GameStop Swallow Impulse And Spawn Labs

By Quintin Smith on March 31st, 2011 at 11:59 pm.

Whoah! RPS reader Oak sends words that US game retailer GameStop has acquired both Impulse, Stardock’s independant digital distribution service, and Spawn Labs, a cloud gaming service, all with the aim of developing GameStop’s “growing suite of digital game products and services”. This press release on the subject says that Impulse’s digital download services will be fully integrated with GameStop “within the next few months”.

What does this mean for PC gaming? At the moment, all it means is that control of one of the biggest digital distribution services has been passed from a games developer that’s expressed an interest in the rights of gamers (you can read Stardock’s “Gamer’s Bill of Rights” here) to an enormous corporation that owns Game Informer, the single biggest video games magazine on the planet (with a circulation of 3.5 million copies each month, it reaches almost 100 times more people than any single UK games mag). We’ve contacted Stardock to find out more, though they’ve posted a simple FAQ about the acquisition here.

__________________

« | »

, , .

111 Comments »

  1. Torgen says:

    Doom.

    • Bullwinkle says:

      And gloom.

    • Navagon says:

      For international customers? At least there’s no real way it could be worse.

    • Seb says:

      Actually, this is great news for Stardock & PC gaming. Competing with Steam does not make sound business sense unless you have a solid brand that can lead to massive & rapid market penetration. Like, say, GameStop. I’m not saying their success is guaranteed, but this move makes it at least plausible that impulse could become a serious competitor to Steam. As for Stardock, they are essentially cashing out of the distribution market — they can focus on making games, and they get more cash to make them even better. I don’t see any doom & gloom here.

    • Martha Stuart says:

      How do you compete with Steam? Thats like saying im gonna compete with God.

  2. Lacero says:

    Posted: March 31st, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    Well ok then, I guess I’ll have to believe it :)

    • Smidey says:

      I’m pretty sure that it’s legit. Either that or a fantastically elaborate April fools joke. If you just look for Gamestop on Google, you can get to the press release from there, so I’m going to assume that it’s legit.

    • John Walker says:

      Yes, this appears to be for real.

      Says something that it looks like a fool though.

  3. Andy_Panthro says:

    What a shame.

    • President Weasel says:

      this is almost certainly a What A Shame.

    • Smidey says:

      Yeah, I agree. Not going to buy anything from impulse any more. I was SERIOUSLY thinking about getting the $12 all dawn of war 1 collection that they have on sale this weekend, but this might mean that I won’t. I’m not going to want to live w/ gamestop malware in a couple of months when this deal is finalized.

    • Man Raised by Puffins says:

      Electronic(s Boutique) Old Men, Ruling the World.

    • shoptroll says:

      Quick someone make a countdown website tracking how long it takes Activision to kiss the ring of GameStop and remove Steamworks from Call of Duty before ultimately giving Impulse 6 months of exclusivity on all future releases!

    • westyfield says:

      What a shame.

    • Bhazor says:

      @ Andy
      Is it?
      Supposing Gamestop are serious about this and make a real investment into it then combined with their retail clout they could have a huge potential market share. Enough of a share to get good leverage on companies to get some decent PC ports out and refusing to ship broken games (ha, alright thats unlikely. Red Dead Redemption exists afterall). If Gamestop are able to make more from PC sales than consoles then it would be in their interest to improve PC gaming.
      Market forces at least mean they’ll need to play nice and offer a service on par with Steam or D2D and if not then they’ll be pushed out.

    • subedii says:

      Market forces at least mean they’ll need to play nice and offer a service on par with Steam or D2D and if not then they’ll be pushed out.

      Or alternatively they could threaten not to carry your games or simply make sure they have a poor showing in-store if they make use of Steamworks, as they originally did with titles like Dawn of War 2.

      Gamestop have been pretty outright in their condemnation of Steam, and I’m not really under the impression that they really want to play nice given previous history. There’s no real need for them to provide a better service than Steam, they just need to convince publishers that it wouldn’t be advisable to use Steamworks. But oh incidentally, there is this other system that we could recommend…

      Yes I am being overly cynical.

      No, I don’t think that’s unwarranted given the situation. Gamestop have no requirement to compete, they don’t need to provide a better service when they’ve got other and far more powerful tools at their disposal.

    • Davie says:

      What a Shame should be a tag by now, really. This is, in fact, A Shame.

    • TheSaddestSort says:

      What a shame, indeed.

    • Smidey says:

      Subedii, I’m not entirely sure that you’re correct here. I think that If that is indeed their intentions, they needed to have moved faster. By now, steam is so big that I’m not entirely sure that Gamestop can just muscle them out of the way by “threatening” developers. Not only that, but digital distribution has lower built in costs associated with it, so developers can theoretically get a larger chunk of the sale price of each game. The developers can see the writing on the wall, and I’m not entirely sure that Gamestop alone has the clout to muscle them into dropping steamworks from their games. If it was Wal-Mart, that’d be a different thing entirely, but as it stands, I’m not sure that Gamestop has moved fast enough, if that was indeed their motivation to purchase impulse.

    • subedii says:

      So it’s not entirely correct that they don’t need to improve and compete directly with Steam when they have some other extremely powerful tools at their disposal?

      Or is it not true that they’ve previously done exactly that and tried to use said influence by swinging it around like a freaking cudgel?

      Gamespot is a company that is powerful enough a sales factor that devs actually cater directly for it, right down to crafting entire additional game levels as retailer specific DLC. Devs don’t need to abandon DD. They still happily get the benefits of publishing on a Digital storefront. It just doesn’t need to be Steam, or even offer the same quality of service.

      Like I said, I see no reason why Gamestop needs to provide actual competition to Steam instead of simply using their fairly powerful position to try and become a market dominator. And before, even when they didn’t have a competing service, they have literally done just that.

      I’m not exactly intent on seeing Gamestop as some nice guy here who’s going to try to win an audience purely by offering a better service when they’ve also got some pretty powerful means of winning exclusivity and clients outside of that.

      Is it possible that they will try to improve Impulse regardless and try to offer a viable alternative that people are actually interested in? Well yes, yes it is. For that matter I don’t even know that it’s not too late for Gamestop to gain a foothold in DD.

      But when people start talking about how wonderful this situation clearly is for the competition (and I’m certainly not against the idea of good competition for Steam, let me say that upfront) and how Gamstop will be lovely and play nice with people, I have to disagree on that somehow being a given, and I honestly believe it’s gotten to a stage where some people’s dislike of Valve and Steam is clouding their judgement to make them think that Gamestop is naturally nicer. Gamestop are just as much a freaking business as anyone. They showed no compulsion against trying to use aforesaid influence to get publishers to boycott Steam, regardless of what the audience actually wanted. And now they have even more clout to pressure publishers to do so since they have an alternative storefront to offer. The usage of which can easily allow for plenty of added benefits to the publisher when selling their products to Gamestop (and this is not limited purely to PC titles), but doesn’t necessarily need to benefit the customer anything at all.

      Gamestop can happily improve Impulse and compete with Steam in that manner. But I don’t honestly believe they’re under some compulsion to do so, to “play nice” with the market, or their competition, or their customers.

      I don’t mean to be a doom-monger since there’s every possibility that this will provide some much needed competition. But looking at previous history here, I don’t see how people can simply ignore how Gamestop behaved previously and say it’s not going to be like that THIS time, only with an even bigger push on their part.

  4. Frosty says:

    If this isn’t an april’s fools then DO NOT WANT

  5. kregg says:

    Well, Impulse is boned.

    Basically, what Andy_Panthro said.

  6. Greg Wild says:

    Gamestop really are becoming the Murdoch-corp of the gaming world.
    Or… April Fools? :P

  7. Hoaxfish says:

    This, along with their acquisition on Kongregate, makes it pretty clear they’re expanding out of the brick-shop business.

    They hopefully understand that they’re really not going to be the only fish in this pond. If they don’t put forward a good deal and environment for customer (GFWL is an example in failure), those customers are just going to go to one of the others (Steam being the shark in the pond).

  8. abhishek says:

    Impulse has been a failure in the hands of Stardock anyway. They have not managed to stay competitive with the rest of the market in any way whatsoever. Their selection of games isn’t great. Their region locking is the worst I’ve seen. Their sales/discounts very rarely match up with the other big players. Their anti-DRM and ‘gamer’s bill of rights’ stance went to hell after the first few months of their launch. Even Stardock’s reputation of being a ‘good’ company that tries to do right by it’s customers went to shit when they released 2 broken games one after the other.

    I assume that Gamestop will continue to run Impulse as a US only store, which is basically what it is right now anyway. However, I’m still hopeful that they can perhaps ease up on the region locks. Let’s see.

    • Bhazor says:

      But Stardock are a smaller company so they’re the good guys of course.

    • Moraven says:

      Actually Impulse was a profitable part of the company.

      http://forums.stardock.com/407118

    • Wulf says:

      No no, you’re wrong, Stardock are as evil as wot the Empire was in Star Wars for being human enough to be fallible, since making mistakes and being able to apologise for them, followed up by actually doing better, is the worst possible thing in the gaming world. Everyone knows that gamers want to be treated like shit. :p

      (I’m going to jump on the sarcasm trolling bandwagon too, whee!)

    • abhishek says:

      Everyone did in fact forgive them for Demigod, and they followed it up not by doing better, but by releasing Elemental in the state that it was.

      In any case, I’m not trying to be vindictive towards Stardock here. Impulse might have been a profitable part of their business, but as a non-US gamer, it is almost worthless to me personally. I can’t claim to understand the complexities of running a digital service like this but when the competition (Steam, D2D and Gamersgate) managed to get licenses to sell publisher’s games worldwide, all I can say is that I just get the feeling Stardock never tried hard enough.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      For me the worst was when they released the second broken game. Then it became obvious that the second item of their Gamers Bill of Rights was just for show. You get it once and it is understandable, but the second time (and in a row) it’s not. The bugs in Elemental were immense showstoppers and many other aspects of the game (AI, map, combat) was clearly unfinished. Several reviewers in fact didn’t hesitate to call the release the equivalent of a beta version.

      Elemental was pretty much the one game on my wish last last year. No other game came so close for me wanting to have it. Meanwhile Stardock was until that point one of my favorite developers. Because the bugs were so obvious, because the development and beta processes were so public, Stardock knowingly released an unfinished game. I lost my trust on them.

    • Zakski says:

      see Lintman’s reply below

    • Commisar says:

      oh well, we still have Gamersgate, amitire?

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      @Zakski: Releasing a game with bugs, apologizing and fixing is decent. Knowingly releasing an unfinished game and apologizing… is not.
      This whole “lets screw up now and we’ll apologize later” doesn’t convince me. Good try, though.

    • Zakski says:

      the think is they didn’t “knowingly” release an unfinished anything. – they said that on retrosprective they simply lost sight of the end goal. + anyone who bought elemental from before christmas gets the expansion free. + demigod was not just their fault

  9. Bhazor says:

    Ahhhhh the Stardock Bill of Rights. Its a shame Brad Wardell never read it.

    • LintMan says:

      Ahhhhh the Stardock Bill of Rights. Its a shame Brad Wardell never read it.

      Let’s have some perspective, here:
      - Anyone who bought Demigod or Elemental and was disappointed was free to request (and receive) a refund for it. How many other developers/publishers offer the same?

      - After the Demigod release fiasco, Stardock busted its hump getting the problems fixed, and once things settled down, everyone who bought tthe game in the first month received a coupon for 50% off a copy for a friend.

      - After the Elemental disaster, Stardock issued numerous mea culpas and brought in respected mod developer Derek “Kael” Paxton as lead developer to oversee improvements and to develop the stand-alone Fallen Enchantress game which will be given for free to everyone who bought Elemental in 2010.

      Yes, sadly the words “fiasco” and “disaster” apply, but almost any other developer and/or or publisher flees the scene of the crime when a game release goes bad. Yeah, it would have been nice if they didn’t screw up in the first place, but at least Stardock tries to do right by its customers after the fact.

      So, as far as the gamer bill of rights, while Stardock hasn’t lived up to the entirety of it (specifically the “game should work” part), I think it did/does fine by the rest of them and is still one of the “good guys” despite the screwups.

  10. Po0py says:

    Not that the gamers bill of rights ever meant jack to anyone when all was said and done.

  11. Chandrose says:

    I’m more than a little worried about this, I don’t have tons of games on Impulse, but I do have enough that I’m uncomfortable with the situation. I use very few DD services because I don’t want my games spread all over the internet. Impulse was one of them because I had at least some faith in Stardock. I know that in the end all of these services are businesses, and can therefore be sold. This is just the first time I’ve had to worry about what is going to happen to a service I use, with games I “own.”

  12. jimopl says:

    Speaking of companies aquiring things….Project reality for battlefield 2 says it might be hired by EA to work with DICE on Battlefield 3……that or it could be a april fools prank.

    Link: http://www.realitymod.com

    • westyfield says:

      It’s an April Fools’ joke – the guy who posted it is from Australia so it was April 1st when posted.

    • jimopl says:

      is it really? Last time they did it with PR:Vietnam everyone thought the same thing but it was a real

  13. Frank says:

    It’s not April Fool’s if the WSJ reports it right…?

    Anyway, I see this as good news for Impulse and for competition in the digital download market. As a consumer, I’ve never liked Impulse (for their software or their marketing stunts). So they have nowhere to go but up from my perspective.

    If they have a bigger corporate owner than before, that’s all to the good for their competitive viability in the download market. And I think Gamestop is a pretty good company: they’ve got a decent mag and haven’t screwed up Kongregate since buying it.

    • Wulf says:

      Yep, this could give Steam a bit of competition, and competition tends to mean lower prices and better services for consumers. I see no downsides, here.

    • Shortwave says:

      Yea’ I was thinking that could be good for prices but….
      I really enjoy having just STEAM..
      I fear the day when there’s ten different distribution systems with all their own idea on how it should work.. Don’t get me wrong I’m all about freedom of choice and competition with prices but let me know how great it is when you have to have ten different freakin’ distribution systems installed on your PC just so you can game with your friends.. Juggling back and forth.. I like having my games in a single place.
      Less hassle, easy to communicate and join games with friends.. Sounds like a horrible thing.

      STEAM4LIFEFTW

    • Frank says:

      @ Shortwave. Yeah, I don’t like installing and learning the UI for extra clients either. On the other hand, they could take Impulse in a more light-weight, browser-based direction (like GOG or…Gamersgate, if I remember right). Maybe they’ll just integrate the whole downloadable games thing into Kongregate; that would be pretty great.

  14. Chris D says:

    We have statements on both the Stardock and Game Informer sites so it if is an April Fool then it[‘s a pretty elaborate one featuring collaboration between two different corporations.

    Also, it isn’t particularly funny.

    • Wulf says:

      If it is an April Fools, it’ll be the most ill-advised PR stunt since the one GoG pulled.

    • Commisar says:

      hey, its at least not as bad as the “joke” GoG.com pulled, I had thought that they went bankrupt

    • Urael says:

      You and half the internet apparently, despite very clear signs to the contrary.

  15. Shortwave says:

    I walked into a Gamestop recently for the first time since it first arrived locally.
    I was looking for a hard copy of the original Crysis so I could play Mech Warriors Living Legends.
    I walked around, got confused and asked “Where are the PC games?” to which I received plenty of laughter.. The employees told me that PC gaming is pretty much dead and they lose money if they keep anything PC in stock… The first time I went into a gamestop they refused to sell me a PSP because I asked to see the firmware so I could know if it will run homebrew or not. They told me it was against the law and that they won’t sell me it.. HAHAHA.. Such nonsense.. So yea’ my experience with Gamestop is pretty measly.. I’ve also heard of them totally being jerks and ripping people off constantly..
    I know steam isn’t perfect but it is the best we have and it’s always growing and getting better.
    I seriously LOVE valve and will continue to support anything they do as long as it upholds the level of value I’ve grown to expect from them. It is extremely unlikely I will ever decide to support gamestop.
    I’d rather see that company get run into the ground.. Karma.
    It’s probably because of Gamestop that pc gaming took such a blow in recent years, no doubt.
    By only supporting consoles and pretty much treating PC gamers as a lower class..
    Yea, screw them.. Okay I’m done ranting now.
    Also, my first post. Hi.

    • Wulf says:

      Errrr… that depends on your country’s laws. America != The World.

      America are trying to become the World with all this TPPA nonsense (ACTA v2), but they’ve not managed it quite yet. :p

    • Shortwave says:

      Running homebrew isn’t against the law.
      Pirating games is.. Can we not get into this debate? HA.
      Also I’m Canadian but yea, it’s cool.
      Also that dude was buying, modding then reselling them..
      That is a bit more extreme then asking if the PSP I’m about to buy will support homebrew. HAHA.

      I should also note you don’t actually need to mod a PSP to run some homebrew. :) Theres megadrive emulator that works perfectly without doing any mods for example.

    • Shortwave says:

      Also heres a quote from the source YOU provided.
      “For criminal charges to be brought against you, you had to have willfully and purposefully modded the systems to play pirated games, and profited from the work. “

  16. Jimbo says:

    Don’t you get a free subscription to Game Informer just for walking past a GameStop? It’s a subsidised brochure.

    • Diziet Sma says:

      All sorts of sites give out free subscriptions to Game Informer. Fileplanet et al. I think. So it’s subscription base is not really indicative of readership and certainly not of quality.

  17. pakoito says:

    Demigod and Elemental. Bill of rights my ass. Brad Wardel my ass.

  18. Navagon says:

    You can tell who the Americans are in the comments section by seeing who’s upset by this. Some company disinterested in the rest of the world buying a company that is outright xenophobic is actually an improvement as far as I’m concerned. If it all goes to hell then it’s not like anything of value was lost.

    • Archonsod says:

      That would be the same Gamestop who “operates 6,500 retail stores throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Austria, Puerto Rico, Switzerland, Portugal, and in Sweden.”. Doesn’t sound very US centric to me.

      It could be a good thing. Gamestop have the kind of clout that not even Valve can bring to the table if they opt to use it, which could see an end to regional locking and similar shenanigans completely.

    • Xocrates says:

      Prior to reading this post I wasn’t even aware there was Gamestop in Portugal. Turns out there are a fair few (in the 2 or 3 biggest cities only, mind) who would’ve guessed it?

    • Delusibeta says:

      I’d also raise their management of Kongregate thus far: they’ve done a very good job. Of course, hosting Flash games and digitally distributing software are quite different beasts.

    • Veracity says:

      @Archonsod: why would gamestop want to put a stop to region locking (or the more common regional price gouging)? Just to differentiate their service?

      If this encourages Valve to make Steam a bit less pants to ensure its grip remains unassailable, that’d be a plus.

      I do wonder if it might make more people nervous about the possible implications of using Steam than currently seem to be, though. If Gamestop can buy Impulse, who’s to stop EA buying Steam and deciding to charge you a tenner per quarter for your account? Far-fetched since Steam seems to print money, but we don’t actually know it does, do we? And even if it does now, it might not forever.

    • subedii says:

      Well first off, Steam isn’t a separate company, it’s a service / storefront run by Valve..

      For second, Valve are a private company, not publicly traded. And they’ve always been pretty fierce on that because they don’t want to be accountable to outside shareholders constantly pressing for immediate profits (let’s face it, there would’ve been at least two Half-Life cash-in movies by this stage if it were up to shareholders).

      Naturally all that could change in a second, but right now? No, EA couldn’t buy Valve even if they wanted to.

      Heck I still remember a few years back when all the games sites went berserk because someone started a rumour about how Valve was going to be sold wholesale to Google.

    • Navagon says:

      @ Archonsod

      I usually only hear Americans mention (in complaints) Gamestop.

      It won’t end regional restrictions completely. Some publishers only have rights to sell in certain regions. There’s also the matter of EA which has several regional HQs governing sales in those regions.

      @ Veracity

      There’s a world of difference between Steam’s regional restrictions and Impulse’s. The publishers not available outside of the US on Impulse reads like a who’s who in the game publishing world. Suffice to say that Brad Wardell’s open xenophobia not dictating affairs should improve matters a little.

    • Archonsod says:

      “@Archonsod: why would gamestop want to put a stop to region locking (or the more common regional price gouging)? Just to differentiate their service?”

      Because if you make money selling games you tend to make more money if you try and sell to the entire world than you do selling to just one? It’s not a case of differentiating their service, it’s a case of following the money. A lot of region locking only occurs because the digital sellers need companies to sell their games and so pretty much have to bend over and take it. Someone like gamestop telling you they either sell to whoever they want or they don’t stock your game at all tends to reverse the role somewhat.

      “I usually only hear Americans mention (in complaints) Gamestop.”
      AFAIK it’s only America where their stores trade under the Gamestop name. Most of their international branches were acquired via takeovers of local retailers, and in many cases they still trade under the old brand. I think they’re still the biggest specialist games retailer worldwide though.

      “It won’t end regional restrictions completely. Some publishers only have rights to sell in certain regions. There’s also the matter of EA which has several regional HQs governing sales in those regions.”

      Which is irrelevant, the law considers the nationality of an online store to be the same as the company running it. Online retailers only comply because failure to do so can result in the publisher withdrawing their products.
      Publishers like to do it to maximise their profits by selling territory specific rights. Currently if you do that, the purchasers demand a no-competition clause. If you removed license locking it would interfere with that. However, this is something of benefit only to the publisher rather than the retailer. Gamestop is the biggest game retailer in the world; I suspect you’d have a lot more to lose if they refused to stock your game *at all* than you would from being unable to sell the international rights.

    • Cradok says:

      Gamestop trade as Gamestop in Ireland. They’ve got about 20 branches throughout the country, all of which I’m presuming have the same 80%/20% ratio of used/new games. I think the last time I bought something in one was my PS2, some seven years ago. These days, I don’t even bother going in.

    • Veracity says:

      @Archonsod: yeah, makes sense. I hadn’t really given any consideration to why (ie for whose benefit) DD has tended to indulge in region locking shenanigans. If it’s in Gamestop’s financial interest not to do it, it’s reasonable to assume they’ll throw their weight around so they don’t have to.

      I’m also aware Impulse is basically “that Gal Civ 2 client” unless you’re USian, but hadn’t really connected this in my head with Wardell’s celebrated internet crazy personeccentric status.

  19. StingingVelvet says:

    Good news: give Steam a run for their money, competition is good. Maybe Gamestop selling more PC games will mean better PC ports and services.

    Bad news: Gamestop is evil.

  20. drewski says:

    I am prepared to temper my dismay until Gamestop fuck up the service.

  21. Moraven says:

    Bad part: Its Gamestop and they have not shown a lot of love for PC games, why? Don’t sell many plus you really can resell PC games do to game codes for online play (which a lot of console games are going to, at least from the bigger companies).

    Good news: Allows Impulse to grow and compete better with Steam, and competition is a good thing. Also I hope maybe we might see the ability to sell our PC games (license) used that we no longer wish to play. I believe Impulse Reactor has the capability to do this, but getting the publishers on board would be the hard from the small guy. While I never look to resell my games (collector), I know there is a lot of people out there who wish they could maybe can help the PC market grow.

    Have to wait and see.

    • Commisar says:

      well, if you are looking for used games, Half-Price books generally has alot of food stuff. I got Mass Effect 1 there for $10

    • Archonsod says:

      Green Man Gaming already allows trade ins, has done for about two years.

      Not selling PC games is irrelevant. They stopped doing that because they stopped selling so well, they stopped selling so well because of the rise of digital sales. I see this as Gamestop trying to reclaim the PC market pie.

  22. Xocrates says:

    This certainly is an interesting development.

    Provided they actively work to both expand Impulse’s catalogue and its reach internationally I’m not against this.

    Not yet, at least.

  23. Vinraith says:

    Wow, I’m glad I don’t own much on Impulse. This kind of thing is one more reason not to put all your eggs in one basket.

    • Bhazor says:

      Pretty much why I only buy from Steam when it’s 70% off. Got about 278 games there but around three quarters of those are from publisher christmas mega deals. The whole THQ catalog for £25? Yum.
      I’ll never pay full price for a game that could vanish forever if someone at Valve spilled their coffee.

    • RakeShark says:

      That’s why every game I own are evenly distributed on a metric scale between the places I have some ownership of (work, home, parent’s house, storage unit), in the event one of those places burst into flames. Damn fire, why must you keep me warm but also destroy the things I love!?

      Seriously though, I think I have a higher chance of my home being burned down in a rampaging fire than a catastrophic financial failure at Valve.

    • Navagon says:

      @ Bhazor

      Wise move. It’s pretty much the same for me too. I wouldn’t (knowingly at least) spend more than a tenner on a game tied to Steam.

    • Bhazor says:

      I was once banned for two weeks from Steam for complaining to Paypal for not recieving the goods. It took three days before they’d even tell me why I was banned. No email from them and a generic “This account has been banned, please contact customer support”. It then took a dozen emails to them and Paypal before they’d let me log on again. That puts things in perspective. Or there was that VAC fallout surrounding one of the Call of Dutys and the countless server failures they’ve had over the years.

      Those are just the mistakes, they’ve already gone into microtransactions (TF2, DLC) how long until they go into other revenue streams like a monthly subscription to use their Premium Download Server (whilst standard servers inexplicably slow down)? Steamworks isn’t like the Ubi DRM or Securom, it can’t be patched out by the developers. You buy it on Steam. It stays on Steam. You lose Steam. You lose out.

      Valve is a great developer but Steam is staggeringly restrictive as DRM. How many years was that it before Offline mode actually worked properly?

    • Archonsod says:

      “Wow, I’m glad I don’t own much on Impulse. This kind of thing is one more reason not to put all your eggs in one basket.”

      Impulse lets you back up your games though, so anyone concerned could simply archive their games to DVD. All you need to install then is an Impulse client, IIRC it doesn’t even have to be connected to install from a backup.

  24. Atomosk says:

    I can see it now….. Every time you buy a game on impulse, a giant: “Would you like a subscription to game informer?” pops up. And all games are unavailable the week after release unless you preordered it. ಠ_ಠ

  25. subedii says:

    I’m not hoping Gamestop / Impulse benefit from this.

    I’m not even hoping Valve benefit from this.

    I’m hoping that it’s GOG.com that eventually emerges as the clear winner.

    • Vinraith says:

      Well, it once again shows why GOG is the best of the lot. Simply put, the site could explode tomorrow and I’d still have every game I ever bought from the place, as the games are in no way tied to the site. That’s what “ownership” means, it’s a shame so many PC gamers have forgotten.

    • Navagon says:

      GOG have a solid foundation that others lack. But they’ve not done anything in a long while to address serious concerns with the service. Not least of all is the lack of support. But their efforts to resolve compatibility issues has dissipated also. Equally they have no system in place that encourages people to help other members.

      Generally speaking when it comes to customer support, loyalty schemes and actually taking on feedback from customers and implementing it (even when it’s quite complex to do) Gamersgate have emerged ahead of the pack and have been there for a while now. GOG need to start getting their act together. They’ve got a larger team than Gamersgate and, at best, they’re managing to do half as much.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      And retail. I’d love for retail to benefit from this.
      But it won’t… It’s a safe bet that pretty much any game on Impulse will stop showing on GameStop shops. In fact, I can see them starting to close a whole big number of them.

      And what worries me is that another successful move to online from retail will put the last nail on my favorite buying method.

    • Bhazor says:

      Reply to Vinraith

      Except for Toca.

    • subedii says:

      @ Bhazor: Now you’re just attempting to be contrarian, but towards what purpose I honestly have no clue anymore.

      Vinraith is right, even with Toca. If you bought and downloaded your copy, that copy still works. Much like if GOG.com went completely bust, it would STILL work.

      EDIT: Looks like I may have been wrong on the second part however.

    • Commisar says:

      ah yes GoG, I remember their “prank” last year, i actually thought that they went out of business. it wasn’t funny GoG team, but at least they apologized

    • Archonsod says:

      “Vinraith is right, even with Toca. If you bought and downloaded your copy, that copy still works. Much like if GOG.com went completely bust, it would STILL work.”

      Same is true of Impulse though, any game you download off Impulse will run fine even if you uninstall the Impulse client afterwards. It’s really little more than a download manager.

    • subedii says:

      Same is not true of Impulse. I can’t install my copy of the game without their say-so. Impulse is not “just” a download manager, it is a DRM system, same as any other.

      I have my copy of PS:T off of GOG.com. Right now I can happily install it on a PC without so much as even an internet connection. The same is not true of any game I’ve “backed up” off of Impulse. And if they say no, or go under, then that alleged copy may as well be a coaster.

      That’s what DRM is.

      I’m not trying to impugn Impulse here, but I keep hearing this argument from its advocates that it’s somehow different from being yet another DRM system, and qualitatively it doesn’t seem all that different to Steam to me in usage. But far more relevant is that it most certainly is not at the same level as GOG.com in terms of DRM.

    • Navagon says:

      @ Bhazor

      Not only will copies of games that are no longer available for sale continue to work, but TOCA and the other games removed from sale are still available for download.

  26. geldonyetich says:

    I never did buy a game through Impulse.

    Dodged that bullet.

    • Commisar says:

      even if you did, you don’t need their client to play games, similar to GoG.com. I bought Sword of the Stars complete off of them and whenever I launch it, I am never bothered with a client.

  27. Froibo says:

    Why won’t it die?

  28. JohnnyMaverik says:

    Never bought a game from Impulse, or D2D because I was afraid of something like this happen. Looks like my fears were well founded.
    Oh and too all the people lauding the competition this will give to Steam.

    1. Competition isn’t always good, competition with a megacorp bunch of bastards like GameStop is always bad.

    2. There will be no competition because PC Gamers are too smart to put their digital testicles in the hands of GameStop.

    • Bhazor says:

      Where as Valve are a cosy Mom and Pop operation.

    • JohnnyMaverik says:

      Certainly not but I trust them to at least try and do the right thing for their customers, sometimes they fail, sometimes they make silly decisions, but they’ve shown a willingness to admit to mistakes and attempt to rectify them. On the whole using Steam, for me at least is a joy, and while I certainly have complaints and concerns I have faith that not only will Valve continue to improve the service, they will fight to protect it.

    • Archonsod says:

      “Never bought a game from Impulse, or D2D because I was afraid of something like this happen. Looks like my fears were well founded.”

      Direct2Drive was founded by IGN. IGN are owned by News Corp, Rupert Murdoch’s empire. They’ve always been megacorp owned.

    • JohnnyMaverik says:

      Well I’m glad I never bought anything from them then.

  29. Maltose says:

    I wonder if it was an

    puts on sunglasses

    Impulse buy.

    YEEEEAAAAHHH

  30. Smokdawg says:

    Excuse me while I delete Impulse from my computer. I know GameStop for being overpriced, crap quality, zero customer support and charging for services that Steam does for free. I am glad Steam has done so well but their success is gonna attract a lot of trolls to the market.

  31. Xiyng says:

    OK, count me out. As long as I have games I’ve bought on Impulse, I might have to keep Impulse on my PC but this greatly reduces the likelyhood of me buying new games on Impulse.

  32. mollemannen says:

    if this affects prices negatively im gonna blow up some gamestops. if it means more games available in more territories then im just happy :)

  33. Kismet says:

    I moved pretty much all my gaming purchases back toward “after you’ve downloaded the game, you don’t need to deal with us anymore” options a while ago (gog.com, GamersGate / Direct-from-Indies-going-DRM-free), so Impulse wasn’t getting much of my money already (to my understanding even restoring archives requires the client and online authentication, so no, it’s not the same), but it’s still quite annoying.

    I’m not particularly happy that GameStop may get access to personal details and changes to the Terms of Use may lead to me having to decide between sucking it up with conditions I’m not fine with or giving up playing already bought titles (which is of course an issue with any subscription-based model, it just seems a more likely evenience with GameStop than it was with Stardock).

    The GameStop acquisition may help with my other gripe with Impulse – few titles available for us Europeans – but it’s fairly irrelevant at this point, as the platform is now dead to me (! :P).

    GamersGate or gog.com should totally make a “we’ve been sold to Walmart” April fool joke now.

  34. Thermal Ions says:

    Can’t see this as a positive move for gamers. Not in Australia anyway. It’ll simply be a way for Gamestop or it’s subsidiaries to try and gouge gamers through strong arming publishers and perpetuated regional pricing in digital distribution to protect their retail network.

    Wasn’t much interested in Impulse previously anyway, given their predilection for regional restrictions, and less interested in dealing with them now.

  35. Derek Smart says:

    “What does this mean for PC gaming? At the moment, all it means is that control of one of the biggest digital distribution services has been passed from a games developer…”

    That’s horseshit. Doesn’t anyone fact check anymore?

    Impulse – as myself and other devs have said several times in various blog posts (even over on Gamasutra) – never made a dent in the digital distribution landscape.

    Sure competition is nice and all but the fact that they offl-oaded it to GameStop is just another example of a fledgling business.

    GameStop, like Walmart et al are late to the DD party. And this acquisition was cheap (not sure they could have justified the costs of buying the likes of D2D or even Steam for that matter) and made sense because it gives GameStop a foot in the door. What good is that gonna do? None. Why? Well, go ahead, count on your fingers how many PC titles are actually making money.

    What this deal gives GameStop is the ability to offer both store and online DD sales because, lets face it, they all know that retail is dwindling rapidly and DD is the wave. The fly in the ointment is now going to be that GameStop is quite possibly going to try and leverage this against PC publishers requiring that if you want GS to carry your PC game in the store, then you must also offer a DD very through Impulse.

    DISCLAIMER: I have friends and contacts at both GameStop and Stardock

  36. Daryl says:

    I don’t shop at Gamestop, and I don’t own any games from Stardock. However, I hate the idea of Gamestop gaining a foothold in anything related to PC gaming.

  37. Kamos says:

    I wish Valve had bought Impulse. They could ‘learn’ a couple things. I.e, how to not harass people who are trying to play a game offline, how to allow a game to launch without launching steam, etc.

  38. Ingix says:

    Backed up Impulse games can (in principle) be used without an internet connection and an Impulse client.

    1) Find the game backup on your DVD or your HD. On my XP box, the folder is “C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Stardock\Impulse\backup”. On a Win 7 box, “Documents and Settings” will be “Users”, other languages might have other names, etc.

    2) There you will find your game(s) as files with their titles and a version numner as their name, and an “.impulse” file extension. Copy the file of a game to a work directory somewhere else, to make sure that whatever bad things may happen, the game is still there (general guideline for anything involving important files on a PC, nothing specific about Impulse here).

    3) Rename file extension from “.impulse” to “.zip”. You now have a simple zip-file. Extract that zip-file. At one time, you will be asked for a password for a file. This is your Impulse account’s *NAME* (not the password, the NAME).

    4) You now have a directory with a few XML files and full of subdirectories like “Base32″, “Base64″, “BaseVista”, a.s.o. Most will be empty,as most games don’t have specific parts that are only needed for Vista 64-bit machines or something similar. Most likely you can start the game from the “Base” subdirectory.

    I just tried that with Toki Tori and had no problem playing the very first level. Of course, it may not be so simple for more complicated titles, that actually have OS-dependent parts and/or differ between 32 and 64 bits. The XML files indicate that some registry keys should be set and some additional setup files run (like the different vcredist-Packages or directx-installers).

    This is obviously worse than the situation with GOG, where you get simple installers, or GamersGate, where they unencrypt the installers for the installation progress (which allows you to copy the installer while it runs), but for Impulse all the data is there, what would be needed is a program that can understand those XML files and act according to them