MCV Retail Survey 2008: Part One

MCV has conducted its annual nationwide survey of games retail – and the results are in.

The following is based on in-depth research, featuring responses from a wide variety of UK retail store managers from the likes of GAME, Blockbuster, HMV, Gamestation and a range of independent stores….

What has been the highlight of your year?
Gears of War 2 30%
World of Warcraft: Lich King 10%
Wii Fit 5%
Mario Kart Wii 5%
Guitar Hero: World Tour 4%

With so many strong releases during 2008, it comes as no surprise to see individual titles become the highlight of UK retail’s year. Microsoft’s 360 epic Gears of War 2 took the plaudits, with a huge amount of store openings and massive sales.

It even defeated the record breaking World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King and Grand Theft Auto IV – both of which were greeted by similar snaking queues, press coverage and ringing tills.

Despite stock shortages, Nintendo’s big 2008 titles were still the highlight for ten per cent of the retailer’s surveyed. Wii Fit and Mario Kart Wii have been regular fixtures in the ChartTrack Top Ten, further cementing the platform holder’s market leadership – and growing the Wii’s installed base further still.

Finally, Activision Blizzard rounds off the list, with last month’s Guitar Hero: World Tour.

Honourable mentions:
Professor Layton, 360 price cut, customer loyalty, Fallout 3, Dead Space, Fable II, the strength of the PC games market, LittleBigPlanet

Which games publisher would you consider to have been the best for overall quality and attitude to retail in 2008?

Ubisoft 26%
EA 25%
Nintendo 15%
Activision 13%
Microsoft 12%
Sony 1%
Rockstar 1%
THQ 1%

It was tight at the top in this category, with Ubisoft just narrowly beating super publisher EA.

However, many retailers were delighted with the quality of many of Electronic Arts’ 2008 line-up. One retailer told MCV: EA’s turnaround has been impressive for us, with FIFA catching up Pro Evo, and the likes of Dead Space performing really well for us. Even taking chances on Mirror’s Edge has made a difference.”

Again, despite stock issues, Nintendo have scored highly, with Mario Kart Wii, Wii Fit, Brain Training and Professor Layton highlighted as the reasons.

Big years for Microsoft and Activision haven’t gone unnoticed either, with the quality of both companies’ output impressing the retailers surveyed. And finally, THQ was a popular choice amongst the independents, who were delighted by the firm’s commitment to the sector during 2008.

What is the biggest problem facing retailers at the moment?
Supermarkets 33%
Credit crunch 13%
Lack of Wii stock 10%
NothinG 10%
Piracy 6%
Price cutting from rivals 5%
Low prices through online retailers 5%
Competition with other stores 5%

The biggest threat facing the UK retail community isn’t the growth in DS piracy, stock shortages of even economic uncertainty – but Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons.

According to 33 per cent of the retailer’s surveyed, aggressive price promotions by UK’s leading supermarkets has had a big impact on the specialists – affecting sales of new releases and driving customers away from the High Street and into the out-of-town superstores.

One retailer said: Everyone is doing aggressive promotions, so I’d say our biggest threat is ourselves.”

Of course the credit crunch made it on the list, as did the growth of online retail and an increase in piracy. Lack of Wii stock was also a major concern, with other retailers highlighting Nintendo stock shortages in general as a major problem facing retailers.

However, ten per cent of those surveyed insisted that there were no problems facing their store whatsoever.

To read the second part of our Retail Survey 2008, click here.

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