Talking to Gamasutra, GameStop executives have revealed that PC sales in their stores are down from a year ago, with the number of new PC retail games "down probably more than what I had anticipated", according to SVP Bob McKenzie -- but with spikes for key games like Spore and digital downloads.
In a Gamasutra interview with GameStop's Bob McKenzie, SVP of merchandising, and Tony Bartel, EVP of merchandise and marketing, to be published in full tomorrow, the duo was asked about the performance of PC games at the major specialty retailer.
Mackenzie explained that PC retail game sales at the specialty retailer, which operates 5,557 retail stores in 16 countries worldwide, are "down from a year ago. We had planned for it to be down. Again, the number of new titles we have on PC is down probably more than what I had anticipated it would be down -- but I don't see that as a threat or a signaling, we're not backing away from it at all."
As for highlights for the PC market, Mackenzie notes that there are still some notable games that push the envelope: "There are some big titles coming out, especially World of Warcraft: Wrath Of The Lich King. For a PC title to approach being in the top 10 for the year, there are very few that can do it, and obviously Blizzard does have the majority of them when that does happen." Spore was the other title the duo cited in this area.
Regarding some GameStop stores that don't actually stock PC games -- and changes in emphasis on those that do, Mackenzie pointed out: "A year ago we had 350 stores that didn't carry PC merchandise and today, that number hasn't grown any... [bit] the PC market is definitely still very alive, and a portion of our business that we're hanging onto."
EVP Bartel also revealed somewhat of a reversal of previous fortune in terms of how PC games are stocked in many GameStop stores: "We've taken a lot of the PC games where we kind of had them on a gondola, from a space perspective. But we've just realized, this is too important of a category, so we've put a lot of them up on the wall again where there's stronger representation in our stores."
Finally, is GameStop feeling the bite from the competition of download services like Steam, on the PC platform? Mackenzie agreed: "[Digital distribution] is growing, but we're also growing with it. We offer digital downloads on PC, especially, through GameStop.com, we see that continuing to be a market that will continue to grow, obviously."
He added, however: "Our position with our publishers is that we're not afraid to compete with them -- against that digital distribution model. We can offer it. It's really another choice for the consumer, as long as they're not making that choice an unfair advantage for them, where they're able to sell it earlier or they add something into the game that we can't get our hands on for our consumer."