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1C exec: Retailers bottleneck PC sales

Tuesday, 21st June 2011 10:19 GMT By Brenna Hillier

1C’s UK publishing director Darryl Still has said retailers are driving developers to digital distribution with an artificial “bottleneck” on PC games.

“The PC has been at the forefront of most technology shifts in the market. … Most breakthroughs in console technology have their roots in the PC market. Most leaps in games development come to the PC first and then work their way into the SDK’s of the console manufacturers.

“But for the longest time we’ve been told by retail, in the UK and US especially, that PC games is a dying market,” Still told CVG.

“It has been getting less and less shelf space and less and less focus in store, but in all that time we, as a PC publisher have seen absolutely no drop off in demand.”

Not convinced? Here’s a delightful anecdote.

“One of our UK publishers came to explain why they had only managed to get 30 copies [of a a game] into the UK’s largest retail chain. He passed on: ‘They told us there was hardly any demand for the title,’” Still said.

“At that time I had my digital sales reporting tool open, which tracks download sales instantly as they happen, I hit refresh and informed our partner: ‘In the few seconds that’s it has taken you to explain there is only demand for 30 units in the UK, we have sold twice as many as that digitally.’”

Still said retailers continue to moan about losing sales to digital distribution even as they turn down opportunities to make them.

“When Lace [Mamba, publisher] produce a stunning special edition boxed set – including T-shirts and other special items – that is designed specifically to give them something that cannot be replicated digitally, the UK’s biggest chain decline to stock it… preferring apparently to use that shelf space for fluffy Princess Peach plushes!” he said, in what I hope were tones of ringing disgust.

Despite his obvious respect for services like Steam, Still urged gamers to empower themselves by getting hold of physical releases if they want to.

“Buy the games you want in the way you want to buy them,” he advised. “Insist your supplier supports you as a customer.

“If your local retailer does not stock a boxed product you want, ask them to get it in, and if they decline, let them know that you will be using a supplier who will support their customer base.”

1C is the second largest European publisher after Ubisoft, with a strong catalogue of PC and console titles.

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9 Comments

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  1. Lounds

    The more retail stores become less and less PC, the bigger steam becomes :)

    Steam should be the standard platform for PC gaming, EA’s origin will be shit compared to it.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. Mondayding

    Hang on, PC gamers, connected to a PC, capable of going online and purchasing PC games through online retail outlets (physical, hard copies, mind) are being asked to go against everything that technology has delivered to them and return to the high street to shop in stores that charge more for PC games than their online counterparts ever do?

    Or am I wrong? Do PC gamers prefer to go out and shop? Do they prefer not to use the internet? What?

    #2 3 years ago
  3. Lounds

    Prefer for Steam Xmas sale :)

    #3 3 years ago
  4. AHA-Lambda

    ““One of our UK publishers came to explain why they had only managed to get 30 copies [of a a game] into the UK’s largest retail chain. He passed on: ‘They told us there was hardly any demand for the title,’” Still said.

    “At that time I had my digital sales reporting tool open, which tracks download sales instantly as they happen, I hit refresh and informed our partner: ‘In the few seconds that’s it has taken you to explain there is only demand for 30 units in the UK, we have sold twice as many as that digitally.’””

    I remember reading this quote before. Bloody brilliant XD

    #4 3 years ago
  5. blackdreamhunk

    The keys to our future well-being are all about our ability to innovate. I originally started thinking in this direction when I was attending a private games summit a little over two years ago with several key industry execs. During the lunch conversation, several games ISVs (independent software vendors) observed that they couldn’t get their hands on enough H1B work visas and permits for foreign workers and students. The key reason they had to look outside the U.S. was that they could not fulfill the demand in their respective companies for employees with strong computer science, math and science skill sets.

    These individuals further added that both the curriculum, and the quality, of most American schools and universities fall far short in graduating a big enough pool of students with the quality skill sets that they’re hiring for. Hearing all of this firsthand was initially a shock, but also somewhat of a wakeup call. I’d honestly never thought about it in that context before.

    So what are the skill sets these ISVs are looking for? There really isn’t a mainstream software app that comes to my mind that’s more demanding than a PC game. PC games push the following boundaries: OS, network stack, servers (if connected), security and identity, graphics (e.g., web graphics, DirectX 11, OpenGL ES, and the like), physics, artificial intelligence, parallel and multithreaded computing (like OCL) and so on. All of these things require not just a basic understanding of math and science, but also an intimate understanding.

    The vast array of algorithms and techniques leveraged for PC gaming, as you can see, is nothing short of astounding. PC games today use practically every technology I mentioned across the board, to one degree or another. It is the sum total of those individual technology parts that makes a PC game interesting, fun and engaging.

    Then how do we all benefit from PC gaming? There’s been an ongoing — and increasing — amount of crossover between PC gaming and Hollywood special effects and techniques, especially in terms of pushing the boundaries for more immersive graphics, physics and artificial intelligence advancements, tools and middleware. I can’t think of any other two industries that play so great a part, so high up the food chain, in the demands they place on driving technologies.

    These innovations then waterfall and benefit many other companies and adjacencies. Here’s a partial list: medical imaging and simulations; climate modeling; military applications; private and commercial aviation; oil and gas exploration; business and enterprise software; and so on. The list is nearly endless.

    The key thing to keep in mind is that these technological advances likely wouldn’t have been as healthy, or accelerated, if PC gaming had not been a key driver — of which even the console industry also largely benefits. The number of jobs associated with, generated by and benefitting from the PC gaming and Hollywood ecosystems goes far beyond what is immediately seen on the surface.

    http://www.goozernation.com/video-games/index.php/digital-innovation-gazette/733-could-pc-gaming-be-critical-to-our-nations-future-part-1

    #5 3 years ago
  6. blackdreamhunk

    we don’t need retailers, they are killing them self it’s just Microsoft and sony trying to destroy pc gaming. the industry trying to destroy pc gaming is just shooting them self in foot.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. GwynbleiddiuM

    @6 NO, it’s just Microsoft. Before Micro$oft in the console business Nintendo and Sony were doing their own stuff and PC gaming was doing good too, and there was a sort of line between console gaming and pc gaming, each had their own characteristics. Ever since Microsoft entered the picture that line kept fading away. It’s no longer PC gaming, and no longer console gaming, it’s just shit, and every year the number of high-quality games coming out in the market keep falling and failing. Basically everyone trying to do what the other guy does to survive, but Microsoft did start all this, those monopilist bastards want everything and what they had simply wasn’t enough. Everyone need to be on all the platforms now and should maintain a certain balance to appeal to everyone. All you need to look at is RPG genre, there’s no longer anything called cRPG, as if it did not exist before, butchered, plain and simple. All we have now are failed attempts at bringing games to much wider audience, result will be Mass Effecs and Dragon Ages and Dungeon Siege III. don’t get me wrong I love Mass Effect 1 and 2 but that is the perfect exampled how the lines between platforms and genres blurred and blurred. We have now – instead of RPG – story driven titles which taking few elements from the classic role-playing genre like the choice impact and mix it up with cheap Gears of War action rip-off and there you have it, a game with no classification that yet falls in many, appeals to many gamers no matter how casual or hardcore, no matter what type of playstyle they have.

    It’s just the world we’re living in now, they want to keep blurring the lines between things that made perfect sense before and once created separations for not letting every aspect of our lives mix up. Now sony comes with PlayStation Vita and shamelessly claims that they want to blur the lines between life and entertainment.

    If you look at the grand scheme that I’d like to call it the “Blur Project” everything is getting mixed up with everything. Life, Work, Entertainment, privacy, freedom, Religion, politics, society, sociability, everything. Someone out there thinks keep removing lines and fading boundaries is actually the next best thing for humanity.

    Well I don’t like this, but it’s just me.

    As far as retails vs digital goes, I was always pro digital. For many reasons, and one of my favorite reasons are, less wood chopping and unrefinable wastes, it can also be looked at as some go green movement. less physical space consumption. it can end up cheaper for developers and publishers, too.

    #7 3 years ago
  8. Hunam

    You’ll also notice that GAME are starting to charge more for PC games. Not only are they responsible for games being taken off steam in the UK they are trying to push the price of games up. I’m just kinda getting sick of them now though as they really are just trying to take the piss.

    #8 3 years ago
  9. Grimrita

    another 5-10 years and GAME will vanish from the high street. Thanks to the way they do business, they are already suffering with poor sales and margins, despite clogging their stores with pre-owned – the main focus of their business.

    I cant think of one reason why I would give GAME my hard earned cash

    #9 3 years ago