With the upswing of the “Digital Distribution Wars” Steam has offered bigger sales than ever, and stores like Gamestop are panicking.
Sales are way down for retailers like Gamestop. The fact that digital distribution has become so convenient has caused them to get very panicky about competitors. This became very evident after the Deus Ex: Human Revolution incident. If you haven’t heard yet, Gamestop got so worried about their competitor OnLive that they opened boxes and removed coupons.
They are in fact right to worry about PC gaming in particular, because brick and mortar shops have always had problems in that area. This stems from the fact that PC gamers are always understandably wary to buy a physical copy. Why? Because people could have used your activation code before you even got the box open. While it mostly happened with returns, some less scrupulous employees would do it with new copies.
But digital distribution has changed all that, because when you have the game you can re-install it however and whenever you would like. You can even put it on multiple computers, making it vastly superior. That and Steam sales are much, much better than Gamestop sales, just hands down. So in both price and convenience Steam wins.
But what is Gamestop doing to counter this? They are joining in the game themselves. They have their own answer to Steam with Impulse. Unfortunately for them, Impulse has only gotten second to third string games so far. It isn’t really much of a challenge.
But why did Gamestop freak out so hard about a game streaming service? Because they bought Spawn Labs which they will be using for their own game streaming service. It looks bad to promote a competitor when you have your own site which does the exact same thing.
So what is the final verdict? Unless Gamestop gets its stuff together they will soon be flailing into Oblivion, and we don’t mean an open copy of the PC game which they might have in their stores.