PC software retailers, look away now: Full video games giveaways will soon become as commonplace on the cover of national newspapers as CDs and DVDs.
That's according to the company that organised a ‘covermount' offer with The Times newspaper last week, which saw five full PC titles, such as Ubisoft's Scrabble, given away gratis.
Similar national newspaper giveaways have been blamed for devaluing the DVD and CD markets by trade bodies and leading retailers.
Hasbro's Monopoly was included with Saturday's Times, followed by Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit, Countdown and more in subsequent issues.
The Times flouted usual games ‘covermount' protocol by including a CD version of Monopoly and Scrabble over the weekend – rather than giving away retail tokens.
Media firm The Practice sold the idea to The Times and arranged licensing details with the likes of Ubisoft and Hasbro. Account manager at the firm John Bassett told MCV:
This is the first time we've seen interactive giveaways, and The Times has run a lot of advertising. If they see an uplift in sales like we have with CD and DVD giveaways, they'll want to repeat it. And you can bet your bottom dollar other newspapers will follow suit.”
The ‘Special Edition' of Ubisoft's Scrabble carried the same artwork to the publisher's latest PC and DS versions of the title, which were released last year. Ubisoft declined to comment when contacted by MCV.
The trade has chipped in with its opinion of the deal - and it's largely negative. HMV's head of games Tim Ellis told MCV:
Generally we remain against the gratuitous free distribution of catalogue titles, whether this is music, film or games, unless some form of promotional mechanic is also put in place that helps to stimulate a wider interest in catalogue titles."
And director general of the Entertainment Retailers Association Kim Bayley said:
If this continues, it could devalue the PC game market for publishers and retail alike. Other publishers will follow Ubisoft. It's a slippery slope – and a sign that games hasn't heeded the lessons of the music industry.”