SPECIAL REPORT: High Street giant to help small studios possibly ignored by big publishers

Unlikely publishing force emerges for studios – it’s UK retailer GAME

The UK’s biggest games retailer GAME has moved into self-publishing games for the PC and DS, and says its plans can help aid smaller studios.

A recent report in our sister magazine MCV says that ‘a level of hysteria’ has been growing amongst publishers which see the move as ‘an act of war’.

However GAME says it is simply looking to find an extra advantage over its retail rivals – no doubt a necessity in an era where digital downloads are rising to prominence – and that instead it wants to help champion the projects that big publishers simply don’t have the bandwidth to support.

To assure publishers who it buys stock from, GAME says its strategy for publishing games is more piecemeal rather than a full-on move into publishing – much like the way it carries own-brand peripherals.

But that still presents an opportunity for developers with ideas for a PC or DS game – key platforms for the casual set – but who feel left out in the cold by publishers chasing the next big triple-A title, which GAME will of course also stock.

 “If an opportunity arises and we think it could be a good proposition for both us and the consumer, then we will explore it. But it is not as if there are many products planned,” GAME’s UK and Ireland managing director Tricia Brennan told MCV.

“This isn’t about us doing something that threatens publishers. It is about listening to developers who may come to us with titles that may not otherwise be able to get to market.

“If it works commercially for GAME and helps a smaller publisher get off the ground by GAME sharing some of the risk, then we would look at it – we have a distribution channel and we can offer a service.

“As a specialist, we need differentiation on the High Street. Exclusives are a real positive for us. We have already published driving test and anti-virus titles as own-brand, plus Vegas Casino on DS.”

And, rather than look to challenge the big publishers, GAME CEO Lisa Morgan said that the move can help small studios they would overlook.

“I would expect publishers to just think it’s business as usual. Ultimately we’re just looking at ways whereby we can enhance our specialist proposition, and if we get small studios coming to us and wanting to talk to us about a product that they couldn’t otherwise bring to market, then we’d be crazy not to hear what these guys have got to say.

“At the end of the day, we’re 100 per cent committed to bringing video games to consumers. There’s certainly not a pipeline of products in mind. We’ve had a successful own-brand accessory proposition, and we are focused on retailing video games through our stores and our websites – that’s absolutely our core business focus.”

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