Just recently a silly little rumor surfaced that GameStop would ditch its Impulse gaming platform and sell Steam vouchers instead. Given the amount of time and money the company has invested in the platform, the rumor didn't make sense.
What also didn't make sense was GameStop selling Steam vouchers after complaining about -- and even outright discontinuing -- products with integrated Steam features. But as the popular saying goes, keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
GameStop said on Monday that it has indeed partnered with Valve to offer Steam Wallet at all U.S. GameStop locations. Steam Wallet codes will be available in $20 and $50 denominations giving PC and Mac gamers immediate access to Steam’s more than 1,800 titles. This is ideal for gamers who can only purchase titles using cash -- just scoot on down to GameStop and grab $20 or $50 in Steam credits.
"We are thrilled to be partnering with Valve on this new initiative," said Steve Nix, GameStop’s GM of Digital Distribution. "This gives even more options to customers now that they can put money in their Steam Wallet using cash, gift cards or trade credits through our convenient neighborhood locations."
So what does this mean for Impulse? After all, wouldn't it be a conflict of interest to sell the same product that consumers will likely purchase using their Steam Wallet credits? Steve Nix, manager of PC digital distribution for GameStop, said the deal won't have any effect on the company's plans for Impulse. Even more, GameStop is already offering Origin points and is working to set up a similar deal with Good Old Games.
"Really, this doesn't affect anything we're doing with Impulse," Nix told Joystiq. "We doubled the PC download business with the Impulse technology we acquired. We're happy with that. We're now online over 1600 SKUs, we'll continue to grow that and continue to invest in that. We're just offering options for customers. This in no way changes our investment or what we're doing with that business."
Nix was the former CEO of Ritual Entertainment (SiN Episodes) and director of business development and digital platforms at id Software. Selling vouchers for Steam via GameStop was actually his idea, and he initially pitched an offer to Valve months back. He also said that GameStop's proprietary tech for selling DLC directly from digital distribution holders helped make the deal possible.
"GameStop is the most recognized game retailer in the world and a leader in providing a state-of-the-art shopping experience for its customers," said Jason Holtman, Valve’s Director of Business Development. "Offering Steam Wallet codes at GameStop extends more options and convenience to gamers around to the world."
Ultimately selling Steam credits is just another avenue of revenue for a retail chain that at one time relied on brick-and-mortar sales. One day there may be a conflict of interest, but for now Steam is pumping an extra load of cash into GameStop's own wallet.