Online distribution of content should be cheap and easy. Compared to the complexities of making and moving around DVDs and such, moving bits is pretty much free. So it's a no-brained that games on Steam should be cheaper than the same games on DVDs, right? Of course that's not how it works.
As for DVD alternative, I wasn't looking too hard - just Amazon. I'm sure there are ways to get the games even more cheaply, but let's stick with the default online shop. Here are the prices, all Amazon's are with free shipping:
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 - Amazon £29.65; Steam £39.99 - Steam costs 35% more
- Battlefield: Bad Company 2 - Amazon £24.99; Steam £29.99 - Steam costs 20% more
- Left 4 Dead 2 - Amazon £19.98; Steam £19.99 - essentially equal
- Counter-Strike: Cource - Amazon £14.99; Steam £13.99 - Steam costs 7% less
- Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City - Amazon £14.99; Steam £19.99 - Steam costs 33% more
- Civilization V (pre-order) - Amazon £30.99; Steam £29.99 - Steam costs 3% less
- Mount & Blade: Warband - Amazon £16.97; Steam £24.99 - Steam costs 47% more
- Borderlands - Amazon £11.78; Steam £19.99 - Steam costs 70% more
- Just Cause 2 - Amazon £23.92; Steam £29.99 - Steam costs 25% more
And please don't even mention "Recommended Retail Price" - if you fall for this kind of blatant anchoring effect, there's no hope for you.
So to summarize: Steam games cost a lot more, and to make matters worse have no resell value, they're simply ripping you off.
PS. Amazon prices are for NEW games. These are not used titles. Anyone claiming otherwise has no idea what they're talking about.
PS2. Prices I gave are for UK (notice the £s). acct_rdt made a similar list for US prices, which shows exactly the same thing - US Amazon is cheaper than US Steam too, even though the difference is not as drastic (median 7%)
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 - $37.80 new on Amazon, $59.99 on Steam
- Bad Company 2 - $43.83 Amazon, $49.99 Steam
- Left 4 Dead 2 - $29.99 (both)
- Counter-Strike: Source - $19.99 (both)
- Episodes from Liberty City - $27.99 Amazon, $29.99 Steam
- Civilization V - $49.99 (both)
- Mount & Blade: Warband - $24.53 Amazon, $29.99 Steam
- Borderlands - $27.99 Amazon, $29.99 Steam
- Just Cause 2 - $39.99 Amazon, $49.99 Steam