UK retail is too impatient, says 2K boss

Global president of 2K Games Christoph Hartmann believes that UK retail is the best in the world at creating an ‘event’ for key new products – but its impatience is putting it in danger of losing out to digital distribution.

Speaking exclusively to MCV, Hartmann, whose label has had great recent success with BioShock, said that the UK industry was making the same mistakes that drove music consumers online.

He warned against the temptation to slash prices on month-old software in order to make room for new, triple-A releases – something he said UK retailers have been particularly guilty of in 2008.

The best thing about UK retail is also the worst,” he told MCV.

There is nowhere else in the world where games are presented as well as at UK retail. Your guys really understand how to create a buzz and an event around a product – even compared to the US. But by the same token, they’re willing to take less and less risk over what that product is.”

Hartmann added that the UK High Street is too keen to make money in the early stage of a game’s lifespan, rather than waiting for the consistent income available from back catalogue products.

UK retail slashes prices if something’s not quite hitting its numbers,” he said, I’m not talking about a big gap – I’m talking about expecting to sell 1,000 and selling 950.

At that level, they call it a failure and want to de-price massively.

That attitude to some degree killed the music business. By concentrating on the highlights, they up their revenue short-term – but they’re driving certain important customers away.”

2K’s 2009 line-up includes BioShock 2 and Borderlands.

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