An article on Polygon is suggesting that retail re-adjustments on all ends of the spectrum are more of a means to an end.
Tracey Lien, the article's author, told MCV: "When I spoke with the managing director of GAME, Paul Yardley, he raised an interesting point: not everyone is actually buying games online. Working around games and gamers, it's easy to forget that not everyone is comfortable with parallel importing or online shopping."
"If a child asks his dad for the new SpongeBob game, it's unlikely he'll jump onto PlayAsia.com to buy it. Instead, they'll probably go down to their local GAME or EB or Target and pick it up of the shelf, check out in-store demoes, and buy a few other games while they're there."
Yardley's sentiments echoed Lien's, suggesting that the focal service for specialist retailers in Australia is their advice and expertise, and that no other type of retailer is more perfectly poised to take advantage of the shift to digital.
Polygon's report explored market forces through Jared Stanfield, a specialist in corporate finance and mergers and acquisitions at the University of New South Wales.
Stanfield told Polygon: "In an economic downturn, companies want to focus on what they're actually good at. It wasn't that they were doing something wrong all along – it's just things have changed and in order to survive they need to make adjustments."
This perspective goes some way to supporting Dick Smith's decision to make a leaner, more focused game department. Stanfield strongly supports retailers taking steps to ensure their profitabiliy and survival at this juncture, which comprises a lot of the changes the industry is seeing, rather than a downturn set to continue.
Pricing concerns are now being echoed by the Australian government, which is launching its own inquiry into price disparity in the IT sector, however it remains an issue of dispute whether prices are a force impacting retail.
Lien continues: "While more and more people are buying online, a lot more people haven't discovered it yet, and even when they do it doesn't mean they will decide to ditch brick and mortar stores. The challenge for retailers will be how they can change to adapt to the growing number of online shoppers."
"I think publishers need to be more transparent about why games are priced the way they are in Australia and take the time to explain factors like labour markets, distribution costs, online marketplaces and anything else that might influence the pricing of a game."
"Until they do, over-zealous outlets will keep reporting on what they understand, and what they understand might not always be the truth."
Stanfield cites Apple as an exemplar of specialist retail walking the line between providing a good and a service, taking full advantage of facilitating online purchases for consumers.
Local videogame specialist retailers, of course, don't have access to digital revenues in the same way. Regardless, the streamlining process being undertaken at the moment by games retail may yet prove to be a regular symptom of change rather than a foreboding trend.
Check out the full Polygon article here.
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