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Transition chills retail

Leading figures on the High Street expressed their delight at upcoming products on show at E3, but their enthusiasm is tempered with concern about a tough Q4 period ahead of them.

“There are a lot of impressive games in development, but we won’t see them until 2007,” said Ajay Kejriwal, director of indie chain e-Play. “There’s not enough Xmas 2006 product.”

His views were backed up by Tim Ellis, head of games at HMV: “There were too few people at E3 talking about product for this Christmas.”

Retail is worried that, although both PS3 and Wii are set to hit the market in Q4, stocks are likely to be limited. At the same time, publishers appear to be withdrawing support of current formats somewhat – a particular worry for the non-specialist retailers.

“The only disappointment for me at E3 was the under-representation of current generation software,” said Sainsbury’s games buyer Brian Foote. “It might not command the attention that next-gen does, but PlayStation 2 will remain a huge unit shifter this year, and it would have been good to see a bit more than the limited offering on display.”

Peter Sleeman, MD of distributor Pinnacle Software, agrees with the High Street – adding that the lack of major PC titles will add to the problem.

“I think retail has called it right,” he told MCV. “This year is going to be safe and steady as she goes on PS2, with any real innovation and new IP coming on 360.

“What I think is unforgiveable is that the industry seems to be turning its back on the PC as a format, squeezing space and reducing support to smaller publishers to chase the console dollar.”

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