One of the most surprising turns in this year's X Factor wasn't the show's inevitable slide into mediocrity. It was a Blockbuster ad promoting games.
This was a once-in-a-lifetime performance. The curtain lifted, to reveal a retailer, paying for prime space in a Saturday night TV show. Even better: it was promoting games. And then, it hit the high note: it was promoting its range of games available to rent.
Blockbuster made the ad break its own. And it stood out at a time when games ads are ten-a-penny during X Factor. Good.?This chain can often be the UK's forgotten games retailer. There is one in most towns so it has a retail footprint to die for, but can be written off thanks to the corporate drudgery of its former US parent. It actively pushes new releases, but shrewdly drives a hard bargain on price. The chain is one of the country's leaders in pre-paid points card sales.
Who better, then, to help change perceptions about the things retail can do with games – at a time when publishers are passive-aggressively fighting against retail with ‘Online Passes'.
TAX LOOPHOLE CLOSES… TRADE GAP GROWS
Closing the Channel Island tax loop has met with rapturous mainstream headlines, but a muted response in the trade. As we discuss on page 12, it's too little too late.Government(s) took too long to act in the first place, letting the businesses exploiting the loop to grow and prosper. When it eventually is taken away, it virtually destroys those businesses overnight by driving them away. The authorities are damned either way, alas. This was an unpleasant situation that would always have an unpleasant resolution.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY XBOX
10 years ago this week, Microsoft kickstarted a revolution in games through the US introduction of its games console. Xbox wasn't always assured success, but persistence, ambition and talent won out.
I still own and use my 360 Arcade (albeit with a hard drive in it). It has been sent off to the Microsoft plant in Germany to fix it twice. But it still ticks away, and ticks my boxes. It has been my most-played games console ever.Achievements, online games, and app-style downloads; the platform's two guises did many things first. And in some cases still does them best.
This industry has done a lot of awkward anniversary celebrating of late – ten years of this franchise, 20 of the other – but this is one birthday worth raising a glass to.