Retailers ready for ‘biggest ever launch week’

Ben Parfitt
Retailers are facing what could be the biggest release day in industry history next Friday – having hardly had chance to catch breath since the release of Gears of War 2 and LittleBigPlanet.

World of Warcraft, Mirror’s Edge, Football Manager and Call of Duty are all amongst next week’s line-up, and ChartTrack director Dorian Bloch admitted to MCV that these games could completely transform the Top 40 – from top to bottom.

“The November 14th week is shaping up to be one of the biggest launch weeks ever,” said Bloch. “Actually, from now until mid-December we seem to be putting 40-50 SKUs on our system week in, week out. The big difference with this week is that the titles coming out all have the potential to enter the Top 40.”

Retailers, including Currys and Zavvi, have already been clearing masses of shelf space in preparation for the new release blitz. And leading High Street chains have told MCV that although they would rather see releases more evenly spaced throughout the year, the games market is now wide enough to cope with such a quantity of new software.

“The amount of releases reflects the range of customers that, now want to play games,” enthused GAME product manager Alex Vines. “There’s no doubt that lots of customers want to buy games at Christmas, but 2008 has also shown how the market can enjoy massive releases away from the Q4 period.”

Zavvi’s head of games Patrick Kelly added: “Overall Zavvi would prefer the release schedule to be more evenly spread over the course of the year. However, we are very excited about the line-up on November 14th as the quality and diverse range of titles suits our wide customer base.”

There are concerns that certain titles may suffer due to the quantity of new releases, however. CHIPS’ Don McCabe feels it is “inevitable” that some games won’t reach their full sales potential. Yet Asda’s Andy McFie told MCV that there is still plenty of time for these games to sell:

“There is a danger of some games suffering, however, with six weeks of the key trading period left after the 14th, there is a big window of opportunity for all titles to perform. Expectations are high and we’ve dedicated extra space in-store for the biggest release day of 2008.”

Play.com’s head of games Gian Luzio said November’s line-up caps what has been a stellar year for the industry: “The amount of good quality titles coming out that day is fantastic, as it gives consumers real choice. It just goes to show how this year will be the best ever for games.”

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Tags: uk , games , releases , video , high , friday , street , big

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