'Retailers are confident about 2009'

'Retailers are confident about 2009'
Supermarkets continued to irk retailers – to the extent that not only were they characterised as the biggest threat to UK retail but many also tried to ironically nominate them as ‘best distributor’.

And, as usual, most retailers would love to swap occupations with some of the world’s leading video games designers.

But word that 86 per cent of retailers are confident about 2009 (and that 58 per cent think their Christmas takings will trump last year’s) shows retail in a surprisingly upbeat mood. In the current economic climate, that's good to hear. We don’t yet know if the games industry is ‘recession-proof’ – we’ll have to wait until next year to know that answer – but for now signs are good that gaming will remain strong into early 2009.

IS SONY  A  SLEEPING  GIANT?
One company noticeably absent from the survey results this year was Sony.

David Reeves was particularly up front in my interview with him this week. He was the first to point out that the Sony story of late is one characterised by financial struggles – a situation the SCEE division specifically is helping the wider organisation claw its way out of. One or two key software releases aside, 2008 hasn’t exactly been a defining year for PlayStation.

But that doesn’t mean we should count Sony out just yet. While the company this week announced some 8,000 job losses across its organisation, once the firm’s games division returns to operating profitability, you can bank on it being a lot more aggressive within the games market. Next year may well prove to be the turning point.

139m REASONS  TO  BE  CHEERFUL
At first glance, it’s hard to believe that almost £140m has been spent on Q4 games marketing. It’s a ridiculously large number.

But aside from moving to the moon, there’s been little you could do this autumn to escape from the gargantuan number of games promotions. If it’s not regular splashes in the national newspapers, then it’s the widely-shown Wii, Xbox ‘Live Your Moment’, and LittleBigPlanet TV ads – or the countless mall tours at shopping arcades up and down the UK.

The industry might prove to be more prudent in 2009, but for now the battle for 2008’s sales at the busiest time of year has been a well-fought one.

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