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Why Vivendi Prefers Retail Game Distribution

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 32 comments

It's all about that magical moment.

The games industry is definitely seeing--and feeling--a shift in distribution, moving from physical to retail thanks to services such as Steam, Direct2Download, and more. Actual retail stores like GameStop and Wal-Mart aren't helping matters, reducing physical copies of PC games to a mere shelf or two. But despite the trend, publishers are trying to keep the dream alive, some of which option not to publish digitally despite industry direction.

Former president of Global Retail for Vivendi Universal Games Pascal Brochier recently told Joystiq that initially it purposely avoided the digital release of World of Warcraft's Burning Crusade expansion. Although Blizzard had a clear option to go digital, it decided against the virtual release. Why? Because the midnight launch brings big, big exposure.

"When you're at the store with all of the events, you actually have people who've dropped [their subscriptions] come back," he said. "The midnight events and all of the functions help people come back who've stopped playing, but also guys who've wanted to try it will be attracted to the event and become new-found players."

He also added that retail is a very important, critical part of overall sales. "There's also a significant percentage of players who just play through pre-paid cards, and that's retail, that's a retail model," he added. "So you've got to find the balance."

Brochier said that Vivendi and Blizzard released Burning Crusade to digital channels a few weeks after the physical launch, catering to both the disc-based and digital gamers.

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  • 11 Hide
    HalJordan , April 30, 2010 7:50 PM
    I don't see why they couldn't do an online release, plus a retail store release at the same time. Just offer a plush toy, hat pin, map of London's sewer system, etc. with the retail release. The nutters who would stand in line all night for a game release are still going to show up...
Other Comments
  • -9 Hide
    maigo , April 30, 2010 7:45 PM
    People who only make money selling disks don't like people who don't sell disk
  • 11 Hide
    HalJordan , April 30, 2010 7:50 PM
    I don't see why they couldn't do an online release, plus a retail store release at the same time. Just offer a plush toy, hat pin, map of London's sewer system, etc. with the retail release. The nutters who would stand in line all night for a game release are still going to show up...
  • 1 Hide
    duckmanx88 , April 30, 2010 8:14 PM
    warcraft, sims, and the diablo warchest are THE ONLY games i ever see when i go into Target, gamestop and Walmart. but some gamestops near me don't carry PC games without me preordering them. best buy and frys still have a pretty "large" selection though.
  • 4 Hide
    thackstonns , April 30, 2010 8:14 PM
    What a picture
  • 7 Hide
    hellwig , April 30, 2010 8:17 PM
    HalJordanI don't see why they couldn't do an online release, plus a retail store release at the same time. Just offer a plush toy, hat pin, map of London's sewer system, etc. with the retail release. The nutters who would stand in line all night for a game release are still going to show up...

    Agreed. I remember walking into BestBuy the morning Diablo II came out and buying a copy. One of the friends I played with that weekend spent the extra $50 to have the limited collectors edition overnighted to him (it arrived that same morning). Long story short, I would have downloaded it back then if it was an option (in 2000, not a lot of broadband access yet), but my friend would still have paid the extra money to buy the collectors edition (and probably would have attended a midnight party had there been one in our state).

    This is just another marketing prick talking out his ass as if he understands his clients, when 99% of WoWers don't have the time nor desire to attend a midnight party (it's just a game for chrissake). You can still have these parties for the nerds that want to attend, but how about making it easier on the other 99% of your paying clientèle (no, I've never played WoW).

    As for bringing back old players, you know what brought me back to the original Everquest a while back? Cheap Prices. Steam had a deal where you could buy the first 15 (of 16) expansions for $3. Yeah, you still have to pay the monthly subscription, but when you don't have to pay $50+ to get caught back up on content its a pretty good deal. Maybe WoW should offer discounted expansion packs to previous players. You know, since you still charge them $15/month, do you really need that one-time infusion of $50 (plus the cost of packaging, distribution, etc...)?
  • 3 Hide
    maestintaolius , April 30, 2010 8:27 PM
    The thing that gets me (referring to the above comment) is that the Click 2, I mean Diablo 2, battle chest still goes for 40$.
  • 1 Hide
    -unknown- , April 30, 2010 8:41 PM
    Its a very interesting and valid point re: physical distribution. Without it, you're exposure is limited to those in-the-know.
  • 7 Hide
    zachary k , April 30, 2010 8:52 PM
    yea, because everyone loves stacks of dvd boxes and putting in long CD keys when you install, and putting in DVDs every time you want to play a game.
    TL;DR i love steam.
  • -3 Hide
    accolite , April 30, 2010 9:09 PM
    yeah, but what about the 5-20 hours trying to get steam setup with all your games?
  • 2 Hide
    mauskau , April 30, 2010 9:16 PM
    With them taking this stance it wouldn't surprise me to find out that Vivendi Universal had been a big proponent of the Maginot Line.

    While I can understand liking the old way that things were done and having a fondness for it, it baffles me that they would basically ignore the trend with everything moving towards digital distribution. Hell, the only way I buy PC games now is off of Steam unless it is something that I must have and it is not available there. Steam is my preferred method for purchasing nowadays. No CD keys, no box that I have to keep around, no worrying about losing the disk, etc. Why wouldn't they release it in retail box if they choose to but also not ignore the digital distribution? Makes no sense to not embrace both mediums.
  • 1 Hide
    CaptainBib , April 30, 2010 9:37 PM
    With how broadband is in the US at least, I would feel much better having the option to buy physical disks of every game that is available for digital download.

    With bandwidth caps, downloading large games would eat up your allotment for the month, not to mention take ridiculously long to download.
  • 1 Hide
    runbmp , April 30, 2010 9:54 PM
    " Why Vivendi Prefers Retail Game Distribution "

    translation, Steam scares the $hit out of us. My local pc store doesn't even carry pc games anymore. Other than The sims and World of Warcraft.
  • 3 Hide
    mauskau , April 30, 2010 9:58 PM
    CaptainBibWith how broadband is in the US at least, I would feel much better having the option to buy physical disks of every game that is available for digital download.With bandwidth caps, downloading large games would eat up your allotment for the month, not to mention take ridiculously long to download.


    I totally agree that there should be the option to get the disk itself if you want it that way, but if you read the article it says that Vivendi deliberately makes the choice to NOT make the games available digitally. That makes no sense to me. Why not have it available in both formats, especially when distribution is trending towards the digital method? That is the part that doesn't make sense.
  • 4 Hide
    NuclearShadow , April 30, 2010 10:09 PM
    I understand the point in digital download it saves lots of money than retail copies being made and sent around the globe. It also is convenient to many consumers. Heck it even helps independent developers get their games out.

    But there are downsides to it most of which effect the consumer.
    The prices do not differ from the retail version so none of the savings are passed down. Prices tend to be higher than retail after a game has been released for sometime as stores need to move merchandise for shelf space and digital download providers do not. There also always the fear of one of these digital distributors going out of business. Then all those games you buy are just gone.

    I do miss the days of walking into a place like Media Play having four long shelves full of PC games and a bargain bin for the older ones. Getting actual manuals with the games and sometimes extras. But most importantly the security that I bought the game and I would always have it. Can't say that with digital downloads.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , April 30, 2010 10:31 PM
    To the person above, you can't say the same with physical media either. DRM.... you have about 5 installs and your physical media is now useless. So I would say the digital distro is a safer bet.
  • 1 Hide
    kamel5547 , April 30, 2010 10:43 PM
    duckmanx88warcraft, sims, and the diablo warchest are THE ONLY games i ever see when i go into Target, gamestop and Walmart. but some gamestops near me don't carry PC games without me preordering them. best buy and frys still have a pretty "large" selection though.


    Target has a decent collection out here. Assassins Creed 1 & 2, Supreme Commander 2, Mass Effect 2, limited to the major releases but its not too bad. I'd say they dedicate more space to PC gaming than the Wii games. Gamestop has close to nothing, never even looked at Wal-Mart.

    Fry's is probably just behind Microcenter in terms of retail space, but those are both regional chains.
  • 0 Hide
    Godfail , April 30, 2010 10:50 PM
    runbmp" Why Vivendi Prefers Retail Game Distribution "translation, Steam scares the $hit out of us. My local pc store doesn't even carry pc games anymore. Other than The sims and World of Warcraft.


    Blizzard has it's very own digital distribution, and the new Battle.net is built around it...I wouldn't say Steam scares them, in the least.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , April 30, 2010 10:52 PM
    This just makes sense. Why don't more people think like vivendi these days? Then again vivendi shouldn't be ones to talk. Most people who play wow end up looking like Stan Kyle Cartman and Kenny; how the hell do they expect them to drive anywhere?
  • 0 Hide
    jerreece , April 30, 2010 10:53 PM
    I hate to say it, but Target has the best selection of PC games in my town. GameStop is second. But when it comes to overall floor space for PC games... Target wins. Pretty darn sad.
  • 3 Hide
    Marco925 , May 1, 2010 2:13 AM
    zachary kyea, because everyone loves stacks of dvd boxes and putting in long CD keys when you install, and putting in DVDs every time you want to play a game.TL;DR i love steam.


    but some of us actually do like having physical copies of games. We're Traditionalists, We prefer smelling that new-box smell as we crack open the case for the first time, to feel the factory pressed disc with virtually No scratches and putting it in the first time,

    It feels soulless sometimes with digital.
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