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Indies vs Gamestop/Impulse

Ruling the stars, yesterday. Some stars, at least. Not all of them. Not yet.

Last week’s news that US high street gaming market-choker Gamestop had acquired the Impulse download service from Stardock caused a whole lot of shock in these parts. Looks like PC gamers weren’t the only ones a little troubled by the news; Star Ruler dev Blind Mind Studios has pulled its sci-fi grand strategy game from the digital store in protest.

“We are ending sales through Impulse due to GameStop’s long, negative behavior toward the PC platform and independent games,” wrote the studio’s lead developer on the Blind Mind Site.

“We would never have signed onto distribution through GameStop, and being forced into this situation has only made it worse for us. We feel GameStop cannot serve as the leader of a true competitor in the digital distribution market.”

Also:

“GameStop’s business practices stand opposed to our goals.
We feel they would not respect our customers.
GameStop consistently focuses only on large budget titles and safe bets, shying away from the independent market.
We supported Brad Wardell’s direction of Impulse, and his absence ruins our faith in the service’s future.”

We don’t really know what Gamestop will do with Impulse, but it is true to say that they don’t exactly have a rich history of supporting outside bets, esoterica or even simply niche markets. Perhaps the Impulse acquisition is a sign that they’re going to broaden their scope, but we shall see. Stardock boss Bard Wardell told RPS last week that such misgivings may be unfounded: “It’ll certainly be good news for independent developers who have traditionally found it difficult to get large-scale distribution but couldn’t get onto retail shelves.” Hmm.

Those who have purchased Star Ruler via Impulse will still receive patches, Blind Mind claim, but you can’t buy the thing there any more. It remains available on Steam, GamersGate and Direct2Drive, however.

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Who am I?

Alec Meer

Senior Editor

Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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