While trying to grow our own business we continually look at our competitors, both large and small, to see which direction the industry is heading in. And as the market leader, it makes perfect sense to take note of GAME's future plans.
Some ideas require levels of funding that are simply beyond the reach of most indies, but there are some concepts that can be modified and put into practice with some hard work and planning.
The traditional model of boxed video games will decline in the coming years. To what extent hasn't yet become clear, so while we still have a strong performance in this area (largely thanks to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One sales), it has become very important to bring through new products and services, particularly our digital and technology offerings.
The digital route was opened last year through Sony and DLCSoft, and that has been a resounding success with the product offering growing steadily as the year has progressed. CentreSoft has also brought additional publishers to the digital portfolio, while Microsoft and Exertis now have digital currency and subscriptions available with more content to follow. And there are other digital initiatives being rolled out.
Publishers are finally coming around to the benefits that retailers (big and small) can offer in this area as most of these digital sales are in addition to existing business. Customers can be better educated at store level than they ever could online, impulse purchases are a huge factor and the visibility of products in-store is a key driver for some titles. Our aim as a business is to engage with as many publishers as possible on digital and, with some hard work, 2015 should be a key year for us in this market.
Technology is another area where key competitors have expanded into, some even trialling standalone stores similar to the CEX model [GAME's GAMETronics stores being the most notable example).
There will be very few customers coming through the door who do not own either a mobile phone or a tablet and as these products are upgraded on a regular basis, a trade in service can become an important revenue generator for any store. However, there is a lot of competition in this area, and not just within our retail sector either, which results in some aggressive trade-in prices, and this can be at odds with the gaming products.
The introduction of technology and digital products into stores gives customers new reasons to shop with us. The more reasons they have to come into our stores, the more secure our business becomes. And in an ever-changing retail environment, standing still is not an option.