D2D Hit Back At Stardock Claims

It seems the analysis of Stardock’s public report is far from over. Gamasutra report that Direct2Drive do not agree with the assessment that Impulse is second in the digital distribution market behind Steam. D2D’s splendidly-named VP of digital content, Sutton Trout, said the claim was “misinformation at best.” Stardock’s Brad Wardell responded: “The data we used came from the publishers. When you add in the fact that Sins of a Solar Empire, Demigod, Galactic Civilizations, etc. are sold exclusively on Impulse, that is what allows Impulse to edge third parties.”

Hard to know who to believe until we see some sales figures, eh? Transparency could be a good policy, after all.


  1. rei says:

    Wardell is highly obnoxious and sleazy, and I distrust him by default.

  2. Heliocentric says:

    Stardocks estimate was based on exclusivity? What a joke, this christmas i will buy a digital version of sims 3 to avoid the unfortunate disc broken £30 down event.

    I cant buy off impulse because of region locking. I’d love to buy more games from impulse but they won’t let me. Most of the catalogue is north america only.

    • yutt says:

      I’m not sure why people continually blame digital distributors for this rather than publishers. Europeans are particularly nasty, constantly attacking Steam and the like, when Valve has little to no control over the prices the publishers choose to set.

    • frymaster says:

      ah, but apparently if valve INSIST! on not pandering to their cruel whims, the publishers will cave in, and meekly beg valve to be included in steam’s catalogue

      …rather than just not bother with the thing. If you look how long it’s taking/taken the big publishers to start to use steam (and many don’t include all new titles even now), I think that view is slightly overestimating valve’s clout

  3. The Sombrero Kid says:

    maybe they aren’t in sales, but no one has any love for direct2drive, they don’t even attempt to offer a value added service, and so in the long run i’d say direct2drive is destined to fail.

    • abhishek says:

      D2D is the oldest digital distribution site of the bunch. It predates even Steam by about 3 or 4 years. It’s not going away :)

    • Nerd Rage says:

      I don’t know about that, when I’m looking for a digital purchase I go to Steam first, D2D second, and Impulse I really only use because of the exclusives.

  4. Heliocentric says:

    Current count, 7 games on gog, 5 on gamersgate not including free volvo game 15 on d2d about 45 on steam not including external activations.

    Impulse has about 8 including space rangers 2 twice.

    • Frankie The Patrician[PF] says:

      Steam: 96 games
      GOG: 10 games
      D2D: 6 games
      Gamersgate: 1 game, I think
      EADM: 3 games
      Impulse: 3 games
      + casual/small sites
      I really hope STEAM won’t become the only one on the market, because I don’t mind having various clients – it’s maybe a bit tiring, but beneficial to have multiple choices..

    • Comment system, what comment system? says:

      You are talking about exclusives here right?

  5. bookworm8at says:

    I use impulse more than D2D, but find it hard to believe that impulse has more share.
    And Stardock/Brad Wardell are well known for their beautified interpretations of data.

  6. Heliocentric says:

    I must say that it is funny watching people fight over 2nd place. Whoever wins, they lose.

    • bookworm8at says:

      god I hope your wrong. Without a second (and 3rd) place, we consumers lose.

    • cliffski says:

      Given the millions in earnings resulting from owning even the third or fourth largest online games sellers, I can’t see how any of them are losers as such.

    • kyrieee says:

      I agree bookworm. Steam is convenient when it doesn’t f- you in the ass. Just look at the people who imported legitimate copies of MW2 to circumvent the stupid pricing and got their Steam copies disabled for it. “Thanks a lot for buying the game guys!”. It’s happened with other games too

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      Competition is a good thing and Steam is not the messiah, at times it’s a very naughty boy.

    • Heliocentric says:

      Don’t get me wrong I’ve really gone off steam after moving house and losing access to games. But neither has the balls show any numbers. Its a willy waving contest but neither is willing to actually unzip.

    • bookworm8at says:

      I agree that it is time to unzip.

    • Rinox says:

      @ Kyrieee

      Much as that sucks, anyone who bought the PC version of MW2 deserves to be punished. ;-)

    • Magnus says:


      They aren’t allowed to mention real numbers, they all have NDAs with the publishers.

    • frymaster says:

      “look at the people who imported legitimate copies of MW2 to circumvent the stupid pricing and got their Steam copies disabled for it”

      news to me, link?
      (note that if you link to a news story involving one of these “we’re totally legitimate, honest guv” sites that merely sell you a key, I will laugh in your face)

  7. icabod says:

    Do the figures that Brad is not quoting include the various Stardock applications such as Object Desktop, Windowblinds, etc? If so then I can well believe that they’d come second in the market behind Steam. If it’s just games then… no.

    • archonsod says:

      I don’t think it would make much difference to be honest. There’ll be a sizeable market of people who wouldn’t normally buy games that ended up with Impulse due to Object Desktop or the like, and were persuaded to buy a game or two through it. These would be people Valve, D2D et al would not normally be able to reach (in fact, I’d bet a fair percentage wouldn’t even know who Valve was).

      It’s a smart move on Stardock’s part, they’ve got a strong position in the casual gaming market thanks to their apps, and now they’re bringing the major game publishers on board they can start tapping the gamer market too. If they can get rid of the region restrictions I wouldn’t be surprised if they actually take the number one slot; they do have a larger potential market than Steam.

      Big question then would be how the other guys catch up. Much as I like GamersGate the only thing it really has going for it over anyone else (beyond the lack of a client) is it tends to be far better for European games, particularly the indie/small budget stuff.

    • Vinraith says:

      Gamersgate also has the most sensible DRM policy outside of GOG. There’s a lot to be said for never having to worry about limited installations. Unfortunately, though, that’s not a “mainstream” consideration so it probably doesn’t matter as much to their sales as I’d like.

  8. GriddleOctopus says:

    Hopefully we’ll get a better idea next year when Charttrack start their digital charts. Until then, without a standard and transparency, these guys can claim whatever they like – apart from being bigger than Steam.

  9. CMaster says:

    Steam: 58 Games (note – not all bought over steam – eg original HL, UT3, and some are freebies with other games)
    Impulse: 2 Games (Note – only 1 bought over Impulse)
    EA Store: 4 Games
    Everyone else: None.

    Got to say I thought reading their report, Stardock had nothing to back up Impulse being number 2. They estimated (somehow) Steam having 70% – a number we can all believe. They said that all the others made up 30%, before claiming Impulse’s second place with no real justification.

  10. Satellite says:

    I don’t really know who is in 2nd place … we all know that Steam is numero uno, but how do you claim to be the next biggest distribution outlet when every one around you is essentially fighting over crumbs.

    I know for a fact that in my case D2D is no where near 2nd – maybe last behind the likes of GamersGate, Impulse and GOG, but then again there is a very simple reason for that … D2D doesn’t seem to want anyone’s money who is not located in the US. I have tried on a number of occasions to by games from Direct2Drive, but I am greeted with the information box: “For North America or US and Canada only” restrictions.

    I have actually lost count the amount of times I have tried to buy from D2D only to end up being disappointed. In fact the last time was the previous weekend and I have now vowed not to visit that moronic digital distribution outlet again. If they don’t want my money – so be it.

    I buy the majority of my games on Steam and the odd few from the rest: GOG, GamersGate and Impulse. GOG obviously for exclusive oldies and GamersGate for the rest. Impulse while it is my 2nd preference doesn’t seem to have many titles I want – it has far too many indie titles and not enough mainstream games.

    I find it odd that I am able to buy games from pretty much any other digital distribution outlet – but D2D seems to want to lock the Oceania region out – even for identical offers. As I mentioned it’s not a big loss for me – more money to Steam and Valve and by the time they wake up and realise we are in a global economy – it will be too late.

    Sorry, but no you are not the 2nd largest distribution outlet … maybe next time D2D.

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      This is all very nice but since you have no numbers of your own, your comment is even more worthless than Brad’s.

    • Heliocentric says:

      Not sure where you are from but try direct2drive.co.uk instead of .com there is a little localise button at the top right too.

    • Phinor says:

      So in Oceania Impulse sells you games while D2D doesn’t? In Europe it’s the other way around. Most games are available in D2D and thanks to UK pricing, are usually quite affordable too. Meanwhile very few of the “full price” titles are available for Europeans in Impulse. Too bad they are now planning to drop their equal pricing to everyone policy so that companies can start charging EU folk that extra 50% they seem to want to charge us for every game (which has been the reason most games are limited to North America in Impulse, they want to charge EU that extra 50% and Impulse has more or less had the equal pricing policy so far.. I guess). It won’t take long before Impulse is just as bad as Steam when it comes to game prices outside of weekend sales.

  11. Ginger Yellow says:

    Impulse is in second place for me, but mainly because I own most of Stardock’s games. For non-Stardock games I’ve only bought a couple from Impulse.

  12. archonsod says:

    To be fair, region restrictions are usually the publishers fault rather than the distributor. It’s usually because of contractual obligations (i.e. they distribute the game in territory A, but in territory B they’ve granted exclusive distribution to company B) or because they want to protect their regional pricing systems.
    The Witcher is the most insane example; I can’t buy it from any online service, including Steam, in the UK. I could buy it in France however.

  13. salejemaster says:

    steam is the mother of all :o

  14. tentacleraep says:

    Steam: 144
    Impulse: At least 8 (can’t check from work)
    GamersGate: 5 (not counting Volvo)
    GOG: 24
    (also a lot of XBLA but that is not really important here)

    And people say pirates don’t buy games…

    • Heliocentric says:

      As long as boats are still being hijacked why don’t software theft get given a new name?

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      We can start by not calling it theft, since it bothers my inner legal pedant. And my outer one come to think of it.

    • El Stevo says:

      It’s not like piracy is a recent phenomenon. It’s been around continuously since long before the term ‘piracy’ was applied to copyright infringement, which was at least as long ago as 1703.

    • jackflash says:

      Biscuit, are you a lawyer? There’s nothing inaccurate about calling pirating theft, given that “theft” is a term defined by law, not ethics.

    • Dean says:

      jakflash, if that’s true, why has no pirate ever been prosecuted for theft?

    • Peace of Eight says:

      Hm. Truth. But the really important question: do ninjas buy games? Eh?

    • Psychopomp says:


  15. captainlinger says:

    Stardock claims they are basing it off of publisher’s figures…well if publisher’s are willing to share with with each DD the figures of all other DD sales they’re getting, then that means D2D also has those same figures which might be why they’re calling Stardock liars.

  16. Gremmi says:

    Steam: 290
    Impulse: 16
    Gamersgate: 38
    GoG: 90ish
    D2D: 33
    EA Store: 17

    I disagree that Impulse is in second place, though I reckon D2D is probably bottom of the pile.

    Well, 2nd last to Gamesplanet anyway. That’s an awful, awful service right there.

  17. Eightyseven says:

    Steam: about 80
    GOG: 5
    Gamersgate: 1
    Impulse: 2

    but i think d2d and gamersgate must be bigger then impulse

  18. Dan says:

    It’s a bit irritating that these guys only want to argue over who has the most sales, would be nice to hear them being bold about their customer service and the unique features of their platforms.

    @Gremmi – I’m astonished that you have almost 300 steam games!

  19. Carra says:

    This is all quite funny. They’re dueling with imaginary numbers. “I have no idea how much you sold but I’m sure we sold more!”. Or “I haven’t seen your willy yet but I’m sure mine is a lot bigger”.

    Show us the willies! Or euh numbers.

  20. The Sombrero Kid says:

    all my games are on steam or traditional retail, not because i’m against giving my money to other companies but because they don’t want to/ cant’ sell me the full package that steam does

    • Gareth says:

      @Sombrero Kid: I’m Steam/retail too. My main concern is still having to download the damn thing though. I have a monthly limit (and my BT connection sucks).

      I’d kept to mainly smaller indie titles before but I took the plunge with the humungous Dragon Age download recently in an attempt to get with the times. The next day I saw it for about £5 cheaper in the stores.

      I’m not quite sold on the whole thing yet, although I do love not having to change discs so much.

  21. mcw says:

    I hadn’t heard about that yet, thanks for the link.

  22. invisiblejesus says:

    While I prefer Impulse to D2D, D2D had always struck me as the more popular service; I know more people who’ve bought from D2D (actually don’t know anyone outside of this site who’s used Impulse), and D2D seems to be much more visible by way of advertising and it’s association with IGN. Obviously I don’t have real numbers, but it struck me as an awfully dodgy claim.

  23. Freaky says:

    Apparently the main reason for Impulse region restrictions is their “one world, one price” policy. Publishers don’t like it when they can’t overcharge Europeans. Looks like they’re getting rid of the policy because more people are upset about the region limits than price differences.

  24. Theo says:

    i esspecially liked it when frogboy turned around and called all demigod players a toxic community, all this because its microsofts fault that developers of multiplayer games have to have some networking experiance.

    the guys a total idiot.

    • Psychopomp says:

      If you don’t think DoTA communities are toxic, you’ve either never played on, or you’re part of the problem.

  25. Ginger Yellow says:

    The Demigod community is pretty toxic, especially for newbies.

  26. Turin Turambar says:

    D2D doesn’t sell to Europe, so i can’t see hoy they can be 2nd.

    Hint: UK Europe. In fact i think D2D only sells to USA, Canada and UK.

  27. Jan_the_man says:

    I don’t give a crap about who’s the biggest. The question is “who’s best?”. In my point of view Gamersgate is superior to all others. No client, DRM policy, reward program, largest catalogue and always good offers.
    In my eyes Impulse is just a poorer version of Steam and Steam is just a Counterstrike fan-boy community. Yeah.. I know all you Steam fan-boys will hate me forever.. but go try Gamersgate!

  28. Railick says:

    Personally I’ve got about 20 games including 4 mmorpgs from Direct2Drive, about 10-15 games from Steam, and 3 or 4 games on Impulse and quiet a lot on Gamesgate now that I’ve become a Paradoxian. Out of all those I’ve actaully run out of installs on several of my Direct2Drive games and can’t get any response from their support team and they actually locked one of my accounts because I put in the last 3 numbers on the back of my card wrong ONE time! Luckily they didn’t lock the games just the ability to buy new ones so I just started using my wifes e-mail address :)
    Did you just say that D2D doesn’t sell to Europe then in the same post say they sell to UK?

    Shadowcat “It hammers at my retinas like an evil woodpecker of pure energy”

  29. Brian says:

    Steam: 35
    D2d: 25
    Impulse: 2

    I love D2D, mostly for it’s terrific support. I have started using them instead of steam more and more. I have had a couple of issues with games that were not anything to do with the D2D service and D2D support was fantastic in getting my issues resolved.

  30. Chris says:

    Stardock at least took a stab at numbers. D2D just puffed up like and indignant peacock.

    Brad is a wacko conservative unfortunately, but that doesn’t really have anything to do with Stardock’s guess at the numbers.

  31. Railick says:

    What does him being conservative have to do with him being a wacko Chris ? :P

  32. Magnus says:

    The only digital distribution I use is GOG.

    If another retailer worked in the same way, no DRM of any kind, then I would start using their service. Otherwise, I may as well buy from a shop, since the prices are usually lower (excluding sales).

  33. sebmojo says:

    Jackflash, lighting an illegal bonfire is not arson, though they both involve fire. Infringement of copyright is not theft, though they both involve ownership.

  34. Deuteronomy says:

    D2D is a *lot* better than Steam in my opinion. I’ve had far fewer problems with them than any other download service and the customer support for the one time I did was awesome. Go D2D!

  35. Spencer says:

    Regardless of numbers, who is placed where, etc., we are focused on making Impulse the best for users whether they are purchasing games or desktop apps.

    One of the things I hear a lot about Impulse is people want more community features. We are listening, they are in the works among other suggestions that we hear from users.

    In the end, it’s all about providing a great experience for users, and that is one of our goals for Impulse. :)


  36. malkav11 says:

    I have no idea why I am supposed to care which digital distributor is second place in sales or profit or whatever.

    I will say that I probably have more Direct2Drive games than Impulse, but only because Direct2Drive had five weeks of crazy $5 sales. I very much dislike their site design, am not keen on their policies or implementation, and their non-sale pricing is ridiculous. Of the new-title market I prefer Steam and Impulse to the rest because they have good design (hell, I used to have to repeatedly refresh Gamersgate just to see what was on sale), and prefer Steam to Impulse because Steam knows how to have a sale. None of this “oooo, 10% off” or if you’re getting wild, 25% (well, sometimes 10-25% but not as -sales-, per se). A good round 50-75-90% off is more like it, and Steam hits that all the time.

  37. Joseph says:

    @malkav11: I’m guessing it’s something that publishers / advertisers care about. Either that or this is just a news post to show us that these guys are royal idiots, fighting over nothing.