As the UK charts have hinted in recent weeks, both with the launch of Activision's Destiny 2 and Bandai Namco's Project CARS 2, the ever-increasing move to digital is showing no signs of slowing down. Destiny 2's launch sales, for instance, were over 50 per cent down on its predecessor, while Project CARS 2 had an even more disappointing launch with sales 74 per cent down on the first game.
However, while standard editions of games might not be moving the same numbers as a couple of years ago, collector's editions will always have a place on shop shelves. That's according to THQ Nordic's PR and marketing director Philipp Brock, who spoke to MCV at Gamescom about the enduring appeal of these limited edition collector's items.
"I think it's comparable to vinyl in the music industry," Brock told us. "They will never go away completely. They'll be here all the time. You might not necessarily see them digit-wise, but look at vinyl – a couple of years ago it kickstarted back in the market. I think it's kind of the same with collector's editions."
Indeed, Brock added the publisher always "puts in a lot of thought" to what's included in its special editions – such as the figurine, amulet, soundtrack, art book, cloth map and manual that comes with the special edition of its upcoming sci-fi open world RPG Elex – "because that's also the key argument for retailers as well," he said.
"Collector's editions will never go away completely. They'll be here all the time."
"We're always trying to offer a good value for money, so we don't necessarily have that many 69.99 price points. We're focusing more on the mid-tier, and retailers pick it up and people are happy to see it."
THQ Nordic is seeing a healthy demand for its titles at retail as well, regardless of whether they're triple-A or indie releases: "We get more and more enquiries about whether our games are going to come to retail," Brock continued.
"It doesn't matter which game. I thought Sine Mora EX, for example, would be a classic digital title. Data-wise, it's a small game, but we still had a lot of people asking if it was going to come to retail, not only for the Switch, but also for other platforms as well. For the PC, it's more difficult. Consoles still have that idea of people putting games on the shelf with all their other games."
ONE IN A MILLION
THQ Nordic has quite a varied roster coming up over the next twelve months, with old and new IP such as Elex, Sine Mora EX, Battle Chasers: Nightwar, We Sing Pop!, Black Mirror and SpellForce 3 all to come before the end of the year, plus other big titles such as Biomutant and Darksiders III sometime in 2018.
It's a stark contrast compared to other big publishers right now, who seem to favour buckling down on a much tighter, select group of releases going forward, but Brock said THQ Nordic simply "isn't yet in the luxurious position of being able to do that."
He continued: "Our stance currently is that we want to have a very, very stable and solid financial position that enables us to focus on some sequels of brands where we think it makes sense or would be cool, and do things like Biomutant and Elex that are new IPs, so it's kind of an equilibrium. You don't necessarily push out new brands all the time, because it's risky. Riskier than, say, Darksiders III.
"We'd be very happy if our titles sold a million units, but for us, it's not a flop if it doesn't sell a million, because our budgets are on a different level and we don't necessarily have the global infrastructure to push out major campaigns in every territory. We focus on the most important one and we try to make stuff that makes sense for us."