Space Marine’s Mysterious Steam UK Absence

By Alec Meer on September 9th, 2011 at 4:31 pm.

I would like to whoosh-bam whoever's responsible for this lunacy

A lot of people are asking us to find out why Space Marine – and its demo – have disappeared from Steam in the UK, despite being a Steamworks game. I.e. it is not for sale on the download service that it requires in order to run. Whaaaaaaat. We’ve tried to get to the bottom of this, but all we can get is a No Comment – we’ll update with more if we can get it. I have my theories, but it would imprudent to share them without evidence. Sorry about that: what a ridiculous and frustrating situation. Especially as the UK has already had to wait several days longer for the game than everyone else, thanks to conniving dunderheads in the retail industry.

In the meantime, if you acquire the PC version of the game from anywhere else, rest assured you can still activate and play it on Steam despite it being invisible on the store. This includes Direct2Drive and Gamersgate for £35 each, but retailer ShopTo.net is selling the Steam activation code directly for an eminently reasonable £23. Given the net result wherever you buy the game is that you have to activate it on Steam, it seems sensible to pick the cheapest route you can find. Anyone spotted a better deal?

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80 Comments »

  1. Crimsoneer says:

    Somebody really, really should get to the bottom of this…RPS, go investigate! If Quinns would still here, he’d be in a Valve airvent by now :P

  2. Sheng-ji says:

    I read the entire Game theory last night and it doesn’t make much sense to me – I suspect this is something to do with THQ rather than them, and it’s probably nowhere near so conspiratorially exciting.

  3. Lewie Procter says:

    Yeah, ShopTo appears to be the cheapest I can find, too.

    Back when they launched their download service, things were a little shaky, and they sometimes took up to 24 hours to get codes out (so I heard), but I’ve not heard if their service has got any smoother since then. If anyone does go for it, let me know how it goes please.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      I had my DXHR code on time and all, if that’s any help.

    • Calneon says:

      I pre-ordered it on ShopTo about 5 days ago. Last night (8th) around 23:00 it released the Steam code which registered on Steam, and I preloaded it overnight, was available to play in the morning (though I had to work). Very smooth.

    • Jimmeh says:

      This site looks really dodgy, and asks me to provide credit card details (so they can bill and refund me £1) just to register an account.

      Has anyone actually used this service, because the experience really isn’t filling me with confidence?

    • The Sombrero Kid says:

      i’ve used it a lot it’s fine, the download showed up in the downloads section of the orders tab in my account after 5 mins, it doesn’t show up in the codes section weirdly.

    • Lewie Procter says:

      @Jimmeh
      They are a legit outfit for sure. They’ve been around for ages, but only got into downloads recently. I’ve always received pretty good service from them, but I’ve never used their downloads myself.

      @everyone else,
      Looks like they’ve sorted out the teething problems that they had around launch then. Cheers.

    • Jimmeh says:

      OK, thanks.

      I did a bit of googling and apparently they had some problems with an employee stealing credit card details. (according to the EA forums at least)

      The majority of feedback is that they are trustworthy though, so maybe worth a punt for the price.

    • uNapalm says:

      I tried ShopTo but it went from my bank’s authorisation page (the one after you enter the credit card details) to a window that asked me to register again. No confirmation or denial. I’ve not received any email confirmation and this was several hours ago :( Anyone else having similar troubles?

    • Chris D says:

      I ordered about 50 minutes ago and haven’t heard anything. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by Steam and its instant access but surely a “Your order is being processed” email isn’t too much to ask? Not making a great first impression.

      Edit: Turns out the emails were sent straight to junk mail, I now have an email telling me I’ve been charged and should be receiving details shortly but no details, and the my account page is still completely blank.

      Edited again: Not that anyone else should care about this but it appears the problem was a browser issue causing the download link not to display properly. It’s now downloading from Steam.

    • Mac says:

      I bought it yesterday from shopto, and even though I clicked “Pay with Paypal” it took me to the credit card screen … I entered my credit card details here as I couldn’t be bothered faffing and I got my code within 2 minutes (you have to go through “Your Account” menu to find your key.

      Cut and pasted that into Steam and it was off and downloading.

      Minor glitches with payment aside it was a good quick service and I will use them again.

  4. SuaveMongrel says:

    The same thing happened with Metro 2033 and that new Red Faction game did it not? Both of which are published by THQ and I believe Space Marine is the same.

    It’s happening with every THQ game these days on Steam in the UK. They usually end up on the store a month later.

    Tis rather irritating. Perhaps a retailer could be involved with some sort of deal? Ah, baseless assumptions, how I’ve missed you.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      I really don’t think so, because it’s not exclusive to one retailer, it’s just absent from one. Any deal made like that, unless it was made by Valve would be highly illegal and the resulting lawsuit could easily bring down a large UK company.

    • jon_hill987 says:

      Only if Valve found out and then tried to fight it, all Valve need to be told is that THQ don’t want it on there for a month.

  5. JayG says:

    I really hate this region locking nonsense they are trying to enforce on the PC. I actually ended up buying Space Marine simply because it was unlocked here in Switzerland Monday night at midnight. Fun game, do have some regrets at buying it at full price, but as I usually have to wait said fuck it.

  6. carn1x says:

    We must assume there’s something rectangular in the game which has anger the fruit-themed god.

  7. Tyshalle says:

    On the plus side, you’re not missing much!

  8. CMaster says:

    Anything by Bethesda with Steamworks seems to suffer the same fate, too.

    Interestingly though it doesn’t seem to apply to Squenix or Paradox Steamworks games.

  9. worbat says:

    Try investigating Game and Gamestop. I heard it was pressure from them to remove it from steam!

    • Kaira- says:

      Didn’t Game claim they have absolutely nothing to do with this? Not that that alone means anything other than that they are denying that they have something to do with this situation.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      The claims are quite unfounded and the individual who started it all has put his blinkers on refusing to accept that there are any alternative explanations, of which there are many.

    • SuaveMongrel says:

      That seems like a bit of a wasted effort, doesn’t it? This game uses Steam DRM so either way you’ll be installing Steam on your system.

      If the retailers were involved, surely that’s what they’d want to get rid of since it’s basically advertising the leading competitor in the box?

    • johnpeat says:

      I have one word for you – Metaboli

      A journalist can work out the rest – my £10 is on them…

    • Jacques says:

      I spent a couple weeks at Metaboli doing some work experience a few years ago. I seriously doubt they’ve got the clout to convince publishers not to release a game on Steam.

  10. bit_crusherrr says:

    I blame GAME group.

    • johnpeat says:

      There’s no-one else in UK retail who’d remotely have the clout to cause this to happen so I guess you’re right.

      I can’t see HMV or Grainger Games being the cause and there’s no-one else who’d really benefit…

      I reckon it could be worth a complaint to whoever deals with anti-competitive contracts in retail – I’d guess that’s the OFT??

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Based on what evidence?

      It’s far more likely that THQ have decided to delay putting games up on Steam, for what ever reason – and this would be perfectly legal.

    • johnpeat says:

      A quick look at the UK THQ store reveals the answer – it’s not GAME, it’s Metaboli…

      £50 says they have a deal to run that store which precludes UK sales on Steam…

    • johnpeat says:

      Whilst a distributor is not obliged to deal with any retailer they don’t want to – restricting who sells your products could be construed as an attempt to control pricing and that IS illegal and could be investigated by the OFT.

      It’s normally suppressed by common-sense – a distrubutor wants their goods for sale as widely as possible – but where 1 retailer holds an advantage they can, sometimes, get things written into contracts which reduces their chance of having to compete on price.

      The trick is proving it ofc.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      THQ wouldn’t need to write any dodgy contracts at all – they are publishing the game, they can sell it with whoever they please and set release dates with different distributors whenever they please. Think of it this way, imagine you wrote a game and you wanted to sell it on my wonderful online store Shengs Rummage Pile. Imagine how you’d feel if GiantPublishingCorp told you that you will be breaking the law if you don’t sell it through them too? What if you wanted to give me a months head start, for whatever reason, maybe you’ve invested in me, maybe you just love me that much – still all perfectly legit and above board. No-one can force you to sell your game somewhere you don’t want to.

      Now lets flip the coin.

      Imagine you want to sell your game on GiantPublishingCorp because they can sell billions of copies (It really is a very good game) Now I can sell millions of copies, imagine if I tried to do some sneaky, highly illegal deal with you to force you to give me a months grace. How could I enforce that – either by paying the difference you would lose – pointless for me. If I tried to force you to, what would stop you taking all your evidence to the police, releasing it on Steam anyway and never contacting me again, leaving me facing an investigation and losing a valuable resource.

      Unless I got into some heavy organised crime…. which I takes us beyond even where the wildest conspiracy theories have gone so far.

      In conclusion, I believe this was a THQ decision, and they are well within their rights to do so.

    • johnpeat says:

      If you’d read what I said, it’s not illegal to pick-and-choose who sells your goods (indeed it’s commonplace) – however a RETAILER insisting that a distributor does not sell through their competitors IS on dodgy ground.

      If Metaboli (or anyone else) have something into their deal with THQ that precludes some games appearing on Steam – they’re arguably behaving in an anti-competitive fashion.

      Even if they’re just offering an incentive (we’ll run your shop for free or promote your game on the front page or whatever) it’s dodgy.

      Imagine if Tesco made it a condition of carrying Coke that they didn’t want Morrisons selling Coke – it’s something Coke could decide as a distributor but it’s NOT something Tescos can ask.

      The fact THQ (and Bethesda) have declined to comment suggests, to me, that someone knows it’s not something which will reflect well on them if it comes to light and so they’ll hide behind ‘commercial confidentiality’ or whatever other lies they use to disguise their lack of moral fibre.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      I did read what you said, I was trying to point out just how ridiculous this conspiracy theory is. What on earth makes you think that Metaboli has somehow decieved or strongarmed THQ into this? As you quite rightly point out with the coke example, it would be highly illegal. Hopefully you didn’t miss the point I made that they would never, ever get away with it.

      So from what I can infer from what you have written is that you seriously believe that such a contract could have been signed, and this is the most likely event which has caused this completely ignoring the facts that the corporation with by far the bigger influence, wallet and experience could do this completely legally, I even gave you a fantastic, very realistic example of a reason as to why they may have done this: They have invested in Metaboli.

      As to why they haven’t commented – well firstly, RPS would have either asked customer services or the press office. Neither of whom will have any knowledge of what goes on in the boardroom – they are probably not even in the same building. They are not going to know and why would any company divulge the reason it doesn’t want to sell through a particular outlet – it would only weaken their position in the market.

      Why look for a conspiracy theory, grand deceptions, corruption and secret dealings when there are a million and one completely normal, dare I say boring reasons how this could have happened. If it looks like cheese, smells like cheese and tastes like cheese, I tend to believe it’s cheese, not moonrock brought back by the Chinese in their top secret stealth moon mission where they are building a giant laser to destroy Valve HQ.

    • KillerB says:

      i KNEW it!! It all makes evil sense……

  11. Mokey says:

    http://cdkeyshere.com/warhammer-40000-space-marine-cd-key.html

    ^ There’s the cheapest I’ve found. Fifteen quid! Bought it on Tuesday, plonked the key into Steam and with a little VPN jiggery-pokery I was able to get it decrypted. Key takes about an hour to be delivered but it’s legit and region-free.

    Edit: Obviously you don’t need to do anything with VPNs now it’s been released. Er, allegedly released.

    • Calneon says:

      Be careful fiddling with stuff like that, it could get your Steam account banned :S.

    • Mokey says:

      I did a fair bit of looking into it beforehand. I didn’t read the TOS as I have the attention span of a gnat, but apparently there’s nothing in it that says you can’t use a VPN to unlock something you’ve paid for. Steam doesn’t respond when you ask them about it, so I assume they just don’t want to deal with the issue.

    • CMaster says:

      Keys distributed like this have been revoked in the past, as is completely allowed under the SSA.

    • bit_crusherrr says:

      Are they reliable? I really want Space Marine but am short on dosh.

  12. JayG says:

    They do have their good side, it’s great to be able to download any games you have without having to spend ages trying to find the disks and codes that have gathered up after many years. And the sales are good too. I don’t like how they are managing to get a monopoly on PC gaming though, and region locking is plain evil. No matter what these corperations think, we don’t all live in happy little boxes content with the language and culture all around us, some of us like the english version, and shockingly might actually be foreigners here. The internet was supposed to free us from all that crap.

  13. Alec Meer says:

    Please note: as far as I can tell, this decision was nothing to do with Valve, so derailing the thread into calling them names is not relevant here (and will only turn the whole thread into a warzone, as it always does). Go do that in a Valve-related thread, if you must.

    • SuaveMongrel says:

      I presume you’ve contacted Valve and THQ for comment and you’re received nothing from both parties?

      Or have you just contacted THQ?

    • Alec Meer says:

      Both have been contacted. Will update if we hear anything more from either.

    • JayG says:

      Surely this has everything to do with Steam, as they give the method whereupon a previously free open sourced format can be closed. Doesn’t really bother me as I happen to live in a place where the game will be released, but there has been many reports of countries like Brazil that cannot play certain games thanks to things like this. RPS can’t really one day have a campaign for simultaneous release, then so long as they are not effected ignore issues like what happened with the recent Deus Ex release. In the old days you could buy a game from anywhere in the planet, and be sure that it would install on your PC. Now that is not the case, and it’s thanks to Steam, no matter what great guys Valve are. As it happens Steam has a lot more benefits for me then problems, but does not mean that we should all wear rose tinted glasses and bow down to our new overlords.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Of course, it’s going to be to do with steam, as the affected retailer, but it doesn’t mean they had anything to do with it or any knowledge of why it has happened. What goes up on the steam store and when is controlled by the publishers – I wouldn’t be surprised if Steam provides software allowing big publishers to easily manage their games with no contact at all.

  14. Shooop says:

    They’re really doing you all a favor. It’s not a game worth $50.

    • SuaveMongrel says:

      It’s a good thing we use pounds over here then, isn’t it?

  15. Valvarexart says:

    It’s not only the UK that had to wait for 3 days; we had to do so here in Sweden as well. I suspect the whole european continent had to wait. I am installing the game right now :)

    • Unaco says:

      This isn’t about waiting for it to unlock. This is about it not being on STEAM at all for purchase. If I search Space Marine on the Steam store, I get two “DoW” entries, and “Space Trader: Merchant Marine”… But no Space Marine game. If someone links the Store page and I try to visit it, I get an “item is not available in your region”. It’s happened with a couple games… Space Marine isn’t the only one.

      Again, this isn’t about waiting a few days to unlock… this is, for UK users, games being completely absent from the Steam Store.

  16. Azradesh says:

    I pre-ordered it from game and it hadn’t even been shipped by this morning, so I cancelled that and thought I’d pick it up on the way home. Neither game nor gamestation had any in stock even though they were expecting them. It’s all very weird.

    • evilmatt says:

      Game’s website is (still!) borked – a colleague received his copy by next-day parcel post (he’d only paid for first class) this morning whilst his order was still showing as unshipped online.

  17. Daz says:

    I had heard also that it is some UK highstreet retailer meddling at work here, forcing people to buy a physical copy from the store rather than buying directly from steam. Unfortunately I cannot find the source for the life of me, it certainly wasn’t an official source however.

    It’s certainly believable though…

    • Sheng-ji says:

      You think it’s believable that game have engineered a situation by threatening not to stock THQ’s console games if they don’t delay their games on steam, yet have not stopped D2D and all the others? You think it’s believable that Game have somehow found a way to stop THQ from reporting this attempt at market manipulation, so I guess that would have to be either blackmail or demands with menaces.

      Or maybe you believe THQ and game plotted this together, to bring down Valve? And that Bethesda were also involved, yet didn’t pull Skyrim?

      I believe that too many people have been playing too much Deus Ex.

      I don’t know why the games are arriving late to steam, but I believe that this is a decision THQ have made all by themselves.

    • Daz says:

      I never asked for this.

    • Unaco says:

      GAME did threaten to drop Game X on all platforms (XBox/PS3/PC) if said game contained Steamworks for the PC release. This was around a year ago, and I think publishers/devs mostly just laughed at them.

    • Bursar says:

      @Sheng-ji

      If the game wasn’t available on Steam anywhere, then i’d agree with you. But according to reports every regional Steam Store EXCEPT the UK has it plastered prominantly in the new release section.

      SOMETHING is going on in the UK market, and the lack of any official comment from the parties involved is what’s leading to the rampant speculation we’re seeing.

      It’s the lack of official comment that’s frustrating, and it’s becoming a common Valve problem which I really think they need to sort out. If some company has some sort of exclusive thing going on, fair enough, but TELL US. Why can a Steam user in the US, or Ireland, or Sweden, or Brazil etc buy this game, but in the UK we can’t? It’s not like you can claim there’s a stock shortage or the like!

      Valve have (to my eyes) earned a lot of goodwill over the last 5 years or so, but this silent treatment they pull over games appearing, disappearing, reappearing etc is just not good customer service and is undermining the reputation they’ve been in the process of building.

    • RobF says:

      I’m not sure why you think retailer pressure is so out of the ordinary. It happens all the time in various guises. Lowering stock orders, shelf space, visibility… there’s loads of bargaining tools they can use which will all be absolutely perfectly above board. After all, they just didn’t think they’d sell that many this month, right? Or silly Barry. We said “700″ not “7″. Tch.

      It’s really not that in the realms of conspiracy theory. We’ve already had reports of Game putting pressure on publishers to not stock Steamworks games (which went nowhere) and there was an MCV report a while back stating that two major retailers were not happy with the status quo with regards to Steamworks and were willing to take action. There are elements in retail who do truly believe that digital downloads are direct competition and if it benefits them, they will do something about it.

      I’m pretty willing to believe Game aren’t behind this. I mean, they’d hardly disapprove of it and certainly would take advantage of it occuring but I suspect they haven’t got nearly as much clout as people give them credit for. They’re big but they’re not *that* big so the best they could throw around are threats that’d hurt them just as much if not more so.

      So yeah, *if* the theory about retail intervening proves to be true, I’d be willing to bet it’d be stores with drastically more to hang over pubs than Game ever could.

    • Skie says:

      @Bursar

      Valve have always been a bit terrible at communications. From the September incident to their odd silence when it comes to things like this, and all the stuff inbetween (no release of sales figures being in the agreement, the doohickery with TF2 item farming etc).

      They have a PR guy, but his job seems to be to keep Gabe from talking about unannounced things rather than talk about things that are similarly important.

  18. sinbad269 says:

    I tried to look for the Assassin’s Creed: Revelations store page on Steam, just to find the release date [I use Steam for a lot of things like that] and it’s non-existant. I remember it being there about a month ago…

  19. Unaco says:

    Space Marine isn’t the only game this has happened with. BRINK disappeared on release day for UK users. SkyRim wasn’t up for preorder (and TF2 Hats!) until earlier this week (about a month after everywhere else in the world). Red Faction & Homefront also had this issue, and Saints Row the Third is currently absent as well.

  20. Sirico says:

    Well guys it’s time to break out the red coats again, we’ll be on there shores in 6 months where by we’ll write angry letters to all concerned, what say you all?

  21. Tetrisblock says:

    Whatever happened to http://www.next-gen.biz/news/game-denies-steam-blackmail-claims ?

    Whilst they might be lying, personally I think its the tesco/supermarkets at hand, the local tescos near me don’t stock any PC game that uses steamworks, all the GAME’s and gamestation’s do, but no tesco.

  22. ThunderBlunder says:

    Purchased from ShopTo, £23, steam code was showing on my ShopTo account immediately, entered into Steam, downloading now. So, Steam code from another supplier for half the cost it would have been getting it straight from Steam…..I’ve read it’s not worth the full retail price most are charging, but for what I just paid, i’m pretty happy.

  23. aircool says:

    I’m shooting and chopping and kicking and dropping from the skies as death from above scatters the greenskins every which way but alive.

    CE* is lovely, just like the W.A.R. CE. Big box, well made, well presented and lurvely art books.

    What’s this Steam thing that everyone is talking about?

    PS: Slo-mo kills are sooo awesome.

    *£55 from Amazon. Captain Titus is my dad!

  24. thzhall says:

    This was the cheapest that I found http://elitekeys.com/warhammer-40000-space-marine-cd-key

  25. glhf says:

    499Rub = £10.50, Steam code immediately. Russian style =D
    http://gamazavr.ru/product/14680396/

    However, you need a proper ip.

  26. Captain Hijinx says:

    This is a strange one, as it must only be happening in the UK.

    Ireland here, and Space Marine is plastered all over the front page of the Steam store still. Wonder why it’s the UK only?

    • Saiko Kila says:

      Maybe someone doesn’t believe in pound sterling anymore.

  27. haisaicv says:

    Top quality goods that you will like,welcome to http://tinyurl.com/3zogvql
    ,there can help you to play the game so easy

  28. kombatunit says:

    Too bad team damage is not on. My World Eater cannot abide those pink and fuchsia scumbags.

  29. Skie says:

    Best Buy in the UK have it for £25.99.

    The game was marked up as £27.99 but actually rings up as the cheaper price.

  30. Azazel says:

    Initially couldn’t get the demo either, but the following link worked for me: steam://install/55410

  31. Dominic White says:

    Space Marine is a great argument in favour of disc-rental for consoles, and services like Onlive for PC. Onlive folks can rent the game for three days for $5 – it’s a bit expensive, but considering that the game can easily be beaten in a single afternoon and has next-to-no replay value, that’s probably plenty.

    If only PC games had a universal subscription rental service, though, like Netflix or Lovefilm. There’d be no reason to ever buy a Call of Duty game again, unless you were totally hooked on the multiplayer.