GameStop is apparently looking to take a bite of Steam's pie and it's going to use Battlefield 3 to do it.
Remember back in March, when GameStop acquired the Impulse digital distribution platform from Stardock? It's no Steam, but Impulse is up there among the industry's tier-two big boys like Direct2Drive and GamersGate, and the purchase made it clear that GameStop was serious about dodging the digital bullet.
The sailing seems smooth so far: industry analyst Colin Sebastian wrote in a Baird Equity Research investors report that the company expects digital sales to balloon to $1.5 billion by 2014, from a predicted $500 million for 2011. The majority of GameStop's current digital sales is DLC sold in conjunction with in-store marketing but with the acquisition of Impulse, the company plans to become a bigger player in the field, in part by taking "a meaningful share from market leader Steam."
One step in that strategy will apparently be taken with EA's modern combat shooter Battlefield 3. Rumors that the game would not appear on Steam surfaced earlier this week and the Baird report has now confirmed it. "The upcoming EA title Battlefield 3 will be sold as a download through GameStop, but not through Steam," it says. "Given Steam's dominance - and insistence on users downloading a Steam client application - publishers are likely to be receptive to a competitive alternative."
Whether or not publishers are actually looking for a "competitive alternative" to Steam, the digital marketplace is proving extremely lucrative for GameStop. The company's total sales for the first quarter of 2011 hit $2.28 billion, a year-over-year increase of 9.5 percent, while digital sales skyrocketed an astonishing 53 percent over the same period.