One thing that keeps coming to mind...
Impulse was the only option for some of us, who for various reasons, distrust ESD. Stardock was perceived by some as a trustworthy company. So Impulse provided us a way into the ESD market. The digital game market is growing but slowly. If more people had trust in it, developers might more quickly reap the rewards of gamers gone digital. Now that Impulse is no longer owned by Stardock, wouldn't it stand to reason that the ESD market will grow slower than if Impulse had stayed in Stardocks hands... or gone to a company with a better record than Gamestop? There no longer is an outlet for the ESD timids.
If someone had told me that Impulse was to be sold, then asked me what retailer I thought would be the worst to sell it to... Gamestop would have been my answer. In another post Brad said there'd be people complaining no matter who it was sold to. Not true in my case. I can think of no company worse than Gamestop. I can think of other bad ones and not many good ones. But I can think of none worse.
So now that the one ESD I had enough trust in to make purchase, and plan other purchases has been sold out; I have no more trust to place in the ESD market. I've been robbed twice and sold out once. I'm back to the can hold it in my hands, non-net validated hard copy only... for all my electronic media. I may be a minority. But since the ESD markets still don't dominate over retail, maybe its not such a minority. I think electronic books is the only market which ESD incontestably dominates atm?? Thats pretty much a one use product.
Anyway, people who have fat game libraries on steam will likely accept gamestoppers Impulse. If they like gamestoppers then they will still keep their steam accounts. But do you really think that people who don't accept steam will accept gamestop? I won't use steam. But I'd sure as hell use steam over gamestoppers impulse. People who only trusted Stardocks Impulse will now be out of the ESD market. If a company had been selected that had a history more Stardockian like, those people might still be in the market. I think this move stands to slow down the ESD transition rate (though it'll still rise, just a tad slower). I can't guess how large a population the ESD timids are, but it must be significant if ESD isn't already dominating over a shelf space restricted retail. The benefits of competition will still be felt though.
One other aspect of this is that I don't know if I'll be buying another Stardock Games title. I didn't mind that E:WOM had memory, AI, and content challenges when it was released. Impulse gave me access to the dev patches. EWOMs post sale support was extraordinary! But after EWOMs release, and reading Brad talk about GalCiv2 becoming what it is due to post sale patches, and reading gamers say PATCH the game before you judge it, I don't know that I am willing to purchase a Stardock title if I don't have access to patches. That goes for any game nowadays. But somewhat more so from Stardock than others. Stardocks got exceptional update support, but that does me no good if I can't access it. I hope that Stardock allows patching outside of Impulse. I can still get Civ3 patches on fan sites and at the Firaxis official site. I like that!