I can understand their desire to curb such games to an extent, as they are promoting a direct competitor by selling games which run on Steam. They fear that players will see Steam and start selling games from there, and no longer shop at that particular retailer. The flaw is, of course, that this way guarantees that customers don’t buy games from them (as they can’t), whereas otherwise it is a mere possibility.

    I don’t think any customer is really going to miss out on the game because retailer X doesn’t have it, as even if all real-world retailers cease stocking Steam games, digital retailers probably won’t, and Steam certainly won’t. Only the retailers lose, in this example: as long as the customer still buys the game, the publisher still makes a sale.

  • Evil Tactician

    The only retail game I bought recently I bought in the knowledge that it fully integrated with Steam. I would not have bought the game if this had not been the case.

    So you are both quite right – only the retailers are going to lose out here. I certainly will not buy any games from retailers or publishers who refuse to sell their games through the digital distribution platforms of MY choice. Stardock is a good example – I really don’t like Impulse so I rather miss out on their games, since they refuse to sell them through alternative channels.

  • Gavin

    “Major UK retailers are not afraid that Steam” – did you mean “now” ?
    “Some retailers are not preparing their own competing services” – Did you mean “now” here too?

  • Evil Tactician

    @Gavin – Doh. Fixed – thank you for pointing that out. Not sure how I managed to typo the exact same thing twice in a row…

  • trebs

    So, Steam fanboys, do you enjoy your rented video games?

  • Andross

    They shouldn’t moan about it. They should just keep up what they’re doing (internetless people should buy the games in stores). And the digital age is getting popular, but they should keep up with the DVD media games. The current consoles in 2011 use blu-ray and DVD for now.
    The steam games we have aren’t rented, they’re paid for and downloaded, so it’s basically the game without the disc.

  • william kendrick

    so do you like whining like a little girl?
    steam is beast. we dont care what you think.

  • Jon O

    Didn’t Microsoft have to offer a choice of internet browsers (Chrome, Opera etc) in their Windows packages because it was claimed they were *pushing* their own browser (Explorer) on consumers? If that can happen to Microsoft I see no reason why retailers can’t demand a similar thing of Steam. Of course, they would first have to banish the SSA to the pits of HELL!

    When I buy a retail game (physical copy) I want the choice to tie it to a client, or not. The SSA (Steam Subscribers Agreement) rubs me the wrong way, and I’d like to see the back of it. The best thing for consumers is *choice* and the SSA removes any kind of choice. I actually don’t mind using Steam, or GWFL. Unfortunately I’m often *forced* to use one or the other, or *both* in some cases.

    That doesn’t sit well with me. Microsft should make GFWL optional on their titles, and the SSA simply shouldn’t exist. They both (GFWL and Steam) fail as DRM, and fail as anti-piracy options for publishers/developers, so what’s the use? Networking, matchmaking, and multiplayer? That’s GREAT! Let me choose which I’ll use. Tie them all to dedicated servers for the games.