Device City

Ben Parfitt
Device City
A fear of change is something every business must deal with. Take, for example, the ‘local shop for local people’ freaks Edward and Tubbs from The League of Gentlemen.

Without a dynamic, forward-thinking business ethos, it seems that you can easily get stuck in a rut like these two unfortunates. Of course, the murder and in-breeding they indulge in is optional, but you get my drift.

Fortunately in the games space you have no option but to change with the times – there are more formats, with more people playing, than ever before, and within that there is a hugely diversified audience – from the young girl with her pink DS right up to the affluent twenty-something with his PS3 and everyone in-between, there has never been a better time to be in the business of making accessories.

“The most significant change is in technology,” says Venom sales director Sue Dawson. “Wii and PS3 have brought motion sensors to the masses, high-definition is now the only way to play games and the handheld market just keeps getting better. Our customer demographic has changed significantly.”

Managing director of A4T Andrew Shephard agrees that things have changed – but in particular areas. “We see that the market has concentrated on two distinct areas,” he told MCV. “Value ‘me too’ product, aimed at the volume bundle business, and full-featured product, designed for consumers looking to enhance gameplay.”

This sense of bandwagon-jumping is also outlined by Fire International’s general manager Michael Flanagan.

“There is now an abundance of ‘me-too’ products in the marketplace that are being traded as commodity lines. Without a significant point of difference, revenue and margins for the manufacturers, distributors and retailers, in our opinion, will continue to be eroded.”

But there is still demand for high-quality product to satisfy the hardcore, adds Meroncourt sales director Steve Walsh. “The peripherals market has evolved greatly over the past few years. On the PC side this has been driven by the demand for extremely high performance, high quality gaming peripherals.”

Pinpoint’s business development director Stuart Perriam takes a different view – while the consoles and audiences have changed, he believes that the same underlying principles have always applied.

“The factors that drive the peripherals market haven’t really changed, whether it is an impulse buy, a distress purchase or a fashion accessory, products that communicate real value are essential.”

A4T’s Shephard sums it all up nicely: “The market is no longer limited to standard categories. With gaming now appealing to a broader spectrum, the opportunities are endless.”

Venom’s Sue Dawson states that to really make the most of these opportunities, standing out from the crowd is key: “The challenges are the same as they have always been in the making sure we offer a point of difference from the rest of the accessory market, both in product development and service.”

This approach is also favoured by Fire International’s Flanagan. “A strong product range with unique packaging and strong IP all add to the point of difference that we feel we can offer over our competitors.”

Coming full circle back to our deformed friends Edward and Tubbs of Royston Vasey, it seems the peripherals industry is quite the opposite of these outcasts – change has not just been embraced, but is actively encouraged.

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