Are Game Distribution Platforms Becoming Oversaturated Like Their Movie And Television Counterparts

The other day while I was preparing my weekly radio segment; I was going over the various streaming services. With Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, DC, and others like Disney+ and a rumored Warner Bros service coming soon the market has become very saturated and will become even more so in the future.

Noting that I had not even covered other streaming options; I decided it was a good time to check if there were any updates to my various games. This required me to turn on Steam, Origin, Uplay, Bethesdanet,, and now the Epic Games store.

As the various platforms were updating, I realized that this is not even all of the various platforms available and are we as gamers reaching a point of oversaturation? I have heard many people complain about the number of exclusives or times exclusives on the Epic Games store and how Call of Duty has moved to the service. While Bethesda has said they still plan to support Steam the fact that they have their own platform as does Ubisoft makes one wonder how long this will remain the case.

While it is often a matter of economics; as having your game available to as many consumers as possible is just smart business, the rules for a major release are very different than that of small publisher release.

Look at the case of Borderlands 3. It is a timed exclusive on the Epic Games Store for PC. I know people who are passionately against the platform even refusing review codes for games that required it. They want to play the game on PC versus console and have to debate if they will play at launch or wait.

A game like DOOM Eternal or RAGE 2 have a high enough profile and consumer awareness that Bethesda could still sell well via their own portal only but realize that making the games available on Steam greatly increases their sales base.

By contrast, Activision moved Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII to for PC and opted to eschew the other distribution platforms. As with most companies it comes down to money. If you control the distribution platform; you keep the money. If you sell on other platforms you have to pay fees for your listing. The risk/reward factor is having more people being aware of your product and having more options to purchase it but at less income for you and less control.

I guess I am old school in that I think having as many choices as possible is good for the consumers as competition is a good thing. I also remember the day when we got our games from a store and we did not have to download the majority of our content.

As with the streaming services it comes down to offerings. Netflix has invested heavily in their own original content as have Amazon and Disney in order to keep consumers and drive others to them. It is a good bet that the other platforms will do the same as this is what they have to do in order to survive.

I do wonder if the same mode will apply to gamers as consumers have become very used to getting their games on Steam while going to Origin for PC.

Companies can use incentives such as discounts and special items to encourage people to buy the game on their platforms versus that of a rival platform but at the end of the day; consumers have more platforms than ever for their PC gaming needs and one does have to wonder if the market will reach a point of saturation as how many platforms can be viable long-term without having to pay for exclusive content or using incentives to drive consumers to them.