There is Steam, and then there is Direct2Drive, the IGN-owned PC game download service. It perhaps doesn't get mentioned here as often as does its esteemed rival, despite it having been on scene almost as long and having had a big old slice of the market. I guess it just doesn't seem to reflect the strange and rapid evolution of PC gaming in quite the same way, even if its catalogue is suitably fat. Perhaps things will change as it moves into the next phase of its seven-year-old life - IGN have just sold Direct2Drive in its entirety off to someone else...
The new owner is a firm known as GameFly, who primarily specialise in game rentals by post in the US. Direct2Drive presumably now allows for the possibility of game rentals via broadband, although there appear to be no specific discussions of post-acquistion plans.
IGN aren't entirely removed from proceedings, retaining a small stake in Direct2Drive, but GameFly will essentially be calling all the shots. What happens now? A bigger, better Direct2Drive with added rental options, or the slow backgrounding into a digital infrastructure for GameFly's existing operations - especially given D2D has already been experimenting with digital rental? And what of Europe, given GameFly seems so US-centric?
Those questions remain unanswered for now, with GameFly headfly David Hodess offering only the following: "We're very excited to bring the D2D team onboard at GameFly and expand our ability to deliver games to consumers. Only GameFly can offer a complete library of physical and digital games for the PC, Mac and consoles in one place."
What we also don't know why IGN sold it off, or how much for. Perhaps it was struggling to compete with Steam, perhaps the sprawling Murdoch empire wanted to refocus its efforts, or perhaps it's simply a matter of an eye-watering cheque being waved. Then there's the recent news that IGN would be partnering with US high street megaretailer GameStop for various in-store and on-site promotional hoojum. Perhaps Direct2Drive, being essentially IGN's own retailer, was getting in the way of that arrangement somehow. This is, of course, mere speculation. I can't help it. Speculating's my thing.