Digital Distribution Sales Up as Valve Reports 97% Steam Growth

By Nick Breckon, Jul 29, 2009 7:02pm PDT While the economic malaise continues to soften corporate earnings results and retail sales charts, digital distribution outlets are reporting comparative gains in online sales.

Valve now says that year-over-year Steam sales have risen a significant 97%, while competitor Direct2Drive has logged a 56% boost, according to IGN.

In the console sector, Xbox Live saw a 73% year-over-year increase in paid downloads, with the wildly popular Battlefield 1943--a game which sold over 600,000 copies online in its first week--providing an example of the potential for digitally distributed games.

However, it's not quite yet to declare a digital revolution, as analyst Michael Pachter notes that downloads still account for only about 5% of overall sales, and are likely not a major contributing factor to the current retail sales decline.

"Downloads are probably $1-2 billion worldwide this year, compared to a $26 billion packaged goods market," he said. "Significant, but not enough to cause a 20% monthly sales decline."

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17 Threads | 112 Comments
  • How about Steam DRM vs illegal SecuROM et al?
    There's a very good reason why they keep going up even in such sorry@ss economic conditions.

    I, for one, refuse to buy *ANY* game with SecuROM, this abhorrent, illegal, horror child of Sony.
    (Fortunately Starfoce is killed form the US and EU market, it''s crawled back to its cave, Russia.)
    When I learn about final DRM in a game and it's one of these illegal ones I immediately cancel my order or refuse to take delivery.
    It's that simple - don't play along, tell them FUKC OFF and do not give them a cent, period.

    While *ANY* DRM is annoying at least Steam does not treat me like a criminal by default - I can install as many times as I want, no need for "de/re-activations", no assumptions of criminal behavior prior to even my first use etc. It's also a nice touch that with a single internet connection I can download my entire game library - had EA et al weren't busy to kill Steam in the first place years ago, only to prove the point world needs them, behemoth publishers, by now they could have built their own channel to compete with Steam...

    ...but fortunately Steam won the lion share of the DL market and it's a lot better than if EA or some similar giant@ss monopolistic corporate machine would have done it.

    While Steam sometimes still carry over SecuROM at least they clearly list it in the details so i can skip those games.

    It still bothers me, however, that Steam, even if inadvertently but helping these disgusting behemot monopolies to achieve one of their important goals, namely to kill the used game market which is the clear violation of First Sale Doctrine: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-sale_doctrine

    As soon as Steam works out a way I can sell my licenses - say, taking a few percentage fee for the transactions - I am fine with it (assuming they won't take away something imortant else in return, say offline gaming.)

    FUCK DRM, fuck illegal SecuROM and fuck Sony, EA et al - I'll enjoy watching you going down the toilet.