This Week In The Business: Those Old Brick-And-Mortar Blues

Illustration for article titled This Week In The Business: Those Old Brick-And-Mortar Blues

STAT | 20% - Watch Dogs 2's launch week sales at UK retailers were down 80% compared to the performance of the original Watch Dogs. It was the latest in a string of disappointing UK launches for AAA games this fall.


STAT | 12% - GameStop’s expected year-over-year drop in comparable store sales for the holiday quarter. The retailer is forecasting double-digit declines for the entire video game category.

QUOTE | “People who are buying fewer mint games aren’t just moving into digital - this accounted for just 13 percent of value decline this year. The problem is with generally lower engagement among repeat mint games shoppers.” - Data firm Kantar Wordpanel suggests that the games-as-a-service approach by AAA titles like Destiny, The Division, and Grand Theft Auto Online is keeping some customers from going out and buying new titles.

QUOTE | “It wouldn’t work if it was about making it compulsory for gamers. No more DLC that you have to buy if you want to have the full experience. You have the game, and if you want to expand it - depending on how you want to experience the game - you’re free to buy it, or not.” - Ubisoft’s VP of live operations Anne Blondel-Jouin describes the publisher’s own shift toward games-as-a-service.

QUOTE | “I think we’re seeing the F2P model disrupting the standard retail model for larger budget games. The continued rise of AAA-quality, free-to-play games coming to market - and their ability to fill the long gaps between large IP releases - is taking a bite out of the big game market.” - Digital Extremes VP of publishing Meridith Braun believes games like her studio’s Warframe are playing a part in the traditional industry’s woes.

QUOTE | “You don’t subscribe to Netflix or HBO to watch one movie, you do so because you want to watch a whole bunch of movies. If you like a game publisher, like Nintendo, you’ll want to play all their games - both the new ones they’ve got coming out, but even some of the old ones.” - App Annie chief marketing officer Al Campa believes Netflix-style subscription services will be the future of mobile games monetization.

STAT | 1.9 million - The first-week Japanese retail sales of Pokemon Sun and Moon. That’s better than the 1.53 million put up by Pokemon Omega Ruby and Star Sapphire in 2014, but short of the 2.1 million posted by Pokemon X and Y in 2013.


QUOTE | “We saw these discoverability difficulties a long way out just by looking at the number of games being published on Steam. It made me realize that no matter how good you are in certain circumstances, you are just going to get lost, and whoever we ended up talking to needed to have some form of clout, either financially or strategically, and would be able to make us visible.” - Ben Cousins explains why he and David Goldfarb needed to find a publisher to help launch the first project from their new studio The Outsiders.

QUOTE | “We can’t compete with Clash of Clans, but there is a big market gap for games like ours. Mobile strategy games have become stale, haven’t really changed in almost ten years, and there’s not been a lot of innovation.” - Solid Clouds CEO and former CCP dev Stefán Gunnarsson sees an opportunity for his sci-fi PC strategy game Starborne to thrive in mobile.


QUOTE | “There’s a whole swathe of indie developers that got lucky and suddenly made tens of millions of dollars and I’d like to think that they should do some good stuff with it. You can buy a nice car, PC, or house but some of these people are in their twenties and have made £10 million from their video game and you just think ‘Give one per cent away to charity for fuck’s sake.’” - Positech’s Cliff Harris wants people in the industry to be more philanthropic, even if they have to be shamed into it.

QUOTE | “I thought this was our opportunity to have a cinematic universe.” - Resident Evil director Paul W.S. Anderson explains why he eagerly took on the challenge of bringing another Capcom franchise to the big screen with Monster Hunter.


QUOTE | “If we say, ‘Hey you’re Bruce Wayne,’ that immediately allows you to make moral decisions as if you’re the character. ‘Oh, I know how Bruce Wayne behaves. I know I fight crime, or I don’t use a gun,’ for example. And we didn’t want that for Giant Cop. We wanted you to make decisions based on your character, and what your personality is.” - Other Ocean’s Marc McGinley explains how VR makes subtle distinctions important, like the difference between playing a pre-existing character in a game and playing a different version of yourself.


I still plan to give Watch Dogs 2 a chance when the price goes down, but I don’t blame anyone who played the first game and decided to just give up on the entire series immediately. It was pretty bad.