Hooked on retail

Not exactly, but the studio’s decision to partner with retail mainstays (classic supermarket Sainsbury’s, entertainment giant HMV, and convenience chain WHSmith) says a lot about how digital content can interface with retail.

It turns out digital gaming’s hottest stars aren’t looking to undermine bricks ‘n’ mortar retail.

And while points cards and cash vouchers for online content are nothing new, the speed with which Playfish’s have appeared – already in even some of the most parochial stores – shows that the old guard can move just as quickly as online players.

Sure, Playfish has backing from EA, which bought it for a cool $400m late last year. But for some time many in the industry (and commentators like myself) doubted that core games firms can keep up with the pace of digital innovation.

Facebook and Google can iterate and implement risky changes to their products within minutes. Meanwhile, centralised buying teams and marketing sign-off procedures can be – as they sound – monolithic, painful and play-it-safe.

I don’t think Playfish’s cash cards (and, soon, things like toys and accessories) are a major sign either side is changing drastically. But at least, for a change, these two powerful worlds are working together, rather than ignoring the boost they can provide each other.

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