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Game denies Steam threat claims

Allegations that retailer pressured publishers are just hot air

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Retailer Game has unequivocally rejected allegations that it demanded publishers delay the release of PC games on the UK version of the Steam download service - or face having their titles taken off its High Street stores' shelves.

Earlier this week, Facepunch forum poster Teddi Orange named Game as the retailer responsible for "ruining your consumer experience on Steam" through the delayed appearance or no-show of major titles on Steam UK.

"Some time around the start of this year, Game started talking to multiple publishers regarding their games being on Steam," he wrote.

"Their goal was effectively to gain some monopoly or power over Steam… They basically want (at least) one month from release date where the game cannot be purchased by those in the UK on Steam."

None of which is true, Neil Ashurst, a spokesperson for Game, told Reg Hardware today.

"We can categorically state that these rumours do not relate to the Game Group or any of its employees," he said.

"We have had no such conversations with any publisher and have been in contact with various publishers who can confirm this for you as well."

It's no secret that retail is very wary of Steam. The service, owned by US games developer Valve, has come to dominate the game download business and competes directly with retailers' own fledgling download services.

But some other retailers have gone so far as to discourage publishers from using Steam, it has been claimed.

In November 2010, industry newspaper MCV quoted "the digital boss at one of the biggest UK games retailers" who reportedly told the paper: "We are telling suppliers to stop using Steam in their games."

The paper claimed "at least two major retailers will demand that publishers remove Steam from their games – or they will not sell them in any form".

And in June this year, UK publishing director of publisher 1C, Darryl Still, told CVG: "Retail chains… recently sent a command to publishers that if they include Steamworks in their title it will not be stocked."

Retailers fear Steam will become as powerful a force in games sales as Apple's iTunes has become in the music business. ®

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