We’ve also hosted events for the release of the Naruto Unleased series working with Manga Entertainment, and are currently working with Atari and Ubisoft who have some titles out now and some coming out over the next few months.
The main reason for our enthusiasm to hold events like this is because games products are unique and amazing, and fans really buy into the lifestyle.
They’re not just run of the mill products that you’d pick up in a supermarket like a can of beans; people’s lives revolve around them. With the stores’ sizes and facilities, with games rooms and demo pods, we want to bring the product to life in a store environment.
We’ve seen it already with music – nearly every week we have talented musicians coming in to play their latest release and we have increasingly more DVD signings. The games genre is just starting to catch up now.
It’s something that games publishers should embrace a lot more. I think that if consumers can actually experience the product itself, then it can become a huge part of the games marketing strategy. Specialist press and online are always good ways to communicate the latest news and gossip about games to the public, but this isn’t a 360 degree approach.
Obviously demo pods help this to an extent, but we need to create more exciting and thrilling in-store events where people can play the game, win prizes and maybe meet some of the people involved in making it.
I think we’ve only scratched the surface with recent events like the PS3 launch and the Forza 2 event. You can’t expect to do a 36-hour event like we did for PlayStation 3 for every game launch, but we certainly have the chance to really push the envelope.
When we conduct research on our events, we find that customers always really enjoy them – we’ve seen it for years with music performances and DVD signings, but I think there’s more work to be done in the games arena. It not only adds great value for the fans who attend, but it’s also a real opportunity for the industry to embrace not only hardcore gamers, but to tap into a wider audience.
And it’s not just on a High Street level. If games events at retail are done well, then publishers can get a lot out of it as well; they get extra coverage in the specialist press and get talked about on forums. It’s much easier for customers to buy into something once they’ve actually seen it work.