Stardock CEO Brad Wardell reckons that Valve has cornered at least 70 percent of the digital distribution market in an annual customer report filled with estimates of Steam's success.
Stardock itself is, as well as a games developer and conventional publisher, also a competitor to Valve's Steam through it's own Impulse service. Impulse has the second largest share of the market, says Wardell, at around 10 percent. The figures are estimations based on discussions with publishers and analysis of available figures.
Discussing why Steam is so successful, Wardell says it isn't so much to do with Valve's early entrance into the market place as it is about the exclusive games Valve has access too, namely the Half-Life
and Left 4 Dead
games. Valve also has a monopoly on all games using the free Steamworks DRM and community backend, which includes Modern Warfare 2
Impulse by comparison has it's own Sins of a Solar Empire
games and has, along with other companies, moved to boycott Modern Warfare 2 and other Steamworks titles
"Once a game requires Steamworks, it is effectively cut off from us, which limits our content,
" he explains. "The problem is that it is not practical for us to install a game that in turn requires the installation of a competitor's store and platform in order to play it.
Stardock is working on a competing product, dubbed Impulse Reactor, which will offer similar functions to Steamworks. Stardock also already has Goo, a DRM solution which allows second hand sales
"Digital distribution will represent approximately 25% of the revenue for a typical PC game publisher on a new title,[/i]" Wardell estimated.
Stardock recently asked customers how they prefer to purchase their games and found that the number of users who prefer a digital sale was up by 50 percent compared to last year to 61 percent.
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