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Are we ready for the biggest video games drought ever?

Christopher Dring
Are we ready for the biggest video games drought ever?

Fewer video games were sold than ever last week, as the release schedule dries up.

Retailers shifted just 332,338 games over the last seven days, generating £8m in revenue. But the worse is still to come, say analysts.

In fact, UK retailers told MCV this week they don’t expect the market to grow again until GTA V launches in September.

There are just a smattering of releases due over the next four months, as publisher gear up for the next generation of consoles.

“After 2012’s summer product drought which was blamed at the time on everything from the Olympics to the football to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, it is disappointing to see the games business apparently sleepwalking into the same situation again,” said Kim Bayley, director general of the Entertainment Retailers Association.

“The harsh truth is that new product drives business and without sufficient releases, sales will suffer”

Asda’s games boss Craig Thirkell added: “It’s going to be a long summer – inflation is ahead of wages, changes to benefits came in to effect this month and customers have less disposable money. 

“I think a lot will depend upon several announcements and their timings. And also how the format holders continue to offer value to keep the hardware market as buoyant as possible, married with publisher support on key titles from Q4 and Q1 to keep the momentum going.

“I can’t give away too much, but we definitely have plans to engage customers and bring them plenty of opportunity to shop with us over the summer months.”

Indeed, despite bleak sales and a lacklustre release schedule, there is still optimism from the trade. One retail veteran told MCV “we can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” referring to the impending launch of PS4 and the next Xbox.

Meanwhile, stores are planning summer promotions and digital initiatives.

ShopTo boss Igor Cipolletta said: “Whilst there are fewer new triple-A releases coming through this summer, as we all start to prepare for the transition to new consoles there are still some excellent titles.

“We do all need to keep things tight and maximise the opportunities as and when they come along and work hard with publishers to make the transition as smooth as possible.”

NINTENDO AND SONY HEADLINE BRIGHT SPOTS IN RELEASE SCHEDULE

Not everyone is waiting until Autumn to launch their wares.

With little competition, a handful of savvy publishers are avoiding the pre-Christmas crush and launching games over the next four months.

Capcom, Sega, 505 Games, Codemasters, Deep Silver and Ubisoft are amongst the publishers releasing games between May and August.

But it’s Nintendo and Sony that are making the most of the barren release schedule.

Nintendo is releasing a slew of 3DS titles over the coming months, including new  Donkey Kong, Pokémon, Animal Crossing and Mario Golf titles.

Meanwhile, Sony is preparing titles for PS Vita, Wonderbook, as well as new PlayStation 3 IP, The Last of Us (pictured below).

Nintendo’s UK PR?and marketing director Shelly Pearce said:?“Summer is traditionally strong for handheld in store and with the stellar line up in 2013 combined with an increasingly strong back catalogue, Nintendo 3DS provides a strong in store proposition.”

PlayStation UK product manager Josh Walker added: “We are working closely with all our retail and media partners to ensure that The Last of Us is this summer’s blockbuster gaming release.”

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Tags: Retail , video games , summer , release schedule , drought , schedules

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