Just six months ago, the games industry feared HMV would abandon video games.
It had decimated its games team, cutting its count of ten buyers down to two, and even after it was saved by Hilco in April, the chain said it would concentrate on “music and visual”, but there was no mention of games.
The games industry was justifiably worried.
But now head of games and technology Phil Browes has revealed HMV’s newly-restructured games team is hard at work on a complete overhaul of its games offer.
The category will be given a cleaner look, with more space allocated to demo stations in the hopes of driving pre-orders.
Many stores will even introduce branded areas based on hit franchises – no doubt building on the success of the Skylanders showcase installed in the soon-to-close flagship Oxford Street store.
All these changes will be implemented over the summer, with the team planning a public relaunch for the category just ahead of the industry’s peak season and the launch of two next-generation consoles.
“By September, the new games category will be an exciting, interactive area with a branded look and feel around the key franchises,” Browes told MCV.
“Customers love spending time in HMV and we want to impress them with a fun and vibrant games area, supported by our fantastically knowledgeable staff.”
HMV will also introduce a new loyalty scheme and, most interesting of all, relaunch an improved pre-owned offer.
“We experienced great success with a focussed message on pre-owned last year and we will look to build on this over the coming months,” said Browes.
“During these difficult economic times, pre-owned is an important element of the industry as it provides many consumers with access to new releases that they may otherwise have been unable to afford.”
It’s an exciting time for a team that just a few months ago was on the brink of being disbanded after years of financial problems.
"We will ensure that HMV
is a destination for
Phil Browes, HMV
HMV spent the first few months of 2013 in administration, beleaguered by store closures and rival retailers eyeing up the firm’s assets and real estate.
There were widespread job losses, too, escalating all the way up CEO Trever Moore and games boss Ewan Pinder.
It wasn’t the best start to the year.
But Browes says the turmoil hasn’t dampened the team’s spirits.
“After a difficult few months, the mood in both Head Office and stores is now one of real optimism.
“Everyone has been through a really tough time and we lost some close friends but with many of our former colleagues finding great jobs in and out of the industry, we are all really excited about the future.”
Crucial to HMV’s efforts is the support it receives from its suppliers.
While music and film distributors rallied behind the chain before it fell into administration, aid from video games publishers has been less consistent.
But Browes reports that HMV has since negotiated new agreements with the three platform holders and all major games publishers.
“The support from both the public and suppliers throughout the administration process has been incredible,” said Browes.
“HMV is a brand close to many people’s hearts and everyone has pulled together to make sure we are still a prominent force on the High Street.
“We thank them for the exceptional efforts they have made over the past three months.”
All of this puts HMV in a far stronger position as the launches of Xbox One and PS4 approach, not to mention massive releases such as GTA V, FIFA, Call of Duty and Battlefield.
Browes added: “We can hardly contain our excitement about the next-gen consoles. We will ensure that HMV is a destination for these products and are looking forward to using our tech credentials to help customers understand the potential of these machines.
“You will see a lot more from us on this over the next few weeks.”