So for the final in this 3 part series we take a look at the Digital Distribution Sales market over the last 12 months, the alternatives to Steam, and how you can find the cheapest game out there at any given time.
This article is going to be posted over a few pages to separate the subjects at hand.
- Part 1, is our customer service issue with Steam.
- Part 2, will look at some of the problems with Valve’s Steam platform
- Part 3, will look at the alternatives to Steam and how to find cheap games
If you would like to know how to buy Games from Amazon if you live outside America check out this article
We know Digital Distribution is growing but have you ever wondered by how much? GamersGate recently reported that some developers revenues from digital downloads have increased from 10-20% to over 50-80%. That is a huge increase when we are talking about millions upon millions of dollars and shows that gamers are warming to the idea of only digitally owning their game.
We are very cautious of both Steam and Origin here at Muslim Gamer. We just don’t like the idea of platform DRM. When a developer has full control over your games and can correctly or incorrectly decide that you should no longer have access to games you have paid for, we cry foul. Too many eggs in one basket is just too risky for us. So while we don’t mind the idea of only digitally owning a game if the price is right, in this final part of the series we tale a look at the industry, your options and how to get the most amount of gaming for the least amount of money.
A recent study disclosed what everyone should have already known or noticed by now, digital games distribution is growing at a healthy rate year on year, in fact so healthy that it has grown more than 200 percent in the previous 12 months. While Steam is still the market leader, newcomers such as Amazon, EA and Microsoft are determined to and are successfully taking market share away. With EA deciding Origin is a requirement for BF3 and Mass Effect 3 and I’m sure more games are planned to exclusively require Origin in the future so I don’t think we have seen the last of this battle by any means.
According to the “Market Shares of Digital Distribution Platforms in 2010-2011″ study, which was based on internal data of the dealsfordownloads site and publicly available traffic and usage information, the biggest player to enter the digital download market was Amazon (Study was released prior to Bf3+Origin).
While Amazon is not available world wide, meaning countries like Australia don’t have access to all the games, Amazon’s game sales are a behemoth and most definitely should not be taken lightly. According to the study, Amazon saw the largest growth in sales last year followed closely by GameStop and Microsoft, both of whom launched their own digital distribution platforms too. I should point out though that Impulse was a purchase of Gamestop, so all of those customers would have come along with that sale.
Interestingly enough though, even under the intense competition steam still managed to grow more than 150%. While Valve’s digital distribution platform still holds a comfortable 55% of the market, Amazon, GameStop and Microsoft grabbed 10% each on market entry, trailed by EA with 5% (again remember that this study was done prior to Origin and BF3 and the Mass Effect 3 news, so expect that to change a lot over the next 6 months).
Most of the established independent digital distribution services like Direct2Drive (+34%), GamersGate (+63%) or Good Old Games (+54%) still managed to grow despite this market shake-up. With Desura, GreenManGaming, Beamdog and a couple of other promising new indie download shops entering the digital market, the race is well and truly on.
Apparently the biggest losers in the game were Bestbuy, Alienware and digital download stores that didn’t manage to find a unique positioning.
With steam being the leading platform, every other DD store is out to take market share away from them, which is great news for us. The more competition between them all, the cheaper the games get and the more Steam feels pressure to improve their services. The more Steam improves their services the more the competitors lift their game. Its basically a win situation for all gamers.
During an interview that the Gamersgate CEO gave, he mentioned that GamersGate saw its holiday sales surge 72% and its top three weeks for sales were Thanksgiving week along with the weeks before and after Christmas. Steam Christmas Sales anyone? What this tells me is that while Steam is out there making a lot of noise about deals, they are no longer leading the sales as everyone is getting in on the act. No longer are people buying based on platform, human instinct is kicking in and price and service are becoming decision makers when buying a game digitally. If a game is on sale this week on Steam, next week its on Amazon and the week after on Green Man Gaming.
GamersGate made sales on 65% of its catalog and the company’s best selling titles were in the price range of $15 to $25. While the indie gaming market is defintely getting a lot of support, it was interesting to note that less than 10 publishers represented 80% of their holiday revenues. Heres some fightin words from the CEO,
To be honest, we’re not afraid of Steam. We think they are peaking now while the marketis still very hardcore. In fact, we know from the feedback we receive from customers, one of the reasons we have such great growth is because many gamers out there don’t likeSteam and see Gamersgate as a better alternative. Once digital sales are superior to physical sales, we believe Steam will have a harder time remaining #1. We’ve led the way with many things like weekend offers, promotion programs, holiday sales, and more and they’ve followed. We believe our focus on premium customer support, a client-free experience, a robust reward program, and a DRM-friendly policy will appeal to the masses once they decide to go digital.
We don’t have any market breakdown of the overall numbers. Some people say Steam has 50% of the market, some say 80%, but we don’t know. What we do know is that Steam’s marketshare will shrink in the future and thatGamersGate is well positioned as one of the digital distrubtion platforms that has strong momentum to gain marketshare.
One thing which was very interesting from the interview was that approximately 3% of game sales on GamersGate represented 50% of the revenue in Q4. This really shows how much we gamers focus on the AAA titles and most probably end up missing out on hidden gaming gems that dont have the marketing budget like AAA titles. When you take a look back at the recent EA vs Steam incident, a few weeks after Crysis was pulled from Steam, Gaben soon after offered kind words to EA saying that he was sure things could be worked out. When you look at the above numbers it makes a lot more sense now,
If 3% of games make up 50% of revenue in one quarter for one DD store, think of how much revenue Steam has lost by losing the big EA titles such as BF3 and Mass Effect 3? There’s a lot of $$$ at stake here boys and girls.
Amazon has also hit the DD gates running by offering up to 30% off on pre orders with no payment being required until the game is available. As is the unfortunate trend lately, Amazon also offers bonus items that often come with preordered games such as extra maps, weapons, and other miscellaneous items, some exclusive to Amazon.
So now we have got the information and numbers out of the way, what are some of the alternatives to Steam that gamers can use?
In alphabetical order some of the Digital Distribution and Boxed Game stores that deliver Internationally
- Amazon Deals Page
- EA Origin
- Games For Windows Live Marketplace
- Green Man Gaming
- Get Games
- Strategy First
The above is just a sample of stores, there are plenty more out there and a quick search will show you them. Infact there are another 10-15 that I could have included in the list if I included the console stores, indy specialists, CDKey stores and Mac gaming stores. So you could say the options are virtually endless.
So to assist in your search for cheap games below we have included a couple of gaming shop price comparison sites which make it even easier to know where to get the best price from when you are after your next game.
So the next year ahead will be very interesting for gamers, with a lot of good games and cheap prices ahead. While Steam so many fans that it will be a tough slog for the others to take customers away, always remember competition is your friend. Each time one of the others gains a few percent market share, Steam will be putting their thinking caps on as to how they can wint hat back by improving their service more. Pubslishers probabaly arent too happy with Steam either and they too will play a big part in assisting the others grow. Having all your eggs in one basket isnt good for gamers and it isnt good for publishers, so expect some cracker deals from the others come the Christmas sales!
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