HMV and Blockbuster are gone, along with countless independent shops, but their demise doesn’t appear to be hurting video game distributors. In fact, the leading UK distributors told MCV that the closures did not have much of an impact at all.
Mastertronic said the bankruptcies are a non-issue, as most stock is now on a consignment basis. “However, where we have expensive console stock in the retail channel and no practical means of retrieving it quickly, it still poses a problem. The ongoing transition to a digital business has minimised the effects of these closures,” said Mastertronic operations director Dermot Stapleton.
Vogue Distribution sales manager Tom Popple said the poor performance of the retail sector has made had a knock-on effect on game sales, but Vogue is weathering the storm by expanding into new markets. Clock Entertainment exec Jake Wright said it is sad to see big names disappear from the UK high street, but he pointed out that the closures did not have much effect on his outfit.
A number of execs from Bright Red Distribution, Gem and Link Distribution concur. While none of them welcome the demise of high street chains, they don’t appear too concerned, either. Besides, the long-term trend in the gaming industry is online distribution, with constant updates and plenty of downloadable content to keep gamers hooked.
The demise of brick and mortar shops is already boosting online sales, although sales of PC games are not doing very well. High street’s woes did not take a financial toll on games distributors, but they did hurt company confidence and there are not that many positive signs to report. PC sales are down, console lovers are waiting for next-gen gear and casual gaming on mobile devices is bigger than ever.