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Stardock Reveals Impulse, Steam Market Share Estimates
Stardock Reveals Impulse, Steam Market Share Estimates
November 19, 2009 | By Kris Graft

November 19, 2009 | By Kris Graft
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Stardock, publisher of Sins of a Solar Empire and owner of distribution service Impulse, said it believes Impulse rests in second place after Valve's popular Steam in the digital distribution rankings in terms of market share by revenue.

"Our estimation is that Steam - as the current market leader - enjoys approximately 70 percent of the overall digital distribution market with Impulse at 10 percent and all others combined at 20 percent in terms of actual dollars generated per month," wrote Stardock chief Brad Wardell in the company's customer report for 2009 [PDF], released this week.

"Steam and Impulse both have the advantage of exclusive content (Left 4 Dead, Half-Life, Sins of a Solar Empire, Demigod, etc.)," he added. Impulse launched in 2008, while Valve launched Steam in 2003. Years prior to Impulse, Stardock was developing digital distribution initiatives including Stardock Central and TotalGaming.net. Digital competitors outside of Steam and Impulse include Direct2Drive and GamersGate, among others.

Wardell said he expects that digital distribution will make up around 25 percent of the revenues "for a typical PC game publisher on a new title" in calendar 2009.

Wardell said that Stardock is working to further evolve the Impulse service by improving the user experience, focusing on a better community experience and attracting increasing amounts of content for the online store.

The CEO noted a few key challenges for Impulse going forward. First, regional pricing has proved to be a hurdle, as Stardock needs to sign separate agreements with multiple overseas arms of large game publishers instead of one straightforward contract. "Thus far, our competitors have a significant head-start in this area," he said.

Wardell also said, "Another trend we have seen in the past year has been Valve’s successful work with getting Steamworks licensed as a DRM solution by major publishers. Once a game requires Steamworks, it is effectively cut off from us, which limits our content. Examples of this include THQ’s Dawn of War II, Sega’s Empire: Total War, and more recently Activision’s Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare 2."

"The problem is that it is not practical for us to install a game that in turn requires the installation of a competitor’s store and platform in order to play it," Wardell said. This sentiment is reflected in Stardock's decision not to carry Modern Warfare 2 on Impulse.

Wardell also said that getting content up fast enough "has been an ongoing challenge." He explained, "Not only must updates be put up quickly but users expect tremendous download speeds no matter where they are located." Improvements, Wardell said, will come with Impulse Phase 5.


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Comments


Robert C.
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While it's true that Impuse started in 2008, I think it should be noted that it is essentially a rebranding of their previously existing digital distribution service (Stardock Central/Totalgaming.net/Drengin Netork). I believe it actually predates Steam by a couple years. You make it sound like Stardock is new to the digital distribution scene, when that's far from the case.

Derek Smart
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Those numbers are way off and with no basis in reality whatsoever.



Direct2Drive is far - FAR - larger than Impulse on any day of the week and by all accounts (I have several industry friends with games on Impulse and several other services) Impulse is lumped in with all the others.



Just because you have a game in a store, doesn't mean that it is going to sell. So no matter how many games you have on Steam, Impulse, D2D etc doesn't mean they're selling. Just like any store with goods - they're just there.



Most of the revenue generated on Impulse are from Stardock's own games; not unlike the earlier situation with Steam.



In my article below, I gave some some numbers



http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/DerekSmart/20091108/3503/ESD_Publi
shers_Boycott_Valves_Steam_Service_Seriously.php



Someone else in the industry actually posted their own estimation further down in the thread as in



1. Steam 75%

2. Direct2Drive 10%

3. Metaboli 5%

4. Real 5%

5. Digital River 3%

6. Everyone else you listed combined 2%



And on any one system (even on Amazon, Yahoo etc), a game that is #1 for the week could sell as few as 100 copies.



Regardless, unless ESD sites start posting actual sales numbers, none of these numbers are going to be accurate and so every ESD site is going to be posting incorrect and self-serving numbers.



@ Robert



Even though Stardock's previous efforts predate Steam, they were restricted to only Stardock's own published games. They tried to branch out with Totalgaming to sell other games and that failed. Then they rebooted it with Impulse.

Kris Graft
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Hi Robert,



That's a good point that should probably be clearer. I've made a note of Stardock's previous DD efforts.

Urs Schaub
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Think global.

After that you can cut a big junk away from D2D.

Derek Smart
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Yah, I did say those numbers (and claims) were rubbish. At best.



http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/26292/Direct2Drive_Recent_Digi
tal_Distribution_Market_Estimates_Misinformation_At_Best.php


none
 
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