Disclaimer: I sell my games on all these portals, and am happy with them as a business.
With gamersgate, I can see why they are in the position they are in. They were late to the party, didn’t have a killer-app that people wanted to buy, had an abortive attempt with a client they abandoned… so maybe they have had a tough ride. They seem to be doing well though, no doubt tons better than lil old me.
Impulse is another story. I am surprised they haven’t been much more aggressive. I tend to assume they are the #2 seller, after steam. The interesting thing with Impulse is that stardock make money from Object Desktop, and presumably lots more from games like GalCiv and SOASE, demigod etc. They literally do not need the profits from Impulse at all. So, assuming that, here is what I don’t get:
Why doesn’t stardock run impulse at a loss? Maybe only a small loss, but a loss nonetheless. Give developers 95% share of the royalties (totally crushing any other offer), or maybe 80% but 95% if its impulse-exclusive for 6 months. Do not take a penny in profit for the next 2-3 years. Maybe instead of cutting the royalty split, just discount the games big-time like steam are doing. Or maybe buy out the rights to some games entirely to make them 100% impulse-exclusive forever.
The prize at the end of this battle is market share. The web has 1 auction site, 1 book store, 1 video site and 1 social networking site. You know which ones I mean. It is close to having 1 PC games site, which is a license to print money. If I ran stardock, I’d sacrifice everything to fight for that slot. I’d probably run the whole business at a loss for those 2 years, taking every penny in profit from Object Desktop and throwing it at impulse to grab market share.
The guy who runs stardock is a very clever guy. And no doubt rich. And no doubt he knows more about this than me, so I defer 100% to his greater knowledge of the issues. Regardless of what happens, tragically they all do better than me. I’ll be under the table hoping for crumbs from whoever wins in the end :D
In unrelated news, if you like tower defence/defense games, then you might love revenge of the titans. I just added it to my site (it’s by a fellow indie). There is of course a free demo, and it’s 50% off right now. Give it a go, it’s excellent.