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Valve: Rivals miss out by boycotting Steamworks games

Steamworks features are chosen by developers and based on consumer wants; Modern Warfare 2 "one of our greatest sellers," says Holtman

Valve has said that digital distributors who boycott PC games because they ship with Steamworks services are missing out on potentially lucrative sales.

Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, business development director Jason Holtman was addressing concerns by online sellers such as IGN's Direct2Drive, Impulse and Gamersgate who decided against selling Activision's Modern Warfare 2 because the Steamworks tools also act as a storefront for sales through Steam.

"To our minds, we think that if you're making a good game and it's got the services a customer wants it should get out in as many channels as possible. If you have a good portal and you're good at collecting money from folks, and attracting them, there's no reason why you shouldn't be," said Holtman.

"We try to make those services that developers and our customers want. Whether another distributor wants to carry them or not, we don't have any say in the matter, that's between Activision and other online distributors."

Although Direct2Drive in particular accused Steamworks of forcing users to install what it called a "Trojan Horse", Holtman shrugged off the suggestion, saying Steamworks features are all based on feedback from consumers and games developers.

"The interesting thing is those games that have Steamworks features in them are really made to be the things customers want. Developers are choosing the features that make the game better. There's no service where there are features you have to have, developers are choosing between those."

And he added: "There's a lot of games that came out in 2009 with Steamworks, and they'll be a lot more games in 2010 that have Steamworks."

Although Valve keeps exact figures regarding Steam sales and market share close to its chest, Holtman suggested that sales of Modern Warfare 2 mirrored the massive success the game saw in the High Street, where data from Activision put the five-day gross at USD 550 million.

"I'm trying to think of a way to put this so you can grasp onto something about the size of it... Steam sales actually scale with the game. So if a game sells better on all channels and it's a blockbuster, it's going to move an awful lot of units on Steam," he revealed.

"As third-party triple-A titles go, it's by and large one of our greatest sellers right now. It's doing very, very well. If you look at the player numbers, you can see there's a lot of people enjoying it - not just playing it - that are constantly enjoying it now. Hats off to Infinity Ward, because they made something that people really want to play," he concluded.

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Matt Martin


Matt Martin joined GamesIndustry in 2006 and was made editor of the site in 2008. With over ten years experience in journalism, he has written for multiple trade, consumer, contract and business-to-business publications in the games, retail and technology sectors.