The Death of Impulse and the Rise of the MMO
GameStop is shuttling the "Impulse Driven" service which is their own brand of digital PC distribution and is instead refocusing on retail, allowing for digital sells of various CD-key oriented games and doubling up on retail boxes. This is sort of actually big news for the gaming market for a few reasons.
First, this absolutely reaffirms Steam's position as the dominant go to place too buy games. Unless you have Valve's Wal-Mart like ability to discount games you're going to be knocked right out of the market. GreenManGaming routinely has 20% off sales and almost rarely requires the use of its own unique digital distribution platform, which is a great sign of how much of a fight they put up to remain relevant.
Second, GameStop's new PC landing page is predominately MMO. There are nineteen blocks "above the fold" (fancy language for the part of the web page that you see before scrolling). Of these nineteen blocks, ten of them contain MMOs (counting D3). In addition, the entire background of the page is Wildstar, affirming that MMOs are a big deal.
Digital distribution is best left to Steam and MMOs are strong, stronger this quarter than many of the previous ones. Even more interesting is the fact that as broadband gets stronger and more prevalent, brick & mortar stores become less enticing. Not to mention a laundry list of issues right now in the used game market.
The Death of Impulse
Impulse's issue was that GameStop forced customers to use their application to download games. Now, I didn't go through the process, but my understanding is that you had to run the app even for Steam games. I don't believe this and I think it's hearsay, perhaps in the early days. However, I do know that for all other games that didn't use outside DRM you had to use Impulse.
What's happening now is that the product is folding and GameStop is returning back to just being a digital game retail outlet and not specifically a retail game distributor. There is a kind of a difference here. In one way GameStop acts as the DRM and in the other, they just sell games. Impulse's DRM was very light, mostly required to install and update games, but otherwise it was a fine product.
So why close shop? Because, there is more money in just selling a key then there is to also developing a product that people don't specifically like. With this move, players can rejoice in not needing third-party software to install their game unless it's on Steam or Origin or UPlay or etc.
The Rise of MMOs
The second subject is that in the new portal, MMOs just outright dominate. They take not only the advertising space but also the strongest spaces in the web portal. If we count D3, they're totally dominating, and if we count online games then boy oh boy.
This isn't just a GameStop thing, Steam is inundated with MMOs, especially in their free-to-play category. MMOs are stronger than ever and it totally make sense that in an industry that is mostly online games that the digital distribution application isn't the way to go.
That's my two cents on the subject, at least.