With the video game market continuing to thrive, and a slew of new PC game announcements following E3, PCR asked independent retailers how important PC gaming is to their business…
David Harrington of Cirtrik said that his firm avoided stocking games due to the rapid evolution of the market, and the intense competition with digital platforms.
“We don't have the facility to display and turnover games quick enough,” he said.
“Games and gamer stuff tends to age too quickly.
“Another reason for us not stocking games is that a lot of PC gamers get their games from Steam now.”
Anthony Lay of AML Midlands agreed, saying: “Currently we hold zero stock of games products.
“I worked within the market sector many years ago and found it too fast-moving to keep stock and turn it over.
“However, gamers and PC gamers are here to stay. You will always have the traditional users of PCs for games – and they will never move off a dedicated gaming machine.”
Craig Hume, director of Utopia Computers, similarly said that his firm didn’t stock boxed video game titles, but instead focused on the peripherals and accessories surrounding PC gaming.
“We dedicate most of our retail store display space to gaming products such as keyboards, mice and headsets – the type of kit that gamers want to see and try before they buy,” he told PCR.
“While we don't stock boxed games, we have plenty of game stores on the High Street beside us and have found a collaborative approach with these stores to be more profitable than simply attempting to stock games and try to compete on price.
Hume agreed with Harrington that the digital distribution of titles presented a market that brick and mortar retailers couldn’t directly compete with.
“In most cases the digital download edition will be cheaper and easier to install, with the majority of retail boxed games still needing you to download an update once you install from the DVD.
“I would say that, other than for a handful budget game studios, for all intensive purposes PC boxed software is dead.”
Hume added that investing in knowledge and displaying genuine interest in the games market could help firms to develop customer relationships.
“The whole team here keep up to date with events like E3, as well as watching e-sports,” he explained. “It’s not hard to find the time to stay on top of things if there is a genuine passion for it. This always helps as it’s a great conversation starter with the majority of our customers.”
Matthew James of Eastgate Computers said that his firm had been motivated to enter the sector by the rapid resurgence in custom-built desktop systems, as well as the continued success of console gaming.
“Gaming is an area we are seeing huge growth in at the moment,” he said. “Many customers new and old are looking at building their own machines or wanting to ‘pimp up’ their PCs with the latest technology.
“We expanded into games back in November and, while it's a tough market in general with pricing, we are doing well with our console games.
“Our PC range hasn't done as well – we put it down to the ease of getting games on Steam or Origin.”
Despite this, James said that several upcoming PC releases could present an ideal opportunity for PC games retailers.
“I think The Sims 4 is going to be very popular as we still keep getting asked for The Sims 3 which is no longer available,” he said. “We expect Grand Theft Auto V to be very popular too when its released [on PC] later this year.”
Mike Hoffman, director of Drum Brae Solutions Ltd, contrasted with James’ comments, stating: “We are seeing a growth in PC gaming among our clients and a slight swing away from consoles.
“We’re mostly B2B, so while we have some retail space dedicated to gaming, we don’t try to compete with the Tesco and PC World just down the hill from us,” he added.