Today is a work day for me, but I have a few things to touch on while I have a little bit of time:
First, NPD numbers for May have been delayed by up to three weeks. I see that a lot of you who have found my work have used NPD in your searches and may be looking for numbers and analysis; I will certainly relay the numbers and break them down shortly after they are released, but the numbers likely won’t be released until the end of this month. While this is disappointing, it’s also a bit of a relief for many members of the gaming press, as E3 is right around the corner and now the NPD numbers won’t interfere with show preparations. For now, all we can do is wait. Don’t worry– E3 will likely not disappoint anyone and should offer plenty of fodder for me to talk about going forward.
Next, although there weren’t any comments on my last entry, it seems that a lot of you read it and some of you mentioned it on Twitter over the weekend. Thank you all for sharing my work and for reading it. Indeed, working in gaming retail does offer a new perspective when talking about sales, trends, and the disconnect between the industry and its consumers. It’s one thing to just write about these trends from my personal experience and point of view. Video games and I have been intertwined for decades and I draw on a mix of observations, history, personal feelings, and other things when I sit in front of my computer and begin writing… but seeing consumers every day and noting their own trends, reactions, and buying habits adds strength to my work and fuels my writing even more. Developers and publishers can’t see what’s going on at the retail level. They just use numbers to gauge their successes and failures. Numbers are only half of the story. They don’t see that consumers are burdened by the amount of games out there and the fact that there’s just not enough money to buy everything that looks good. The industry refuses to acknowledge that game trade-ins actually drive new game sales, especially within a new game’s launch window… which makes that $60+ price tag a little easier to swallow when it’s reduced by store credit earned from trade-ins. I know that I continue to hammer on the same theme regarding this War on Used Games, but that’s exactly what this is becoming. You have the industry on one side and the consumers on the other, and if the industry thinks that eliminating used games or penalizing used consumers means victory, then they’re tragically mistaken and this industry will be doomed to failure as another passing fad, just as it was back in 1983.
In related news, trading in games has allowed me to afford one of this week’s major retail releases. Rock Band: Green Day was a no-brainer for me, in spite the non-stop cries of “Green Day sucks!” and “Music games have passed their prime!” You are free to think that Green Day “sucks”, but I’m perfectly fine with the track list and what Harmonix is bringing to the table with this game. As for the assertion that music games are dead, that may be, but I still enjoy playing them. We’ll see what Rock Band 3 brings to the table and whether Activision can find the magic again with their next Guitar Hero entry. I think that the biggest problem with music game sales had more to do with the high cost of plastic instruments, which many consumers now have already; the rumor of a new keyboard/piano controller for Rock Band 3 could mean a return to higher pricing, but we’ll have to see what SKUs that get released.
That’s about it for today. Look for impressions on Rock Band: Green Day on Wednesday, and hopefully some other entries as well. Thanks for reading and for your continued support and comments.