back to article Game denies Steam threat claims

Retailer Game has unequivocally rejected allegations that it demanded publishers delay the release of PC games on the UK version of the Steam download service - or face having their titles taken off its High Street stores' shelves. Earlier this week, Facepunch forum poster Teddi Orange named Game as the retailer responsible …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Maybe this explains why...



    My local Game stores seem to be gradually phasing out PC games completely, and only stocking the console versions?

    One of the three local-ish shops to me now has a single shelf of mostly discounted PC games. The rest of the shop is for PS3/Xbox/DS stuff. The other two shops are stocking less PC games too.

    Soon we'll only be able to buy them online anyway.

    1. Craig (well, I was until The Reg changed it to Craig 16)

      been like that for some time now

      Over the last few years Game has reduced from a sizeable in-store PC game presence down to one back-of-store, hidden away shelf section at best. I was in one Game yesterday (Westfield Shopping Centre) and they had a tiny selection hidden away without even a "PC" sign over the games, also about half the games were pre-order and the rest were fairly patchy in coverage of the recent games market. A complete waste of time.

      Profit on a PC game is trivial compared to that of console games, especially the 2nd hand games that dominate most Game stores these days.

      1. Dotter


        It's pretty much gone downhill on the PC game presence since the name change for the entire brand from part Electronics Boutique to entirely GAME.

        And who thought GAME was actually a better name, anyway?

        1. Ian Court


          I find it quite odd that Gamestation has replaced what GAME used to be in terms or store atmosphere and clientele, and they essentially moved the GAME brand to replace Electronics Boutique. And who remembers when Electronics Boutique was Future Zone?

          When the US company Electronics Boutique bought the struggling Rhino Group, owners of Future Zone, that's when things began to go downhill. They later swallowed GAME and merged the two, keeping the GAME name before acrimoniously severing ties with their US owners.

          UK high street retail is rather fucked at the moment. HMV essentially have no competition since the demise of Woolworths and Zavvi, yet they are struggling. And with GAME's prior purchase of Gamestation from a very desperate Blockbuster, the lack of competition on the high street isn't healthy for the consumer.

          No wonder downloadable game services are so attractive, not only are they more convenient, they are often far more competitive in terms of pricing and regularly offer far more choice.

    2. Martin Lyne
      Thumb Up

      Game on!

      I see no benefit in wasting my time going to a shop, queuing, paying the same price and receiving an entirely fallible DVD.

      Steam will be around for at least my lifetime, during which time I will be able to enjoy my whole gaming catalogue with little faffery.

      Plus, have you seen the deals on Steam? All the Doom and Quakes for half the price of a console game.

      Move along bricks and mortar. Or embrace Steam as a friend, find some way to use it to bring people into your store. Take a cut.

      Pretty sure retailers meant I got Red Faction Armageddon later than high-street purchasers. Not too fussed about that, it was rubbish.

      1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        @Martin Lyne

        "Steam will be around for at least my lifetime"

        Are you terminally ill?

        1. DrXym Silver badge

          Who buys brand new games on Steam?

          I can understand buying games on Steam when they're on sale. I can't understand why anyone buys them when they're brand new. They sell for RRP and it is trivially easy to find the same game in a physical store or on for 30% less. Sometimes it's the same damned game, i.e. it's a Steamworks title so it runs on Steam anyway.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @who buys new games on steam

            It's potentially to do with steamworks games with retail versions. Game will have had to try and explain, and deal with the returns from people etc, who were annoyed about, or couldn't cope with, having to get a steam account for the Medal of honour games.

          2. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

            Buying new pc games

            I suppose I do sometimes, but indie games. The majority of mainstream popular PC Games are released months after their Console release and often feel like direct ports or have achievements which is just the worst thing ever.

    3. Yoss

      I'm with Anon on this..

      Frankly, I don't see what they're so bothered about as they hardly sell PC games anyway. Last time I was in a Game it was like the dying days of the Amiga - one shelf section (or something like that) in a shop full of console titles.

  2. Simbu

    Denied allegations...

    Well, they're hardly going to admit them, are they?

    Game need to learn to compete with Steam (and other online content delviery), or put up and shut up.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Easy solution to this...

    The retailers don't even need to worry about a staggered download release date... sell it for less than Steam and the punters keep on coming. Some do, and some don't (staring intensely at you GAME...).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Peter Campbell

      They do. Prices for Day 1 release PC games are always cheaper on than on Steam, and don't get me started on Steam's outrageous Euro prices. Funny thing is, I know lots of people who are happy to pay Steam prices anyway.

      As for this rumour, I call shenanigans; Game are gradually reducing their PC presence in-store as it is; this would be too contentious and Game have no leverage to force the publishers to do it anyway. In a way it would be nice if Game DID do something about Steam e.g. create some credible competition for it (and no, Metaboli isn't good enough).

  4. Dotter


    "Retailers fear Steam will become as powerful a force in games sales as Apple's iTunes has become in the music business."

    Time to start selling your games at a more competitive price, then.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Too late!!

      Steam already *is* that powerful.

      The weird thing is the implication that the High Street retailers didn't see that coming.

      Valve were rather large and well-known in the PC gaming sector even before they launched Steam, so it's not exactly surprising that they managed to leverage that to get so many third-party developers and publishers to jump on board.

      Furthermore, while it does have DRM it's not massively in-your-face, like most of the other DRM schemes various publishers have tried. I'm not going to buy a game that treats me like a criminal in my own home.

      However, I really don't like that I apparently can't gift my copy of a game to a friend once I've decided I don't want it anymore - maybe I didn't like it but a friend of mine might, or maybe I just finished the game and don't want to play it again.

      That said, I'm not entirely confident that Steam will be around for longer than 10 more years or so.

      However, I do think it'll probably be around for the useful life of my current PC.

  5. Michael 47
    Thumb Up

    And with good reason...

    "Retailers fear Steam will become as powerful a force in games sales as Apple's iTunes has become in the music business"

    Its not really surprising. With steam, I can get the game as soon as its available, without having to go to the nearest shop (not that it's very far, but a massive pain with parking), they never run out of stock, they never try and sell me loyalty cards or any other tripe and I can re-download the game when I wish, no questions asked. Not only that but the game will probably cost me less too!

    I know it has some downsides too, I'm not a fan of DRM, and I can never sell any games bought on steam (not that I ever sell my games anyway) but without a doubt steam provides far more positives than negatives. Bricks and mortar stores should be afraid... very afraid. In fact how they have managed to survive this long is frankly baffling

  6. Captain Underpants

    Well it's not like they'd admit it anyway, is it?

    I've spent more on games through Steam in about 2 years than I would have done in the preceding 5, because the pricing and availability has been more in line with what I want.

    I'd love to see more choices available, but GAME and most brick & mortar retailers strike me as being insufficiently forward-thinking to be able to devise a service that would be able to compete. Given how many brick & mortar retailers seem more interested in selling second-hand games ( perhaps this shouldn't be a surprise.

    1. frymaster

      we have a winner...

      ...why do you think they don't want steamworks games? because you can't re-sell them, because once it's tied into your steam account it can't be extracted (to be fair to steam, I can't think of a way to transfer games to other accounts that isn't doomed to end in squillions of stupid-phished-users' games being used to scam people)

  7. Anonymous Coward

    So Game are ditching PC titles?

    Ok? So then Game will be left with a rack of "Mavis Beacon Typing Tutor", "My Little Pony* Dress Up Studio" or "Realistic Intercity Trains Simulator"-esque PC games (cf the Woolworths or WHSmiths computer games section circa late 90's). I'm sure they'll sell well...

    (*no disrespect to the MLP:FIM bronies... :D)

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Train Simulators

      They are on Steam as well - had an advert for a Somerset & Dorset one when I had a look at offers recently.

      The fire

    2. Richard 12 Silver badge

      To be fair, they already did.

      Have you been in a GAME store recently?

      PC games are either absent or only one shelf.

      There's a lot more margin on console games, so not all that surprising.

  8. tanker1

    RIP B&M Games Retailers

    So retailers can't compete with Steam. What a surprise. Steam churns out non-recent releases at decent discounts has frequent good offers on major new titles and best of all I don't have to get off my fat arse to get them. Who actually buys PC games from shops anyway? The previous comment about the predominance of console games in retail stores hits the nail on the head.

    I think that Game et al konw that the writing is on the wall unless they can come up with a convincing e-offering and I very much suspect that Steam has already slammed the door on them. I can't see myself and others moving to another online service when most of our gaming collection is now in the Steam archives

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      RE: RIP B&M Games Retailers

      ".......I can't see myself and others moving to another online service when most of our gaming collection is now in the Steam archives." No, I wouldn't want to move away from Steam, but I'd be quite happy to run several Steam-like games download services if they ran competitive offerings. In fact, that would be the ideal, as then the equality would drive the providers to innovate new services and battle on price. After all, most people I know only have Steam because they originally got Half-Life and Steam moved the old Sierra update service to Steam accounts.

      Games producers like Blizzard are already moving to their own download services, having migrated all WoW accounts to Blizzard accounts being the obvious first step. Maybe the might of Blizz will allow it to fight the Steam on equal terms. Retailers like Game will either have to partner with an online/download service or move to consoles only.

  9. Alan Dougherty

    Boycott Game

    I haven't set foot in a Game store in years, ever since they reduced the PC section to 3 shelves, stocking nothing but 5 year old budget games, and Flight Sim / Train Sim add-ons.

    If they think I'm going to bother trying their download service, when they clearly abandoned the PC gamer years ago, then the upper management must be truly delusional.

  10. Anonymous Coward


    These retailers need to know when they've been beaten. They seem to pretty much only stock console games now anyway and how can you argue about the price differences between Steam and pretty much any other retailer...

    I can't even remember the last time my local Game had a "Sale". I don't see a sale as being a fiver off a title that was already overpriced at £35 anyway. Valve have it right with Steam, it's gamer oriented and i think it has always been that way. Game is just a shop that sells games, much in the same way other shops sell shoes.

    Refusing to stock the biggest new releases as a threat doesn't seem like much of a long term business strategy does it? What happens when you aren't stocking anything good because i think it would be fair to say that publishers must be at the point where they prefer Steam, i know for sure that the gamers do.

  11. Tom_

    Game's Up

    Game is just a dinosaur that doesn't realise it's extinct yet.

  12. Ragarath


    "We have had no such conversations with any publisher and have been in contact with various publishers who can confirm this for you as well."


    We have had not no such conversations with and publisher "honestly gov", but really the ones we have we have been in contact with to make sure they say they haven't or we will stop stocking their games.

  13. T.a.f.T.

    Ubisoft & Settlers

    I was a little hesitant at first when I found Ubisoft required me to make an account with them after buying a copy of a rent game in the Settlers series. However they have done a good job of integrating the game with Steam as well as offering Facebook and Twitter integration in the game for things like achievements. Perhaps publishers should be encouraged to include items like this which mean that at least the social aspects of Steam's offering can be distributed across different outlets.

    Am I wrong or right in thinking there is a Microsoft Live and a Steam version of Bioshock? Just seems weird that you cannot link N accounts to one game; although I can see that owning a CD-ROM copy of a game should not give you a Steam copy to download anywhere... well unless that new MP3 "backup" service which upset iTunes can also apply to games?

  14. Trevelyan

    Oh, why are we waiting....

    I still do not get why I had to what an extra 4 days before DeusEx was unlocked here in EU?

    The content is already preloaded on my computer. It is really frustrating to see articles, blogs and reports from people already playing and discussing a game, but we have to wait.

    In an internet age, with download delivery, staggered releases make absolutely no sense.

    1. Alan Dougherty

      Sales charts

      The reason we in the EU had to wait, is due to sales charts.

      Companies will only release a game on the first day of a new week of chart tracking.

      US resets on Monday midnight, EU resets on a Thursday midnight.

      It's just to make sure that they get the best sales chart position, even though the feckers count pre-orders as 0-day sales, and it shouldn't make any f'n difference to steam pre-order customers which region they are in.


      Did I mention game publishers are fuckers?

      Retarded ones at that.

  15. EddieD

    I can understand their worries, but...

    I like Steam - I get most of my games that way.

    No media to lose, no boxes to store, no license to enter, and games work offline (well, those that make sense to, anyway), plenty of freebies (I'm having fun with Team Fortress at the moment)

    Just the virginmedia download caps get in the way, but I'll take that rough in amongst all the smooth.

    A few more similar services would be most welcome.

  16. John Overment

    So why is it...

    That just a couple of months ago I put Saints Row: The Third on my wishlist and now when I try to check it says that item isn't available in my region. It was not that long ago and now it's not that far away til release.

    I haven't seen any news from THQ or Volatile so I am a bit suspicious. Shame because I used to love GAME. Now everything about it seems shady.

  17. Reality Dysfunction

    Gave up on Game years ago......

    They never have a good selection of PC games and won't do second hand ones (although other retailers do) I'm very happy with Steam as a PC gamer.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    So who is it then?

    Can some one find out who is leaning on Steam, so I can ensure that neither I or any of my friends ever buy from then?

    Release the investigative journalists!

  19. Vehlin

    Hoisted by their own Petard

    Game have only got themselves to blame for this. For years I always bought my PC games from Game as I was able to walk down to the shop, buy the game and be home faster than if I were to download it. Gradually however they have reduced the PC section from 6-8 panels down to one.

    Now if I go into Game there is almost no chance of them having the title I want in stock unless it's in the Top 10, frankly Tesco have a better selection these days. So taking away the convenience of being able to walk into a shop and buy it, why would I want to buy from them?

    Game abandoned the PC games industry in favour of the cash cow that is the console market, so frankly they've got little reason to complain about PC gamers abandoning them.

  20. Mat Child

    It still about pricing

    I wanted to buy Civilisation 5 recently

    Steam wanted £29.99

    Game wanted £16.99 online (don't know about the shop)

    ASDA had it for £14.00

    Guess where i bought it from

    1. Anonymous Coward

      My guess

      You waited for one of the regular Steam sales and picked it up on there for a fiver?

      1. Ben Best
        Thumb Up

        That's what I did

        Really I'd been thinking about it for a while steam had it for I think a tenner, really been enjoying it.

  21. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    The only way you can compete

    With the Steam disease is by forcing the publishers to abolish DRMs and be reasonable on the price.

    Neither is going to happen.

  22. Sadako

    Has anyone...

    ...asked for a comment from Valve on this yet?

    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Has anyone...

      Yes. Still awaiting a reply, though.

      1. lpopman

        titular vent

        You'll be waitng a while. This is Valve Time (tm) after all.

        1. Sadako


          Indeed. If Gabe spins in his chair to answer that mail, the resulting gravitational lensing will cause them to delay Episode 3 another month...

          1. lpopman

            titular disenoblement

            Only a month? I would have thought it would be when DNF gets released.

            Wait, what was that? DNF was released?

            I want HL Ep 3 and HL 3 now, k :)

  23. That Steve Guy

    RE: Hoisted by their own Petard

    Too true here.

    Like so many of the comments above I too shopped at Game for a great many PC titles now that the whole PC section has been reduced to a tiny section of the store that only comprises the top 10 or a bunch of really old discount games nobody wants.

    Frankly the last few games I have bought online through Amazon then I was introduced to Steam by getting Shogun 2 (which requires it), now I will not go back to Game!

    They snubbed PC Gamers by refusing to stock our titles and moving towards Consoles and now that someone else has a good download service they want a piece of the pie. They have only themselves to blame for where they are by their coprorate strategy.

  24. Bunker_Monkey

    Their *game* is up

    Long live Steam, just as quick as popping into an indy retailer and getting the box and dvd instead...

    1. Yet Another Commentard

      Re: Their *game* is up

      ...and if you do buy the boxed version for some inexplicable reason it connects to steam and downloads about 5GB of stuff anyway.

      May as well cut out the middle man.

      PS - as above, stopped going to Game as I could not find the PC section/shelf/dusty jewel case.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Game - the people who killed Barrysworld servers

    Fuck em. I hope they go bust. Wouldn't shop there if they paid me to do so.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Wait, what!?

      They killed of Barrysworld!? Bastards

      All my Tribes 1 BWTL memories....sniff, nostalgia

  26. Ministry of Truth

    It's a simple call...

    I buy a lot from Steam, being able to see the current specials, and metascores on the spot to inform choices about them is brilliant.

    But the main benefit from my point of view is the on-the-fly updating - no more installing and then grubbing around for patches - it's all taken care off.

    If I am concerned it's a huge game, I'll buy it from, and then verify it through Steam so I don't have to DL 15 gig or something, or if I want the super delux edition. But on the whole, Steam offers both value, and an easy way to buy games on a whim, for downloading later.

    Piss off Game - we don't need your shit service and shit selection. You don't offer what we want, so stop trying to sabotage someone who is. Come to think of it, I am going to boycot Game going forward.

  27. Citizen Kaned

    steam isnt that great!

    i rarely buy anything from steam. they are usually full RRP in the UK and i can get pre-order PC games for around £20-25 from etc. the same games on steam are always over £30.

    a few months ago i tried to play a steam game i had bought, only to find that i now had to log in with a password as they had enabled some sort of system to track your titles to your pc. they had sent me an email to the company i had previously worked for (which ceased trading) and i couldnt get access to any of my games for a week while they sorted that out. ive never had this issue with a dvd/cd!

    steam is ok for syncing all the files such as configs etc but i would far sooner have a new game waiting for me when i get home than having to hope steam has enough bandwidth to let me download (it can often take ages to download due to network traffic, and its not my ISP as i can go and download an windows SP at full speed at the same time)

    @ So Game are ditching PC titles? 13:00 gmt - i can beat that. i saw '3d farming simulator' for sale in morrisons last week! man, that looked like a riot with its terrible 3d tractors on the back! :)

    1. Davidoff
      Thumb Down

      Steam, passwords and work email addresses

      "a few months ago i tried to play a steam game i had bought, only to find that i now had to log in with a password as they had enabled some sort of system to track your titles to your pc. they had sent me an email to the company i had previously worked for (which ceased trading) and i couldnt get access to any of my games for a week while they sorted that out. ive never had this issue with a dvd/cd!"

      So in short, you bought a game on Steam, then lost your Steam password (which is always required to log into the Steam service!), and you also didn't bother to update the now invalid email address you gave them in the first place (who in his right mind would give them a work email address anyways?).

      So well, yes, if you can't take care of a few simple things then I guess CD/DVD media may be better for you.

    2. Richard 12 Silver badge

      More to the point, they *did* sort it out.

      It's a shame it took a week, but that's not exactly unsurprising if you'd accidentally made the 'automated' methods of recovering your account unavailable.

      You're responsible for keeping track of your username/password, in the same way that you're responsible for keeping track of the CD/DVD for a 'normal' game.

  28. Gerard Krupa

    On the other hand

    If you have a dispute with Game or another retailer they don't come round to your house and steal all the games you previously purchased whereas a PayPal dispute raised against Steam will lead to potentially £1000s flushed down the toilet in games you can no longer access.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge


      ... don't use Paypal then.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Or a credit card

        Steam will cancel your account on any chargeback from a Credit Card company.

        So they have you by the short and curlies if you think you have been screwed by them. (For example, the recent "From Dust" problems)

  29. Dave 142


    I've avoided Game ever since the manager of the local store treated me like some kind of moron because I wouldn't buy his stupid extended warranty. Even if he was right and the extended warranty wasn't a rip off, treating your customers like crap is a great way to make sure they don't come back.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is steam a one time only option

    I tried to buy Deus Ex, the latest one and got to agree to this.

    You are entitled to use the Software for your own use, but you are not entitled to: (i) sell, grant a security interest in or transfer reproductions of the Software to other parties in any way, nor to rent, lease or license the Software to others without the prior written consent of Valve;

    So I cannot sell my game to someone else afer it gets boring, it's a one time deal?

    1. KroSha

      Exactly that.

      And it's the way the whole industry is going, including consoles. For now it's just codes to access MP, which I agree with. The next gen of consoles will increase the PSN / Live marketplaces. At that point we'll see single DL user licenses, so you cannot sell on your £35 purchase, effectively killing the 2nd hand market. Publishers and storefronts (including Steam) love it because they get revenue from every single sale. Customers hate it because you are now only leasing the right to play the game and don't actually own a product. Sales of full price games take a dive because no one can trade in the games they've completed to subsidise the cost of the new release.

  31. StooMonster

    Something in going in the UK

    • UK the only country where people cannot pre-order Skyrim on Steam

    • Brink was month late to Steam in UK behind the rest of the world

    • Space Marine and Saints Row The Third currently unavailable to purchase on Steam in the UK

    Clearly something is going on with Steam in the UK, if it's not GAME threatening the publishers then what is it?

    1. David Evans


      Could be lots of things, not least publishers wanting to be competitive in the UK market while Valve want parity with the Euro, meaning publishers lose margin if they don't agree? When it comes to pricing, Valve are no better than bricks and mortar. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

  32. M Gale


    Demanding I create an account with yet another forgettable password, in order to prove that I'm not a pirate?

    I'd rather pay the extra couple of quid for a real copy, thanks. Haven't bought a single game that requires a Steam account yet. Nor any kind of game made by Ubisoft or EA with similar malware included. I couldn't care less for dick-waving achievements, nor for downloading gigabytes of game over a connection with a monthly traffic limit.

    If Game really has been leaning on publishers like this, then it's a shitty thing to do. However, this doesn't stop Steam itself from being a whole heap of DO NOT WANT.

  33. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    Game's management just stupid or what?

    Bank holiday weekend, should be a peak business weekend with all those kiddies just before they go back to school, and the local branch is closed all three days of the weekend for a stocktake..... With that level of stupidity on offer, I can now believe that Game would try strong-arming publishers.

  34. Anonymous Coward

    Game, Do they sell games ?

    Having put off buying a PS3, I could resist no longer once gran turismo 5 came out. It was a few weeks before xmas and I went onto their website to be told it was available for pre-order. That's strange I thought I'm sure it's out and sure enough everybody else on the internet had it and I bought from amazon.

    So way to go, build up that brand recognition so you were the first place I went to, and then fail to have an up to date website in the busiest period of the year for games

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