Industry attempt at self destruction

Self Destruction

So the world economies are in the middle of a recession. But the game industry was Teflon coated and kept on booming, having a record Q4 ’08. But not any more, the retail/high street side of the industry has hit a brick wall.

The first problem is that the consoles are too expensive. The Wii is still at launch price and the PS3 is still at the price when they stripped out a lot of its capabilities, whilst the 360 has gone a long time since the last price drop. So we are only selling about half the number of consoles that we should be. We all know that all three of them are coming down in price later this year, why not do it now and benefit from the extra game sales such a move would bring? Of course in reality there is some price dropping, by retailers and presumably supported by the manufacturers. But this is not the same as a fully fledged price drop.

The second problem is that the game publishers have stopped publishing games. I have never understood the industry obsession of cramming all its releases for the year into Q4, it does nobody any good and holds back the total revenue for the industry. So now we are in a desert and there is no point going to the game store. Yet people earn wages all year round.

The danger of this double whammy is that people will move onto other things to fill their time with. And some of them might forget to come back to gaming later in the year when the industry finally gets its act into gear. So we will lose their spend forever. It really is not very good for us to treat our valuable customers in this way.


  1. “Yet people earn wages all year round”

    That’s something the industry has never really understood. It seems to be stuck in the late Eighties and early Nineties, when games were released in Q4 so the kids could get their console cartridges for Christmas. Things have moved on now, and it’s time the industry woke up to the fact that today’s gamers have a disposable income.

    Incidentally, when I was a games hack, I found E3 had a similar effect. You could guarantee the issue put to bed before the show would be crying out for news and previews, as the entire industry saved its announcements for E3. This made sense for the big players, who could guarantee decent coverage in the magazines’ big E3 issues. But smaller publishers could’ve made a publicity killing by announcing their games a month earlier, getting lots of magazine space as editors struggle to fill the pre-E3 issue. Instead, they hung on and saw their games choked out of the press by the bigger offerings which were also announced at E3. It seems everybody wants to pretend they’re the big boys and that their games are AAA releases, even when neither are even remotely true.

    I’d be interested to hear your thoughts and experiences on this.

  2. When I was at Codemasters I tried to get all our big announcements out Pre E3. Not only for the reasons you state, but also to get the right people to come to our booth. Creating noise before the show was a good traffic generator.

    However the volume of news stories generated by a publisher like Codemasters is so big that I was generating two press releases a week throughout the year. So the E3 thing was just about arranging the press release shedule to get the big stories out in that slack time you talk about before the show.

  3. So true – there is a severe lack of quality at the moment. Like most gamers I’m waiting for the killer titles such as COD5, Bioshock 2 and Forza 3.

    What is there to play in the meantime? Exactly – not very much! I’ve even started playing Fallout 3 again to combat the tripe the games companies push out over the summer months.

    The last game I purchased at full retail price was Resident Evil 5. I’ve had more fun playing the re-release of Monkey Island on XBLA, than anything the £40 game market can hit me with at the moment.

  4. It looks like someone is listening!:

    “…………..EA CEO John Riccitiello doesn’t want to repeat the same mistakes this holiday. He noted in an earnings call on Tuesday, “It was a very difficult retail environment [in 2008]”, and EA released new properties “right on top of some very strong competitive launches.” He added that he was “less than pleased” with EA’s marketing during holiday 2008…………..”

Comments are closed.