Brad Wardell is probably a little biased when it comes to Impulse. He created it, after all, so it only makes sense that he'd predict bigger and better things for it in the future, even when it's out of his hands. But beating the mighty Steam? That's a bold statement indeed.
"I think GameStop's going to beat Steam, and I'll tell you why. One of the things that we do in our surveys is ask, why do you buy from Steam versus Impulse versus whatever. Over 80 percent who respond say 'price'," Wardell told PCWorld. "Now I can't speak for GameStop, but I know what I would do. Next time you buy something from GameStop for your Xbox 360, I'd give you some token you could use on Impulse toward a deal or sale on some other title. Pretty soon everything on Impulse is cheaper."
Despite the popularity and perceived friendliness of Steamworks, Wardell said Impulse is actually a better platform from a developer perspective as well. "The technology difference between Impulse and Steam is such that any objective developer who looked at the two would overwhelmingly... let's just say the gulf is significant enough that it's not really a 'depends on your point of view' thing," he said.
"I don't want there to be only one [digital distribution platform]," he added. "But frankly I'd be surprised if Steam is still... I mean, you look at the technology Impulse adds and the resources GameStop has - well beyond Valve's - and it's really GameStop's fight to lose."
I'm no fan of Steam but there's just no way to dispute that it's the behemoth in the digital distribution business. It's been around since 2003, it carries a fantastic selection of software, offers stupidly good deals on a regular and it's run by Valve, which I think it's safe to say is probably a little more popular among people inclined to use digital sales platforms than GameStop. Someday, somebody will pull out and pass Steam and maybe it will turn out to be Impulse, but calling the fight GameStop's to lose? That's some serious optimism.