Retail threatens Steam ban

The world’s biggest digital games retailer is under attack.

MCV understands that key ‘traditional’ retailers will drop titles that integrate the popular Steam service as fears mount that the it has a ‘monopoly’ on the download market.

Insiders say Steam, run by US studio Valve, serves a massive 80 per cent of the PC download sector. And retailers preparing their own rival platforms don’t want that share to grow any more.

Some of the biggest PC games – such as Call of Duty and Fallout – has Steam built into them. But retailers are concerned that selling these games in their shops pushes users towards only buying games via Steam going forward.

At least two major retailers will demand that publishers remove Steam from their games – or they will not sell them in any form.

If we have a digital service, then I don’t want to start selling a rival in-store,” said the digital boss at one of the biggest UK games retailers.

Publishers are creating a monster – we are telling suppliers to stop using Steam in their games.”

The head of sales at a big-name digital service provider agreed: At the moment the big digital distributors need to stock games with Steam. But the power resides with bricks and mortar retailers, they can refuse to stock these titles. Publishers are hesitant, but retail must put pressure on them.”

Gaikai CEO David Perry told MCV Steam could become the games-equivilent of iTunes, where it dictates the terms of the market, not the other way around: Steam has made it so easy for everyone and they have lots of users. But how long do you wait before you take control of your own digital strategy? Like with iTunes, at some point it’s going to be too late.”

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