1C Company Claims UK Retail Threats Over Steam Integration

June 22, 2011 -

Are retailers in the United Kingdom discriminating against games that dare to associate themselves with Valve's popular digital distribution system? One publisher says says yes. According to Russian publisher 1C Company, some brick-and-mortar retailers are refusing to stock its PC titles that have ties with Valve's Steam platform. 1C Company claims that UK retailers have told them that if their game uses Steamworks, they won't be allowed on store shelves.

"[Steam's confidence] compares very favorably to that of the retail chains," 1C's UK publishing director Darryl Still told CVG in an interview. "[Those retail chains] recently sent a command to publishers that if they include Steamworks in their title it will not be stocked."

"Those guys need to grow up, stop bullying, and focus their attentions on making their offerings as attractive as the people they are obviously looking over their shoulders in panic at," he added.

Still went on to say that it makes sense for them to publish their games wherever they can - including at retail and via platforms like Steam. Being where they are and the admittedly obscure nature of many of its games, putting their games on Steam makes sense because it gives them greater exposure to European and North American markets.

Retailers in the UK have said in the past that they would fight against digital distribution for obvious reasons: it cuts into their profits. Last year they were threatening to refuse to stock PC games that required the use of Valve's Steam service to install or operate. Apparently the fight is alive and well in the UK. Meanwhile, American companies such as GameStop are finding ways to offer their own digital distribution solutions..

Embrace the idea or say hello to the Dodo bird for the rest of us living in the present.

Source: The Escapist

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Re: 1C Company Claims UK Retail Threats Over Steam ...

They're not okay with Steamworks, but they're perfectly happy about including "Games for Windows", or games that support connections to Xbox live, PSN, or the Wii Channels.  <sarcasm>No double standard here. </sarcasm>

The only bit they should complain about is requiring Steam to be installed to get the game to operate, since it means the games would take up more shelf space than they should (when they could instead sell Steam gift cards, etc.) 

Re: 1C Company Claims UK Retail Threats Over Steam ...

The reason they are not okay with Steam is that it is, in a way, a competitor. After all, if I see a game for sale on Steam and also for sale at my game store, why spend the time and gas money going to buy it at the store when I can just buy it off Steam and have it right away? All the disc does is save you potential downloading/installing time.

That's why XBox Live, PSN, and Wii don't get the same scrutiny. I can't buy Monster Hunter 3 off the Wii Shop Channel, and I can't buy EDF: Insect Armageddon off Live. These things do get added to the "games on demand" thing, but that's long after they've ceased having relevance in game stores.

Games For Windows Live is technically a violation of the same principal, but nobody cares because Games For Windows Live is completely horrible.

Re: 1C Company Claims UK Retail Threats Over Steam ...

So do these retailers also demand that these games not be made available on other supposed competitors? D2D? Amazon.com's digital offerings? etc?

How silly do they want to be about this?

Re: 1C Company Claims UK Retail Threats Over Steam ...

Dedicated video game stores forfeited their relevance in the PC games market a long time ago. I haven't bought a game from GameStop or EB or their like in literally years. Online sellers like Amazon, bulk stores like Wal-Mart, and digital distribution are where it is at now. Game stores can't have their cake and eat it too, cutting PC stock in favor of used console games and then trying to blackmail companies into abandoning DD for a pathetic space on that tiny shelf.

Any company trying to say "Steam or us" are idiots. History has pretty thoroughly proven that betting against Valve is a stupid move.

Re: 1C Company Claims UK Retail Threats Over Steam ...

I think it's safe to say that betting against digital is a bad move in general.

Re: 1C Company Claims UK Retail Threats Over Steam ...

While I no longer recall any details, I remember reading one of the 1C guys recounting a story in which some retail owner was telling him they'd only stock one or two copies of his game per store, because it was some weird complex space thing that nobody wanted to play these days. The 1C guy told him that their game was also available on Steam, and in the time it took that guy to tell him about how nobody would ever buy it, he sold thirty-seven copies.

I guess my point here is that if retailers are saying "it's Steam or us," the smart thing to do is shrug and say "okay, bye."

Re: 1C Company Claims UK Retail Threats Over Steam ...

You remember it correctly, Mecha.

And hey, 1C, even though some of your games are a bit cruddy (Death Race Ressurection had a pretty horrible PS3 demo), stay awesome *holds up his digital copies of Necrovision and its expansion up in almost a V sign*

Re: 1C Company Claims UK Retail Threats Over Steam ...

April 2008:

Gabe: Robert said we could talk about that deal with GameStop.

We had a meeting with GameStop to talk about selling a boxed version of the game. Once we had a bunch of episodes together, we would collect them and put them in a box, you know? And GameStop said, oh, that’s fantastic. We’d love to do it, we’d love to carry the game… but it’s not going to be available anywhere else, is it?

And Robert said, well, we’re going to digitally distribute it first.

They got really upset. And they said, no, you can’t do that. We can’t have it in our store if it’s coming out digitally first. And he said, well, I’m sorry, that’s the way it works. We’re publishing our game and we can say where it goes. And so the deal that they tried to strike with Robert was okay, well, listen: If you cut us in on the profits from online distribution, and XBLA, and everything it comes out on, then we’ll think about carrying it in the store. Just, what assholes.

Re: 1C Company Claims UK Retail Threats Over Steam ...

As much as I despise the digital distribution format for games, gaming retailers should focus more on getting involved in it instead of turning it away because, unfortunately, it ain't going away.

Re: 1C Company Claims UK Retail Threats Over Steam ...

I used to feel the same way, as you do give up a measure of control with a system like Steam. If their servers ever go down or they go out of business there is a very real chance that your games will be gone. I avoided Steam or other similar services until I accidently bought a game that used Steamworks.

Well after installing that game I still used Steam infrequently. Then came the first holiday sale. Now I LOVE steam. The social functions are great, I will often times chat with friends through Steam, it makes finding friends and inviting them to my games really easy. The prices are awesome, I have over 200 games now in my Steam library and have only spent ~$550. That is crazy, on average $3-4 per game, and I have serveral big AAA titles. I can also access the games on any of my computers, anywhere with an internet connection. The ease and convience of the service has easily outweighed my other concerns.

Re: 1C Company Claims UK Retail Threats Over Steam ...

Yep, the loss of control and true ownership is what I don't like about services like Steam :) Nail on the head. It's the limitation on simple things like loaning a game to a friend to try out, selling it on if it's rubbish, etc. etc.

I've purchased a couple of Steam games, mainly ones that are only available digitally in most places, like Amnesia: The Dark Descent, but I'm just not enamoured. Having to connect to the internet to play offline games irritates me just as much. I guess I just hate the loss of freedom involved in digital distribution. I don't pirate games, but neither can I take my games around with me or do with my copy exactly what I want.

I'd like to see some digital distribution services that address these basic losses of freedom! How about digital equivalents of trade-ins, reassurance/means of separating the game from the service should the service go belly up, and things like that. That's how these types of services will draw in my money, and money from other gaming dinosaurs like me. So instead of complaining, retailers, innovate!

Re: 1C Company Claims UK Retail Threats Over Steam ...

Actually if you enter Offline Mode with Steam you can play offline all you like, and if Valve ever did go out of business, they've made an oath to release a mass patc hthat woudl disable the DRM and allow you yo bakc up your games. Weather or not they can really pull that off, I don't know.

Re: 1C Company Claims UK Retail Threats Over Steam ...

"One publisher says says yes."

Besides that little typo this is stupid. Do they refuse to stock your game if you offer mail order? What if you also let big wharehouse type stores sell your games? Where does it end? Digital distribution is the future and has been growing rapidly the last few years. Like it or not the majority of games will eventually be sold online through services like Steam, Good Old Games, D2D, etc. 

These stores have to know that if it comes between a few UK resellers and Steam it will end up being the UK resellers who get cut. There are still plenty of gamers who want to buy a disc at a store, these UK resellers should be trying to capture as much as that market as there is, not be artificially limiting it. In the end the only people who really suffer will be these resellers.

 
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