Monopolies are bad, mmkay? The rising behemoth of Steam

Posted by | June 1, 2010

An article over at GAMESbrief came to our attention outlining “Five reasons why Steam will destroy the PC games industry” and while the points are fairly valid, the reasons at the end are basically a litany on why monopolies are bad. These reasons of themselves do not display why steam might destroy the PC games industry.

However, that’s not what this article is about. This article is an attempt to persuade game developers to go with a shotgun approach to their own distribution and avoid signing in exclusively with Steam. The fine points (reasons) why monopolies are very bad for the industry become excellent warnings after the article is read in this fashion. Developers happen to hold the keys to the industry as much as customers—if they all go with Steam and won’t support other channels of distribution to spread it around for the customers then all the eggs will go into the Steam basket.

In the feedback for How to Publish a Game, one element stood out.

I had suggested that it made sense for a developer making PC games to work hard to get on all the distribution platforms. Not just Steam, but GamersGate, Metaboli, Direct2Drive and so on.

Bollocks came the resounding response.

No-one wanted to be quoted. But Steam seems to account for by far the majority of the revenue of every single company who came back to me. People were suggesting that Steam outsold, by a factor of 10 or more, all of the other sites combined.

We admit. We’ve used Steam; but I don’t and will not go to them for everything. I like indy games and I like major titles as well. However, I don’t like to purchase major titles from Steam mostly because the physical CD in those cases is more important to me than using huge pipes of bandwidth (even with what is basically offsite storage.) The second problem we’ve had with Steam involves early DRM problems.

Link, via Gamepolitics.


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