Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Valve: Steam Is Really Good For Retail Sector!

By - Source: MCV | B 49 comments

Steam is on the retailer's side despite what the press claims.

In a recent interview with MCV, Valve Software's director of business development and legal affairs Jason Holtman was asked his opinion about traditional brick-and-mortar retailers refusing to stock PC games bundled with Steamworks. Ultimately he and VP of marketing Doug Lombari said that Steam was actually good for retail despite fears that digital distribution will one day drive Main Street shops out of business.

"From time to time, we have people react to us in that way," Holtman said. "But the proof in the pudding is when you look a few months after those articles and those flare-ups happen. Retailers are still stocking those games, they are supporting them. And the reason they are stocking those games isn’t because someone won a war, it’s because these products are successful. It’s good to stock a game with Steamworks integrated. It’s good business. People want them. It makes customers happy."

According to Holtman, all the work Valve has dumped into Steam ultimately makes the PC and Mac better platforms for retailers. It's also a given that Steam users will ultimately purchase something through the digital store, but Steam clearly drives players into stores thanks to offerings of demos, free weekend sampling and advertisements of physical special editions from publishers.

"Steam is good for retail," he said. "If you look at some examples of things we’ve done in the past, it shows that. One thing we did with Left 4 Dead was have a free weekend, so every one of our customers were able to play the game. At the end of the weekend, we give people the option to buy the game, and the Steam sales went up. But something that people didn’t see was that retail sales spiked, too. And of course this happens. Everyone is talking about the game, but not everyone has a credit card, or credit on their card. Not everyone wants to make a purchase right away and lots of people are heading into the High Street anyway."

Holtman pointed out that Steam is also used to fulfill offers of virtual goods, typically in Special Editions sold only through retailers like GameStop and Target. He used Left 4 Dead as an example again, saying that Doug Lombardi was behind an exclusive Special Edition pre-order deal with GameStop featuring the in-game baseball bat. Steam was even used as a advertising platform to promote the pre-order prize.

"At the end of the day, everyone likes a fight," Holtman said. "Everyone likes to have a diametric opposition, and when we look at it, this is not a fight, this is about people getting their product out to as many people as possible. Retail and digital, they’re both awesome channels. They’re both very important for games companies. Publishers should absolutely have their games in stores, and should absolutely promote people going to retail. The idea is to get more copies out to people so they can play."

Valve says Steam is on the retailer's side. It's not out to trample the Main Street shops. After all, the industry is focused on the console sector and right now, retail is the biggest outlet. But the industry has seen the future, and it clearly points to the cloud-- that forecast was made clear last month during the East Coast Game Conference. Still, as long as gamers have a special place for physical special editions, there will always be retail doors open to greet them, with or without Steam pushing them in.

Display 49 Comments.
This thread is closed for comments
  • 3 Hide
    cburke82 , May 10, 2011 11:48 PM
    When I first heard of Steam I was very sceptical. I mean there is a possibility of not having access to game you paied for. But I have sense purchased many games from steam and not one has offline mode not worked. If there is no connection on start up I have the option to start in offline mode and it has worked every time. The plus for me is steam sales, I purchased Borderlands for $7.50. Thats great for whatever profits they can get because unless it was that cheap I would not have purchased it. Also love not having to change disks to change games :) .
  • -1 Hide
    bustapr , May 10, 2011 11:55 PM
    Steam isnt good for retailers at all, christmas sale for example is hell for retailers. And the fact that sales go up doesnt at retailers take away the fact that most of the sales are made on steam. Steams is the reason retailers are weary of stocking up on games. I believe this because every game Ive bought in the last 2 years has been on steam...
  • 6 Hide
    Camikazi , May 10, 2011 11:56 PM
    I'll be honest, I have bought many games of Steam that I would normally just pirate because of the sales they have. My guess is this is the same for many others, either not pirating cause the prices are low or actually buying instead of skipping games cause of the sales, Steam is great far as I'm concerned.
  • 1 Hide
    alidan , May 11, 2011 12:08 AM
    cburke82When I first heard of Steam I was very sceptical. I mean there is a possibility of not having access to game you paied for. But I have sense purchased many games from steam and not one has offline mode not worked. If there is no connection on start up I have the option to start in offline mode and it has worked every time. The plus for me is steam sales, I purchased Borderlands for $7.50. Thats great for whatever profits they can get because unless it was that cheap I would not have purchased it. Also love not having to change disks to change games .


    metro 2033 didnt work offline last night, little brother ripped apart the eathernet cable, so his own fault and i didn't put any time into figureing out the problem.

    bustaprSteam isnt good for retailers at all, christmas sale for example is hell for retailers. And the fact that sales go up doesnt at retailers take away the fact that most of the sales are made on steam. Steams is the reason retailers are weary of stocking up on games. I believe this because every game Ive bought in the last 2 years has been on steam...


    retailers deserve to get screwed. you know why games cost 60$ now? because retailers want a bigger profit margin. 14$ go to retailers alone on game sales. they get the biggest cut of anyone. if all games were digital, they would be closer to 50$ or even 40$ new because you can cut the big publishers out. but because retail is around, you see games cost the same online as in store, even though online IS cheaper.

    i personally want to see retail for games DIE, because it holds everyone back as a whole. and if you seriously want to say not everyone can go digital only, THINK AGAIN. realistically speaking, a 32 gb thumb drive is 45$, how many games take more than 32gb compressed, and that aren't online only (excludes mmos, because they can be huge). if you cant get a high speed internet (300kbps + down) than you would go to a store, and plug it in there to get it. because lets be honest, a store wont support online only because you can buy from home, but if a store has a 3-5mbps down stream, and home only has 300kb, people will buy there. a computer costs less than 5$ a day to have run, and the internet costs less than 100$ a month 1 month you are looking at 200$, as only as 40 games are bought in store than you have a service that is doable. and if games were online only, there would be a method for this, trust me, no store will give up a 5$ profit with no risk involved at all.
  • 4 Hide
    dontcrosthestreams , May 11, 2011 12:15 AM
    lol metro 2033 doesnt work well no mater what. try taking off your gas mask...
  • 3 Hide
    randomizer , May 11, 2011 12:25 AM
    I don't know about being "good" for the retail sector, but Steam certainly doesn't harm it. Publishers jack up the prices on Steam to compensate for their excessively high margins in store, so if anything it's actually "really good" for publishers.
  • 1 Hide
    deltatux , May 11, 2011 12:25 AM
    Problem is that with digital distribution, it's a lot easier to make massive sales which is a lot harder with physical distribution because with physical distribution, you have to pay people at each juncture of the distribution ... you don't need to do that with digital distribution and unlimited copies can be made without cost unlike physical distribution.

    This is what hurts these stores since Valve and other digital distributors are undercutting them. The main barrier in the future won't be credit cards barring people from buying online, it'll be bandwidth caps. Personally, that's the only thing that keeps me going back to EB Games (owned by Gamestop). My 60 GB/month cap is tiny and ain't cheap since my family pays $46.95/month for it. Each GB over the limit is $2.
  • 0 Hide
    11796pcs , May 11, 2011 1:26 AM
    I always get physical copies if I can because of the faster installs, cool packaging, and I don't burn up a bunch of my bandwidth for the month. For me it just makes sense, but I will admit that these stores are fat pigs and now that they aren't making a killing they're whining. Quess what stores! If you don't sell a game with Steamworks then I'll just go somewhere else and buy the game. No big deal, your loss for being so stuck-up.
  • 3 Hide
    XD_dued , May 11, 2011 1:34 AM
    Well...most retailers have a very poor variety of pc games. So why complain about people abandoning you from the industry you don't support?
  • 1 Hide
    dalauder , May 11, 2011 1:48 AM
    I haven't bought retail outside of last minute gifts in years. I don't think Steam's gonna stop my Mom from going to Best Buy for Christmas gifts.
  • 1 Hide
    bystander , May 11, 2011 1:48 AM
    I didn't wish to use steam at first, but I wanted to play a game that I couldn't fine in the retail stores. Then it happened again. The brick and mortar stores are not stocking the games very well, and as a result, they've forced me to use Steam.

    I would never have used Steam had they carried better stock. Now I do appreciate not having to deal with their copy protection crap too.
  • -1 Hide
    bystander , May 11, 2011 1:59 AM
    11796pcsI always get physical copies if I can because of the faster installs, cool packaging, and I don't burn up a bunch of my bandwidth for the month. For me it just makes sense, but I will admit that these stores are fat pigs and now that they aren't making a killing they're whining. Quess what stores! If you don't sell a game with Steamworks then I'll just go somewhere else and buy the game. No big deal, your loss for being so stuck-up.


    I question this thought, since Steam typically charges the same or more for their games than retail stores, and they are charging the same exact cost they've always charged at stores. Sure they occasionally have specials, but I don't think Steam undercuts them at all.
  • 2 Hide
    ottozro , May 11, 2011 2:47 AM
    Do we really care if retail is having a hard time with PC Games.. I mean most likely if you have a PC or Mac you are online, so purchasing a game saves time and GAS MONEY and are lower in price. Valve is a good company as far as i'm concerned :p 
  • 3 Hide
    upgrade_1977 , May 11, 2011 3:22 AM
    I buy all my games on steam. I would much rather have a physical copy, and a copy on steam, that way, If I want to install it right away instead of having to download the game, I can, and always good to have a backup copy just in case. But if I have to choose between a steam only download, or a physical copy that can't be linked to steam, then I'll buy it through steam.

    Most retail stores have kind of shunned us pc gamers back in the day, some still do. I still go into stores and find long isles dedicated to console games with only small sections dedicated to pc games. It is getting better though. So when I do buy a physical copy of a game, I go to the retailers with the most pc games because I want to support that store. Every now and then I'm to quick to buy the game, just to find out it's not steam supported, so most of the time I just stick it on the shelf and buy it on steam when it's on sale. I actually have a few double copy's like crysis, crysis wars, battlefield 2. Steam is much easier with updating and saved games, and I like having the chat built in. What can I say....When it comes to installing games, I'm really lazy.

    My big dream is that one day steam will be partnered with all the developers so that I can buy all my games in the store and they will work with steam. Or, it would be nice if I could order back up blu-rays or something with all my games on them, just have a section where you go and order whatever disc's you need. That would be sweet. Just an idea.

    Oh, here is another idea, maybe steam could integrate Fraps into there client and have it automatically convert the video's in the best quality possible to upload them on youtube. Sorry, i'm brainstorming here.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , May 11, 2011 3:24 AM
    i think its good too. when i buy a game i would like for it to be added to my steam account. when i buy a game at a retail store im just getting it there for the convenience of not having to wait for the download on steam. usually it takes quite a bit less time to download a 5-15GB games than it does to drive to the store and install it
  • 2 Hide
    ikefu , May 11, 2011 3:44 AM
    Word to Brick and Mortar stores: If I can't buy it in your store and then activate it on steam later I'm not going to buy it from you. Period.

    So support steam being available for retail copies. I actually like getting retail boxes (especially as gifts), but I like steam more. So give me the best of both worlds and let me buy games at your store that I can activate on steam when I get home.
  • -4 Hide
    Anonymous , May 11, 2011 4:22 AM
    Bull, STEAM is the worst thing to happen to games since the beginning. I will never ever ever ever buy any game that uses STEAM, which includes Duke Nukem Forever.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , May 11, 2011 4:35 AM
    Its great for Retail.
    Sure Steam has sales like the EA sale week that makes it dirt cheap compared to retail, but retail sometimes sells stuff at a much cheaper price. Take Fallout New Vegas, $30 at bestbuy, or 60 on steam. With the amount of savings, i can register it on steamworks then afford the extra DLC.
  • 2 Hide
    Ogdin , May 11, 2011 4:35 AM
    SteamIsBullcrapBull, STEAM is the worst thing to happen to games since the beginning. I will never ever ever ever buy any game that uses STEAM, which includes Duke Nukem Forever.



    Making a troll account to post once.........now that is bullcrap.
  • 0 Hide
    f-14 , May 11, 2011 4:47 AM
    i can't wait to hear the screams as steam gets taken down like the play station network.
    when the cloud rains, it pours as evidenced by all the tears of sony play station owners.
Display more comments