It's not surprising that PC gamers turned to different methods of distribution, and that Steam has filled that need perfectly.
Not just providing a well stocked distribution platform, but a whole social network for enthusiast gamers who were not getting supported elsewhere as their hobby went mainstream.
What is more surprising is the reaction of retail now. I have read it described as the reaction of a small child who threw his toy away because he no longer wanted it, but started screaming as soon as another child picked it up to play with. The metaphor works perfectly, especially in the light of the excuse I heard on numerous occasions.
‘There is no demand' went the mantra. But is this really true? Not in our experience.
I remember fondly the meeting in my office with a red-faced publisher who was explaining why their initial order from a major retailer for one of our new releases was just 30 units. At the time I had my browser open on the Steam product data page, which updates sales numbers every few minutes.
They have taken one unit for each of their top 30 stores” he told me. There is just no demand from their customers”.
I glanced at my screen, hit refresh and advised him: In the time it's taken you to tell me that there is no demand, Steam has sold 45 units”.