Publishers Respond To GameStop Breaking MW2 Street Date

A day after the United States' biggest games-only retailer, GameStop, started selling Modern Warfare 2 early, Activision has labelled the practice disappointing. Fellow publishers Sony and Capcom also weighed in.

"Activision is disappointed to learn that some retail locations have released ahead of schedule," a company spokesperson told Kotaku in a statement before reiterating that the company has given no retailer permission to sell the game prior to November 10.

Activision's disappointment comes at an awkward hour as, this evening, a GameStop in New York City's Union Square is co-hosting a Modern Warfare 2 launch event with Activision and Microsoft.

A GameStop representative declined to offer any further comment about the company's move beyond company comments from the weekend confirming it had officially green-lit the early sale in some regions of the county.

Microsoft is producing a special Modern Warfare 2 Xbox 360 bundle. A representative for the company referred all comment to Activision.

But Activision peer Capcom did sound a note of caution about the whole situation.

"Street dates are broken all the time," Capcom director of communications and industry veteran Chris Kramer told Kotaku. "But I've never seen the decision made at a corporate level before. Launching a new game is an incredibly complicated process for the publisher at a level of Capcom or Activision, a process that makes publishers rely heavily on partners at many levels. That one of those partners — especially a partner that still is a significant part of a publisher's business — could just decide to change a roll-out of a game is more than a bit distressing."

The early breaking of the street date for Modern Warfare 2 appear to be spurred by copies of the game being sent to retailers mid-week.

GameStop's move would seem to strain the company's relationship with publishers, but none indicated to Kotaku that they plan to take action.

Activision reps did not address specific Kotaku queries about whether the company would take any action against GameStop or change any of its practices involving shipping games early to retailers.

Capcom's Kramer said he did not think the Modern Warfare 2 incident would not change his company's policies about product delivery and street dates. A country the geographic size of the US needs product to be spread early in preparation for a big launch, he said.

PlayStation maker Sony Computer Entertainment of America also doesn't plan changes. "If GameStop broke any street on MW2, that's between GameStop and Activision," SCEA director of corporate communications, Patrick Seybold, told Kotaku. This won't impact the way we work with GameStop or other retailers."

Representatives from some other major publishers, including EA, Take Two and Warner Brothers declined to comment for this story.


    I dont think we should have street dates at all, if it's ready, it's ready.

      Street dates are set by publishers, typically for major titles, to ensure no retailer gains an advantage over its competitors. Due to the vagaries of distribution, Shop A might get its stock on Monday while Shop B gets it on Wednesday. It's not fair on Shop B if Shop A can start selling straight away, so the publisher decides in advance that no one can sell until Thursday when they know every retailer will have stock.

        Street dates are absolutely vital to small businesses when it comes to large releases like this. Having spent most of my working life in retail, there is a very big difference in delivery dates for different products and different companies. It's important that these dates are adhered to so it's fair on everyone, both retailers and consumers.

        If a company is to reserve a game two days earlier than their competition and were able to start selling they could effectively charge a much higher price that people would happily pay if it meant getting a head start in an online environment.

    I got a call from GAME on Friday to let me know they had MW2 in stock, but couldn't sell it until Tuesday.

    Do you think they were just hedging their bets incase someone broke street date, that I would come and buy it off them?

    it is pretty poor that a huge retailer like gamestop would break it intentionally. thats the sort of practice that small independent retailers do because their relationship is almost insignificant. there has been a few occasions where i have walked into a gametraders store and seen copies of games for sale well before the street date. usually imports though. i just wish the mw2 date was broken here in au so i didnt have to line up last night :/
    i felt like such a bloody nerd!

    I find it surprising that the company itself made the decision to let some stores sell it. And besides i guess its part of the hype for some people (especially with midnight releases, etc). the main thing is it didnt get released late but i guess its wrong in principal - a date was set and it was adhered to. Who knows, maybe for the next big release they might not get a specific deal thingy (i.e AC2 - Black @ EB and White @ Game)

    Yea but at the end of the day, they get their money. Okay it MAY hurt retailers & all, but for a title like this when PLENTY of people pre-ordered from many different retailers, they shouldn't bee TOO worried.

    There are only SOME die-hard that would cancel a pre-order to play it a day or HOURS earlier. But someone like Activision wouldn't give a crap about GameStop not making as much money on MW2.

    Either way Activision make money and they're happy! Boo hoo.. get over it.. they're just upset that they couldn't have such a smooth release unlike other titles like GTA IV or Halo 3.

      Wow...I don't think your statement could've been more ignorant.

      Put it this way: pretend you are in charge of Activision's marketing department. You spend a good year or two organising all of Modern Warfare 2's marketing around the world. Say you spent about a million dollars US (ballpark figure, I know, but not unreasonable for a game of this caliber). The date of the game's release is set early, so most of your marketing revolves around making sure every Tom, Dick and Harry knows that the game is coming out on that day. You organise midnight launches with various retailers, all to get people hyped about the game. Say you even get some B-grade celebrities for it, why not?

      Now, imagine one of your retail partners decides to release the game early, screwing all of the other retailers out of sales because they chose to do the right thing and giving you and your company the finger (unless of course they give you the finger as well and sell because their competitor is). Why would you continue with a midnight launch when the game has already been out for days, maybe even a week? All the time, effort, resources and, most importantly, money you put into the marketing for this game was screwed by one retailer. Your big launch, the one your company paid a million dollars for, is a bust. And Activision certainly isn't going to get their money back, as suing GameStop for breaking the street date would raise their ire and since GameStop is pretty much the biggest specialty games retailer in the US, you can't really afford to lose their business, or have them on your bad side.

      True, Activision is still going to make a ton of money from the game. But not as much as if the game had launched when it was supposed to. It turns out that companies actually like to make money. And when they make less than what they were supposed to/thought they would, then you have a bit of a problem.

      tl,dr: I'm pretty sure that Activision's problem is that they won't make as much from sales of their game as they should, and that GameStop have probably breached contract, which is pretty reasonable thing to have an issue with. In fact, Activision have taken the high road in not making a huge deal about it, other than saying that they're disappointed that it happened (again, definitely reasonable), when they are certainly legally entitled to do much more than that. I don't think it's a matter of them bawling their eyes out because 'GameStop was so vewwy mean to them'.

        Post of the day.

    Why the hell hasn't the word "fines" been mentioned in this article or it's comments? I thought that companies imposed fines on retailers for breaking street date. I don't mean police and legal system fines, but contract agreement charges. All the games that come in at the store I work that have strict street dates (Gears of War 2, GTA 4, Forza 3 etc.) have giant yellow stickers on them saying, "If this game is sold before X date, the retailer could incur penalties of over $150,000 dollars." Or something along those lines.

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