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18 MCV 24/07/09
Budget With retailers and consumers up in arms over the rising trade prices for big budget core games, James Batchelor takes a look at how invaluable the budget sector is to the industry and the perils the market currently faces... IT IS UNDENIABLE that this current generation of consoles has changed the face of gaming demographics. The success of Wii and DS has created the highly lucrative casual market. Retail is now enjoying long-tail hits and impressive sales that are unaffected by traditional trading seasons. However, it’s important to remember that there is a sector that has long been providing consumers with accessible titles for a minimal price: budget games. From PC re-releases to the retail debuts of online casual titles, publishers have been able to breed success without setting a hefty RRP.
the games industry over recent years has been in casual gaming. Imagine how retail would be hit if we had not had this influx or new customers.” Mastertronic’s MD Andy Payne is more cautious over the future for the casual sector: “It will be interesting to see how long this lasts. It has certainly grown the market in terms of consumers. The PC market has not really grown, but having said that, it has not receded, so we are still very happy to be in this space.” However, Payne observes that things are less stable for the console market, where there seems to be two sorts of
When three of the top four PC budget games are casual, you know a seismic shift has taken place. Grant Hughes, Focus
A look at the charts alone shows how much weight budget titles carry at retail, able to outsell some of the bestselling mainstream PC games. And while the current trend dictates that these titles are largely casual, it can’t be ignored that the sector’s price point is a crucial factor in chart success. “When three of the top four PC budget games are casual, you know that a seismic shift has taken place in the industry,” says Focus Multimedia’s marketing manager Grant Hughes. “That happened in April, when World of Warcraft was beaten into third place in ChartTrack’s PC Budget Chart by two of our Mystery titles.” Data Design Interactive’s MD Stewart Green agrees: “The biggest growth for
value offerings. Firstly, games made with slim development budgets “that are usually rubbish” and then overstocks that failed to meet sales expectations. “Natural selection will mean that both of these areas will slim down as publishers and game makers cannot afford unsuccessful games any more,” he explains. “Such is the power and savvy nature of consumers. This is a good thing. Quality and experience go up and everyone wins. Some lose, but then again, what value did the total cheapskate companies add anyway?” WII VALUE
The budget market on Wii is one area that has flourished over the past few years. And for companies such as DDI
Casual games are starting to out-perform the likes of World of Warcraft and Football Manager in ChartTrack’s budget charts.
The Market for computer and video games