POTTER AND BECKS
IN XMAS CRUNCH
Copyright 2001 www.tombraiderchronicles.com
[ November 13th 2001 ]
crunch time for the computer games industry. As
high streets and malls begin to fill with seasonal
shoppers, publishers and developers can do little
but sit back and wait to discover if the hard
work of the past 12 months has paid off.
publishers expect Christmas 2002 to be the next
boom season in the gaming cycle, while 2001 will
be more subdued. Nevertheless, being able to reach
respectable sales figures this year will very
much depend on how many of their titles they can
get in stockings and under trees come December
success looks almost guaranteed. There is a suspicion
that merchandisers could sell a million plastic
dog faeces if they came with a Harry Potter logo
attached, so Electronic Arts and Argonaut, the
UK developer of the game based on the boy wizard,
can probably relax in the knowledge that they
have a winner.
Electronics Boutique, the UK's largest computer
games retailer, knows a good thing when it sees
it. Harry Potter features on the cover of its
latest catalogue, which has a 1.5m print run.
"I think Harry Potter will drive hardware sales
as well, it's a real must have, and is a safe
Christmas present," says Lisa Morgan, EB's commercial
director responsible for the retailer's buying
who believe late October is a tad early for the
Christmas nut selections to begin appearing on
supermarket shelves should spare a thought for
Ms Morgan and her eight-strong buying team, for
whom Christmas began in May at E3, the industry's
largest exhibition in California.
EB and other retailers their first sight of the
games that will make or break Christmas. And six
months later, with much of the buying process
complete, Ms Morgan believes the mixture of new
hardware and strong software is a winning combination.
have the PlayStation2 and the GameBoy Advance
hardware in stores and a bunch of high quality
titles," she says. Apart from Harry Potter, Ms
Morgan sees Smackdown: Just bring it on, another
title from the Worldwide Wrestling Federation
franchise as another big winner, helping to drive
sales of PS2 for Sony. Harry Potter may be tougher
test for Becks than Germany. David Beckham may
or may not end up on our screens modelling Marks
and Spencer's Y-fronts, but he is about to star
in a six-week TV campaign modelling a computer
Harry Potter in this season's games race may well
be a tougher test for Becks than beating Germany
in their own backyard, but Rage, the UK software
group who are publishing David Beckham Soccer,
clearly have faith in English football's messiah.
Rage has ploughed £600,000 into a marketing campaign
that will include an outdoor campaign and 1m postcards
sent to schools. And it's not difficult to see
why. Apart from the difficulty of gaining any
sort of visibility over and above the boy wizard,
competition in the football game market is cut-throat.
Electronic Arts published Fifa 2002, the latest
generation of its hugely successful franchise,
across PlayStation, PS2 and PC, while Sony's This
is Football has already hit the top 10 in the
UK. And for those who prefer a more leisurely
approach to their football gaming there is Eidos'
enduring Championship Manager 2002 - and a quiz
version of the game, modelled on Who Wants to
be a Millionaire? - as well as LMA Manager 2002
and Empire's Director of Football. While Becks
is certain to help Rage stand out on the shelf,
there must come a time at which football gaming
has reached saturation point.
ITV finding a lack of enthusiasm for the extra
games it brought to an unappreciative public,
surely publishers will find that the appetite
for all other things football is diminishing also.