MCV takes a closer look at some of the leading video game suppliers, with an update on what each company has achieved over the past year.
Key goods: Games, DVDs, software
Staff: 350 Based: Basingstoke, Hampshire
Key territories: UK, Benelux, Nordic, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, North America
Contact: 01256 385200
Ever since its impressive trailer went live, Dead Island was destined to be a hit new video game IP.
But arguably it achieved far higher levels of success than expected. The Xbox 360 and PS3 game went straight to No.1 in the charts last September, selling out in several retailers and maintaining a strong price point way beyond release.The game was released under Koch Media’s publishing division Deep Silver.
“In terms of our publishing label it really does demonstrate that we can take a new IP to market and fully establish a No.1 selling game,” Koch MD Craig McNicol tells MCV.
“From a PR persecutive Deep Silver really is on the map for having a successful new IP. We followed it with the quirk that is Catherine, where the mass market coverage we gained was enormous. There are a lot of exciting things on the horizon for Deep Silver.”
If anything, Dead Island proves that Koch has the tools to publish and supply a successful product, even in a struggling games retail environment. And this is something it says it can achieve for other publishers, too, helping to alleviate risk during a tough economic climate.
McNicol adds: “I imagine our biggest challenge is to be seen as a credible alternative to publishers thinking of setting up their own operations. Why do that in this uncertain market?”
Koch has also been ramping up the DVD side of its business over the past year, opening a new office in London with a dedicated sales, marketing, PR and distribution team in place. It says DVDs offer an ideal margin maker for stores.
McNicol says: “The demand for DVDs is a much larger window than it is for games. The consumer is much more likely to purchase spontaneously and this decision to do so could be driven simply by the packaging or the price point.
“The opportunities for raising awareness are also unique as demonstrated by us bringing Will Ferrell over in November and having him appear on shows like BBC Breakfast, The One Show and Chris Moyles’ Quiz Night. That star quality brings huge awareness to a product.
“We will continue to grow the DVD side of the business and look to bring new and established IPs back to market.”
Key goods: Games, consoles, accessories, consumer electronics
Staff: 250 in the UK, 200 overseas
Based: Altham, Harlow, Hong Kong, Stoke, Raunds, Paris
Contact: 01279 822800
Distributor and retail services provider Gem is one of the more multi-faceted suppliers in the UK?games industry.
The company has its Gem Logistics arm, offering third-party deliveries for games, music and film products, as well as Gem Creative, an in-house design agency. Then there is its accessories manufacturing division Exspect, a dedicated Retail Support Services unit and now a digital distribution arm.
Gem acquired the latter, Ztorm, last month, allowing the boxed goods expert to move into downloads.
“The mix of services and operations within Gem enable us to offer full service solutions to suppliers, enabling them to get their product to market in the most cost effective way,” says group strategic development director Alex Croft.
“And to retailers, we enable them to sell a broad and diverse range of products and services. Gem is evolving to become more than a distributor, through the establishment and growth of several new business units.”
UK general manager Darren Houghton adds: “We are always looking to evolve our business to keep us on pace with the fast-changing market within which we operate, as well as keeping us ahead of our competition. I think we do both very well indeed. The recent acquisition of Ztorm is a perfect example of this – building a digital proposition to support our physical goods business.”
Gem is keen to stress the set of solutions offered within its Gem Logistics division. It says it can manage the ‘complete supply chain, to any worldwide destination, whether it’s a distribution centre, individual store or even the consumer’s letterbox’.
Key customers already include 505 Games, Take-Two, Xbox, Codemasters and Ministry of Sound.
Croft says: “We have customers to support with a fantastic range of existing and new products and services and we don’t intend to disappoint. A collaborative partnership is a stronger one and that’s always been our mantra and I believe it’s also the reason why our partners remain loyal to us.”
Key goods: Consoles, games, accessories
Based: Bradford and London
Key territories: UK, Europe
Contact: 01274 684 668
In the space of five years Link Distribution has become a fast-growing supplier of boxed games to over 60 countries worldwide.The company acquired A Game Distribution last October, helping it double its warehouse capacity, achieve a 115 per cent growth in sales and take on five new staff to up its headcount to 14.
Staff at A Game will continue to work in their London office which is now responsible for sales and purchasing at Link, while the Bradford office looks after finance and warehousing.
Link’s international trade manager Adam Harris tells MCV: “We have gone from strength to strength and seen strong growth in our independent sector sales. [The acquisition] has also expanded our supply chain tremendously and opened doors to new product lines and operational systems.”
Link also says it wants to continue in this upward direction and focus on growing its business in the year ahead.
“We are dedicated to the games market and are keen to establish ourselves as not only specialists, but experts in our sector,” adds Harris.“We’re looking to build on our growth achieved in 2011. We are not expecting to expand our team this year, however we feel we have great potential to gain a foothold with new releases and expand our digital goods distribution services. We’re hopeful the market takes to the two new platforms, PS Vita and Wii U.”
Key goods: PC games, simulation peripherals
Staff: 10Based: Banbury, Oxfordshire
Key territories: UK, Europe, Middle East, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia
Contact: 01869 338833
For fifteen years Contact Sales has stuck to what it does best – providing products for the simulation games fanatic.
Look past the specialist names of games such as Farming Simulator, Stone Quarry Simulator, Euro Truck Simulator 2 and Underground Mining Simulator, and you’ll find quality titles that have a very real, very dedicated fanbase.
As well as publishing PC games under its Excalibur, First Class Simulations and Extra Play labels, Contact Sales also distributes specialist peripherals, such as the CH Fighter Stick and Pro Throttle which are ideal for flight sim fanatics. It provides exclusive sales, marketing and distribution for RailSimulator.com and Aerosoft, too.
Contact Sales’ strategy has remained largely the same over the years and says this is to its benefit.
“Contact Sales will stick to what it believes it knows, and what it believes it is good at,” the firm’s MD Robert Stallibrass tells MCV. “At present, I consider moving into other non-gaming markets an enormous risk."
But despite the current difficulties in the boxed retail market, Contact Sales has been fortunate enough to grow eight per cent over the last 12 months.
“I want the economic conditions to improve, and PC hardware manufacturers to continue to sell large volumes of PCs. If both of these are achieved, our business will grow a further 10 to 20 per cent this year.”
Contact Sales certainly has an exciting year ahead, with the popular Farming Simulator franchise making its debut on Nintendo 3DS.This new release in a previously PC-only series marks the company’s first console game and is expected to ship this spring.
Bright Red Entertainment
Based: Milton Keynes
Key territories: UK, Europe, PAL markets
Contact: 01908 582477
Bright Red Entertainment has carved a niche in the games distribution sector with a number of unique offerings.
The company launched a ‘Game Depot’ series of FSDUs last year into retailers, as well as non-traditional outlets like petrol stations. This followed a successful trial in destinations such as garden centres and newsagents.Now Bright Red is adding more strings to its bow, by launching a website where consumers can purchase goods directly, and its own re-working facility.
“That includes grinding and disc polishing, shrink-wrapping, overwrapping and various labelling solutions,” the firm’s MD Danny Russell tells MCV. “This allows us to refurbish non-mint returns, adding value and re-selling them at a higher price.
“In addition, last year we launched our business-to-consumer e-commerce store Sweet Buzzards that goes from strength to strength. All of the above service additions have boosted turnover and helped drive growth at a time when the overall games sector has struggled.”
Bright Red says its plans for the year ahead are to invest in its core distribution and sales business, engage with partners and boost e-commerce sales.
Key goods: Games, accessories, consumer electronics, software, computer peripherals
Staff: 58Based: Enfield
Key territories: UK, Ireland
Contact: 020 8805 1000
Interactive Ideas comes across as a firm that’ll do anything it can to support its clients and customers.
Recognising the explosive growth in online retail, the firm has put together a series of best practice guides for those who are looking to boost their online sales. These are available for free over at www.onlineretaildistributor.co.uk.
Plus, it offers a ‘social media health check’ to its vendors, which assists them in growing presence and brand awareness online. These are just two examples of how the specialist puts its partners first.
“Interactive Ideas has been helping technology companies bring new products to market for over 17 years,” marketing manager Andrew Miles tells MCV.
“With specialist skills and experience in online retail distribution, we can focus on growing online sales with services including logistics, content management, data analysis, reporting, communications and PR.”
This has helped Interactive Ideas achieve an average 32 per cent growth year-on-year during the past four years.
“We see this as a huge achievement,” adds Miles.
Key goods: Video games, consoles and accessories
Key territories: UK, Europe, Middle East, East Asia, Africa, Australasia
Contact: 020 3137 3781
UK-based start up Click Entertainment has grown rapidly in the three years it’s been in business.
The company says it has increased its turnover five-fold, doubled its staff count, moved into larger premises and implemented new systems, whilst maintaining its level of service. Its new facility in Croydon has seen the supplier double its warehouse space.
“With our current levels of growth, new employment opportunities and expansion into a second warehouse facility, 2011 has been a good year for Click,” says the company’s head of business development Jake Wright. “We are excited moving forward into 2012 and ambitious to continue our growth, whilst ensuring we maintain the high standards and personalised service which made 2011 so successful for Click Entertainment.”
It believes continuing its line of work in gaming is more beneficial to the firm and its customers, rather than diversifying into other areas.
“We are comfortable within our current market,” adds Wright. “Being specialists allows us to remain focused, offering consistently competitive prices and service which puts us a cut above the rest.”