HMV UK rethinks its gaming strategy

Get rid of all these games! No wait, get more games!

Here’s a turn up for the books. A few weeks ago HMV declared they would be reducing the space dedicated to games in their stores because, according to CEO Simon Fox, “Before and during Christmas the support we were getting from the games industry in general was disappointing.” The recent fall and resurrection of GAME however, along with HMV improving its relationships with various publishers, has caused them to rethink this curious strategy.

“The High Street has nearly 300 fewer dedicated games outlets,” Fox told MCV. “We have a credible games offer on many of those High Streets and it would be absolutely criminal of us to not take advantage of that. We need to do everything that we can to grab market share, both where we are up against GAME and where we are not.” HMV are banking on this U-turn in their gaming focus to net them £10 million in profits next year.

Good on ya HMV. I’ve long been an advocate of more diversity and competition in UK gaming retail because it would ultimately benefit the UK games retail industry as a whole. More choice means a better deal overall for us gaming proles, since we wouldn’t be at the mercy of a single retail monolith charging silly prices because it thinks its the only game in town. So much for all the naysayers  who preached that GAME’s troubles spelled complete doom for UK high street games retail, eh? With complete disregard for supply and demand, how nature abhors a vacuum, etcetera etcetera. Here’s hoping they can all find enough tasty crow to chew on.

What I find particularly interesting about this story is Simon Fox’s claims of improved relations between HMV and publishers. One can only assume GAME’s troubles really hammered home to the likes of Ubisoft and EA that old adage about eggs and a basket, encouraging them to cosy up to HMV and possibly some other UK games retailers. Maybe it will even encourage them to give a fairer deal to the pitifully-few independent game stores left in the UK. Monopolies are only great for everyone involved – always to the detriment of consumers – and are only as strong as their weakest participant. Plurality of choice is the only sensible way to go and publishers can do their bit to help encourage this.

It’d also be great if HMV’s strategic rethink could conjure up some more jobs for Britain’s growing population of unemployed, although I may as well wish for the moon on a stick. In the meantime I’ll settle for a slightly-healthier UK games retail trade.

Source: MCV

Matt McDermott

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