As digital distribution continues to grow in the entertainment field, insiders and investors alike are trying to find new methods to get some clarity about the dollars behind it.
At Valve Software, which owns Steam, the leader in PC digital distributor, however, there are no plans to help those parties out. The company says it has no plans to open up its digital sales data vault, noting "it's not important" information for the industry or public.
The company provides data to its partners about how their own titles are doing via an on-the-hour sales tracking chart – but doesn't feel there are any advantages to sharing the macro data.
"The point is, it’s not super important for a publisher or developer to know how well everyone is doing," said Jason Holtman, director of business development at Valve. "What’s important to know is exactly how your game is doing – why it’s climbing and why it’s falling. Your daily sales, your daily swing, your rewards for online campaign number three. That’s what we provide."
To put things in perspective, The NPD Group, which tracks video game sales, found that in 2009, digital downloads of PC games essentially reached parity with retail sales. 21.3 million full-game PC titles were purchased online in the U.S. last year, compared to 23.5 million units purchased at retail stores. However, PC digital downloads accounted for only 36 percent of 2009’s PC game dollar sales.
Launched seven years ago, Steam now hosts and sells over 1,100 titles and has over 25 million active user accounts. Virtually every major publisher in the industry uses Steam to sell PC versions of its games.