The growth of the digital games market may typically be seen as the biggest threat to retail, but is the cramped Q4 release schedule in reality a bigger burden?
Speaking to investors following its Q3 financial report yesterday, GameStop president Tony Bartel highlighted the major role the chain has played in encouraging adoption of Activision’s digital service Call of Duty: Elite.
"In the case of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, we worked closely with Activision, Sony and Microsoft to pre-order and deliver nearly 600,000 instances of the Modern Warfare Elite DLC to date," he said, as reported by Gamasutra.
"This places the launch of Elite as one of our top ten launches of the year so far. We've found that consumer demand for downloadable content is very strong at the point of launch.
“Based on our research we know that one half of the DLC we sell is to customers that have never purchased DLC before."
Yesterday GameStop revealed that it’s digital sales were up 59 per cent year-on-year for the three months ending October.
What’s less positive for the retailer, however, was the perceived loss of sales at the expense of the hectic Q4 release schedule. A successful Q4 release can sell more in the key pre-Christmas period than it could possibly hope for at any other time. But the tsunami of releases comes at a price – a high number of games become commercial flops.
"The quarter presented some challenges in topline, due to a cash-strapped consumer that could not afford all of the good titles released during the quarter," GameStop CEO Paul Raines observed.
Bartel added: "We had expectations for strong sales due to the great title line-up and record reservations. But we found that consumers were unable to fund the products that they wanted, as these strong titles rolled out week after week."