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

By Brian Leahy, Jul 22, 2010 12:00pm PDT 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.

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.

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.

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  • If Stardock was smart, they'd make it so you could import game license from Steam into there system (or figure out a way to do that).

    Because, for me it's all about having a clean library/list of games I own. I've already got Steam and have been using them. Why split up my games library to be with impulse, directdrive and Steam? That just makes it harder for me the end user to find/look/play my games.

    Right now the majority of my games are owned are in Steam. The only games I have on impulse are games I can't get any place else (Demigod, GalCiv, etc). I will say I own almost all of Impulses "exclusive games".

    If they had some way for me to import my games list from Steam into Impulse (and I could launch a Steam game (which would in turn launch Steam) it would be less of an issues which digital distributor I should use. Of course I'd want it to be robust so that every time I added a new game to Steam, it would also be listed on Impulse.

    Anyway that's my take...













  • Just face it Valve is Apple (Ipods anyway)

    They took an idea that was out there polished the hell out of it and slowly worked it to become number 1

    yes the Digital Distros existed before but they made it main stream

    They both have products that they use to draw in millions to their larger money makers Steam and iTunes

    they even have the same psychotic fan boy bullshit of people that will defend it to their dieing breath and no matter what you point out as flaws in the system.

    Honestly why the hell does every thing in video games have to try to race to only one system it ends up being bad. You have devs that get lazy and stagnant which makes us as the consumer suffer. Honestly it makes no sense its like only wanting Burger King as the only available fast food place and attacking anyone that mentions McDonald's because they don't flame broil their burgers.

    All of this 1st 2nd 3rd crap is getting old. You want a real solution for DRM have it where the customer can bind to which digital outlet they want and not force a specific one with it's sales front on people. That way if you want it on Steam there you go...Impulse no problem ....GFWL.....uhh sure i guess.

    This race to only one is bad, and i'm not saying Impulse and the rest don't have alot of ways to improve, and in the end we as consumers will end up suffering.