Valve: Steam is good for retail

Jason Holtman, the chief of Valve’s digital distribution network Steam, has said that the success of the service is nothing but good news for retail.

Last year MCV learnt that a number of key chains were considering a boycott of any Steam enabled games as they feared once purchased, the titles would lure customers away from the High Street and toward digital retail.

"Steam is good for retail. If you look at some examples of things we’ve done in the past, it shows that," Holtman told MCV.

"From time to time, we have people react to us in that way. 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."

"The work we’re doing on Steam is to make the PC and Mac a better platform for retailers. Sure, the more Steam customers we have, the more people are going to buy from us, but it also means more Steam users are going to visit stores."

Holtman also noted that there are concrete examples of when sales and promotions on Steam have had a direct and tangible beneficial effect for High Street retail.

"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," he added.

"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.

"So when we do promotions, we see sales spikes both digitally and online. People who use Amazon still go to bookstores. You can buy almost anything online, but people still go out to the High Street to buy things."

To read MCV’s full interview with both Jason Holtman and marketing boss Doug Lombardi, click here.

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