I’ve had a look at ten recent releases and ‘coming soon’ games on Steam, and compared their prices with the cheapest available retail prices. I’ve included delivery, and any coupons available.
So, of the ten selected games, the average Steam price is 29.89 GBP and the average retail price is 19.68 GBP, meaning that in this sample, Steam is 52% more expensive than buying retail. Put another way, buying all ten of these games from Steam would cost 298.90 GBP, and buying them all from retail would cost 196.79 GBP. Also, for new releases, sometimes Steam is the quickest way to get your game, and sometimes retail is.
Now, this is a far from scientific study, but it’s certainly somewhat damning of Steam. How I (and I suspect a large proportion of it’s customers) use Steam is as a portal through which I get some great special offers from, but there are obviously people buying new releases at these high prices.
Apart from anything, purely from a consumer standpoint, it is crazy that it costs less to get some data, print it on a disc, put in in packaging, ship it to a retailer and let them ship it to you that it costs to make the same data available for download. Bear in mind that it is impossible to sell, or otherwise transfer the license of Steam versions games, and the retail version seems like a far better deal for gamers.
Which is a shame – I certainly would prefer to use DD more than retail, it is more convenient for me, and it is better for the environment, but I am not willing to compromise on value to do so.