Risk-averse retailers split market

Publishers this week debated whether retailers are too sceptical about new IP following accusations that the High Street is ‘dumbing down’.

Last week MCV revealed that Rising Star Games’ Wii release Muramasa had been declined by buyers at some major chains.

City Interactive’s Roy Campbell – former UK MD at THQ – told MCV he had been left without a doubt” that retailers had become more conservative this year.
He said: The frustration felt by smaller publishers is very painful as there are ‘nuggets’ in many of their respective line-ups that will never be fully exploited.

I speak regularly to many other publishers and some tell me that they can only get new releases into some of the chains if they go straight to pre-owned. ‘A brand new pre-owned title’ – it’s an oxymoron. How can you explain that to your non-English speaking HQ?”

City has re-evaluated its release schedule as a result. Said Campbell: In Q4 you either need to have big balls, big marketing or a title that starts with ‘FI’ and ends with ‘FA’. For 2010 we will be looking to get a more balanced release schedule so that we can get the shelf presence our line-up deserves.

We have to be realistic about the marketing money impact we would get in Q4.”

Koch MD Craig McNicol said it was up to publishers to tailor their line-up to the demands of the market.

He added: Retailers are operating in an extremely competitive environment and they do so with transparent business objectives – to maximise sales and profits for their shareholders.

[Peak season] is the domain of the ‘hero titles’ and first party games. I would not want to tell others how to run their business, but I would say listen carefully to what the buyer tells you – especially if its a suggestion to launch in a quieter period. It might just save you from making a costly mistake.”

Rob Dobisch, owner of Hampshire independent Discz, said: We play it safe because we have to. If money was made on these ‘risky’ titles, then we’d take them.”

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