Stardock CEO Responds to NPD Digital Distribution Report and Steamworks on Direct2Drive

Yesterday, a report came out from the NPD Group, claiming that 48% of PC games sold in 2009 were done so digitally. The report also ranked various digital outlets putting Steam at the top, following by Direct2Drive, Blizzard, Electronic Arts, and then World of Warcraft.

nope Left off of that list was Stardock's Impulse, which Stardock believed to be the number 2 digital distribution outlet back in December. Shacknews contacted Stardock CEO Brad Wardell about the NPD report, to which he replied:

NPD's numbers on digital don't tend to have much reflection on reality. As much as I would love digital distribution to take over the world, I can't think of a single publisher (including ourselves) that sells even close to a majority of its units digitally. I am a big believer in the future of digital distribution but the numbers we typically hear from publishers is that it's about a third (which is pretty darn good, by the way).

I had my own skepticism about the NPD report as it was compiled with survey data and not actual sales figures. It is quite possible that Impulse was omitted from the list due to less awareness by consumers. In any case, it is likely that Impulse, Direct2Drive, and others are fighting over what little market share Valve does not hold with Steam.

nope Yesterday, 2K Games also announced that Mafia II would use Steamworks for its DRM solution, requiring an installation of Valve's Steam client to play the game. Impulse refuses to carry games that use Steamworks, though Direct2Drive does so even after refusing to sell Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 at release, but eventually selling the popular game. Stardock will not be changing its policy, despite a growing number of high-profile games incorporating Steamworks, explains Brad Wardell:

As for Steamworks games on Impulse, no, we will continue our policy of not distributing titles that require the bundling of a third party store. Direct2Drive is in a somewhat different position than Impulse is in that its only source of income is from third party titles. Impulse, by contrast, has the Stardock titles which gives it a bit more flexibility. Impulse's financial viability isn't tied to selling copies of Steamworks titles.

Stardock releases its own titles both at retail and digitally through Impulse. The company most recently published Chris Taylor's Demigod and will release Elemental: War of Magic in August.