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I hardly visit high-street bookshops any more. Their dead-tree format holds nothing for me, since I prefer e-books, and by refusing to provide a convenient way for me to buy their books in a format of my own choosing, they've lost my custom entirely.

Whenever you visit a bricks and mortar bookshop nowadays, there's a good chance that they stock an e-reader of some kind. Many are now stocking Amazon Kindles - a device that allows customers to buy books directly from Amazon, cutting out the bookshop entirely. For me, this demonstrates an extremely short-sighted and self-destructive view on the part of bookshops. They are accelerating their own extinction for some small, short-term gains.

It would be a shame for online computer game shops to follow the same path to their own demise.

Personal Preference

For me, personal preference drives my purchasing decisions and determines where I will shop and spend my money.

The shops I choose to buy from, in some way, reflect my values and ethos. For example, I buy all my e-books from a range of publishers and bookshops, the majority being in the UK, tax-paying and provide DRM-free e-books. If a bookshop fulfils those criteria, there's a good chance that I will look for my next purchase on their shelves.

I apply the same criteria when buying computer games online. Desura, Gamer's Gate, GOG and Gameolith, to name but a few, each fulfil those purchasing rules - my personal preferences. But that seems to be changing.

The number of stocked games from those shops that are only redeemable on Steam or that require Steamworks is increasing. They are turning into Steam resellers, rather than unique shops in their own right.

What about the customers?

What do customers want, though? Do they want all their games to be hosted and maintained on Steam - a DRM system that merely rents you a copy while you continue to have a steam account?

I, for one, would prefer to have a copy to keep. A thing that I can back-up, archive and keep safe. I would like to own the games I pay full price for and continue to support shops that match my personal preferences.

Having just bought the latest Bundle-in-a-Box of games, I made sure that the little icons that determine how each game can be redeemed included either the Desura or Download options. Nothing else suits me.

It would be a shame if online game shops turned into the dying booksellers of the high-street. Beholden to the whims of a monolithic shop-DRM system that determines what they sell, how they sell and how their customers can play their games.

That would be the death of the online game shop.

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