ANALYSIS: Publishers must ‘Follow Friday’

Top retail bosses have urged publishers to stick with Friday releases, despite growing demand for more global game launches.

This year, 18 games have been released outside of the usual Friday slot to mirror US activity, where titles tend to launch on Tuesdays. These include Just Dance 4, Resident Evil 6, Halo 4, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Diablo III and Hitman: Absolution.

And a recent Twitter campaign plus articles in the consumer press have called on publishers to end the delay between the US and UK game launches.

But UK stores have told MCV that Friday remains the best day to release software, and that Tuesday launches are challenging for online stores.

Tuesday releases of physical product are a logistical nightmare for online retailers. Friday is the perfect release day to ensure consumers get their game for the weekend,” said ShopTo boss Igor Cipolletta.

If I had my marketing hat on, then a global release day would be beneficial, but it should be Thursday or Friday – not Tuesday.”

HMV’s games boss Andy Pinder agreed: I’m not convinced moving all games to Tuesday release dates would really work in the UK, not least for various practical and marketing reasons, nor do I think they would capture the imagination of the games consumer – which surely has to be the most important consideration in all this. Such a move feels like it would just be about fitting in with the US rather than meeting our own market’s needs – perhaps we should get them to change their release dates.

Friday releases give you the week to sort deliveries, get set up and help build a buzz, but arguably the key thing is that customers might relate to it more – a big title coming out just ahead of the weekend, when people still tend to make their leisure purchases, especially on Fridays that correspond with paydays. In fact, if our whole industry was feeling clever about it, triple-A releases could be timed to come out on a big payday Friday at the end of each month in order to optimise likely demand.”

Supermarkets, too, prefer games to hit shelves on a Friday. However, the trade admits that if consumers want their games earlier in the week, then they should get that.

Fridays are good for a grocer as our footfall is the second highest of the week – after Saturday – so we’d prefer to stick to that,” said Sainsbury’s games buying manager Gurdeep Hunjan.

Head of games at Asda Craig Thirkell added: Tuesdays are not big shopping days. People will always come out for the hyper titles, but if the other titles want to maximise footfall and day one sales then a Friday or Saturday is a much better day to hit the shelves.

Overall though, if the overriding view from customers is a Tuesday then a Tuesday it should be.

We should not just follow the US, but ask our customers what is best for them. After all they are ones paying at the tills.”

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