In a step that could mean retailers are showing signs of ‘learning’ and ‘adapting’, GameStop are now selling Steam cards. These cards allow you to add funds to your onnline Steam account, promoting the use of Valve’s online digital distribution service.
What does this mean for the transition to digital? Click on.
To put it simply, starting from yesterday, people are able to go into GameStop and buy $20 and $50 denominations of ‘Steam Cards‘. This co-incides with GAME now looking to push digital purchases harder by offering trade-in deals on Microsoft points cards.
This is a step in the right direction for retailers as it could signify them embracing the coming change. The fact that more sales are going to be ‘digital’, and that rather than fighting it, they should learn to embrace and benefit from it. How exactly they do this, other than by selling pre-paid top-up cards, is not for me to decide. People getting paid a lot of money are working on it, so they’re bound to figure it out, but this is positive. Lord knows that game retailers need something positive.
You see, retailers are still in trouble, don’t let GAME’s escape from the clutches of death fool you. We’ve got GAME Australia going into administration, GAME’s Oxford Street store could be forced to close down and on top of that, even non-specialist retailers are reporting falling game sales. This current poor form is hardly surprising given that shops have failed to address the rise of digital distribution. This was being discussed years ago, and yet no one could, or could be bothered, to figure out how to deal with it.
It’s not just retailers feeling the pinch currently. EA have seen their shares fall and THQ’s finances have seen better days. This has led to everyone jumping on the digital bandwagon and trying to reverse their fortunes with digital goods. As I’ve commented on before, companies are keener than ever to exploit this new revenue stream as EA look to emulate Call of Duty: Elite’s success by offering a ‘digital service’ on top of their £40 game.
If these services are nothing more than mad cash-grabs this may end up doing more harm than good. We’ve seen that Capcom are reporting worse than expected sales figures for Tekken X Street Fighter and have stated that their ‘on-disc DLC’ policy isn’t working out. Could the two be related? Capcom, naturally, haven’t said as much but anyone capable of adding 2+2 must be able to see the correlation.
It’s tough times for publishers at the moment. Offering extra content and services through digital services is a great way to increase profit and give something valuable to the gamer which wasn’t possible before. On the other hand, consumers are smarter than ever and are quick to grow tired of lazy attempts on their wallets.
Retailers need to adapt to the changing landscape also. Embracing the new and expanding ‘digital delivery’ services out there, rather than trying to fight or ignore them, could see the high street become relevant again. Will they be happy being nothing more than a middle-man for these services though? Most definitely not. So what should they do?
Well, I’d love to tell you but as stated previously, I’m not getting paid to do so and, to be honest…
I don’t know.