Walmart decides what games you play

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/issue/40/11

Publisher sales reps inform Wal-Mart buyers of games in development; the games’ subjects, titles, artwork and packaging are vetted and sometimes vetoed by Wal-Mart. If Wal-Mart tells a top-end publisher it won’t carry a certain game, the publisher kills that game. In short, every triple-A game sold at retail in North America is managed start to finish, top to bottom, with the publisher’s gaze fixed squarely on Wal-Mart, and no other.

(stolen from /.)

I don’t shop at Walmart for a host of other reasons (read the intarweb, it knows much), but this is interesting…if it’s true.

This particular canard has been floating around for quite some time.

Care to explain how the Playboy game got made if this is true?

IIRC, Wal-Mart is almost singlehandedly responsible for the DVD-sized boxes that PC games have used for the last few years.

The Playboy game is not Triple A

What makes a game AAA? Is this status always predetermined?

Most games aren’t.

Can someone point to a cancelled AAA game development that one could theoretically attribute to Wal-Mart? If the publisher is “killing” a game, it must be beyond the think-out-loud stage so there must be some news of it somewhere.

GTA, 25-to-Life…these aren’t Wal Mart friendly games but they keep getting made.

Troy

Seems like budget would be the primary way to identify AAA from other.

Why is a “big major selling thing” said to be a “AAA title”? Where does the term come from?

Chris Woods

This isn’t just Wal-mart. When it comes to the games industry retailers have an unusual amount of power. For some reason publishers are willing to throw insane amounts of money for the best shelf space and the retailers sell it at a premium. Wal-mart is, by far, the largest retailer in the world and thus weilds an insane amount of power, moreso than they do in other industries because of this retailer/publisher dynamic. I doubt publisher’s kill all that many games because Wal-mart won’t carry them but I wouldn’t be surprised if box art or other such things change regularly because of Wal-mart demands. I’m sure game content changes somewhat regularly aswell, though at this point publishers probably have a good idea of what will and won’t fly at Wal-mart and adjust games accordingly early on so they don’t get denied.

As for the Playboy game I’m sure the publishers were well aware going in that they might have problems with retailers carrying it. The company that pulished it (Groove Games) is also a rather small publisher and were probably happy to have such a high profile name such as Playboy associated with them.

In United States, Wal-mart games play you!

I believe that the game publishers, and more precisely, the console producers have just as much power.

Console games cost a few pennies less at Wal-mart than they do at any other place. In most cases Wal-mart has a much higher precentage. While Wal-mart is the primary seller of computer and console games, it is not a majority percentage. The Gamestop/EB merger has made that company almost as powerful.

Do you have figures for that?

I don’t know about games, but I know that “spine out” is death to a book. These things matter.

THANK YOU WAL-MART.

Well, RIP Cyberlore, so that’s perhaps not the world’s best argument. GTA is probably a better counterexample – 9 digit income, I assume without any contribution from Wal-Mart.

But although I doubt Wal-Mart is the sole or first consideration for most studios, I know their standards are considered with respect to both design and marketing. If you can excise some unnecessary nudity or gore and gain some millions of prospective buyers, why not? And let’s not get started on the green-blood option for Germany…

Wal-Mart sells plenty of M-rated games, including the GTA games.

They sell GTA??? What the heck can they possibly ban, then? Surely Playboy and Leisure Suit Larry are less objectionable? Aagh, the world is insane.

I believe that originally, they didn’t sell the first GTA, only later relenting.

God, I hate the fact that I never got to play Gothic 2 or Space Rangers 2 or Galactic Civilizations 2 or Combat Mission because Walmart didn’t give the green light to the developer to carry them.

Oh wait.

And because there is no Walmart near me, I never got to play “Beach Invasion 8: Battle of Omaha in Reverse Where the Nazis Invade”, or “Big Game Huntin’ 4: Watch Out For the Cornhole”, or many of the other stellar titles they have in overabundance.

No, he doesn’t because I’ve seen them (only for the company I work for mind you) and Wal-mart is far and away the biggest retailer, nobody comes close. EB/GS is somewhat niche and with their focus on used titles they’re becoming less of a primairy seller than they used to be.

No, just those f’n Bible thumpers. God forbids boobies, you see.

Bow down.

Repeat after me:

“b-a-a-a-a-a-h.”