Direct2Drive is back. How will it compete in the digital distro space?

Remember Direct2Drive? It's back. But now that Steam dominates the digital distribution landscape, how can D2D plan to compete? Gamasutra chatted with general manager Ed Lin to find out more.
Remember Direct2Drive? It's back. Rental site GameFly bought the once-popular digital distribution site from IGN in 2011 -- only to rebrand it "GameFly Digital," at which point it disappeared from the popular consciousness. Earlier this year, Taiwan's AtGames bought it from GameFly, and recently relaunched it under its original branding. AtGames has expertise in the digital distribution market in Asia, but according to D2D's new general manager Ed Lin, it's also recruited developers who worked on the original iteration of the site. AtGames (which also markets classic consoles by Sega, Coleco, and Atari in the West) is currently working on plans to expand and revamp the service -- including with classic console games, as well as giving developers and publishers new ways to promote their games (besides a "race to the bottom" scenario on pricing.) Steam completely dominates the digital distribution landscape, even though other services offer their own compelling hooks. How can D2D plan to compete in 2015? Gamasutra chatted with Lin via email to find out more. You have a digital distribution business in Asia. Does that help you get up to speed for the West? Ed Lin: Our initial focus is on North America and Europe. Our Asian teams are excited about supporting our future expansion in the East. There are definitely advantages of having a decade of strong presence already in Asia and part of our development team is based in Taiwan. To that extent that has been helpful, but the overall digital distribution business was given a boost via the GameFly Digital audience that was already in place. How will you entice players to use the new D2D, with entrenched competitors like Steam? EL: Our goal is to really listen to what gamers truly want. We don't believe that pricing is the ultimate end all for gamers. It's finding the right games, at the right time, at the right price. We're in the process of building some exciting programs that will create better value for games that are purchased. It's important for us to work very closely with our publishing and developer partners to create value in the form of things other than lower prices. I'm not at liberty to divulge right now, but stay tuned as we'll be rolling some new programs out early next year. We also don't see Steam as our competitor necessarily. They are a juggernaut and have done some incredible things to really position themselves as a first party of sorts. We sell Steam codes, so we really see them as one of our partners. Do you offer any interesting or novel services to developers? EL: We offer devs and publishers a place to showcase their titles. I don't think what we offer can be limited to a novel service, but we are working with our partners to create a site where they can merchandise their products knowing that we are not just looking for the lowest price, but the right offering. We have been receiving a great response from our partners and will continue to work with them to provide new ways to market and merchandise their digital products. What about to players? As of now our consumers can download games directly to their PC or Mac. We are going to begin offering a Flashback Zone that will house some old school games by ColecoVision, Intellivision, and others and continue to branch out our offerings from there. Again... we're only at the tip of the iceberg, and as you follow our growth you'll start seeing some additional features that we will be adding that come in the form of games and programs to enhance a gamer's experience. What kind of control over pricing and promotion will devs have? And do you plan to do sales or promotions on behalf of devs? EL: We see ourselves as a conduit for publishers and devs to have a direct relationship with their consumers. Each has strong control over both pricing and promotions. The greatest asset we have in the digital world is that anything is possible. Digital downloads is still in its infancy but the traction has been coming on extremely strong. Steam is the catch-all. GOG does old games. Do you have a hook? EL: Our hook will continue to evolve over time. Right now we are basing our business strictly on matching the wants of gamers, developers and publishers. is a place where you will get unique offers that are driven through a creative promotional process by working with publishers and developers to deliver value to their current products. But again -- that's today. In the near future you will see new product offerings from to showcase even more reason to purchase on our site.

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