GameStop going digital with Impulse acquisition

US retailer GameStop is in the midst of closing a deal to buy the Impulse web store, a process which shouldn't affect the service offered to current Impulse customers but could lead to GameStop stores offering PC discs and downloads side-by-side.

Stardock estimates that Impulse has a 10% share of the PC digital distribution market, as compared to the Steam Network's 70%, but that could soon change.

Perhaps counter-intuitively, it's been relatively uncommon for a games retailer to operate a direct download service - digital retailers are usually owned by games companies (Steam, GamersGate, Good Old Games) or news groups (Direct2Drive, GetGames).

GameStop's established retail presence, aggressive stance on exclusive offers, and ownership of Games Informer magazine puts it in a position to both popularize full game downloads and make a play for market dominance.

Though the existing Impulse community has been assured that the site "will continue to function as normal," it's likely that there will be some sort of rebranding exercise in the future, as in the case of GameStop's US merger with EB Games.

The move toward PC gaming is something of an about face given many high street retailers' preference for used game sales and console titles.