OPINION: Niche opportunities in the games market

Michael French
OPINION: Niche opportunities in the games market

With the way so much stuff is shrinking in the UK games market – the number of big releases is falling, the amount you need to sell to get the boxed game to No.1 is tiny – you’d be forgiven for thinking that the specialist press world around games was similarly contracting.

Not so according to renewed efforts by Game Informer, Gamereactor and Twitch to establish brand power in the UK.

All three – although differing in their strategy and scope and with much to learn from the big boys at Future, Eurogamer and IGN – are focusing on the deep trench instead of the fair-weather mainstream.

Gamestop.co.uk customers, students, or those wanting to watch a live Dota feed are hardly the mums shopping at supermarkets.

But the mass market goldmine has for now dried up for core games. Namco’s critical hit Ni No Kuni, a PS3 exclusive in the Japanese RPG genre, topping the charts this week makes that ultra clear.

Plus, the discerning nature of core gamers means that in an anything-goes/everything-up-for-grabs online world there’s a rolling power grab for authoritative voices.

Game Informer or Gamereactor won’t be supplanting stalwart brands soon, but arguably a more fragmented media landscape befits a fractured marketplace. At the very least, having more options at a time like this is no bad thing.

NEXT-GEN HOPES AS RELEASE SCHEDULE REALITY HITS

So whatever happened to 2013’s so-called “incredible” release schedule? As 2012 drew to a close retailers and publishers were excitedly talking up the potential ahead. We were promised a good Q1/Q2 followed by the dawn of a new generation in Q4.

But THQ’s final titles are now TBC. Splinter Cell is due in August, not earlier as some had assumed. GTA V is delayed from spring to September.

After BioShock, Last of Us and the expected summer LEGO game there’s a vast gulf between releases. And no Olympics to blame this time around.

Publishers can’t be criticised for doing the best for their products. But ultimately this game vacuum in the final throes of a generation has only fuelled expectations for the next.

Hopes are higher than ever that E3, and Sony’s imminent reveal, will drive excitement and give the trade some clarity on what lies ahead.

Let’s hope they deliver.

Image source: Etsy.com

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Tags: video games , market , core , hardcore , mainstream , niche

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