Australia and New Zealand have fared well in the global recession, due in part to our proximity to Asia and relative economic isolation from the US.
This has driven consumers to import their games directly from the US to take advantage of the exchange rate, and several websites to set up shop to cater to this new market.We're likely to see the necessity for prices to come down manifest in a struggle between retail and publishers as to whose responsibility it is to eat into their market share.
We're continuing to see growth from the first serious competitor to specialist EB Games in JB Hi-Fi, which benefits from a diverse range of stock while struggling to compete with the customer service and pre-order incentive focus offered by the specialists. Having two major players rather than one has been the most significant shift in retail.
Meanwhile, even official chains are dabbling in taking advantage of cheap import prices while the dollar is so strong, with department chain Harvey Norman opening its own Direct Import business and EB Games stating publicly that it had imported Star Wars: The Old Republic ahead of launch so as not to lose out to smaller import sites.
Australia and New Zealand haven't exactly been tech-shy in the past, but have taken their time flocking to new forms of technology in droves. Launches of new consoles and other hardware have always been strong, but real momentum has traditionally taken longer here. As such, we'reseeing a huge growth spurt with smartphones, and it shows no signs of slowing down.
Bear in mind that Australia and New Zealand are two different countries, which largely require different approaches. While an inconsequential amount of money can produce a decent TV campaign in New Zealand, in Australia it bears considering whether or not it's effective at all to do one with less than $400,000. The sheer scale of Australia isn't far off the size of all of Europe, and reaching the significant number of people who live out of major metropolitan areas can be difficult.
The best advice would ultimately be to ensure you have specialists in each country operating there. There are well-established companies in place to deliver just that kind of local expertise already.
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Leigh Harris is editor of MCV Pacific, a trade site dedicated to the video games industry in Australia and New Zealand. You can contact him at Leigh.Harris@mcvpacific.com