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Op Ed

MCV - Retail vs Steam.
This creative working of pricing, promotions and catalogue is something I am convinced retail can learn and benefit from. It frustrates me greatly that once a game is six weeks old, it is written off and consigned to the bargain bins, never to rise again. We have a 10-year-old simulator title that still sells regularly on digital platforms. This brings me to a quick recommendation. The Long Tail by Chris Anderson is an essential read for anyone who wants to understand the differentials and opportunities offered by the digital platform.

Cliffski’s Blog - Achievements.
I just can’t make my mind up about in-game achievements. The pseudo-intellectual whiny part of me says ‘they are just like pavlovs dog being trained, don’t give in to that manipulative OCD crap’. The rest of me goes ‘Oh YES! I just scored 47 hits with the flamethrower whilst running backwards, that’s the ‘platinum running backwards with flamethrower achievement’ checked off.’ (High-fives all-round).

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14. Re: Op Ed Nov 30, 2010, 00:59 Prez
 
Steam has awesome sales, Impulse's sales are getting better (50% off Dragon Age Ultimate Edition = SWEET!), and Direct2Drive always has some clever promotion around the holidays and anniversaries (I particularly liked the $5 for the 5-year anniversary sale). I don't even bother to look at PC game sections in the few stores that have them anymore. Retail lost this fight years ago from my perspective.

Oh, and I am totally with Cliffski on achievements - I am one of the ones who scoffs at playing a game for "bragging rights", but the first time I got an achievement in L4D as an infected in Versus mode, I threw my arms in the air and shouted "WOOHOO!!!" before I even realized what I was doing.
 
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Goodbye my Monte boy. May you rest in the peace you never knew in life.
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13. Re: Op Ed Nov 29, 2010, 23:21 Jerykk
 
Their normal every day prices are generally still competitive with Steam's, but they can't come close to Steam sale prices.

That's not saying much. Steam's regular prices are terrible. They routinely charge full MSRP when every other store is selling the same games for much less. If Steam actually had competitive regular pricing, I think they'd get even more business.
 
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12. Re: Op Ed Nov 29, 2010, 20:24 Nate
 
Pfft, last game I bought in a store was more than a year ago. Steam or Impulse prices are close enough for launch day pricing.  
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11. Re: Op Ed Nov 29, 2010, 19:49 StingingVelvet
 
Great article. It does a good job of making me feel guilty that my collector mentality forces me to buy from retail shops (mostly amazon) rather than give more money to them through a digital sale.

I think more developers/publishers should follow the Telltale method. Sell your games digitally and then offer a DRM free disc release for the price of shipping 6 months later. If every developer/publisher did that I would gladly pay them upfront for the game and then order the disc down the road, giving them more money and giving me a box to cuddle with. There are a few games like Machinarium that I bought twice because they came out with a boxed release later on.

More on topic though: the retailers' problem was more that the disc releases force the user to use Steam, which has a competing store built-in, right? I understand that complaint fully, I don't blame them for that. I don't like the idea of boxed games being account-based services in disguise, that's one of my major issues with MMOs.

If they're bitching about companies selling their games on Steam at all though then fuck them, wankers.
 
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10. Re: Op Ed Nov 29, 2010, 19:11 mag
 
Micro Center still always has a good selection of PC games. Their normal every day prices are generally still competitive with Steam's, but they can't come close to Steam sale prices.  
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9. Re: Op Ed Nov 29, 2010, 17:03 DG
 
For me (in UK)

Launch time: online retail cheapest, often worth waiting for the mail though they've been getting better recently.
After launch: online retail slightly cheaper but usually not enough to wait for the mail. Varies though, mainly by publisher.
Sales: steam hands-down.

Though when I say "online retail" I mean the cheapest of them, usually Play or Amazon. So I'm comparing one digital-delivery company with the best of all online-retail companies.

B&M retail doesn't even come close on pricing, never mind availability. One section of shelves containing random overpriced games back in the furthest corner of the store. Only thing stopping me celebrating the death of retail is I suspect the lack of retail will be off-putting for some potential future pc-gamers.
 
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8. Re: Op Ed Nov 29, 2010, 16:31 Icewind
 
PHJF wrote on Nov 29, 2010, 15:57:

Steam is competitive when they launch their short, drastic price slashes on specific products, but for everyday purchases Steam falls flat on its face.

100% right.

I don't buy "at launch" games on Steam, but when it comes to older games I wasn't sure if I wanted, it's the first place I look.

Case in point: Metro 2033. Steam is selling it for 10.00 right now and I finally pulled the trigger and bought it. I had been eyeing the game at target for the past few months and the lowest it got to there was 29.99, still a bit too much for a game I wasn't sure I'd like.

But for 10 bucks? I'll bite.
 
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7. Re: Op Ed Nov 29, 2010, 16:05 Verno
 
DDI wrote on Nov 29, 2010, 15:59:
What? The vast majority of titles have their prices cut even before their sales. There are very few year old games that haven't had their prices reduced.

Someone did a comparison of the top 25 on Steam and Amazon awhile ago and they were actually pretty close. Of course that was a year ago as well so /shrug. I do find Amazon cheaper on average personally but that's just anecdotal.

Generally speaking though I find that most titles do price reduce in a reasonable time period on Steam, the exception being stuff like Activision titles.
 
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Playing: Fire Emblem, Diablo 3, Bravely Default
Watching: The Machine, After the Dark, Devils Due
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6. Re: Op Ed Nov 29, 2010, 15:59 DDI
 
What? The vast majority of titles have their prices cut even before their sales. There are very few year old games that haven't had their prices reduced.  
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5. Re: Op Ed Nov 29, 2010, 15:57 PHJF
 
It frustrates me greatly that once a game is six weeks old, it is written off and consigned to the bargain bins, never to rise again.

... and instead of that we have Steam, which can keep a product priced at retail indefinitely.

Steam is competitive when they launch their short, drastic price slashes on specific products, but for everyday purchases Steam falls flat on its face.
 
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Steam + PSN: PHJF
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4. Re: Op Ed Nov 29, 2010, 13:54 Verno
 
Some interesting insights into the retail side of the market that confirm what many people have suspected and observed for quite some time. An interesting opinion piece, one of the better ones I've read linked on here.  
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Playing: Fire Emblem, Diablo 3, Bravely Default
Watching: The Machine, After the Dark, Devils Due
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3. Re: MCV - Retail vs Steam Nov 29, 2010, 13:08 TheEmissary
 
I been saying for years how the retail market was pushing the PC games out and this was before Steam secured as many 3rd party developers. There are the few rare exceptions to the rule but most stores for the last 3-5 years have really poor selections beyond blizzard and casual games.

If they really cared they wouldn't have cut the shelf space to nothing and then constantly rotate them to different spots in the store with little or advertisement. They really burnt their bridges as far as wining the PC gamer back. The only way I can see them fixing this is to have flash sales like Steam and other digital distributors are doing to stay competitive and possibly move the PC games back near the console games.
 
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2. MCV - Retail vs Steam Nov 29, 2010, 12:32 jimnms
 
Good article. Lots of good stuff in there.

Shelf space was being reduced on an almost monthly basis in favour of the latest twitch kids console title and it was becoming more and more difficult to get titles listed in any depth – even when those titles were securing review scores of over 80 per cent.

It’s not surprising that PC gamers turned to different methods of distribution, and Steam filled that need perfectly...

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.
 
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Steam Profile
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1. Re: Op Ed Nov 29, 2010, 12:04 ASeven
 
Here's something most interesting taken from the 1C rep:

At the time I had my browser open on the Steam product data page, which updates sales numbers every few minutes.

So publishers and authors know the numbers, Valve must NDA the hell out of them though.

And fully agree with the interview, he is spot on on how the retail have suddenly been waaahing and QQing about losing the PC market to digital outlets. As he makes it clear, retail have nobody to blame but themselves.

EDIT: Lots of great inside info on how profit margins are cut both for retailers and digital outlets. Lots of nifty little tidbits of info.

This comment was edited on Nov 29, 2010, 12:11.
 
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