Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Steam May Offer Trade-Ins; Publishers Likely To Be Steamed

This one's hot off the intertubes... seems that Michael Pachter, noted industry analyst, is on the record as saying Steam will soon allow gamers to trade in their Steam purchases for other purchases, levying a fee on the transaction of course. Basically, pulling a GameStop with your Steam games. You're tired of it? Trade it in for a new one.

I expect publishers would be more than a little annoyed at this, unless Steam cuts them in for a piece of the action. Which they'd better consider, or else publishers will be loading up their BFGs and looking to put Gabe Newell's head on their wall.

This would, I think, accelerate the move to digital downloads for many people, and give Steam a leg up on other digital distributors (until they duplicate it). GameStop has to be watching this one closely. The interesting, unstated part, is exactly who gets to keep how much of that extra money that Steam will be making from a game... or who gets dinged. If I pay $40 for a Steam game, then a couple of months later I trade it back to get (I'm making this amount up because there's no data yet) $25 in Steam credit... what happens to the money that was paid to the publisher of that game? If I then buy a new game from another publisher with that credit, does that publisher get less cash than they normally would from a Steam purchase?

I can envision different answers to these questions, and some of them would not make publishers happy. Unhappy publishers might stop allowing their games on Steam... so it will be interesting to watch how this unfolds. Stay tuned.

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