Hello Mr Malstrom, this e-mail will be short. I just want to ask one question: why is it OK for GoG to have game sales but not Steam? I´m not a Steam user (I´m from South America) and wasn´t even aware of it until you started posting about Valve Corporation, but since you have been bringing it up lately (and also praising GoG), I would like to know your thoughts on game sales in those contexts (and why it´s ok in one case and detrimental to the value of gaming in the other)
First of all, it is Master Malstrom, not Mister Malstrom. The difference is like Ms. versus Mrs. Married men are called ‘Mr.’ Unmarried men used to be called ‘Master’. I suppose the ‘Master’ tag went out of fashion due to slavery or something. Anyway, I am trying to revive it. It also makes a ton of sense. Unmarried men truly are the masters of their lives. Once they get married, they are no longer the master! hahaha
GoG answers your question directly, and they did so somewhat recently (months ago). Here is what they said:
“Heavy discounts are bad for gamers,” Rambourg explained. “If a gamer buys a game he or she doesn’t want just because it’s on sale, they’re being trained to make bad purchases, and they’re also learning that games aren’t valuable. We all know gamers who spend more every month on games than they want to, just because there were too many games that were discounted too deeply. That’s not good for anyone.”
“We provide a lot of value in our games that goes beyond just the price. This is one of the key ways we fight against piracy, after all: providing gamers with more value than a pirate does. We actually generate more than half of our revenue from full-price sales, simply because we keep our prices reasonable in the first place. Our average sale tends to be around 40% – 50% off; that’s plenty of incentive to pick up a game if you’re interested or if you just think you might like to try it because you’re not sure about the game, but not some crazy 75% or 85% discount that damages the long-term value of a game.”
You must realize that GoG is taking games that were once considered abandonware and selling them. In a way, they are trying to save the value of the old school games. And pretty much all of the software on GoG is $10 or $6 in price which is remarkably cheap. GoG sees sales as an incentive for people to grab a game they’ve been on the fence about. With the GoG sale going on now, I purchased Silver because I was on the fence about it. The sale pushed me over. Maybe the game sucks, maybe it doesn’t. I’ve never played it.
The Valve Corporation is more interested in getting people intertwined with their client than in preserving the value of games. The Valve Corporation thinks it is wonderful that people are buying games they do not play and do not want. Do you see the Valve Corporation ever try to ‘add value’ to the games even at a later date? No. The only value they are interested in is the Steam client. For all we know, a future update to Steam client could be Steam TV where all your youtube, music, and digital media are intertwined with Steam.
If Gabe ‘A Kinder and Gentler DRM’ Newell was actually interested in the value of games, he would have games be DRM free or give the people behind the game a choice. After all, Steve Jobs allowed people to choose DRM free music if the artist wanted. Why doesn’t he allow this? Instead, all we do is get cotton candy PR stories about how all the desks at the Valve Corporation have wheels on them.
There are MANY online stores out there and more are appearing. GoG is the only one I know that is 100% DRM free. Some like GamersGate only does the DRM when you install the game. But regardless, they don’t require their client to always be present when you play the game. Steam is actually extremely heavy in its DRM. It is only just a ‘kinder and gentler DRM’.
GoG’s software is at $6 as the normal price. You can’t get much lower than that. Going from $6 to $3 isn’t really saving much money. It’s not much of a “sale” at all. But no matter what you buy, GoG has no hooks in you. You never have to visit the site again. Steam is the opposite. The more you buy from Steam, the more hooks it has you into its platform.
Why is Gabe “A kinder, gentler DRM” Newell doing these crazy sales anyway? Aside from game companies complaining, even gamers are beginning to complain. They feel as if they have to buy these games they have no interest in simply because they are on sale for 80% off. And then we end up with hundreds of Steam games that you haven’t even tried out yet as you keep buying more… and more… and more… What Gabe “A kinder, gentler DRM” Newell is successfully doing is tethering you to his platform. Steam is not supposed to be a store. Steam is designed to become a platform. Didn’t Newell once work at Microsoft? This would explain the obsession of making platforms out of everything.
What if Half-Life 3 is designed to be more of a platform than a game?