October 13th, 2011
Listen up, folks. Amazon has me by the balls. I buy a lot of stuff from them.
Houseware. All manner of clothing, including shoes. Movies. Music. Books. Diecast metal replica cars. Electronic accessories. Shoe horns. Diapers. Bulk candy. Cell phone batteries. Printer cartridges. Fitness equipment. Golf clubs. Pretty much everything except groceries.
And PC games.
For that, I stick with Steam. It keeps my game library updated and tidy. It offers crazy good deals fast and often. And it's the only place I can get games from one of my all-time favorite developers: Valve, which just so happens to own Steam.
Nevertheless, Amazon has quietly been making a run at Steam.
Last year, they started serving game downloads, often matching Steam's aggressive pricing. This week, they started offering heavily discounted pre-orders, up to 30% select games. And unlike other pre-orders, they don't ding your card until the game ships.
Granted, Amazon's catalog is tiny when compared to Steam's. But not long ago, so was Amazon's MP3 library. Now it's the second largest MP3 store after iTunes, and winning defectors (me included) everyday.
The same is true of movies: Jeff Bezos & Co. have quietly been giving Netflix streaming solid competition. I cut my Netflix sub a year ago as a result, in favor of Amazon on Demand.
So can Amazon do to game downloads like they've been capable of with movies and music? They certainly have more upside than any other Steam rival.
But I suspect Valve's involvment with Steam will make all the difference. They understand PC gaming better than most. So it'll be hard for a really awesome retailer to top that.
What do you think: Will anyone, Amazon included, ever give Steam a run for their money? If so, what might competitors be able to build on? In otherwords, what bothers you about Steam that someone else might be able to "fix"?
Read more: PC gaming culture