Steam Wallet cards would seem like a white flag, a sign of surrender by the old brick-and-mortar giant to the king of digital distribution. Business is never so simple. Frenemies they may be, both sides will profit greatly from this deal. Valve's Steam service just obtained access to thousands of GameStop stores (and its army of associates) across North America, and GameStop gets a cut of Steam, particularly from Steam users without credit cards or access to electronic payment methods.
"We are currently the only retailer with it," Steve Nix, manager of PC digital distribution for GameStop told us today. He expressed there's no specific exclusivity window for the company, but that GameStop's proprietary tech for selling DLC, which allows the company to go directly to digital distribution holders instead of going through a third-party vendor, helped make the deal possible.
Nix explains that he went to Valve with the deal a few months ago, with factoids like 84 percent of GameStop customers claim to play PC games, and made his case for this deal to occur. Nix's background probably helped grease the wheels. The executive was formerly an early supporter of Steam as the CEO of Ritual Entertainment (SiN Episodes) and director of business development and digital platforms at id Software, adding the company's catalog to Steam in 2007.
Nix also told us the Steam deal will not alter the company's plans for its own digital distribution service, Impulse. He also mentioned the company already sells Origin points and is open to doing something similar with GoG.
"Really, this doesn't affect anything we're doing with Impulse," Nix said. "We doubled the PC download business with the Impulse technology we acquired. We're happy with that. We're now online over 1600 SKUs, we'll continue to grow that and continue to invest in that."
"We're just offering options for customers. This in no way changes our investment or what we're doing with that business."