The same shelves that were once ruled by PC, PSX and (occasionally) N64 now have to find room for PS3, PS2, 360, GBA, PSP, DS and Wii.
Meanwhile, there are the other three horsemen of the High Street apocalypse – offshore websites, supermarkets and downloads. Is it time for PC pilots to bale out completely?
Cambridgeshire-based sim specialist Just Flight (part of the Mastertronic Group) takes no notice of these fears. We realised years ago that forgetting your past denies you a future. Our market began life on the internet and so we just went back to our roots.
The ‘serious' flight sim trade, serving enthusiasts who crave the realism that PCs can offer, has been around for over 20 years. Initially, hobbyists swapped content among themselves on discs and later online.
Eventually, file sizes outstripped modem capacity and a gap opened up for publishers who could package software and sell it on the High Street. Flight sim add-ons proved popular with retailers because they generated good sales at decent prices.
But, times change, and we must adapt to flying over a vastly
different landscape. While PC game sales shrink on the High Street, Just Flight has seen them rise. What's our secret? It's rather simple. We've stuck to publishing the highest quality products, designed to appeal to the broadest mass of plane and train sim aficionados.
As well as offering our entire range by traditional mail order
from a well-designed website, we also provide download
versions of our titles using a tried and tested Macrovision
system. Products that might be seen as ‘too niche' by
traditional retailers are now selling in huge quantities to
customers who can have the software delivered to their
desktop at any time of the day or night!
Then comes the really clever bit – converting ‘customers'
into ‘fans'. We've achieved this by providing our website with
some of the most popular simulation forums on the
Internet. As well as discussing the latest Just Flight and Just
Trains software, enthusiasts can chat about any aspect of
simulation, what's in the news or even what's on telly.
The result is a huge congregation of Just Flight faithful who visit our site every day and don't feel they're being sold to. In
fact, they publicise our products across the Internet and effectively sell to themselves.
Our trade partners can then reap the benefits of this online
evangelism thanks to our unique e-tailer scheme. This
allows retailers to sell our products direct to their customers and we fulfil the order direct to the end user from our warehouse. No minimum order, 100 per cent positive cashflow, total range availability without stock risk, no shipping costs and the trader retains his customer.
If you want to get on, get online.