The past month or so, I’ve realised that where I shop for PC games is now incredibly limited. I now only really buy from 4 places these days (where 1 of 4 is actually “many” but hang on…). It wouldn’t surprise me to find out that the vast majority of people who now buy PC games shop at less than that.
I buy from Steam
I buy games from Steam. I’m aware it’s a DRM scheme la de da de blah, it’s also a fucking great storefront which whilst not perfect, certainly makes browsing comfortable, content discovery not that difficult and as an added bonus, has regular sales where I can get games for the cheaps.
Throw in my friends list, Steam Overlay which for someone who likes taking screenshots cuts out the need for a capture app running in the background, groups which make organising online stuff easy, the ability to download games only when I want to play them to save on HDD space and well, you get the idea. It may be a DRM subscription app where my entire account can have the rug pulled on it any second for a completely random reason but it’s got things I really like to use and use often also.
I open Steam when I start my computer, I only close it on reboots. It sits there and gets regular use.
I buy from Indie Royale and I buy from Hundle
I buy games in bundles. Invariably, I’ll have most of the games and end up buying the bundles for just one game and give the codes away for the rest or something but still, both Indie Royale and Hundle are places I pick up games from. If not for me, for someone else.
I buy direct from the developers
And I buy direct. I’m that weird kind of person who will buy direct from the developer to support them but also buy a back up copy from Steam that I can have tucked away for spares. I don’t mind paying more to buy direct either although even I have obvious mental limits on what I’m willing to spend (and to be frank, what I can afford to spend)
I like buying direct from devs. I dislike the fact that payment providers often sit there and ask for masses of information before I can even get to the “yeah, come on, just give me the fucking download”, I’m never keen that some developers take this as approval that I’m somehow signed up for their mailing list because I bought from them either but still. Given the choice, I will always buy direct first and Steam later if I really want your game.
If your game isn’t available at any of the above, I will not buy it.
And that’s pretty much it now because everywhere else falls into one of three categories.
1. The site is hideous and difficult to browse.
2. The site requires that I install a site specific client in order to download the games.
3. The site is hideous and difficult to browse and requires a site specific client.
GoG is the honourable exception here but I can’t buy new games on there, right?
I don’t want to go somewhere where it takes me an age to meander around the store, where my eyes can’t focus properly because the layout is like someone shitting in my eyehole or where the Special Offers link leads to 2 bundles and not to the actual special offers or where links in general don’t lead where they should or where I have to do 5 clicks to find what I’m looking for or any of that.
I don’t want another client. I’m happy with Steam. It does what I want and more. There is literally no benefit for me having another client, no matter how much you try and sell it so. I don’t want demos or recommendations or trade ins or another friends list to manage or any of that. I have Steam for all that. Anything else is clogging me up with shit. I don’t want clogging up with shit. Stop trying to clog me up with shit. I won’t thank you for it.
I don’t want to download download managers for my games. It’s not 1999 anymore, I’ve got WHOPPINGMEG broadband internet and a browser that manages these things for me. Offering me a download manager instead of a direct link is insulting. Offering me a download manager as well as a direct link is at least forgivable and quite possibly considerate.
And I definitely don’t want Games For Windows Live (a total aside, admittedly, but it never hurts to mention it as often as possible just in case)
I don’t want any of that. So I ignore it. All of it. And probably your game with it, right?
Yeah, yeah, I’ve bought stuff from other stores in the past but now, now I can’t be arsed. Not even if the game is less than a quid. If it requires me to download a client, it doesn’t exist for me anymore. If a site requires me to download a download manager, I won’t shop there again.
And as sites disappear into other sites or get taken over by others who can’t guarantee the same level of service, I’m especially wary of purchasing from “other” stores in bulk. I imagine post Stardock-is-Impulse and post Direct2Drive, there are a number of people also wary of the same.
Yup, there is a reason Steam has the stranglehold on the PC games sales market. Aside from being great and cheap, obviously. The reason is, everywhere else is shit.
The shit service that most other sites offer means that now I will only buy Steam codes from them if I do shop there thanks to unmissablycheapbargain7 or something.
Yet not everyone can get on Steam, I know this, it’s a curated store. There’s no guarantees that just because you’ve made a game you can or will get on Steam. And I understand the massive drop off between SALES ON STEAM and SALES NOT ON STEAM. See also bundles.
But if you can’t get on Steam (and hey, even if you *can* get on Steam), the best level of service you can provide for me will come from selling direct. The absolutely-tied-in-first-place best thing you can do is just let me get the game I want to download.
That way I don’t have to jump through store hoops, I don’t have to run 300 clients and try and remember what games I bought on what service and from where. I can get a clean and straightforward purchase and always know where I got it from.
Because I got it from you.
And as a bonus, you get to keep most of the money I throw your way too. So we both win, right?
Sell direct. Please. Even if it’s just a 99p-paypal-me-do link, I don’t care. Just let me buy your game from you so I don’t have to put up with any of the bullshit that other stores throw in my face.