Update: Regarding games published by THQ, Game UK are not behind the lack of new titles available on Steam.
Minor Update: When reading this article please don't think this only applies to preorders. I've seen a few places thinking that this is the case. This actually affects the ability to buy the game on Steam for at least up to a month from release as well as preorders.
In the UK we have a gaming store called Game (UK) and for as long as I can remember they've been around for years now (my earliest memory of first seeing them was when I was roughly 4) and they've never been that great, but they were okay.
Now for many years most people went to Game to buy their Console and PC games. When it comes to consoles Game really have quite a thing rolling, even their smallest stores have their walls lined with console games and often even basic peripherals. Often they have demo console machines everywhere with the latest games on that you can play and their second hand baskets (or bargain bins) often have plenty of games in there, albeit not the best.
What's fairly sad is that Game have never really been a PC supporter as such even with an evergrowing market. For years now they've kept the PC games (usually) in the back of the store with a small segment and usually their "top 10" of games. What's even worse is that these "top 10" games are built off Games' own sales figures. This means that games such as The Sims 3 and the vanilla version of World of Warcraft remain in the charts regardless of what new releases come out. This alongside selling PC games that are ten years old (no, seriously, you'll find games from 99-2001 easily) it doesn't make for a decent consumer experience and as thus a large portion of people that buy PC games don't buy them at Game.
Now since roughly March this year UK Gamers have noticed that many games on Steam are "not available in your region" and it's left many wondering why this is occuring. The first game to be officially affected by this was Brink (http://store.steampowered.com/app/22350/ ) including any DLC pages related to Brink. Thankfully thanks to a minor bug with Steam many PC users were still able to preorder Brink up until roughly two weeks before the games launch when Brink suddenly became unavailable with no response from Valve or Bethseda (as they were publishing it) as to why this was the case.
Some time around the start of this year Game started talking to multiple publishers regarding their games being on Steam. This was somewhat out of the blue and surprising however their Goal was effectively to gain some monopoly or power over Steam. Heck their message was a pretty straightforwards one. They basically want (at least) one month from release date where the game cannot be purchased by those in the UK on Steam.. And this applies to all games released by that publisher. This doesn't include the time the game is up for pre-order either. If the publisher doesn't agree to (what I presume is a bluff as other publishers haven't done this) then they'll supposedly refuse to stock and sell that publishers games via their stores.
What makes this worse is that UKers can't even place a pre-order on Steam for that game. We can only look at media related to the game (not including demos) only if they have their own pages.
Lets take Space Marine for example.
Searching for Space Marine in Steam from the UK results in this -
Trying to access the Steam page directly results in this -
Although thankfully, if any UKers want to try the Space Marine demo, you can by clicking here - steam://install/55410
Steam is the only online outlet affected by this. You can go to Direct2Drive, Gamers Gate or even other smaller outlets (such as G2Play.net) that let you put the keys on Steam and that'll work.
I'm actually starting to wonder if this sort of thing is actually illegal (anti-comp laws etc) and so I'm starting to do some research into the issue, although I'm not a lawyer so any support anyone feels like giving would be great .
This really isn't fair on us in the UK because at the end of the day, it's Games own fault that many people don't want to buy their games from their stores. If they weren't so stupidly priced or daft about making the consumer experience actually worthwhile they would probably find that people would possibly start even buying from them again.
I can provide some insight into which publishers and games are affected by this below (I'll keep the list updated as time goes on and if anyone else knows any other games affected, PM me or post below) -
Publishers that have agreed to this -
Currently affected titles I'm aware of -
- Space Marine
- Saints Row the Third
Games that have been affected by said actions -
- Brink (confirmed, one month)
- Red Faction: Armageddon (confirmed, unknown duration)
- Homefront (confirmed, unknown duration)
- Darksiders (confirmed, unknown duration)
Titles thought to have been affected but are currently unconfirmed -
- Metro 2033 (unconfirmed, unknown duration)
Effectively I'm trying to spread the word and knowledge that this is what's going down and this really isn't acceptable. I'd appreciate it (and I'm sure many others would) if you spread the word and hopefully we can see if they (Game UK) are really allowed to do this. It's a slippery slope if this isn't stopped soon or else we may end up with many games eventually not even making it to Steam due to stupid things like this.
Sources thanks to cheesedelux (Give this woman a or a game that we UKers can't buy )
Not so much a source but still contains a tidbit of information
It appears that Metro 2033 which was released in March 2010 was the first game on Steam to receive this treatment. I can't confirm this myself at the moment so if anyone could get me more information on this via a PM or otherwise, that'd be great. I will add however that it seems that THQ weren't putting this into full effect until this year.
These are the franchises(?) owned by Game UK
If you look at their games categories in general (special offers etc) you'll notice that there's a disturbing lack of PC games for a vendor that is attempting to effectively partially boycott Valve and Steam.
Update 24/08/2011 14:02 GMT
Space Marine is apparantly available on the Steam Store all of a sudden. ( http://store.steampowered.com/app/55150 )
As is Saints Row the Third ( http://store.steampowered.com/app/55230/ )
Currencies are USD ($), not GBP as they should be (£)
Both of these games are by THQ. Skyrim is still unavailable as it's being published by Bethseda.
Update 24/08/2011 14:14GMT
Games are once again unavailable to UK users of Steam.
Eurogamer ask Game for comment - Game deny everything - http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/20...ff-steam-in-uk
Interesting comment by Game - Hopefully not a misquote
Full Article -
Update 25/08/2011 17:00(ish)GMT
Head of PR for Game / Gamestation Neil Ashurst has posted here. (unverified if this is him though).
Regarding games published by THQ, Game UK are not behind the lack of new titles available on Steam. So er apologies to Game UK for that.