GAME told MCV this week that it reserves the right to challenge retail and publishing boundaries with ‘own brand' initiatives – but has promised there is no pipeline of products on the way for Christmas.
A level of hysteria has been growing amongst publishers with rumours that GAME had already lined up a number of titles to follow recent test titles on PC and Nintendo DS.
But the chain has moved to calm any unrest by being candid about its on-going strategy.
If an opportunity arises and we think it could be a good proposition for both us and the consumer, then we will explore it. But it is not as if there are many products planned,” GAME's UK and Ireland managing director Tricia Brennan told MCV.
This isn't about us doing something that threatens publishers. It is about listening to developers who may come to us with titles that may not otherwise be able to get to market.
If it works commercially for GAME and helps a smaller publisher get off the ground by GAME sharing some of the risk, then we would look at it – we have a distribution channel and we can offer a service.
As a specialist, we need differentiation on the High Street. Exclusives are a real positive for us. We have already published driving test and anti-virus titles as own-brand, plus Vegas Casino on DS.”
Exclusives have been used by retailers in the games market for the past 20 years, but publishers are keeping a close eye on direct deals with developers.
They have to be very careful. Us publishers already feel aggrieved by the fact that we lose out on the huge revenues created by trade-in sales,” said one boss. If any retailer were really to go for it with own brand games, it would be an act of war.”
Whilst major publishers will less threatened by retailers picking up niche titles and bringing them to market, smaller outfits are less assured.
What GAME or Tesco are doing is effectively what we do – bring titles to market, get them localised, and through format holder approval. But it's hard for us to compete if a powerful chain can offer better terms and guaranteed retail distribution,” said one small Nintendo licensee.