Darryl Still, international publishing director for PC publisher 1C, writes an editorial in response to an MCVUK report ("Retailers blow off Steam") where brick and mortar games retailers in the UK said that they might ban games that have support for Steam built into them.
In his editorial for MCV, Still talks about how his company had the foresight to see three years ago that owning the digital rights to the games it publishes was important. At that time 1C decided that it needed to secure the digital rights to all the games it publishes. That decision has been very lucrative for the company.
But the most important take-away from this editorial is that 1C makes more money via digital distribution than it does at traditional retail, and the experience, turn-around time and costs of doing business are much more reasonable.
Here's an interesting bit on how retail does not go the extra mile for some publishers:
What is more surprising is the reaction of retail now. I have read it described as the reaction of a small child who threw his toy away because he no longer wanted it, but started screaming as soon as another child picked it up to play with. The metaphor works perfectly, especially in the light of the excuse I heard on numerous occasions.
'There is no demand' went the mantra. But is this really true? Not in our experience.
I remember fondly the meeting in my office with a red-faced publisher who was explaining why their initial order from a major retailer for one of our new releases was just 30 units. At the time I had my browser open on the Steam product data page, which updates sales numbers every few minutes.
"They have taken one unit for each of their top 30 stores" he told me. "There is just no demand from their customers."
I glanced at my screen, hit refresh and advised him: "In the time it’s taken you to tell me that there is no demand, Steam has sold 45 units."
You can read the rest here. Honestly it’s obvious to everyone except traditional retailers that the future is in digital distribution, and banning Steam-powered games won't change that.