Steam faces retail opposition as rival digital distributors eye the market

Nov 11, 2010

Steam has made game distribution pleasantly straightforward for PC gamers, but the service is apparently prompting wrath among retailers fearful of its potential for market dominance. According to MCV's sources, UK high-street retailers are telling games publishers to strip Steam from their titles or face a ban from their shelves. "Publishers are creating a monster – we are telling suppliers to stop using Steam in their games" said one unnamed exec at a big-name UK gaming retailer.

That same exec says that the move to squeeze out Steam is in no small part based on retailers' own desires to set up digital download and support services. "If we have a digital service," he explained, "then I don’t want to start selling a rival in-store."

With Steam - run by US studio Valve - apparently holding 80-percent of the PC gaming download market, it's no surprise that rival digital service providers are also calling for caution. "At the moment the big digital distributors need to stock games with Steam" one head of sales at a large digital service provider said, "but the power resides with bricks and mortar retailers, they can refuse to stock these titles. Publishers are hesitant, but retail must put pressure on them."

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