A major PC games magazine needs to do a story on this

I was at Wal-Mart last night and - as is typical - was magnetically drawn to the PC games area. They had completely rennovated it by placing the software section next to the DVDs. That alone was disconcerting - but downright disturbing was the limited amount of space given to full-priced PC games (two shelves no higher than shoulder level) versus budget offerings (five shelves!). This was after my experience at Electronic’s Boutique last week in which all of the major PC games were crammed into one small corner of the store. There’s got to be a story in this somewhere. Has anyone else’s Wal-Mart done likewise?

It seems like EB, Walmart and other major reatail stores are either a)eliminating major PC game releases and are not stocking them anymore b) have totally revamped their inventory and are only caring a select few major PC games.

For instance… I was searching for Vietcong and couldn’t find it anywhere. I had to order the damn game online.

This cannot be good for impulse buys. I’m sure impulse buys make up a large percentage of PC games sold.

So PC gamer, CGW or CG needs to do a major story on why this is happening. You guys need to interview EB’s, Best Buy, Walmart and so on and find out why their eliminating PC games from their inventory.

Would make a good story. :D

They would probably get this answer; “Because console games sell better and take up less space.” :/

Maybe console games sell better, but PC games are now packaged in smaller boxes. So they can’t use the excuse that PC games are too big and cumbersome. PC games take up much less space then they did 2 years ago.

THE COLLAPSE OF THE PC GAMES MARKET
~ A Play In One Act ~

GAME PUBLISHERS EVERYWHERE: Hmm, PC games are dying. Consoles seem to be where the money is at.

GAME PUBLISHERS EVERYWHERE proceed to cancel PC titles that are in production, shift them over to console exclusivity, and generally run existing PC franchises into the ground.

5 years elapse.

GAME PUBLISHERS EVERYWHERE: See? We told you so. We’re so smart.

~ FIN ~

I find that BestBuy has a really good PC section. I too went to EB recently and was dissapointed with the PC selection. The only issue with BestBuy is that you can’t return a game once you open it (though I heard that EB may have changed their return policy).

Yea… EB has. Once the package is opened your SOL. You can’t return the game if you find that it doesn’t run on your computer.

Benj,

Besides Best Buy, there is also CompUSA. They still carry tons of PC titles (at least my local ones do), including Vietcong. Unfortunately, though, they’ve really clamped down on software returns too…

Seems kind of anecdotal to me. I don’t head to my local Wal-Mart if I can avoid it, but my Gamestop and both EBs near me stock PC games just as prominantly as they ever have.

And from what I hear, PC game sales are expected to be really strong this year.

My Best Buy has just as much of a PC games section as they always have, and it’s WAY larger than any other individual console.

I think part of the misconception is that the PC is one platform, while “consoles” is three major platforms, plus a handheld. I mean, is the PC section small compared to “consoles?” Sure. Is it small compared to only the Xbox section, or only the PS2 section, or only the Gameboy section? Most places I go, it is not.

The return policies really bug me, on top of the fucked up copy protection like safedisc. Neither the retailer or the publisher really gives a shit if you are satisfied with the transaction, once they got your money they are done with you.

I would warez a lot more stuff to spite the industry if I got nice printed docs along with my burned CDs.

olaf

I think that the software industry is the only industry that has licensing agreements that say, “We don’t guarantee that this product will work as advertised or at all. If it hoses your machine, we’re not responsible. Since you’re reading this, you’ve obviously opened the box and now you can’t return it.”

A sorry state of affairs.

Part of the problem right now is that there are not many new PC releases. If Walmart still only has two shelves of premium games at Christmas, then you can start worrying. There were a lot of good titles shown at E3, so I think once again the reports of PC gaming’s death have been greatly exaggerated.

Yeah, I agree with Supertanker. Also, I really think it depends where you are. Here in LA, for example, my local EB has one wall (the small one) of games, including most new releases. But I don’t usually go there, because there’s a CompUSA and a Fry’s Electronics right down the street. Both of them have several aisles of nothing but PC games, including all the recent titles, plus hint books, peripherals, etc.

The fact that you guys’ WalMarts had an “organized” PC Games section makes me jealous. I quit looking there, not because of the shrinking space but, because their whole software section is always a disaster area when I go in.

Someone else said it and it is simple. 3 popular consoles with constant new releases are going to require more space than 2 consoles. The PC section had to pay the price for the extra shelf space needed. Once the Gamecube dies a slow myopic death and the X-box developers realize they are never going to make as much even with the Microsoft kickbacks, the PC will get the shelves back it now has on loan.

A few years ago I remember great sales on new PC titles at CompUSA and Staples or Office Depot. One could get the latest and greatest for up to 40% off if only one watched the newspaper ads around release date.

That hasn’t happened in years…

And while I doubt PC titles will go away without the PC going away, they’re definitely secondary to their console editions and who can blame the industry for following the money?

I think the marquee titles coming down the pipe starting in September will open shelf space like a floodgate. I wouldn’t worry :). The holidays will see a concentration of Good Stuff unlike anything we’ve seen in a while. According to Gamestop, for example, we’ll be seeing BF1942: Secret Weapons, Age of Mythology: Titans, Half-Life 2, Deus Ex 2, XIII, Lords of Everquest, Warlords IV, Call of Duty, Gothic 2, Far Cry, NOLF2: Contract Jack, Everquest II, and KoTOR–all within about a two month period. They’ll be falling all over themselves to stock these games. I think Condition Zero’s in there somewhere, too.

Unfortunately, if past history is any indication, half of those titles scheduled for release “this fall” will be pushed back to 2004.

My experience matches CheesyPoof’s and benj’s. BestBuy probably now has the best selection. My local EB used to have a great selection, but it’s been wittled down quite a bit. It used to be primarily PC Games, but now it’s mostly console’s with probably less than half the number of PC Games as 3-4 years ago (although I suppose it’s possible that given the smaller box sizes, maybe the number of PC Games hasn’t shrunk as much as I think).

Odd that EB have dropped their returns policy in the US, In the UK EB (or Game as they call themselves here), use their ‘10 day return, no questions asked’ as an advertising point. British consumer law does guarantee the right to a full refund for products that don’t work though.

Actually, my feeling is that the PC CD-ROM ‘platform’ isn’t really losing much space to other console ‘platforms.’ Anecdotal evidence at game boutique stores like EB and GameStop would suggest the PC is alive and well as a viable platform, when compared to PS2/Xbox/GameCube individually.

PC is actually losing the most space to DVD.

Most major retailers (like Best Buy and Wal*Mart) are so on top of their profitablity numbers that they know exactly what each category generates per square foot of floor space. In 2002/2003, DVDs are insanely profitable: they provide higher margin percentages on a per item basis, turn over much more quickly than PC games, and the content refreshes itself more quickly with the movie studios cranking out movie after movie.

For an anecdote about WalMart profitablitity database mining, I relate this tale I heard: in some WalMarts, there’s actually a more robust grocery section with things like frozen foods. A new SKU – some brand of chicken fingers – was placed into the freezer and sales were tracked. Sales of these chicken fingers were disappointing, when looking at the individual SKU. However, upon further analysis (and Wal*Mart has an army of people to analyze this data), it was discovered the people who actually did purchase these chicken fingers actually bought a ton of other stuff too, driving the “per cart” average up when compared to shoppers who didn’t buy that brand of chicken fingers. It was determined that pulling these underperforming fingers would likely cause these big spenders to shop elsewhere, so the fingers were retained.

Amazing, huh?

I have another rant on the future of PC games… I’ll save that one for now. :wink:

My local EB is pretty good. Huge bargain section. They do run through titles pretty fast though, with no prospect of reshelving. I haven’t seen NWN there in months, even though it’s still selling fairly well for a year old title.

But Ty is right. As long as there are three fairly healthy consoles demanding huge display areas, PC game will never have more than a quarter of the shelves.

Troy