With bands dropping out and attendance figures on the wane, he visits fantasy guru Jim Morrison, whose beautiful parody of Kevin Costner in Field Of Dreams provides the tranquil answer he’s been searching for: “If you book them, they will come.”
Now, we can be pretty sure that the organisers of Play’s massively ambitious consumer games show haven’t been visited in their dreams by effigies of dead rock stars. But that hasn’t stopped them heeding exactly the same words.
For March’s Play Live at Wembley Stadium to work, the company knows it needs the support of the industry.
And head of games Gian Luzio’s confidence is brimming with the belief that, so long as the biggest publishers get an idea of what the e-tailer is trying to achieve, they won’t be able to stop themselves getting involved in a big way.
“We really believe that this event can make the UK industry feel good about itself again,” he explains. “As long as the publisher support that we’ve already seen continues, it can only be a massive success.
“As well as the hardcore games fans, we want to pull in mainstream consumers and people who play games on a casual basis. The space dedicated to games depends on the support we see from the industry going forward.”
Of course, Play has a major advantage over others who could have answered the desperate call for a large UK consumer show in the past few years: contacts. Across the games-music-film gamut, Play’s success has granted them some pretty chummy relationships with the biggest names in entertainment media.
Luzio explains: “Because of our links with the wider entertainment business, we can use our contacts and partnerships to get all sorts of companies involved. For example, we will be able to stage demonstrations of Blu-Ray or HD-DVD on the best modern TVs, alongside the games – which will be the focus of the show.”
The idea of attracting 40,000 consumers to a celebration of gaming in the UK is something that not many of the industry will feel anything but positively towards. And if fears exist that these lofty aspirations are impossible to meet, it’s worth bearing in mind that Play has, in the last seven or eight years, become a quiet behemoth in the retail world.
The management team is right behind the idea – and very confident. Especially considering they oversaw as triumphant an event as Play’s Star Wars Experience at London’s Excel in the summer.
Play.com COO Stewart Rowe comments: “Play.com Live will do for entertainment consumers what our recent Star Wars event at Excel did for fans of that franchise.
“It’ll satisfy our existing customers, and also get new consumers interested in the latest interactive entertainment products and brands. Play.com Live will bring together the world’s biggest entertainment brands all under one roof, where the consumer can have a truly exhilarating experience.
“It will have all the brand values of Play.com by creating a fantastic fun and engaging entertainment experience, without it costing consumers the earth.”
A major marketing drive should help. Play marketing manager Richard Chapple will ensure the show gets a presence in both national and consumer lifestyle press from January next year – in a big way.
It’s a such a wide-reaching promotion, he predicts it will “broaden the reach of the lifestyle entertainment show”.
Play.com obviously has huge aspirations for Live – which are intrinsically dependant on the attitudes of publishers.
But with the connections, belief and money needed to make the expo’s debut a glittering one, you have to believe that when the e-tailer does indeed ‘book them’, they’d be fools not to come.