Trade defiant amid credit crunch concerns

The games industry is set to continue its defiant growth spurt as it becomes the entertainment medium of choice for penny-pinching consumers.

That was the message from the trade this week as the credit crunch continues to take hold of the nation’s purse-strings. But despite the doom and gloom in the media, the games industry has the opportunity to capitalise on the nation’s increasing tendency to stay in and save their cash – and will grasp that opportunity with both hands, according to retail.

“I believe the games market as part of the entertainment sector still offers a strong value for money offering,” said HMV’s strategic games manager Martin Baxter.

“Some games have many weeks of gameplay and in some cases are played on a regular basis for over a year. The danger would be that customers are more selective with their purchases which although would not affect triple-A titles, may result in a slow down of second and third tier products.

“The flip-side would be that in hard times people still tend to look for forms of entertainment and video games offer a welcome release from the stresses of modern life.”

Comet games buyer Debbie O’Neill agrees: “As people stop going out due to mounting costs, I think we will see more people staying in and having friends round, watching DVDs and playing games. Also parents in the summer holidays may find that it is cheaper in the long term to purchase a console and video games to keep their children amused than arrange days out for them to theme parks or to pay for other activities.

“We have certainly not seen a dip in sales and are looking to a much bigger year than the last one and we are confident that this will be a great year. You may find the loss of sales is due to the lack of any hardware in the market, not as a result of the credit crunch.”

Supermarket Asda is similarly confident in gaming’s ability to defy the current economic slump. “It is clearly a concern for all retailers and the overall entertainment market remains very tough,” said Asda’s head of games Duncan Cross.

“To date, it still appears the video games market is holding up well and consumers haven’t, thus far, reduced spending in the video games sector. The whole industry continues to ride the crest of the wave and at Asda we are keen to avoid any complacency by continuing to focus on value for the customer.”

And it's not just retailers - leading industry analysts agree that gaming can become the cost-effective entertainment of choice as consumers tighten their belts - read the first of three pieces looking into the subject here.

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