Aug 282008

Kim's surprised by the giant PC game rack that has 1/3 casual titles and 1/3 adventure games

Holy balls! Look at the PC game shelf! Approx 1/3 traditional PC hardcore fare (not shown), 1/3 kids & adventure (e.g. Dora, Nancy Drew, etc – also not shown) and 1/3 $20 casual download titles.

…on pampers, programming & pitching manure: Evolution of retail

See now, what have I been saying? 🙂

Though when I point this out (as I did most recently in my criminally underreported, one of the best talks I have ever given, go watch the video now Sandbox/Web3d speech), I usually focus on adventure games, not the casual games.

The point is the same though — a misread of what the average consumer is purchasing. Target has plenty of data on this, they make their living from it. First fact: the PC rack is large, despite what anyone may say about PC gaming dying. And what they stock tilts pretty heavily towards game cards, adventure games, and casual games.

If you do venture into the “core games” shelves, by the way, what you find is that there are two shelves of Sims stuff, two shelves of Blizzard stuff, and a smattering of current popular titles.

  6 Responses to “Another games picture from Target”

  1. I don’t go to Target for hardcore gaming needs. I LIKE the fact that Target devotes such a space to PC games (despite the massive space for consoles and peripherals that dwarfs the PC section), but it’s not hard to extrapolate that, in a “general goods” store like Target, you’re going to be getting the “soccer moms” first and foremost, their dragged-along spouses (hence the Blizzard and B-grade FPS & RTS titles) second, and the kids third (everything else).

  2. Interestingly enough… At Casual Connect in Seattle Alex Garden (Nexon) was commenting about how profitable the “pay for stuff” opportunity is and that Nexon’s card sales enjoyed tremendous margin. That’s all well and good, but the buyer from Target responsible for purchasing these cards was amongst the audience. 🙂

    Her follow up question asked if Alex expected the prepaid card market to become more competitive? I’d put some money down that it just got a little bit more competitive on the next Target order.

  3. I might be revealing here that I haven’t watched the talk yet, but I suspect we need to know more about Target’s inventory and sales before we can declare that the contents of their shelf say something about the PC game market.

    What’s the turnover on the inventory, broken down by genre? What sort of deals do they have with their suppliers? They might be turning over 100 copies of WoW a month while Diner Dash acts as a loss leader. Or it might be the reverse. What is a square foot of Target floor space expected to generate in terms of revenue? Which parts of the PC games section are cutting it, and which ones aren’t?

  4. Hey Raph,

    Thanks for noting and linking to the post. A few additions:

    The drift to casual wasn’t surprising me; my time spent in Casual games at MS convinced me of that (despite my now working on big uber-gpu ;-).

    What DID surprise me was that retail drifted in that direction. The argument for a long time has been that retail biz wouldn’t support the casual market which supposedly is long tail in nature. Means the head of the tail has to be beefy enough to support that shelf space otherwise they’d dedicated it to, I dunno, nail buffing kits and kleenex box cozies or whatever.

    which brings me to Bret’s comment; sure, Target’s not a snapshot of the industry as a whole, but they didn’t get where they are without properly managing shelf space. This is why manufacturers of retail goods have nightmares about the buyers at walmart, target and other megaretailers. They know that they’ll put them out on the street the moment their product doesn’t move. So, just the fact that the games are there at all, where they weren’t a year ago, is an indication of growth.

    Also interesting that these are $20 buy titles; where people have been arguing the purchase model in casual is dying, being supplanted by ads, in-game-item-sales, etc.

    Also worth noting that while the PC games section in the store has evolved, in aggregate it was perhaps equal in size to any one of the consoles, so ‘core’ games with traditional 40-60 dollar title price still are 3/4 of the store’s game inventory. (I’m including Wii titles here because of the disty model; granted the content is more casual in nature).

    Someone that lives near a walmart should see whether they are moving in similar directions.

    Finally, it’s also worth noting that Target’s also got a bunch of educational signage on their shelves (how to read ratings, how to check your PC’s specs, etc). Interesting.

  5. Seems to me that someone else noticed the casual market is out there besides Target, and its a big market too. Didn’t Emergent Game Tech just announce a big offering of their Gamebryo engine to the casual game developer? Gamebryo isn’t #1 in the big AAA game market for engines but they sure think there is something in the casual game market for them.

  6. […] as Raph has pointed out, PC gaming isn’t going anywhere. But if you look at what’s selling it’s not the […]

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