Impulse & GamersGate Demand Respect

By Alec Meer on July 24th, 2010 at 10:20 am.

Some people aren’t at all happy about those NPD charts listing the most successful digital distribution services. Those people being, specifically, the bosses of two of the biggest services, which rather oddly didn’t make the top five – it instead being dominated by Valve, EA, Blizzard and Direct2Drive. Impulse and Gamersgate think something is rotten in the state of down-chart….

Big Download – which is one of those names I feel I would have to bellow in a deep voice whenever spoken aloud – did the digging, eliciting comments from important, but upset men:

Brad Wardell, Stardock/Impulse boss: “NPD’s numbers on digital don’t tend to have much reflection on reality. As much as I would love digital distribution to take over the world, I can’t think of a single publisher (including ourselves) that sells even close to a majority of its units digitally. I am a big believer in the future of digital distribution but the numbers we typically hear from publishers is that it’s about a third (which is pretty darn good, by the way).”

CEO Theodore Bergquist of Gamersgate: “We did read the report and were actually quite surprised. We do not disclose our sales numbers and we were also not contacted during the research period of this study. That being said, from our numbers and most importantly our conversations with the leading publishers in the industry, I know we are easily one of the top retailers.”

It’s an odd’un. NPD aren’t exactly greenhorns when it comes to stat-gathering, but then again they’ve been incredibly slow to encompass digital sales in their methodology, plus there’s no way in hell they have access to Valve or Blizzard’s sales figures. Then again, neither do Stardock or Gamersgate.

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166 Comments »

  1. Xercies says:

    I think they are probably right that the numbers probably aren’t all that great, but having said that i think they are kind of jealous really…Gaersgate saying there the top kind of proves that to me. I don’t think Impulse would have gotten the top 5 myself. Gamersgate maybe but i don’t know.

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      They said one of the top, not the top. World of difference.

    • bob_d says:

      Gamersgate is based in Sweden, is it? I’m making a wild guess that they have more sales in Europe than America. Given that the NPD charts were for the US only, that may have made a big difference; it doesn’t matter how many sales they have if they don’t do much business in the U.S.

    • Archonsod says:

      I’d be surprised if that wasn’t the case, Euro to Dollar conversion not being quite as attractive as the other way around.

      It depends on what they include in the sales figures too. Neither Gamer’s Gate or Impulse tend to carry DLC as a rule, while a lot of Steam titles do. Although in that case I’d be amazed if EA wasn’t leagues ahead on the strength of it’s endless Sims recolours alone.

  2. Miles of the Machination says:

    I think that a lot of these digital distribution services are just going to have to come to terms with the fact that once somebody chooses an appealing service, there’s not much of a reason for them to change. Unfortunately for the likes of Impulse, Steam is a much more appealing service. The digital distribution scene really doesn’t have much scope for sharing customers.

    • Bob Bobson says:

      Why doesn’t digital distribution have scope for sharing customers? I’ve gotten games from half a dozen different sources where the game was distributed as a download.

    • pipman300 says:

      because business is the thunderdome. two companies enter one company leaves

    • bookwormat says:

      “Unfortunately for the likes of Impulse, Steam is a much more appealing service.

      That is not only unfortunate for Stardock, but also for us Customers. The quality of steam is heavily wired to the amount of serious competitive products.

    • Starky says:

      Not really.
      While I agree some competition would keep steam honest and forward moving, right now it is so vastly far ahead of said competition in almost all terms (features, usability, reliability, speed, price so on so forth) that these other DD services are like amateur lightweights challenging the world heavyweight to a bout.

      Impulse was looking promising, but then I saw something on RPS that will ensure that I will never, ever buy a game from them…
      A poster here got his account forcefully refunded, then banned for what was basically a downright polite and reasonable complaint on their forum – over Demigod I think?

      Gamersgate I may use at some point – but right now Steam is so far ahead of any of them that it’s not worth bothering.

      So atm I either buy on steam (usually only in sales) or I buy e-retail (play.com, amazon, so on which 90% of the time is cheaper than ALL digital services outside of sales anyway).
      Steam just adds value, so much that the other competition hardly has rights to call themselves that.

      They may be in competition with each other, but all of them are just dogs fighting for Valve’s scraps.

    • megalomania says:

      Don’t be absurd. If that were true there’d only be one supermarket chain, one minicab company, etc. etc. If people are looking to buy a game on Steam or GG or Impulse they’ll go for the cheapest option. In fact there’s even more room for competition than the high street retail market because location doesn’t come into the equation.

    • malkav11 says:

      I have to disagree. There’s substantially less scope for competition in digital distribution than in retail because while retail stores can buy whatever products they like in order to sell them, digital distribution services have to establish contracts with the people who actually make the games in order to distribute them. This means that any given digital distributor may simply not have a game at all and where companies both make games and operate digital distribution services (Stardock, Valve, to a limited extent Paradox) they tend to shut all of their competitors out of their games, establishing a limited monopoly. It also means that the distributor has substantially reduced control over the pricing (if any), regional availability, and whether or not a game continues to be accessible through that service at all. Combine that with endeavours like Steamworks that forcibly tie you to a particular distribution system even if you were to purchase a game elsewhere (something which acts as a considerable disincentive for competitors to sell the game), and digital distribution is a horrible, boxed in minefield of anticompetition.

    • Wulf says:

      The problem I have is that sometimes, the other services prove themselves to be shoddy. Every game I’ve bought from Steam has been fine, it’s downloaded speedily, and I have the offline mode there. My only other two distributors of choice are Direct2Drive (but only when they have something notably cheaper than Steam, which is rare), and Good Old Games.

      I have tried others, but they just didn’t work out for me. The only game I bought from Impulse was terrible downloading, because apparently it was in the middle of a sale, and unlike the Steam servers they just couldn’t cope, and their prices are rarely better than Steam’s, so I haven’t had reason to go back for another look. Gamer’s Gate… I want to like Gamer’s Gate because people I respect seem to like it, but they have DRM issues. :/

      Two of the few games I’ve bought from Gamer’s Gate were actually troubled by DRM. When cracked, those games ran fine, beautifully even, and this was confirmed. The problem is this; why should I have to crack a game I download? This is the reason I don’t play Ubisoft games. Furthermore, the Steam releases of those same games (The Whispered World and Ceville) were fine. This, I hope understandably lead to some doubt about Gamer’s Gate. How often am I going to download a game from them only to find I need to crack it in order to play it without issues?

      I don’t need to crack Steam games, I don’t even need to be online for Steam games (once I’ve downloaded them), since Steam has an offline mode which I’ve used for weeks at a time without incident. I’ve never actually seen offline mode run out, because usually I hop online to say hi to friends there, or to download another game. I did run offline mode for three weeks at one point though, and that ended up with me wanting to go back online rather than Steam telling me I had to.

      Steam’s given me exactly what I want with its offline mode, the cheap prices in Steam sales, and the speedy downloads I get (I’ve frequently seen Steam max out what my ISP can provide).

      The thing is is that the competitors have to offer something very special for me to want to look elsewhere. I only ever had one problem with Steam (where I bought a gift and it didn’t arrive), but that was cleared up in just over an hour, which actually really surprised both myself and the friend I’d bought the gift for, who’d assumed that I’d actually bought it twice considering how quickly it came through. So I was really impressed by that.

      So decent customer services too.

      How can I argue with that? My experiences with every other service have been far more negative, generally speaking. Even D2D doesn’t seem to offer the download speeds that Steam does. So often, if Steam are offering the best price, I’ll just go with them. It might be a case of ‘the devil ou know’, but at least that devil is bloody reliable.

    • Miles of the Machination says:

      Maybe I’m generalising. Whilst digital distribution can share customers dependent on the deals that are available, from my observation, once someone has found a platform they are comfortable with, they may be hesitant to go out of their way to try another – ie Steam and Impulse. However, web based digital distribution services may be a little different as they give you more direct access to your purchased products through a browser login, and buyers may be more inclined to shop around with them. Although, I do dislike Gamespy Comrade muscling its way into the D2D process.

    • Archonsod says:

      “If people are looking to buy a game on Steam or GG or Impulse they’ll go for the cheapest option”

      To be honest not having to put up with a client is worth an extra tenner to me, and the thing I really like about Gamer’s Gate is the blue coins. They’re the only distributor so far that gives you free games.

    • LintMan says:

      Impulse is my preferred buying choice if the price is reasonably competitive with Steam’s, for two reasons:

      1) Impulse wins hands-down on the DRM situation. Steam’s DRM isn’t normally terribly onerous, but I’ll take no DRM over not-so-terrible DRM any day.

      2) Steam’s “only 1 active account at any time” rule is getting to be a massive pain in the ass: My sons are getting old enough to want to play some of my games that I’ve bought on Steam. If they connect to Steam on their computer while I’m playing a different game on my computer, I get dumped out. And vice-versa. Offline mode mostly works, but it’s a huge hassle. And if/when we get a second computer for the kids it’ll be an even bigger PITA).

  3. leeder_krenon says:

    impulse has fallen so far behind the curve it’s embarrassing. shame really, as it had a lot of potential and is a nice enough platform. i suppose it really exists as a platform to deliver their own releases (which is fair enough), rather than the over-priced back catalogue that it has amassed.

  4. pipman300 says:

    the last time i used impulse it was a real pain maybe they’ve gotten better but they’re whole “we’re nothing like those devils who run steam!’ then turning around and doing the same stuff steam does turned me off from them. also one of the guys (frog i think) has crazy awful opinions and i don;’t want to give money to people with crazy awful opinions

    • pipman300 says:

      if element war of magic was released on steam instead of impulse i’d buy it

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      I installed Impulse just to buy Gal Civ 2 Ultimate & Sins of a Solar Empire for under £10 for both. Eveything else I own is on Steam or retail box. Gal Civ is now £26 & Sins is £13. Fair enough the price I paid for Sins was a weekend sale at the time but the fluctuations in the prices on Impulse is ridiculous.

      I would probably buy Demigod & Elemental if they’re discounted enough on Impulse but unlike Steam I wouldn’t use it for any games which I can get either on Steam or retail as the service just isn’t up to scratch.

    • Ozzie says:

      I bought one game over Impulse and none over Steam, so I guess I find Impulse better. Well, I never had any problems with it anyway.
      On the other hand, it was Braid, and I think it wasn’t available on Steam, so there wasn’t much choice.
      As a German, I find Steam annoying since they often sell mutilated versions to us, not the uncut ones.

  5. brog says:

    This is the first I’ve heard of Gamersgate.
    I know I’m pretty far out of the mainstream, but still, I’ve heard of Steam and Blizzard and Impulse and Direct2Drive and EA (in that order).

    (also, captchas are hard)

  6. iLag says:

    Gamersgate can have my respect any day. Lots of it, actually. The way GG handle their business should earn them a top spot on that list. Good prices and excellent customer service is the future of the digital distribution model. Hooray!

    Impulse… not so much. (Thanks for your regional restrictions and the shabby pricing for Europeans, Mr. Wardell)

    • Phinor says:

      Impulse actually tried to enforce fair pricing for everyone but publishers simply wouldn’t put their products in Impulse. So Stardock gave up and let publishers price their products as they wanted to. Now they have a lot bigger catalog and most of it is overpriced or even unavailable for Europeans just like in Steam.

      Anyway, I can easily see Blizzard.com/Worldofwarcraft.com outselling Gamersgate and Impulse. The amount of serious gamers on PC who actually know about sites like Gamersgate vs. the amount of WoW players – I’m leaning towards WoW players numbers-wise.

  7. Premium User Badge Flimgoblin says:

    Did NPD just throw up a survey monkey and forget to include Gamersgate/Impulse or something? ;)

  8. Jacques says:

    Who are GamersGate? I feel like I’m missing out on something.

    I only know of Impulse because I was forced to install their client when installing a boxed game, and said client then decided it wanted to be enabled at startup and generally get in the way.

    • Hippo says:

      Why don’t you just visit them to find out? They are probably the largest (in terms of how many games they offer) digital distribution portal around.

    • Navagon says:

      Gamersgate are awesome. They have easily the best support around and usually have the least DRM and regional restriction issues of any major DD service. Of course, not quite as good as GOG in that regard. But GOG are deliberately a niche market.

    • DrGonzo says:

      In the UK at least Gamersgate seem to sell things more expensively than Steam. Do they have their own downloader like Steam and Impulse? I only buy from Direct2Drive when I can enter a key into Steam.

    • MWoody says:

      Gamersgate are essentially where you go to get games not available anywhere else. Their weird and frustrating payment process (which noScript will thoroughly break, btw) is an ordeal, and they rarely beat the other stores on prices, but you can count on them to have games you’ve never heard of and their support is supposedly pretty good. Even for games that eventually make their way into the mainstream stores, Gamersgate is still usually first to sell them by a week or more (The Void being the recent example that comes to mind).

  9. Heliocentric says:

    I used to shout from the hills about impulse’s no drm ideals, them and gog. Those days are gog, i actually rate impulse worse than D2D now. D2D offer some truely drm free games, you don’t need a client but they offer one (i know gamersgate do too, but theirs crashes my pc) which will actually patch games i haven’t bought off them… Its bloody downloaded a patch for bioshock 2 i own from retail.

    So I would be suprised if D2D with its network of related sites is not more of a forerunner.

    • Heliocentric says:

      Correction: These days just gog.

    • Heliocentric says:

      Qualification: I know many people who only know ign and gamespy (rip) and gamespot as trusted sources because of the fileplanet, gameranking(and indeed metacritic), gamefaqs holy trinity. I honestly would be suprised if the real numbers didn’t indicate d2d were the the first place site.

      I’d love gog to be the winners, but you can’t have everything.

    • BAReFOOt says:

      How do you guys find out if games are DRM free? I don’t want to support that criminal child-raping-then-butchering-then-eating terrorist bastard devil Mafia (They’re not the only ones who can link actions to disproportionately evil words ;).

      So I have to make sure. All the services you mentioned do not mention if games are DRM free, or even if they contain DRM. Which is very dodgy for a serious company.

    • Heliocentric says:

      Gog is drm free.
      D2D mention drmfreeness with a little logo on the product page(an example would be on the space wolves 3 page which is linked on the right hand side of the main page in an offer).
      Gamersgate lie about games being drm free sometimes because everything contains their wrapper. Steam always has drm and rarely forget to mention extra drm, but they do. Impulse always uses the client but the files can be easy transfer when they don’t pack extra drm.

      Greenhouse drms everything even demos.

      Who did i forget?

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      I thought “those days are gog” was a clever pun.

      Apparently, I was sorely mistaken!

    • DrGonzo says:

      I really want to love gog but I bought Interstate 76 from them and it won’t work correctly on any of my computer. It has a totally unique problem on all of them. It wouldn’t be so bad but they supposedly guarantee that it will work, which is doesn’t. They also wont respond to any of my support tickets.

      I’m still tempted to buy Arcanum and Outcast though, but now I don’t trust that they will work.

    • Javier-de-Ass says:

      hey helio, you realise the gamersgate downloader is decrypted and disappears as you run the setup files? it’s just a one time unlock for the files. I personally keep all my gamersgate installers saved locally without the wrappers

    • Heliocentric says:

      One time drm isn’t drm free though, is it?

    • Javier-de-Ass says:

      nah, it’s just part of the download. it’s the encrypted connection to their server.

  10. Jimbo says:

    The NPD only concern themselves with US sales iirc. My impression is that Gamersgate are a bigger deal in Europe than in the US.

    I think all of the NPDs estimates about unit sales and so on were only about the US market.

    • Subject 706 says:

      NPD does focus only on the US market. Strange that the people who cry foul about their numbers don’t seem to realize that.

    • Reiver says:

      I cry foul about their numbers as a major, regardless of your opinion of them, online retailer is essentially claiming they had no way of knowing their figures to even take them into account.

    • Jimbo says:

      They don’t appear to have that data from anybody though. Presumably they just surveyed a bunch of USers about where they bought their games from, and apparently not many of them said Gamersgate.

      I’m not suggesting the survey is deadly accurate or anything but it’s probably in the right ballpark. Given the US-only context, nothing about this list seems particularly implausible to me. I certainly wouldn’t expect Gamersgate to be bumping anybody off of it.

  11. Wichtel says:

    I can’t buy half the stuff impulse sells, so maybe that could have something to do with me using steam …

    • Buemba says:

      Indeed. I’d love to use D2D or Impulse more often (D2D in particular since they seem to have a larger catalog than most), but they have far more regional restrictions than Steam or Gamersgate.

  12. jon_hill987 says:

    If the sales were estimated using a poll that asked which DDL services you use, but didn’t list Impulse as an option it would explain the results.

  13. Navagon says:

    I always thought it dodgy, because Steam doesn’t release such info. It seems like they’ve listed four places they managed to get stats from and put Steam at the top through common sense alone.

  14. Nova says:

    From their own numbers and their conversations with publishers, Gamersgate knows that they are easily one of the top retailers.

    Ok…

    • Taillefer says:

      This is an argument over a list of who sold the most which is unable to take into account the number of sales.

    • D says:

      Of course, you would be a pretty horrible company if you didn’t research your own market. And like he says, going up to a publisher you have ties with and saying “So how much did you guys sell on steam?” would be exactly the way to gauge it. Sooo Ok…

  15. Alabaster Crippens says:

    So this may all be a tad ridiculous, but basically, I steer clear of impulse despite the fact that it’s stopping me playing games I own and vaguely want to play.

    I’ve switched machines recently, and when I went to install impulse, it asked for the .net framework, which I remember on my old comp as being the single most likely application/process to be hogging processing/memory and crashing my comp. All the time, even when I wasn’t doing anything with it.

    So impulse needs something I don’t want, so I don’t play Gal Civ 2, even though I bought it (boxed copy even) because I know that registering it will require impulse, which (again) requires things I don’t want.

    Fix that and maybe I’ll start thinking about impulse as a viable alternative.

    Steam is just too damn simple and straightforward to avoid right now.

    • Subject 706 says:

      Er, believe me, more than just Impulse will need .Net Framework…

    • Duncan says:

      Um you do realise the .net framework is required for basicly everything made in a microsoft .net language. Thats basicly the majority of programs these days. Also .Net is installed on your computer I can be almost defiantly sure of that.

    • Saiko Kila says:

      1. .net Framework is installed along with modern Windows, so it’s usually only update. It’s needed by many, many things, including game tools (editors) and actual games. Yes, it’s a resource hog sometimes, but what in these times…

      2. Steam has it’s own problems, I experience them quite often since their last (terrible and outdated) UI change. It can be really slow now, both with connecting and with simple rendering of pages. Also outraging problems like “this game is currently unavailable” and “Cannot open blob archive file: CMultiFieldBlob(mem-mapped file): Failed to open file” seem to happen more often. Reinstalling is sometimes necessary, which requires lengthy validating. Fortunately it is faster than complete re-download. I’m not sure if Valve has enough resources to carry on the platform with their previous involvement.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Saiko, how’s your router?

    • Saiko Kila says:

      I have to reset it from time to time, usually every three months :) But the problem with steam may lie with number of games and overgrown configuration files (or whatever their role is, they’re located in Steam directory but apart from SteamApps, why are there so many of them, for most games, I don’t understand).

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      “I’ve switched machines recently, and when I went to install impulse, it asked for the .net framework, which I remember on my old comp as being the single most likely application/process to be hogging processing/memory and crashing my comp. All the time, even when I wasn’t doing anything with it.”

      You may want to consider a games console if you’re saying that without sarcasm or irony.

    • Dawngreeter says:

      I stopped playing games which require games to be installed. It’s a sad, sad state of gaming today that this means I can’t play games at all. :(

      Let me give you an example. I bought and installed Mass Effect 2. It played alright at first. But a couple days later I have no more free space on my hard drive, so I decide to delete the Mass Effect 2 folder. I already installed it, why should I continue to give it hard disk space for no reason? And guess what – ever since I deleted it, it no longer works! Thanks a lot BioWare, you space-hogging, money-grabbing bastards.

  16. BAReFOOt says:

    Then I’m surprised why anyone takes NPD seriously in the first place. They obviously act very unprofessionally. They obviously have an agenda (the don’t like online distribution very much). And the quality of their “work” has always been shoddy at best (only checking a subset of the actual market that is way too small).

    Solution: Let’s do out own stats then. I mean you just call those download shops, tell them that you want to give them the proper representation and respect they deserve, and then tell them that for this you need the numbers of their sales.
    If they deny, tell them that “Oh well… then you will simply not be included, and people will think you are not relevant compared to real shops. :)”.

    There. Solved.
    Hey RPS: I bet you could do that yourself in a day or so. Open OpenOffice Calc and your address book, do a couple of calls, enter the data, make a pie chart, done! :)

    • Stijn says:

      That might mean you end up with charts giving The Humble Indie Bundle 100% of digital retail market share.

    • Jimbo says:

      Don’t blame the NPD. It’s their job to try and understand the market as best they can. If the digital distributors won’t play ball and share their sales data then they have to piece it together as best they can. Without the actual data they have to rely on surveying customers – just like polling data during an election.

      Their retail figures are accurate because they are counted at point-of-sale.

  17. Garg says:

    I think the screenshot at the head of this article proves why Steam (likely) has many more download sales than Impulse. The games on the front page of Steam are all exciting, big name titles (with the odd Indie in there too), whereas Impulse puts puzzle games on the front page. It makes me think of how PCG apparently sold more issues with an FPS on the cover than an RTS.

    • pipman300 says:

      casual puzzle games. and none of them are peggle. if you’re going to sell the games my mother plays you should at least make it more accessible to people like her.

  18. skalpadda says:

    I wonder how they count the numbers for the Blizzard and World of Warcraft sites. I can’t imagine that many people would buy WoW, WC3, SC and Diablo from there, considering the insane prices they’re asking. If they include WoW subs, should that really count as game sales?

  19. StingingVelvet says:

    All I know is that someone needs to knock Steam down a peg or two, and these two don’t seem to be doing it. Seems like every game other than Starcraft 2 coming out soon is a freaking Steamworks title and one platform handling most PC games is bad news all around, no matter what Steam fanboys will likely say after this comment.

    • pipman300 says:

      trollface.jpg

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Yes, choice is good.

      But Steam is good.

      So do you want games to have a multiplayer system that will work, or take your chances for your choices?

      Sidenote, are the other companies privately or publicly owned?

    • thebomb says:

      I despise Steamworks – Impulse Reactor will show how it’s done =)

    • pipman300 says:

      counterpoint: if borderlands used steamworks instead of gamespy it’s pc release wouldn’t have sucked so much.

      also what is impulse reacter and how it is going to show steamworks how it’s done.

      this seems more like an indie music vs mainstream thing here.

    • pipman300 says:

      my band the crotchshots is going to show those corporate sell-outs how it’s done \/(^_^)\/

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      “counterpoint: if borderlands used steamworks instead of gamespy it’s pc release wouldn’t have sucked so much.”

      Having not played Borderlands I can’t comment how true that is but if it is the case, considering Randy Pitchford’s slagging of Steam/VALVe in the not too recent past, it’s hilarious.

    • Vinraith says:

      @DJ Phantoon

      Impulse, GOG, and Gamersgate are privately owned. D2D is owned by IGN which is owned by Newscorp, a publicly traded company.

      @thebomb

      I hope you’re right, Steamworks seems to be securing a frightening number of AAA releases lately, and that way lies monopoly.

      @pipman300

      Take it from someone who’s not a fan of Steam: Borderlands would have been vastly better off with Steam matchmaking. Gamespy’s a mess, and Valve really do know how to set up a multiplayer service that “just works.” I’ve never understood why some Steam exclusives, like Dawn of War 2, use Steam for copy protection and then something else for multiplayer. It’s total madness.

    • Vinraith says:

      Oops, that last one was supposed to be @Malibu Stacy, not pipman300.

    • Ryz says:

      Oh, god. Couldn’t you have just stayed on the Dtoid/Steam forums? Is this where you try and insist that GFWL is really great and everybody that disagrees is just a Steam fanboy?

      RPS needs an ignore user option, stat.

    • Ryz says:

      Gah, that was @StingingVelvet, aka notorious troll of anything that has to do with Steam or Steamworks. I was so dismayed to see him here I forgot to actually direct it at him. :(

    • malkav11 says:

      I love Steam, and he’s not wrong. One company distributing all PC games is a losing scenario for the consumer, as is Steamworks’ forcible tying of the games that use it to Steam as a platform and client.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      @ RYZ

      Considering I post on about 4 sites total it’s a little weird you know me. I’m not a troll, I just have concerns about Steam and voice them. That seems to be a horrible act now in PC-land for some reason, but I have never been one for the fanboy mentality.

      One company running PC gaming like Microsoft runs Xbox is a BAD idea. I don’t really care if you agree, I am sure of my position and intelligent people all across the internet will back me up.

    • Ryz says:

      @StingingVelvet

      You post on the most popular PC gaming websites under the same alias, largely saying the same thing over and over, and you’re surprised when you’re recognized? It’s hardly weird, it’s not like there’s a bazillion sites that focus on PC gaming nowadays. ;) I think we can both agree that Dtoid is pretty lacking in the PC area though.

      I have no problem with your opinion on Steam, I largely agree with you that it having no competition would be a very bad thing and it’s none of my business if you dislike the client. The issue is that you seem to categorize anybody that likes Steamworks as being a mindless Steam fanboy rather than having legit reasons for liking it being included. That’s where we disagree, and you very much give off a troll vibe when you do that.

      Where we diverge is that you blame publishers and Valve for using Steamworks in their games, while I blame the alternatives (GFWL, SecuROM, etc) for being incomplete, unpolished, or just plain terrible. Valve isn’t paying publishers off to use Steamworks, they’re choosing to use it because it gives them an achievement/DLC platform in addition to being DRM (and other things, but those are the main reasons) without having to develop their own, use something unreliable, or pay additional fees.

      Was I thrilled to discover I wouldn’t have to use GameSpy to play Civ 5 online? You bet! Was I relieved I wouldn’t have to go through the Games for Windows Live store to pick up DLC for New Vegas if it looked good? Absolutely. Was I relieved I wouldn’t have to deal with install limits for both titles? You better believe it. I want competition. I don’t want a console-like portal for PC games. But I don’t want to deal with crappy alternatives just because I’m afraid of Steamworks taking over, either. You would probably sneer and write me off as a fanboy because of that, despite having legit reasons, and that’s why I call you a troll. Hell, you’re reply to me was basically a troll post that called me unintelligent because I disagree with you.

    • Garg says:

      @Vinraith: Dawn of War 2 had to use the Windows Live system as at that stage Steamworks did not yet have a matchmaking facility; that arrived with Left 4 Dead. Although frankly I was impressed at how well match making worked in DoW2.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      @ RYZ

      I don’t think Steam supporters are mindless at all. If you look up StingingVelvet on Steam you will see I own a hell of a lot of Steam games; I used to be a huge Steam supporter. I know it is convenient, I know it has benefits over other services. I don’t remember ever saying GFWL was a better program, it certainly is not. My point with GFWL is the same as my point against Steam… I want to own my games as a product. GFWL lets me do that, because the singleplayer aspect is fully playable without activation. Steam is focused on turning games into a service, which I have decided I disagree with on a fundamental level.

      I don’t mind people who like Steam, I mind people who do not see what it does. I mind people who tell me they own Steam games, or that Steam is not DRM, or whatever else. Like any topic I mind ignorance, and I am sure you do too.

      I actually like Steam a lot for Multiplayer, and agree Borderlands would have been ten times better as a Steamworks title for multiplayer and DRM purposes, among others.

      End point: if Steam had an offline install option for singleplayer I would never complain about it.

      All that aside though, my personal dislikes of the platform not withstanding, I don’t want it to become the defacto standard of PC gaming because the best thing about PC gaming is the open nature of it. Make it so that everyone only buys games on Steam gives Valve a lot of power and that is already happening, I can’t tell you how many times I see “put it on Steam or who cares” on forums, industry websites and other such places.

      That scares me more than the “games as a service” thing scares me. I hate both ideas, is what I am saying.

      P.S. I just registered on Destructoid to make fun of Jim Sterling.

    • malkav11 says:

      My original impression was that Steamworks was promoted as offering the matchmaking and so forth that Steam uses without forcing the actual use of Steam as a client, etc. It still seems to me like it must be possible to set it up that way, and that it is logical to blame Valve for not doing so, even if it’s very likely not a decision that would be in their best interests – after all, while I feel that Valve is an excellent company as these things go, I’m still more concerned about what is in -my- best interests as a consumer.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      @ malkav11

      There are actually 2 games that allow you to install a limited single-player only version without Steam which are otherwise Steamworks titles. Those are Rogue Warrior and Dark Messiah: Might and Magic.

      They could do that with every game if they wanted to, they choose not to because they want to stop you from reselling the game and link your purchase to an account permanently.

    • malkav11 says:

      Dark Messiah predates the Steamworks program.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      Predates the word you mean? Who cares, really. It is a game tied to Steam for patching and multiplayer, but you can install it offline for singleplayer.

  20. mandrill says:

    “…rotten in the state of down-chart….” Ouch, I winced when I read that. C- Must try harder.

  21. airtekh says:

    I’m still confused as to how they managed to cobble together a ranking of download services, without proper sales figures, in the first place.

  22. Celksaian says:

    If these guys are important distributers in certain genres, as I suspect they are, they can still be major players while not competing in sales. There is only 5 slots! With Blizzard, Valve, EA, and D2D up their now of course they aren’t going to make it, unless they think they should have D2D’s spot.

    I would be great if some of these distributors who have manged to corner niche genres would just run with that. They could provide higher quality services like GOG or reduce barriers to entry for small developers. Maybe even help revitalize creaking genres.

  23. Sagan says:

    I guess they just checked the traffic rank on Alexa. Which I would deem appropriate. Not exact, but since there are big differences between Direct2Drive and Impulse there can’t be much doubt that the latter is much smaller.

    However they had to use a different method to compare the company websites like EA.com and Blizzard.com.

  24. Freud says:

    I have bought games from a bunch of online retailers (Gamersgate, D2D and Steam) but never impulse. If Elemental looks fine, I’ll probably pick that one up. But I’ll wait for reviews on that one and there is no rush since in their infinite wisdom picked the same release date as Mafia II.

  25. cw8 says:

    I’m playing the BETA of Elemental. It’s awesome.
    Gonna get Mafia 2 the day it releases too since I totally loved Mafia 1, played it 4 times.

  26. Premium User Badge James G says:

    Have used most of the digital retailers at some point, Steam most often. Haven’t had any major complaints with most of them, including Impulse. That said, I do like Direct2Drive’s download system, as, like GoG, it allows me to grab files while at work, rather than over my slightly shabby home connection. (And yes, I did check with the network admin people that they wouldn’t mind me using the bandwidth)

  27. Saiko Kila says:

    “plus there’s no way in hell they have access to Valve or Blizzard’s sales figures. Then again, neither do Stardock or Gamersgate. ”

    No way, eh? So what about good, old industrial espionage?

  28. Delusibeta says:

    AFAIK I know the NPD report only asked US people and I *think* they only counted US-based services, thus Gamersgate’s complaints are academic anyway. Impulse, not such much, although they have fallen way behind the rest. Of the “Notable Five” (Steam, Impulse, D2D, Gamersgate, GOG), I’d say Impulse is in last place.

    • thebomb says:

      I’m curious where you are getting your data from?

    • Delusibeta says:

      http://www.npd.com/press/releases/press_100721.html

      “The NPD Group’s Games Acquisition Monitor is a quarterly tracker which measures both digital and physical forms of games acquisition activity, volume, awareness and usage of retailers and services, as well as other technology and entertainment activities that could influence game acquisition trends. It is based on online survey responses from over 8,000 members of NPD’s online consumer panel. Data is weighted and projected to be representative of the U.S. population ages 2 and older.”

      The second part of my statement (not counting non-US based services) is speculation, however “Only digital purchases of games from the above websites are tracked in this report. Shipped boxed products from these sites are not covered; information about these can be obtained through our PC Retail Tracking service.” makes me suspicious. The third part (Impulse is falling behind the rest) is again speculation, although Alexa statistics suggest that GOG is usually ahead of Impulse and Impulse is generally on a par with Gamersgate.com alone (although if in-client views of the Impulse site may not be counted).

  29. pakoito says:

    I dislike Brad Warden since he personally said he couldn’t help me run my full-payed Demigod because of their crappy netcode.

  30. growler says:

    Surprised they left out Impulse which is my favorite DD site. Although I do use Steam quite a bit, Impulse is exactly the kind of company I’d pay to support. It’s unfortunate that Steam got a head start and is now the DD leader not by being “better” but by simply being first. Oh well, that’s business for you.

    • pipman300 says:

      it helps that their competition is terrible at this thing.

    • rei says:

      Impulse is exactly the kind of company I’d pay to support.

      Funnily enough, Impulse is exactly the kind of company I’d pay not to support, since Brad Wardell chose to turn his company into a vehicle for supporting his political ideals.

    • thebomb says:

      What political ideas? What are you even talking about?

    • pipman300 says:

      @malibu stacy

      that’s one of the reasons why i’m wary about giving any money to stardock when they have people who do things like that.

    • thebomb says:

      Brad did not like the fact that corporations were using their power to influence politics. How is that bad?

    • rei says:

      You have to be extremely naive to believe that that was the real reason, instead of just a hasty attempt at damage control after he realized that his little tantrum might actually damage his company.

    • thebomb says:

      Right..

      If you’ve ever seen Brad post on the Stardock forums you’d know that he doesn’t care two fvcks about what anyone thinks and wouldn’t even bother to do “damage control” over something as trivial as this.

    • Ryz says:

      Along with Brad’s shenanigans on the Demigod forums, including outright forcing a refund of the game on a longtime community member that was offering polite thought-out criticism. Wonder where that fit under the so-called Gamers’ Bill of Rights?

    • thebomb says:

      @Ryz Do you have a link/post to this incident?

    • Ryz says:

      @thebomb

      http://forums.demigodthegame.com/350858/page/2/

      Reply #38 by Warskullx is the post in question, Istari banned him and force refunded his game for it. It’s well known that forum bans can lead to having your game force refunded and account closed. It’s complete overkill and a big reason I dislike Impulse, even if I would never be in a position to get myself banned like that.

  31. GlennS says:

    I just don’t think it’s a very good market to be competing in if you don’t have significant momentum to begin with:

    Steam has a number of problems that the other services do better:
    * Slow download speeds.
    * Servers frequently down, especially when something popular is released.
    * General unreliability.
    * Automatically updates.

    But I’m still going to use it in preference to other services where possible, because:
    * Ridiculously good sales (for example, they just gave away Alien Swarm for free)
    * Game overlay is useful
    * All my friends / clans I play against etc. are on it. I can’t see how anyone else could get a foothold here, unless they used Facebook integration.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      1 – download speeds aren’t necessarily Steams fault. That’s like blaming your cars manufacturer for you being a half hour late into work because the council were relaying the road on your route to the office.
      2 – This whole year the servers have had issues on Wednesday night last week. My memory doesn’t quite remember all of 2009 but for 7 months, that’s pretty damn good. Them being down only caused issues with joining Alien Swarm games (I assume L4D/L4D2 too), I could still play TF2 perfectly fine.

      3 – What? Maybe in 2003 or 2004. Definitely not in the last 3-4 years.

      4 – OK now you’re just trolling. You’re complaining about automatic updates? Seriously?

    • Archonsod says:

      Automatic updates suck. Try playing a multiplayer game which uses private servers, games with an active mod community or indeed anything else that patches can throw out of whack.

      I prefer Impulse’s system better. Tell me there’s an update available and ask if I want to install it, that way I can go check to see if it’s going to break anything rather than find myself incapable of playing my favourite mod until the modders decide when (or indeed if) they’ll update.

      Oh, and while we’re at it sort out the automatic update options. If I’ve unchecked “always keep this game up to date”, it’s a pretty fair bet I don’t want it re-checked every time I update the client.

  32. John Peat says:

    I think what the NPD article completely fails to grasp is that DD is the emerging marketplace for almost ALL PC games sales – with retail PC sales being almost history (at least here in the UK).

    Despite the one-sided evidence quoted above, there are many reasons to use more than 1 of the services, not the least of which are game exclusivity and that most interesting of online developments – the deals and sales.

    Every site has deals and many are too-good-to-miss – in addition you have sites like GamersGate which offer a variety of loyalty rewards, GoG specialising in keeping older games alive and GreenMan attempting a trade-in economy model.

    It’s all interesing stuff – it’s all keeping the big players on their toes – NPDs take on it is ludicrously narrow and shows no understanding of any of this.

    p.s. Blizzard are included why? – they’ve not (thusfar) made a new game available on a download-basis at launch and so they should be compared with Facebook instead perhaps??? :)

    • Ryz says:

      Blizzard has had digital versions of the WOW expansions for a while now. I’m guessing the pets and other goofiness that people buy in droves also counts.

  33. Horatius says:

    I don’t mean to imply that people don’t have legitimate beefs with Impulse, but I think this comment thread has been a little too harsh on a service which has real advantages over Steam. With Impulse I don’t need a net connection every time I boot up a game, as I have learned can be a real pain with my Steam copies of Zeno Clash and Borderlands. It’s my game, they know I paid for it, why can’t I run it when I’m offline? I’ll always look for a game on Impulse before I check Steam.

    I currently live out in the countryside, where there is no DSL available, and my wireless provider is spotty. A funny thing happens when my net connection goes down… I want to play my games at that time!

    Impulse also carries a much smaller market share than Steam, so complaining that their prices aren’t the lowest shouldn’t come as a surprise. When you’re the biggest, you can afford to sell for less, and even sell at a loss in order to reinforce your dominance.

    I suppose I’ve only helped sway this conversation even further from the NPD, and I apologize. I just wanted to give a tip of my hat to Impulse, and a wag of my finger to Steam.

    • Heliocentric says:

      I like impulse, i would shop at them more than steam if they could match more of steam’s sales and prices. I’m small so i must be expensive, i’m expensive so i’m small is circular bull.

    • PHeMoX says:

      Many if not all games can be run offline with Steam. I play X3:Reunion offline all the time. No problems whatsoever, so I think maybe Steam is not to blame in those cases?

      I think all of the digital distribution platforms are still TOO expensive compared to normal retail distribution. Most of the time you pay exactly the same for the digital versions, what’s up with that?

      Also.. Steam ruined it for me when it comes to acquiring games when it comes to their drop of American prices for European customers. We now usually pay the Dollar prize number in Euros, which means that there’s no exchange rate conversion happening and we pay way more than the Americans even without our local taxes.

    • Ryz says:

      I have a few games on Impulse that require the service and I picked up Red Faction Guerilla for $7 or so last year. That’s about all I use it for, though I do check it’s sales every week and I’m fairly interested in Elemental.

      It’s not a bad platform, but it’s just nowhere near as polished as Steam is right now and I really dislike Wardell as of late. He used to be a cool guy, but…I don’t know.

      Steam would work fine in offline mode for you though. It used to be a little wonky, but it’s been fixed for a long while now.

  34. Jambe says:

    The moral of this story?

    NPD is about as effective & trustworthy a metrics-gather as the Daily Star is a reputable news source.

    C’mon, Alec.

    • Heliocentric says:

      I dunno. NPD would never issue an apology for being wrong.

  35. XM says:

    The biggest problem with Gamers Gate is they make it so hard to buy their games. Some games you can’t use PayPal due to the risk of fraud and credit cards don’t work due to overseas payment restrictions. I’ve never seen it so hard to give someone your money.

    The problem is they use 3rd parties to handle money as Gamers Gate don’t want to touch your money for some reason.

    So most use Steam for easy payment.

  36. Feanor says:

    The moral of this story is that someone needs to give Valve and Blizzard’s DD sales number to WikiLeaks.

  37. cjlr says:

    I did an informal survey of my own hard drive. Results as follows:
    Gamersgate: 34 games, ~$225 spent
    Steam: 30 games, ~$150 spent
    Impulse: 7 games, ~$100 spent
    GOG: 25 games, ~$175 spent
    D2D: bugger all

    Given the choice, I buy from gamersgate – I find them a much better service, though how much of that is my own natural inclination to be extremely suspicious of anyone’s (ie steam) grossly one-sided market domination. I mean, that’s just asking for trouble. GG, though, I actually prefer. Less intrusive, no stupid client, prices almost always as good, selection almost always as good.

    Impulse is good for Stardock’s games only, pretty much. They’ve got mediocre selection and poor pricing, as a rule. D2D was a really shoddy experience back in the day (like, 2 or 3 years ago), and ever since I’ve completely avoided them, for no real reason – I hear they’re much improved, but I find myself well enough served by all the other options out there. GOG is kind of in their own little category. I like them, and have bought a fair bit, but it’s not like they’re in competition with the others.

  38. malkav11 says:

    There’s nothing especially wrong with Impulse, in my book, but I hardly ever buy from them because the majority of my digital purchases are sale-based, and Impulse has consistently failed to figure out what constitutes compelling discounts in their sales. Once in a very great while you get something like Space Rangers 2 + expansion for $4 (way back in the early days of the service), which beats the $50 I originally paid for my Starforce crippled retail version all to hell. But I find that Steam in particular and Gamersgate to a somewhat lesser extent do much, much better at having major discounts that I can’t resist. 90% off is a hell of a lot more enticing than 20%. And D2D, while not a site I like very much (among other things, it shares the other IGN sites’ absolutely dreadful web design), has occasionally become a contender with those $5 sales and the like.

  39. cliffski says:

    The single largest number of sales for my games is through steam, but the single largest source of income is selling direct. And sales through GamersGate, D2D and Impulse are all quite good for me. This is maybe helped by selling strategy games, which GG and Impulse have a good audience for…

    As a gamer, I dislike the whole concept of needing to install a ‘client’ to buy and download a game, especially anything that wants to run as a service. I have enough crap like itunes that thinks it should run 24/7 as it is. Simple .exe installer downlaod links just work, and don’t cause any hassle.

    • malkav11 says:

      Well, except for the hassle involved in tracking down and manually installing patches. I also appreciate Steam as a central location for games in a way that the Windows Games folder has mysteriously failed to be.

    • Vinraith says:

      @cliffski

      Completely agreed. My overwhelming preferences are GOG (oh how I wish I could buy everything through GOG), Gamersgate (as it gets between me and my games less than Impulse or Steam), and DRM-free games from D2D. Also, when a game’s available straight from the developer without strings I always buy that way. The only reason to put up with clients to my mind is platform exclusives (ie Stardock games and Valve games) and particularly exceptional sales. Added bonus: Steam’s still the only digital distributor that’s ever blocked me from accessing my own games, and the only digital distributor that’s ever sold me a game that flatly wouldn’t work (and their support is worthless, to boot).

      All that said it’s obvious why Steam is tops: it’s convenient and its cheap. There’s a reason Wal-Mart’s the biggest retailer in this country, after all.

    • Ingix says:

      Real story that happened to me: I bought Machinarium + Samorost 2 + related soundtracks in December 2009 as a bundle as a deal from Amanita Design (developer of those games). This was 4 downloads in my browser, after some time everything seemed to be done downloading. I then immediately got out my backup drive and backed the download up. Then I checked the used space on the backup drive and wondered how the 300+ MB Machinarium download (I had checked the size before to estimate download time) would fit into the some 250 MB used on the backup drive.

      I checked the file on my (built in) hard disk and it was just above 200 MB. I then checked the download window of my browser and finally saw that 3 downloads said “Done”, the Machinarium download however said “Error”.

      Now I had no intention of running the game at that moment, I could have played it maybe weeks or month later. If I hadn’t made the check of space on the backup disk, I might only have found out at that time, long after the bundle action was over.

      Of course it was my fault, I should have checked the download window more clearly, but it showed 4 full download beams and apparently the 3 “Done” masked out the one “Error” in the description. Now I consider myself reasonably computer literate, but I was almost hit by that simple problem of not recognizing a broken download.

      A download service will loose costumers fast if such errors go undetected and the customer, who may notice a problem only long after they can find the reason, feels cheated because “the program doesn’t work”. Since that time I can understand that online distributors may want their costumers to use clients that download (and probably check for errors) their purchases. For me the important part is that I get an .exe or .zip that I can then use independently from the service.

  40. gumbomasta says:

    Impulse falls behind because it lacks stats, a graphical overlay, and a buddy list. The featured games right now on its front page are not good games. The prices are less-then-competitive, but to be fair, I have gotten some good deals at various points.

    Thus, Impulse isn’t innovating and Steam is. That’s why Steam is the top dog. Unfortunately, Steam’s exclusivity for certain titles veers it towards a monopoly, and in my opinion that’s not cool on a far deeper level. For games that it develops in-house, fine. But for third party titles like Total War which specifically requires Steam, I’m concerned with Steam significantly shutting out competition using this sort of business practice.

    Impulse needs to grow, and Steam needs to keep itself in check. Gamers Gate, Gog and D2D can just sit in the corner and be cool

    • Gabbo says:

      I must be alone in that I don’t want any of those features in a download client. I just want it to get me the game, and at most updates for that game if there are any. I don’t care about stat tracking, and overlays and friends list just get in the way. If that’s innovation, I’ll pass on it thanks.

      If Steam didn’t have to be running to play non-Valve games I would only use Impulse and GamersGate (GoG will continue to get my business regardless) for their exclusive games (Sins, DemiGod, etc), but until that happens, I’ll take my money where the games are and that will be spread among all of the various services [that aren't D2D].

  41. Peterkopf says:

    According to NPD all the data in their press release comes from surveys. A quarterly survey among 8000 of their online consumer panel, and a weekly survey among 180,000 of their online consumer panel, divided into four individual weekly surveys.

    Kinda smells like lies, damn lies and online consumer panel surveys, to me.

    Personally I haven’t found anything to rival Steam. It’s a nice, sleek client, and since they’ve fixed the pricing for my region to rival most other retailers, I’d much rather buy all my games from them. The others really only offer you a link and an installer, and that’s a bit too bare bones for me, although I’ve used most of them in a pinch.

    Going digital for me is mostly down to the fact that store purchases today just nets you a fancy plastic box with a (quite often) very useless little manual. I don’t see the draw. Back in the old days they’d include funny little things with your cardboard box, besides the floppy discs and cd roms. Remember that one Lemmings game? I still have the little graphic novel that came with it. Much awesome.

  42. John Peat says:

    The issue of customer support is entirely down to personal experience – for everyone with a beef there’s at least 2 people who are being helped no-end.

    D2D sold me Prey (when Steam ran out) but the copy I downloaded insisted on having a serial as if it were a retail version (and their key didn’t work). It took 6 days to get them to admit it was a known problem and suggest I redownload (which fixed the issue).

    GreenManGaming’s ‘freebie’ weekend landed me a copy of “The Void” however it would not run on any of my 3 PCs. Much hacking about (using a version I ‘acquired through other means’ which did work!!) showed GMG’s version was missing a config file (restoring it made their version work). IcePickLodge (developers) replied to my query with a HOWTO on recreating the file – GMG finally came back to me long after this (over a week after the game was downloaded) to say they didn’t have a solution (so I told them where to find one which they now post on the download page!!)

    I got Space Rangers 3 from a GetGamesGo sale – installed on my laptop AOK but I decided to move it to the desktop and it blind refused to reinstall, claiming the login/key was invalid. It took them a few days to respond but they solved the issue and – to apogise for the hassle – refunded my money so I really can’t complain about that.

    Steam support aren’t lightning fast but they’ve helped me the 2-3 times I’ve needed it but, of course, using your brain and the support forums usually results in a faster fix!!

  43. Rugged Malone says:

    NPD’s digital numbers are based on weekly surveys that ask people if they’ve bought a game in the past week, they don’t collect any hard data for digital sales, only retail ones.

    They sample a pretty large base, but it’s still just a survey.

  44. Javier-de-Ass says:

    nah, it’s just part of the download. it’s the encrypted connection to their server.

  45. Inno says:

    Considering noone seems to have any definate numbers that make up the whole picture it’s certainly possible Impulse & GamersGate are overestimating theirs in comparison.

    Like someone else already mentioned, momentum is important in things like this. Obviously there’s alot more to it aswell but it’s a pretty big deal nonetheless. With both an increasing number of users and games going Steam(works) it’s imo already too little too late for Impulse, GamersGate, D2D, etc. I’m leaving out EA & Blizzard because they’re relying solely on their own games with mass appeal.

    Steam has momentum, features, good enough prices/sales, functionality aswell as the whole community aspect down to an art. Unless they muck it up themselves there is little to no way any outside competition is gonna put a dent in their growing market share. On the whole people like convenience (no messing around with 2/3 different website accounts), ease of use and most importantly they go where their friends and others are going. All bad news for anyone other than Steam.

    From a longtime PC gamer point of view I don’t consider the dominance of Steam to be a bad thing. It’s merely the next step in the evolution of PC gaming. Yeah it has downsides, there are few things that don’t. All in all though with there being important benefits to everyone involved (publishers, indie/major studios, gamers) i’m pretty optimistic about this next step.

    • cjlr says:

      “From a longtime PC gamer point of view I don’t consider the dominance of Steam to be a bad thing. It’s merely the next step in the evolution of PC gaming.”

      Ahahahahaha. Hahaha. Oh wait, you were serious. Let me laugh even harder.

    • Inno says:

      I certainly was. When you think of something meaningful to say let me know okay? Here’s a tip, don’t embarrass yourself by bringing up the monopoly argument. That isn’t accurate now nor will it be in the future. Too many wannabe antitrust lawyers & economists trolling this “argument” around already.

    • cliffski says:

      oh really?
      let me know how antitrust lawyers prevented ebay dominating auctions, amazon dominating books, google dominating search and youtube dominating video.
      Anti-trust is hard to enforce accross international boundaries.

    • cjlr says:

      If you can explain to me how multiple products in competition with each other is worse than just one, go ahead. The near-monopolies of Intel and Microsoft have certainly done wonders for us PC users, though, yes?

      I’d like to hear your characterisation of this so-called troll-worthy “argument”, though. I’m not quite clear what you mean. However, given that you yourself admitted to both downsides and benefits of the situation, that someone else could weigh them and find a different balance wouldn’t seem, to me, to be by itself an embarrassing evaluation. Or perhaps the embarassing part was my own (decidedly light-heartedly) quoting Futurama and expecting the reference to be taken in kind?

    • Inno says:

      Why should they I would argue? Dominating something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an unlawful monopoly. Several people would argue that the examples you raise are so called natural monopolies. These being built on the companies skill and qualities in their respective field, not from anticompetitive behavior and as a result they’re completely legal. Are you saying there aren’t / weren’t any other book stores or auction sites or video sharing sites other than the companies you mentioned? Competition is but a click away is a commonly heard phrase in issues like this.

      Obviously i’m not arguing for a laissez-faire attitude when it comes to antitrust issues. We should always be careful and on the lookout for illegal monopolies just as much as we should be careful not to punish competitive succes.

    • Ryz says:

      @cliffski

      Except none of those are monopolies. Amazon does not have a stranglehold on book sales, I can go to any store large or small/online or off and buy a book. They don’t even have a hold on eBook readers, as Barnes & Noble and Sony and others are in the market. Google does not control every aspect of search engines, others exist and more come out all the time (I love duckduckgo.com myself for the keyboard shortcuts and bang syntax). There are tons of video streaming sites that exist alongside youtube, there are other auction sites that flourish besides eBay.

      Being a dominant brand is not the same thing as anti-trust. If the company abuses laws to become the dominant force and practices anti-competitive practices, then you’d be in business. If google blocked other search engines from appearing in it’s results or refused to let you use other search engines in chrome, you’d have something. What they did was create a good service that became very very popular and mainstreamed, making the company very very big.

      You’re confusing mainstream adopting the brand as a term rather than as a product/service name (“I’ll google that later.” “I’m going to eBay this old camera.” “I’ll youtube that video clip.”), and doing it poorly since Amazon doesn’t apply whatsoever, with becoming a monopoly. Is Apple a monopoly because IPod has become synonymous with mp3 player? No, it’s just popular. Is Apple starting to exhibit monopoly/anti-competitive tendencies in how they treat the iPhone and it’s apps? Hell yes they are. That’s the difference, and guess what? They’re being looked at for it.

      D2D relented on refusing to sell Steamworks games because A.) it was hurting their sales and B.) it was hypocritical so long as they happily sold GFWL games, which force you to install 3rd party software and it’s digital store. The difference being that GFWL is crap and not considered competition.

      Steamworks is in no way even close to being a monopoly. The problem is that all of the competition freakin’ sucks or doesn’t really exist. There is no true competitor for Steamworks right now in terms of total package and benefits to publishers AND consumers, the only real rival is GFWL. Consider BioShock 2 vs Mafia 2: 2K wanted achievements, DLC store, and DRM without building a framework themselves. With BioShock 2 they went with GFWL for the DLC store/achievements and SecuROM for DRM so they wouldn’t be tied to Steam, as a result this also included install limits and double activations. It got railed on, and rightfully so. With Mafia 2, they get all of that with Steamworks, and it’s all far more polished than the alternatives. It makes no sense NOT to use it unless you’re designing your own (Blizzard, EA), which requires far more money than implementing Steamworks.

      People need to stop pointing fingers at Steam getting too big and need to start demanding true competition for STEAMWORKS, which is where the possibilities for a problem lies. If there was a true alternative for publishers to choose from, the industry would be a whole lot better. Choices are good things.

  46. Tom says:

    My personal top-3:

    Steam (60% of my online shopping)
    GoG.com (33% of my online shopping)
    GamersGate (7% of my online shopping)

    And I keep it with those 3 as I prefer (or tolerate) their methods of downloading, drm etc. I have GalCiv2 on Impulse, but I can’t stand Impulse…After I bought GalCiv2 I had to wait 2 days and email support before I could download it…

  47. CloakRaider says:

    “I know we are easily one of the top retailers”

    Garghhh I hate the arrogant tone in that, even if it is based on figures.

  48. Paul says:

    “One time drm isn’t drm free though, is it?”

    Well then so does GOG since you have to login with a password… I mean come on all their installer wrapper does really is just verify you are who you claim you are and that you didn’t just post the setup file on rapidshare.

    Gamersgate is my vendor of choice since they offer store credit with every purchase which you can use for free games! Refer your friends to them and if they buy you gain some credits there too. Their speeds were terrible 3 or 4 months ago (Eastern USA) but since then I have downloaded new games at my cable connection’s max speed.

    • Vinraith says:

      Gamersgate has REALLY improved their North American server speeds over the past year. They used to be terrible, but like you all my downloads for the last few months (really for all of 2010 and the latter part of 2009 in my personal case) have been at or near maximum.

  49. Andrew says:

    A problem with GOG is some of the games they sell are just cracked versions. For example, I bought ‘Perimeter’, and I had heard stories about them doing this, so I compared RELOADED’s cracked exe to GOG’s exe, where I found the file sizes to be the same, but the hashes different, so after some checking with a hex editor, it turns out GOG’s exe was the same as RELOADED’s but with the “RELOADED” tag erased from the file.

    While the use of cracks isn’t the digital retailers fault, at least with steam and their DRM you can be sure they actually recompiled the exe and are not just selling a cracked version.

    • Vinraith says:

      at least with steam and their DRM you can be sure they actually recompiled the exe and are not just selling a cracked version.

      No, not really.

      http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2010/05/12/max-embarassment-max-payne-2-steam/

    • Ryz says:

      @Vinraith

      Except it’s much rarer on Steam. GOG does it all the time.

      I’ve never understood why everybody is so batty about GOG. I can think of 10 or so examples off the top of my head of games they’ve applied a crack to, applied some basic fixes to make it work on most modern PCs. Not even the “extras” they pack in are original or provided by publishers. You’re basically paying for a torrent.

    • malkav11 says:

      From which money goes to the current license holders, unlike torrenting. And you get support. And it’s legal. And you’re pulling the file from dedicated servers, not random people’s shoddy connections. But you know, other than that.

    • Ryz says:

      @malkav11

      Is it legal? They’re using pirated cracks in their legally sold games. I was being flippant when calling their games a glorified torrent, and yes it’s legal for the consumer…but does that make it okay for them to use cracks and take those extras from other sites without any permission whatsoever, and then make money off of it?

      Piracy and torrents are wrong, etc, etc. But what GOG does doesn’t sit right with me either, is all. If they weren’t using software cracks, I’d completely understand wanting the convenience of downloading an already fixed copy off their servers.

    • Archonsod says:

      If they’re doing it with the license holder’s permission it’s not a crack.

    • malkav11 says:

      I really, really don’t care if they have permission to use the cracks – turnabout is fair play in that case. But they definitely do have the publisher’s permission to sell the game.

  50. theSAiNT says:

    Wow at ridiculously heavy handed forum moderation by stardock.
    http://forums.demigodthegame.com/350858/page/2/

    I’ve never even heard of the concept ‘forced refund’ until now. If Blizzard ‘force refunded’ every mildly inflammatory post on Battlenet forums, they wouldn’t have a player base today.

    What surprises me even more is that Stardock have left the thread up. They are paying to host something that generates massive negative publicity. I for one will not be buying any of their products anytime soon.

    • Archonsod says:

      I’m sure they’ll be gutted at the loss of whatever money you would have offered. Particularly with all those people still around because they got rid of the ‘tards still giving them money.