Why Street Date Breaks Are Bad For The Games Industry As A Whole

Why Street Date Breaks Are Bad For The Games Industry As A Whole

Street Date Breaks allow us to buy the games we want early — by default this should be a good thing, right? But what about the far reaching implications for the local games industry as a whole? And what will be the consequences of retailers consistently breaking street dates? Kotaku regular ‘Choc’ works on the publishing side of the games industry and, in this guest blog, discusses the far reaching implications of Street Breaks for both consumers and the local sector.

For those of you reading this who don’t know, yesterday Battlefield 3 broke street date in Australia. Ok quick go out and buy it then come back. Done? Good.

Now you’ve managed to obtain this game a little under 24 hours before you are supposed to be able to and, whilst you might think this is fantastic, if this street date break addiction we have in Australia continues it could be harmful to not only the industry but gamers as a whole and I will explain why below.

First of all street dates exist to level the playing field in the retail market. Giants such as EB Games, JB Hifi and GAME have distribution centres that get games to their stores faster than anywhere else. If we had no street dates you would see these three most likely having games on shelves three or four days before anyone else leaving the smaller retailers who have to go through middle distributors a bit out of pocket and at a completely unfair disadvantage because they can’t afford to have a major warehouse with huge logistic operations.

The second reason street dates exist is for marketing purposes — there is no doubt of this. But how happy are gamers now that they can simply read a date in a magazine, or see it on television, walk into a shop and buy it without generally worrying if it will be in stock or not. Marketing teams spend months preparing for a game launch, buying television time, magazine ads and radio ads and these must be all pre-planned months in advance and at great expense. That is a huge burden to the industry if retailers keep ignoring street dates and releasing early.

So why do street date breaks mean bad things for gamers in the long run? If they continue the publishers will become less trusting of the retail sector and start to ship games in a different manner. Generally street dated games are in the hands of shops on the monday of the week of release ready to go later in the week. What street breaks may lead to is publishers shipping the game on a Wednesday to the retailers for a Thursday launch and you walk in 9am on launch day and you can’t buy the game as it has not arrived yet. Very annoying indeed and this generally costs that store a sale. I used to think street date breaks were awesome, I got to see the game early. Then I started to work on the other side of the fence in the industry and in the media, and saw the effect that street date breaks have on the industry. It’s not good.

And why is this only happening in the games industry? DVDs and Blu Rays regularly have street dates on their products and they are generally kept by stores and the stores respect them. Do the stores have a lack of respect for the gaming industry, thinking the industry needs them more than they need the industry? In this age of digital downloads retailers should be doing everything they can to keep the publishers happy. It is after all the publishers who are copping the heat from gamers because digital download prices match retail prices, but it’s the retailers who are forcing this.

According to unverified sources the two stores which sold early were informed by EA and the distributor All Interactive Distribution to stop selling the game. When only two have broken nationwide its very easy to reverse the trend but JB HiFi allegedly flat out refused and not only sent out word to the Chatswood store to maintain selling, but sent a memo to their stores nationwide to start selling. Inevitably GAME and EB followed suit.

This breaks a number of rules around the retail agreements between JB and game publishers but I cannot go into details. Generally the way the retailers work is that if a break occurs and it’s within the same suburb they will sell. EB has followed this rule for many years and in many ways publishers accept this because EB is losing sales because of a breaking store. What is not acceptable is what JB HiFi allegedly did today and that is break nationally based on one store in a shopping centre in NSW breaking. For the future of street date integrity JB HiFi needs to be dealt with harshly by the publisher if this turns out to be true. Or else what’s to stop EB or GAME breaking as soon as they get a game saying, ‘well it’s going to happen anyway’.

And why is this such an Australian only thing? It is rare that the UK features a street date break and even rarer in New Zealand. In Australia, however, it seems every AAA game breaks street date. The reason, generally, is that Australia is a wide, large country and distribution of titles takes a very long time. Much longer than NZ and UK, and publishers take the risk of sending games early to ensure everyone can play day 1. This is no doubt under threat. Just look at the past six months and how many games broken — Batman: Arkham City, Battlefield 3, RAGE, Dead Island, Zelda 3DS just to name a few. How many of those have broken in NZ or the UK? Zero.

EB Games regularly schedules midnight parties for core gamers. It had prepared parties for Battlefield 3 and unfortunately, as a result of events out of its control, had those plans ruined. This will lead to game companies refusing to do midnight launches because think about it — stores have only got eight hours notice to cancel, which you might think is ample, but if an EB is in a shopping centre they would have had to arrange security at a premium cost, arrange with the shopping centre to open (which costs money) and pay their staff overtime. It’s unfair. We all love midnight launches and everything that goes with them (well some gamers anyway) but it won’t happen if this keeps up.

Australian gamers are getting games earlier than any other country in the world in terms of street date breaks but it’s a double edged sword. Perhaps retailers should start to respect the street dates and realise that half the reason street dates exist is to protect them against other companies spending literally tens of thousands of dollars to be first to market. When the JB HiFi alleged memo went out, not every retailer in Australia had stock of Battlefield 3 and is now losing sales? How is that fair and why should that be allowed?

Comments

  • “Australian gamers are getting games earlier than any other country in the world in terms of street date breaks” While that is true, 1 day before street date is still 1 day after it’s released in the US. I bet a lot of people are probably fed up with being able to see people in America (and sometimes Europe) happyily playing the game while we wait, sometimes up to 2 weeks later to get in on the action.

    It’s especially infuriating for digital games.

    • Actually the release dates for Europe to us to Australia ebb and flow dramatically. We street broke arkham asylum on Monday and had it before everyone. Especially the UK who was getting it on Friday when we were originally getting it on Wednesday. In games Australia is generally between Europe and the us release dates, although smaller releases can be different. But I agree with everything else you said

      • There are still niche games that we get a lot later than other PAL regions as well. I got Dynasty Warriors 7 a good month before it came out in Australia ordering from the UK.

    • This is the biggest problem with these “Street dates” these publishers and distributors impose on us. If you want us to side with you on the not breaking street date argument, then you have to start actually releasing games in a timely fashion in Australia. That isn’t 2 days after, or even 1 day after. If it’s launched on the 25th in the USA, launch it on the 25th in Australia. Until publishers/distributors start doing this I will fully support any “break” in street date.

      As for digital street dates, this is even worse. There’s no excuse for these to be any different to the rest of the world. If you don’t change your business model people will simply ignore you and pirate it. Be warned.

    • This, if they don’t want us to break street dates, stop leaving Australia behind, it’s bad enough that we pay twice American retail.

    • We are in the vicinity of 1% of the world market. To be honest, I think getting hardcopy games released even in the same month show’s that they’re putting in some effort for a minimal return.

      This being said, I purchase digitally using a US steam account with Australian dollars (currently above parity) and normally pre-ordered.

  • No offense Choc, but this reads like a shill article to villify the local retailers. I’m not buying it as I don’t feel any obligation towards the local distributors OR local retailers. You’re both going to have to deal with the larger issue of Australian pricing and international competition first.

  • Well written article. While it doesnt really impact me, as I’ve not bought a game on ‘day one’ since Twilight Princess, I did wonder about what impact this was going to have on EB’s midnight launches.

    • It had a massive impact. I was working last night, and instead of a shop full of 50-100 people, an awesome atmosphere, and even prizes of Batman to give away, we had maybe 1 or 2 people come in every hour from 7-12.

      Last night was the worst shift I have ever worked, and it should have been the best.

      • Agreed, I turned up to an EB one in the middle of the CBD Melbourne, and was the only customer in the store for the 20 minutes I was there. It was to be a great night, but that was ruined by JB hifi

        • I bet a lot of other people had a great night actually playing battlefield 3 rather than standing in line for hours.

  • It’s interesting, but I can’t help but feel it’s not all that relevant to gamers themselves who have no direct control over this.

    Is the implication that gamers should not take advantage of a broken street date? Or that they should not attempt to buy a game early?

    • You’re right. As a consumer it’s absolutely your right to go out there and take advantage of street breaks. It’s absolutely nothing to do with consumers at all. I just find the whole thing interesting.

      • I agree to an extent. You have the right to take advantage of it, certainly. However it may come back to bite you as a consumer later on.

        If they do start shipping the day before to prevent street date breaks, and there’s a sudden problem with the supply, you may find that some smaller towns may be without the game for several days after launch, or you may not get to attend a midnight launch, or the store where you’re pre-ordered may not actually get it on launch day.

        The article makes it pretty clear that this may impact on gamers in the long run.

    • To be fair, some gamers do contribute to it when they buy during a streetbreak, put their receipt online as proof which other gamers then use to convince other retailers to break their street dates.

      The responsibility does come back to the retailer in the end, but us consumers do occasionally play a part, no matter how small.

      • That’s actually a fair point that I didn’t consider.

        Still, I’m not conviced that it’s all that huge an issue with any kind of ramifications.

        I mean, worst case scenario is that (as described in the article) games get shipped a little later and gamers get them maybe a day or two late. And let’s be realistic here, that’s a mild annoyance – not the end of the world.

        • Maybe, but let’s consider it another way. Lets say EA decide to get creative, and as a result of JB’s alleged behaviour, publicly announces that they will only be shipping to JB HIFI the day before launch.

          How many pre-orders will JB lose as a result? Who will even bother walking into a JB on launch date?

          • Absolutely, but that’s (obviously) JB’s problem and no concern of mine (unless I were a shareholder.) As a consumer, and the target audience of this article, that’s something out of my hands.

            Either way, all this information seems to be something that should be/has been brought to the attention of some area of JB management.

            I guess my main point is that the tone of the article is such that the author seems to be calling for or at least wanting some sort of action to take place re: curbing street date breaks, but it’s being presented to a group that realistically has zero control over the issue.

  • CDs and DVDs don’t normally have street dates at all.

    Breaking street date is also horrible when publishers like EA refuse your pre-order DLC codes because the game isn’t active yet and then refuse to re-issue you a new code saying it was a one-time only thing.

    But this is one of many reasons why a lot of people refuse to purchase EA titles anymore.

    And EB pay overtime? Hahaha .. nice one.

    • As far as I’m aware, most CDs do. (For bigger artists, anyway.)

      They’re generally more rigidly adhered to (for bigger artists) and the reasoning is that it makes it much easier to collate sales data for organisations like ARIA to go “artist x sold this many copies within their first week.”

      That’s how it was explained to me, anyway.

      I always assumed that it was a similar system for games, that street dates were in place to afford more accurate sales tracking.

      Starting to think I could be way off the money though.

    • Absolutely, but that’s (obviously) JB’s problem and no concern of mine (unless I were a shareholder.) As a consumer, and the target audience of this article, that’s something out of my hands.

      Either way, all this information seems to be something that should be/has been brought to the attention of some area of JB management.

      I guess my main point is that the tone of the article is such that the author seems to be calling for or at least wanting some sort of action to take place re: curbing street date breaks, but it’s being presented to a group that realistically has zero control over the issue.

    • JB are massive in Australia, and when I say massive I mean it’s ridiculous now. It has gotten to a point where if you don’t do what JB want’s they simply wont stock your product. If your product isn’t stocked by JB then it doesn’t exist.

      EA would have no pull at all over JB with this. JB would TELL EA they are breaking the street date. EA would be able to do little about this. Their only option would be to restrict supply of games to JB, but this will likely backfire, JB have about a 40 to 70% market share depending on the product, there’s no way all the other retailers will be able to pick up this slack if JB don’t have a product in store. It will result in lost sales for EA.

        • Various metrics. GfK has just started covering JB again so their data is quite valuable here. But again it really depends on the segment you’re looking at. They aren’t that big when looking at something like pre-school DVD’s, but anything geared towards the 15 – 45 year old male they command a huge market.

      • you will find that EB has about 50-60% market share on a new release. JB and everyone else share the other 40-50%

  • very good article and i couldn’t agree with your more. As a manager of a gaming specialist store, all the hype and excitement building up to the launch of BF3 died when we could start selling it.

    Im heading into work now, not knowing how busy it will be…

  • Part of the problem is that games are only seen as relevant when they’re released. A week or two after they come out, interest drops off dramatically. The current marketing cycle makes games a disposable medium and does little to encourage interest after the release date.

    Any harm done to the release of a product by breaking the street date is because of this marketing cycle that declares that the game is only relevant on that set date.

    The main problem here is that some retailers are big enough to consistently break street dates and face the punishment of the distributors, giving them an unfair advantage over the smaller retailers. That’s one of the huge advantages that the bigger retailers have.

    Now if only they could leverage this into getting the publishers/distributors to lower the damned cost. That would make this whole street date breaking fiasco a giant boon to everyone and sundry.

    On a sidenote, the BluRay release of The Lion King broke street date. Did anyone make a fuss about it? No. Because BluRay releases aren’t marketed the same way game releases are.

  • Its a real burden on the industry and retailers in general who follow the rules, not to mention the staff of the stores. Last minute changes to months of plans regarding midnight launches and activities are ruined by this practice, all this stuff costs a lot of money and will result in retailers just not doing big launches anymore. Hopefully the retailer responsible will be fined or something.

  • “What is not acceptable is what JB HiFi allegedly did today and that is break nationally based on 1 store in a shopping centre in NSW breaking”

    Absobloodylutely. I genuinely couldn’t understand it. I went to Game Broadway to purchase my copy yesterday afternoon (after I’d found out about the break) and the manager was rightly pissed off that his midnight launch plans had been ruined. I feel sorry for all involved that this has happened, and I won’t be giving JB my custom in a hurry as a result. (It used to be my #1 place to buy games).

    I do think that the CoD guys are a bit smarter, have a bit more clout, and might just find a way of stopping this happening. We shall see…

  • The game companies arn’t gonna come down on the big chains to much, epically Jb who generally sell at less than EB/GAME because a large segment of the gaming public will not pay full RRP and will buy online from overseas bypassing the local distributors altogether, not everyone is prepared to pay $100+ for a game.

  • Hey great article! I’m mainly angry about street date and everything else now, because I was supposed to get my game the day it came out / before hand. And since the launch time and street date got broken, I could have just picked up the damn thing instead left waiting for postal services -_-

  • You forgot to mention that in a desperate rush to get the game when the street date is broken before the stores closes they’re more likely to speed and ignore traffic laws.

  • Great article, another reason Kotaku AU is where I turn to for gaming information. Was just aobut to email Mark to ask for something like this as after a quick chat to my local EB manager when I picked it up I felt sorry for him and everyone else who would have been woefully unprepared for the break

  • Beside games, JB usually start selling DVDs and Blu-rays the afternoon or the night before its actual release date. This is not uncommon, and has been happening for years now. I’m totally cool with it.

    What annoys me is when CDs (remember them?) published by indie labels don’t meet their release dates. This happens very often and it’s an awful feeling when you walk into a store and the thing that you want is not there. So in that regard, at least game and home video publishers are able to get their items in stores on (or before) the release date.

  • Whilst I understand the reasons stated in the article, one thing that I would love to change on the whole, deals with pre-orders.

    With stores getting exclusive pre-order content and all that rubbish nowdays, I’m a consumer in the bracket that is well informed of the release date of the game and have likely also ALREADY chosen where I’m going to purchase the game from through the act of a pre-order.

    So my decision has been made for sometime, so I would like to be able to pick up the game when the store I’ve pre-ordered form gets their stock, regardless of it’s release date.

    I have no intention of changing stores where I’m buying it from, so stores that are nearby regardless of whether or not they have their stock aren’t going to miss out on a sale.

  • Just a few errors in this.

    JB Hi Fi don’t have a distribution centre. Each store recieves it’s stock directly from each supplier.

    99.9% of DVDs don’t have a street date on them.

    The real reason EB love doing midnight launches is they won’t price match anyone because usually no other stores nearby are open at that time.

    Seriously, I love Kotaku and usually Kotaku articles are good, but this reeks of bias against JB Hi Fi and it has plenty of errors!

    • “”The real reason EB love doing midnight launches is they won’t price match anyone because usually no other stores nearby are open at that time.””

      Partially, but all the EB games stores I’ve dealt with, have credited me back the difference of the price match if I have gone back to them when the other stores are open.

      • So they make you come back later to give you some money back. Great. How many people are going to come back yet again to get their $20 back? I’m sure most people don’t go to get reimbursed which would be why they make it harder for you!

        • Yes it’s abit more difficult, but if someone is as dedicated to heading out to a midnight launch to pick up any game, then returning to the store within the next 7 days shouldn’t be that much of a challenge.

    • wrong!
      99.9% of DVDs and blu-rays do have a street date on them, every major dvd and blu-ray release has a specific streetdate and they are followed to the letter. minor dvds and blu rays are shipped to arrive on the day of the release so they dont have a streetdate plastered over the boxes, they will just arrive on the release date or a coupe of days after so no one notices.

      • You’re right, most DVDs and Blu Rays DO have release dates, but they aren’t actually embargoed. The release dates just exists mostly for marketing purposes, but the stores can sell them as soon as they have them, usually the Monday on the week of release.

        To the best of my knowledge, the only embargoed title has been the Star Wars collection on Blu Ray.

    • When I went to the midnight launch of CoD: BlOps I saw people there who were using Kmart catalogues to get EB to price match. I’m pretty sure it worked too, but they only matched for the people who had the catalogues.

  • Poorly researched article, DVDs and Blu-Rays break street dates all the time it’s just that noone cares because dvds arn’t marketed around preordering and release day specials, while games are all about getting it first.

    • Also people don’t care about the release date for DVDs/Blu-rays because if they really wanted to see a movie they would have already done so at the cinema.

  • Guys just to verify why JB seems to be so slammed in this article. In this instance it appears that JB HiFi with BF3 has gone ahead with a national break without a reason to do so.

    Target stopped selling once contacted by EA but JB didn’t and in fact broke nationally. That’s the unverified rumor. It just happens to be the game that triggered me to write this was BF3. I had been thinking about this issue for a loooooooooong time before BF3.

    This is the first time if it turns out true that a store has completely ignored the requests of a publisher to stop selling. Yes breaks happen but they are generally publisher sanctioned AFTER the publisher verifies that all stores have stock.

    This was not sanctioned by any means.

  • God reading some of these comments it just shows how small-minded people are…

    Great article. It was a good read with some really good points.

    And, for those saying it doesn’t affect consumers – you’re idiots. Of course it does.

    As stated in the article, if distributors start sending out games the day before/2 days before release, it means stock can be held up meaning that you wouldn’t even get your precious game on release date.

    Working in wholesale, it’s common knowledge, especially when shipping to NT or WA, that items can take quite a while and have a decent chance of being delayed or even misdirected.

    Will you still be saying “it doesn’t affect me” when all of your local stores don’t get the game until 2 days after release and you get the joy of listening to everyone on the internets talking about how great the game is?

    • If that’s the worst case scenario then I’m fairly certain most people aren’t going to care. Hell, plenty of people on here wait a couple of weeks for their ozgameshop orders for new releases.

      • Baring in mind that those people are aware it will take a while to ship, and the trade-off is the lower price.

        People who buy retail, specifically pre-ordering, demand it ON-THE-DAY..
        If they don’t get it, they get pissed.

        ordering online and pre-ordering for launch are 2 very different beasts, my friend 🙂

        • If EB have an awesome exclusive CE for a game that I want then I pre-order it. I get the text when it’s in (day of release, day before release, whenever) but I don’t go rushing out to get it. Sometimes I will pick it up later that day, other times it’ll be a couple of days before I go and get it and I’m sure I’m not the only like that.

          • yes, which is what any ration person would do… But you have to remember, when it comes to their favorite games, people tend to become VERY irrational.

            For instance, imagine if Uncharted 3 became delayed at retail…

            not to mention the who-ha kicked up whenever a title is delayed, even with good reason.

            While you, me, or whoever else can, most of the time, practice patience – a lot of other people can’t and will tenaciously protest that “a release date is a release date, no later”

            What i am getting at that while some people won’t be affected, there will still be a large number of people who will

          • Sometimes receiving the game on release day isn’t acceptable i.e: The DLC code doesnt work on the day? expect 200 calls of bitter anger.

          • Who are you calling a “ration”, honky?

            I still don’t think many people will care because that’s only a worst case scenario and unlikely to ever be the everyday scenario plus with digital distribution and import options becoming increasingly popular you’ll probably find that those who buy retail all the time becoming the minority.

          • LOL – the honky was a nice touch 🙂

            I don’t think retail buyers really are a minority… but more so possibly pre-orderers, possibly.

            But as i said, when it comes to major titles, people tend to lose their shit. I mean, if the next Earth defence force gets pushed back, most people won’t blink – but if the next COD does, Jocks are going to lose their collective freakin minds lol

            BUT – that’s just my humble observation 🙂

          • I said that they’ll probably become the minority not that they are the minority now.

            Don’t you ever listen you buffoon?!!?!

          • This is true but the dollar would have to drop a fair bit for imports to be more expensive than buying locally.

          • ahh great – we’ve broken the reply chain.. haha

            Indeed, you are right – but as the dollar diminishes, so does the benefit from importing.

            When it becomes save $20 rather than save $40, people are more likely to say “stuff it, i’ll get it locally and not wait”

            It’s basic economics, really

          • Your face is a broken reply chain o_0

            And saving $20 is still pretty good plus if the dollar drops people will probably be looking to save as much as possible 😛

          • haha i’m beginning to think you’re just trying to argue every point i make 😛

            But, as i said, it’s basic economic principles that as margins change, so does behavior and preferences.

            In the end it’ll all fall down to how much of a ‘megafan’ a person is, how much disposible income they have, and the amount of patience they have in receiving said item

          • “haha i’m beginning to think you’re just trying to argue every point i make”

            No I’m not.

          • You don’t want to shut hell up, trust. I tried it once, burnt my hands really bad. Plus the doors were stuck or something.
            Oh, you said shut the hell up. Silly me…

          • Is this just fantasy,
            caught in a landslide
            no escape from reality

            Open your eyes,
            Look up to the skies and see,
            You’re taped together, yeah you need sympathy
            It’s not easy pull, easy go
            Cause, of course, you should know
            Anyway you pull it, doesn’t really matter to
            duct taaaaaaape, to duct tape.

          • Lambo,
            Just taped us up,
            Put an ad up on ebay,
            Trying to send us away,
            Lambo, his deeds have just begun,
            And now he looks like he’s ready to play!

          • Lambo, oooh,
            Didn’t mean to make them cry,
            They won’t be back again this time tomorrow,
            So carry on, carry on as if he’s not really a weirdo

          • Duct tape, it pulls the hairs
            Leaves sticky residue, don’t let it get on you,
            Shill bid hopefully, I don’t want to go
            End up in a dark basement, in Austria.

          • Lambo, oooohh, I don’t want to fly
            Across the ocean to Europe at all
            *guitar solo*

            I see a pair of scissors lying on the ground
            Get away! Get away! Before they get any ideas.
            Thunderbolts and lighting,
            Send lamboman flying,
            Wheee

            Ow my heado-o
            Ow his head-o
            ow my head-o
            ow his head-o
            ow my head, it hit the wall.
            oh so painful.

          • I’m just a victim I didn’t ask for this ya see
            He’s just a victim of this sick fantasy
            Spare him his life from this calamity
            Easy come, easy go, will you let me go
            Serrelsah! No, we will not let you go
            (Let him go!) Serrelsah! We will not let you go
            (Let him go!) Serrelsah! We will not let you go
            (Let me go) Will not let you go
            (Let me go)(Never) Never let you go
            (Let me go) Never let you go (Let me go) Ah
            No, no, no, no, no, no, no
            Oh lambomann, lambomann, lambomann, let me go
            Lambomann’s friend has a “toy” put aside for me, for me, for me….

          • So you think you can mock me and put tape in my eye
            So you think you can sell me and make me say bye
            Oh, baby, can’t do this to me, baby,
            Just gotta get out, just gotta get right outta here

            Oooooohhhh, oooh yeah, oooh yeah

            Tape can’t really hold us, that is plain to see,
            Your tape is quite useless,
            Your tape’s useless and now, we’re freeeeeee
            I managed to get those scissors…

          • Yeah, I think I’ll take a screenshot of this, print it, frame it and hang it on my wall 🙂
            It’s something that should never be forgotten 😛

  • In my experience, it seems to be big retailers like Big W and K-Mart that are the ones who break street date and everyone else follows so they aren’t left behind. I think for the problem to be fixed, maybe distributors/publishers need to punish the outlets that are untrustworthy by shipping it to them late (who really buys games or pre-orders them from Big W or K-Mart anyway? They’re always overpriced and basically every shopping centre with one of these stores will have a JB, Game or EB anyway…) or just not at all the next time around. That, and the staff at the trustworthy places need to train new staff and put more focus on sticking to street dates so the 16 year old behind the counter knows he could be sued for jeopardising the company if he lets his friend have a copy early.

    • I’ve actually begun to buy from Big W as i’ve found them to actually be cheaper than most of the major game retailers. I picked up Gears 3 and batman this week for $60 bucks each, which is not too much more than importing prices for big ticket games.

      • Of course they’re cheaper, they’re trying to force the specialists into either selling below cost or getting out of the market entirely so they can go back to selling at $99.95 with no competition.

        I remember buying Nintendo 64 games at Kmart before there was JB, EB or GAME, and their prices were $100+. At least now there’s competition to buy games well under $100 without helping the big chain supermarkets like Big W and Kmart run all their competition out of the way.

    • The thing with department stores that you have your backdock workers who receive goods and then classify the goods to fill immediately or be put in a holding area till release. Now your backdock workers aren’t going to have 100% coverage in all stores so occasionally other staff have to receive goods or to put received goods in the right place. That’s were the majority of error happen.

  • I’d rather they kept to street dates.

    Then I wouldn’t need to spam F5 on Whirlpool the day before release to see if it’s been broken yet. Might actually get some work done. 10 November is going to be an unproductive day for me.

  • How buy from physical shops any more anyway?

    I’ll start feeling bad for “poor retailers” when they start selling games for the same price as the rest of the world.
    Total BS that we pay nearly twice the price for a game that the US does. That goes for cars as well.

  • I don’t know what’s happening, but my comment isn’t appearing even as to be approved and I’m being asked to log in 🙁

    So apologies if this is posted multiple times!

    Normally, I support publishers and industry insiders, because I too work in the games industry.

    However, are you so up your own arse that you think people wouldn’t realise your statement about Street Dates don’t get broken in the UK or NZ is an out and out lie?

    The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D was available up to a week before the official launch. I live in NZ, I know people who bought it, and I know people who wrote about it:
    http://www.gameplanet.co.nz/features/137410.20110701.Negotiating-the-broken-streets/

    And Modern Warfare 2 had it’s street date broken in the UK:
    http://www.bit-tech.net/news/gaming/2009/11/09/modern-warfare-2-street-date-broken/1

    And GTA IV:
    http://www.qj.net/qjnet/playstation-3/grand-theft-auto-4-street-date-broken-in-uk-retail.html

    Seriously, in future, make your justifications as you see fit, but don’t make up out and out lies to support your shaky, PR appropriate position.

    • Geez whats with the hate? You can go against someone’s opinion with insulting them you know!

      I just wanted to point out that your last two examples (MW2 and GTAIV) don’t apply as Choc claimed that there were no street dates in NZ in the last SIX MONTHS.

      Obviously he was mistaken about zelda 3DS.

    • Funky fair point. I don’t follow the UK THAT closely to be able to say well X didnt break.

      Looking at the examples provided in the article besides Zelda, those did not break is my point and BF3 hasn’t broken their yet either.

      I looked at the last six months of large retail releases to see what was breaking. In terms of NZ, most breaks are not breaks in NZ. The NZ ‘breaks’ occur after the Australian breaks in that once AU sells generally the publisher will let the NZ side of the ditch sell as well.

      the legend of zelda is not a good example for NZ because that was teh biggest eff up of a release by Nintendo in a long time. There are many issues around that release which are not covered here but mark has covered previously.

      The examples you provided, MW2 and GTA IV are outside my six month scope of research. Sorry about that 🙂

      Will be interesting to see if MW3 breaks in AU or UK.

      • Sorry for my abrasiveness, I’m just sick of PR driven rubbish masquerading as opinion, and that’s what this comes across as.

        Funky fair point. I don’t follow the UK THAT closely to be able to say well X didnt break.

        Well why use it as the basis of your argument then?

        Furthermore, if you showed that the GTA and MW2 breaks actually caused a change in the way retail treats street dates in the UK, you might make a much stronger argument.

    • It was stated in the article that this was the past six months. And Zelda 3DS ‘street break’ was caused by Game’s ‘grey import’ rather than an actual break.

    • Ugh learn to read properly before you go into a nerdrage tantrum.

      Chroc said ‘It is rare that the UK features a street date break and even rarer in New Zealand.’ You choose to see they ‘don’t’.
      Not the same thing.

      Also it’s a guest blog, a discussion piece, not ABC news so they can use whatever examples they effing like to make their point, take a pill and chill out before you hurt yourself.

  • I can reiterate what others have said: DVDs and Blurays almost never have street dates. I’ve worked in stores and was always told that DVD’s go on sale as soon as they are in the store.

    Some music CDs do get embargoes, but usually only for big releases. For example, whilst I no longer work in a music store, I’m certain Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto would have had a strict street date. This is more to do with piracy than anything else.

    Music and Games are different to Movie DVDs, t is through retail that people receive music and games for the first time. Movie’s have already been out in theatres, so there is less concern about DVDs hitting the market early.

    I do agree that strict street dates are a good thing though. Otherwise the retail market would be dominated by those with the most efficient distribution networks, rather than those offering the best value and service.

  • I can’t help but feel that this is a non-issue that needs to be resolved between publishers and retailers. Gamers have no shortage of pathways to get their hands on a game. I think “media” needs to step away from their job and look at the situation as gamers, and for gamers getting their hands on a game a day early is exciting and fun.

    Also, I find it very hard to believe that publishers don’t like broken street dates. Battlefield 3 probably got 10x the media coverage yesterday because of it. We’d have heard nothing about the game yesterday aside from reviews, and then today we’d be getting the generic, “Battlefield 3 is out today” media coverage. Yesterday it was, “BATTLEFIELD 3 IS OUT EARLY!” and “WHAT STORES ARE SELLING BATTLEFIELD 3?” and “DID YOU GET YOUR COPY OF BATTLEFIELD 3 YET?”

    I’m sure it has some implications but I really don’t see how releasing a game a day early can have such bad ramifications on the industry. Although you do seem to know more about this than I (you allude to knowing sources, so I’ll take your word for it), but from my perspective it seems like a big non-issue.

    Also, no one held a gun to the head of EB Games for the midnight launch, nor to release the game early. Any argument that they were forced to sell it early, I think, is hogwash, because anyone that had pre-ordered is still going to buy it from EB Games anyway if they’ve got the cash down for it, unless they want to lose money.

    And JB Hi-Fi is the only retailer that competitively prices its products. I refuse to shop at EB Games with its “we’ll match competitors” argument. If you’re only going to match it, I may as well not even waste my time and just buy it from the other retailer, although I understand that not everyone has access to all major retailers.

    Thanks for the article anyway. Enjoyable read.

  • To the small stores whose itty bitty support networks can’t keep up with the mighty JB/EB:

    I suggest you close your store and open an online shopfront with the slogan, “You might wait an extra day or two, but we’ll get it to you as fast as we can and for $20 less”.

  • Erm, who exactly are the small businesses who sell games having trouble competing? Other than JB HiFi, EB Games and the major multi million dollar chain outlets, I don’t know any other stores that sell games.

    An does this mean Kotaku Au is going to stop running street break news stories?

    • haha, given marks journalistic ethics of course not

      and im not tellnig you to stop buying before street dates.

      i am trying to give another side to the whole picture. 🙂

      Guys, seriously, buy games before the street dates if you can, its your chioce, its consumer power

      My argument is that if in 1-2 years time you whinge about games being late, you possibly will know why 🙂

    • well. i did work experience in a very small shop called “Margaret River Game Exchange” and once EB games attempted to shut us down… i think… this was all before i was working there… but we can only afford to stock one of any particular game at any one time… and we’ve stopped selling PC, DS and wii games entirely unless people order them in

  • Is there an upside to this though? By releasing games earlier than expected, you will see an upside to retail sales of games. I’ve had friends who would skip work or school just because they heard the JB Hi Fi down the street is now selling hyped game #1, and word of mouth goes around. Inevitably, it is free marketing for the store and publisher.

    Also I don’t think the retail stores break the street date due to lack of respect. I think the retail stores break the street date because they highly regard how much people are willing to spend on an experience that music or movies can’t provide. There is no cinema for games, you have to have the physical copy and medium to play it. It’s a short minded perspective yes, but think of it this way. The retail stores are playing on our gaming impatience, and when gamers are impatient, they lose all manner of common sense. So when a game gets released a day or two before, most of them will buy it for the “first adopter” factor. In the age of youtube, achievements, facebook etc., gamers like to brag that they got the game first before everyone else or spoil it to everyone.

    Just my two cents.

  • Level playing field? Cry me a river. Australian consumers have been and continue to be gouged on game prices even with parity to the US dollar

  • Great read,

    I think it will be interesting to see how MW3 plays out when it hits the launch date… After this major release you thin Activision would want to have a very controlled launch…

    Would be funny if EA comes out and says “Right JB and Target, NO GAMES FOR YOU!”

    • Most they will do is a fine, or some type on warning, it is financial suicide to deny major distributors these titles, the shareholders would call for heads.

  • “…leaving the smaller retailers who have to go through middle distributors a bit out of pocket and at a completely unfair disadvantage…”

    There are still small games retailers in Australia?! I miss the indies. 🙁

  • Ok. how about this.

    street dates are being broken in an attempt to get people to cancel their online order and quickly go buy it before it’s “release” date.

    Makes you think you hate to wait even longer because you pre-ordered and know you wont get it until a few days after release date. Then they release it before the actual release date and you think “oh man I have to wait even longer now.” It’s an attempt to drive sales higher.

    CONSPIRACY GAMER.

    if the above sentences make little sense it’s because i’m very tired =(

  • This was an interesting article, but it doesn’t really affect me because I only buy from overseas. As Serrels pointed out in his article about The Witcher 2 price, we are paying ridiculously inflated prices for video games and considered Euro because the supply chain is archaic and mismanaged. So we have to wait 6 months to a year after the US for some games while they are translated into languages we don’t speak, then pay for them to be shipped half way across the world and back again for no good reason.

    As for JB Hifi in this whole thing, what they did was arrogant and no doubt annoying to a lot of smaller companies, but they claim they are going to start grey importing if prices don’t drop – and if they carry through with that they can punch me in the gut every time I buy a game for all I care 😛

    links
    The Witcher 2
    http://www.kotaku.com.au/2011/05/why-does-the-witcher-2-cost-more-in-australia/

    JB Hi Fi Grey Importing
    http://www.kotaku.com.au/2011/10/jb-hifi-if-we-have-to-go-to-a-direct-import-model-we-will/

  • What a load of horse shit,
    EB regularly go open slather on Australian releases as soon as another 1 off store in Australia does like Jb are accused of doing.
    EB had stock on the shelf an hour before my local JB had received there notice.
    This article is a joke, why don’t US and UK have broken street day problems? Cause they release on a fucking Tuesday after receiving stock on a Monday.

    Australia’s problem is the 4 day wait and the fact that its very very easy to find a non gamer 40 year old woman behind a counter of a big w or target who has no idea about release dates, but is nice enough to fi out the back to see if the catalogue stock has arrived.

    • I will take your post seriously despite the swearing but a few points

      UK street dates are nearly always a FRIDAY. The day after OURS.

      Your local JB probably had not read the memo yet but EB had. It takes time to get stuff out of boxes and on a shelf, its not like people click their fingers and its all packed and shelved

      Big W was having a major coronary last night because their staff had to get the games out early. They had planned to get the nightfill people to do it and had scheduled that.

      Big W wasn’t happy.

      I agree that retailers may need further training but the boxes that the games come in have huge warning letters generally and in some cases there is stickers on every box.

      Perhaps the retailers in Australia need to do what the US retailers do and put locks on the sales of the game in their retail systems before the date.

      That would work.

      • And I’m going to try to take your post seriously…

        “Big W was going to get their nightfill staff to pack it on the shelves”

        Excuse me while I laugh controllably here… How many Big W’s have you ever been to? More than 0 I assume… Big W’s game department is the biggest fuck up of epic proportions. How long would it take their nightfill staff to put 3 PS3 and 3 XBOX360 BF3 boxes in random places on the game shelves? Not very long..

        Wow that 3 seconds of lost productivity for the nightfill staff.. how EVER will they cope?

        Maybe they can put PRICE LABELS on their fucking games so people can see how much something is when they go into stores? Coz not all of them have the price scanners near the game shelves

  • If I’m going to be paying 2/3s to as much as twice whatever anyone else in the world is paying for the same game, I’m sure as hell not giving a hoot nanny if i get it a couple days before any of those other gits.

  • It might not be as relevant to DVDs but what do you think would happen if Village started to break street date on movie releases.

    Same build up, same marketing and I have never seen a movie decide to release a movie the day before the advertised date.

  • I’m assuming that JB didn’t break the street date for the Star Wars Blu-Ray boxset? There would have been plenty of demand for that.

    Personally, I look forward to the days when physical mediums like cds and dvds are no longer made and we can simply download games directly to our consoles. This solves all problems such as breaking street dates, second hand games and should reduce the prices.

  • I think the main push for the break of street date is that the US got the game released 2 days before Australia. I ordered an online copy (and being busy this week didn’t look into ways around the activation till yesterday) but people have been able to authenticate the game through proxys or VPN since the 25th release time.

    Releasing an FPS like this stages around the world seems stupid (I’m not that competitive but people are) and missing out on two days of game time can seem like an eternity.

  • This article/comments section has blamed retailers, publishers and video gamers. What about the video games media though? Should they be able to get off scot-free?

    Sites like Kotaku AU are the ones who consistently publicise street date breaks. If it wasn’t for a number of big name local websites such as this one the majority of Australian gamers probably wouldn’t know when a release date had been broken.

    A few words would be exchanged on local video game fansite forums and that would be the extent of things by the time the particular game was actually released. About 80% less gamers would be aware of the street date break and only a few would go out and get it early as a result. Instead we have local sites such as this one continually reporting street date breaks and informing the masses when it has happened and speeding up the entire process.

    Sure, they might be doing it for genuinely good reasons, but that doesn’t mean they’re not contributing to the issue/problem in some way, so it doesn’t just mean we should exclude them (the video games media) from this discussion all together. So why don’t we have a bit of a chat about the effect the video games media can have on street date breaks in Australia?

    • Mark is doing his job and following journalism ethics.

      for him not to report the story, is going against journalism ethics. I fully support Mark posting Street Break stories.

  • I remember being really disappointed that the launch party event for zelda 3ds was cancelled due to the broken street date.

    There was going to be cool prizes and competitions and stuff and it would’ve been really fun. but alas the street date ruined that.

    I didn’t even play arkham city last week till friday because 1, the ps3 CE wasn’t in the store and secondly i was inundated with assignments so had no time to play anyway.

    I agree with this article. street dates need to be maintained in future.

  • If the publishers want us on their side, have a worldwide release date.

    If the U.S. gets the game x amount of days before us here in AUS, it’s game on.

    That’s completely how I feel about the situation.

  • This is stupid, every problem caused by street dates is created by the publishers.

    For a start it is not the consumers fault, they did not leap over the counters or barge into the stockrooms. Staff had to sell it to them.

    I care about smaller retailers but JB and EB and Big W will still get all the money because they undercut them by tonnes.

    Marketing doesn’t have an ‘expiry date’ it doesn’t just fail when a street-date is broken, those games will still be available for sale on release day.

    Midnight launches are just stupid, you wouldn’t be losing money on them if you didn’t have them. Yay we get to stand around in a crowd at midnight so we have the privilege buy a game!

    And no it doesn’t affect me. I practically never buy on release and publishers will not force themselves out of the sales pie by denying product to big retailers or by posting late and missing their own advertised release date.

  • whats a few days wait anyway? i hate all these retailer exclusives.

    Do we really want to keep buying $70-$100 games, and overpriced dlc?

    maybe it’s better if we all bought from ozgameshop and other online stores.

  • I bought it yesterday at JB in Melbourne CBD. As for ruining EB’s launch parties, I’d be more sympathetic if EB didn’t rort customers and charge up to $50 more for a game than anyone else. I

    Some gamers might shop there, but they’re definitely not smart consumers.

  • Great write up Mark.

    These are issues that arise from “what’s the big deal?” attitudes within the industry. What people dont understand is that it is for this very reason that Australia is excluded from these world-wide publisher organised launches.

    The other point to consider, we keep complaining about zoning and how it takes us upwards of 3 months to get local releases down-under. Breaking street dates sure isnt helping our case, let it be our punishment.

    Majority of games are announced at least 18 months prior to release. If you’ve had to wait 18 months, a day or two isnt going to kill you.

  • It strikes me odd when you say “If they continue the publishers will become less trusting of the retail sector and start to ship games in a different manner.” I find this highly unlikely, what other methods could you use to distribute a game? A delayed Australian release!? Online? I think if you did that it would only be harmful for the publisher as just about everyone would buy from Ozgameshop or one of the many other online stores which I might add are only able to exist because of the ridiculous mark up of games we Australians are made to put up with.
    I’m sorry but this article doesn’t make me feel sorry for publishers or a chain of stores. A midnight launch being ruined for a company who usually sells games $20.00-$30.00 more than its competitors? What about small stores who aren’t selling games until the following morning after a midnight launch? How is a midnight launch fair for them?
    When a street date is broken the size of the store or which state it’s located in should not have any bearing on the fact that the street date has been broken.
    JB is about the only store I can think of that has stuck to keeping low prices despite its success or growth. As a consumer I know that if I go to JB I can still get a new copy of a game cheaper than other stores and can easily get them to price match without having to hear any bull crap like how they are being ‘forced’ to price gouge me.
    The only thing I will agree with in this article is the noticeable number of games in recent times to break the street date. But at the end of the day as a consumer none of this is my problem and I doubt as a consumer it could be made my problem. We are already paying too much for games and to impose anything else on us would not go down well, you can only push people so far before they protest by not buying your product or getting it elsewhere cheaper.

  • when the people on “your side of the fence stop”, abusing aussie gamers by price gouging, and making us wait for pointless digital unlocks and show us some respect, then we will give some sympathy to the poor poor publishers.

  • Wahhh waaaah Waaahhh. Poor publishers. Inflated prices, piss poor release dates and on-disc DLC. No sympathy from me.

    Start treating consumers fairly and we might treat YOU fairly. Simple.

  • Pretty much as soon as Kotaku posted the ‘street date broken’ article, I was out of work and into the car like a flash in Brisbane. When I got to the local shopping centre, I was updating my phone to see all the comments and updates to make sure it wasn’t a rumour. I ended up trying JB first and was told that they weren’t going to break street date. Then by the time I’d walked up stores, got a drink and walked into EB, that had all changed. I asked the EB guy if they were selling and he said yep. I was pretty surprised seeing they were holding off as opposed to JB promoting the “All systems are go” memo.

    Anyway, my favourite part was that in that time I had I got my drink, one of the EB guys went downstairs, bought a copy from JB and were using it as a green light which covered their ass. Thought it was brilliant. They had a receipt from JB for the game around 2:30pm and starting calling everyone who preordered.

  • Reading this article, the only thing I gathered from this is that EB games potentially loses money, which considering the ridiculous premium they charge for games combined with the used sales market they push for a ridiculously high GP, at a cost to the game developers themselves, I couldn’t care less about.

    Games publishers, especially in Australia are taking advantage of a very silly price model for no good reason. EB Games was selling BF3 at 108 dollars, in the US, this same edition was 60, possibly sourced cheaper. If I can get this copy shipped here for 70 bucks, then the deal that could be gained in bulk for Australians should be far cheaper. Then if you look at something like steam or origin, they charge the same retail amount, with no shipping involved what so ever, nothing off their backs, are we supposed to believe the game’s price should be doubled off the back of some bandwidth?

    The point is, as an Australian gamer we get screwed, often. The only company that suffered from this break is EB Games, JB Hi fi benefited by cheating, but that is between the Australian Government, EB & JB to sort out, the consumer just gets early access, and we suffer no penalty,

  • I LOVE when the street date breaks. Retailers should just sell their stock as soon as they get it in. I don’t give a crap if some small retailer I don’t even shop at doesn’t get their stock until after EBGames or JB HiFi. Not my problem, and why should I have to wait for them if I’m not their customer anyway?

    Why should we have to wait 2 more days than America to get our games just because someone decided to release things on Tuesdays in the USA, and Thursdays in OZ?

    Same goes for Steam. Why do we have to wait 2 days longer for a digital purchase to unlock, when people in America are playing that same game already, and usually for a cheaper price?

    It’s bullshit. Long live street date breaks and VPNs.

  • Having the big companies such as EB and JB break street date effects other retailers such as Big W who typically sell the games $10 to $20 cheaper or in the case with EB usually about $40 cheaper. Now that those stoes have broken the release date and people have swarmed in to buy the game from them, Big W and similar stores won’t recieve as much business. It’s not just the store loseing out in this case, it is the customer, personally I would rather that $40 saving in my pocket and not in EBs just because I can get it a day earlier from them.

    FYI Big W are selling BF3 for $68 for the standard edition

    • you think EB and JB are companies that are bigger than Big W?? Big W is owned by Woolworths Limited one of the largest companies in the world.

  • I can’t remember where I read it, maybe here, but I think JB HiFi stated they were considering moving towards a total import business model regarding games (or at least the games where that’s appropriate I suppose). That’s a pretty big threat to local publishers, and I think their gung-ho approach to this street break could be a continuation of that, or even the beginning of their changes.

    Maybe!

    • One of the first comments here thet finally gets to the issue of why JB did this

      If only the author had done 5 seconds of research, he would have seen the article that detailed this reason on his OWN website..

      Expect nothing less though

    • most local publishers in Australia are just small subsidiaries that print the game in Australia, if even that. A lot of the time, the only differance for the australian version is the packaging featuring Australia relevant things like copyright regulations and the game rating.

  • EB games must go thru “end” level sellers of their games, seeing as their prices rival on the obscene level for games.

  • I don’t know if I’m just jaded and don’t care about gaming as much any more, or what. But I honestly don’t understand why people are so stupidly rabid to get their hands on a game a day or two before it’s supposed to release. Just as much as I don’t understand people who froth at the mouth when they find out America is getting the game a few days earlier. Even so much as a week. Big fricken whoop, it’s just a week.

    The internet has a lot to answer for 😛

    • I agree with this. Reading through a large number of comments from people who seem almost frothing at the mouth about any possible negativity about breaking street dates, it’s that the possible outcomes haven’t even crossed your minds.

      Nintendo’s douchebaggery with staggered release dates came about partly because they are punishing retailers for breaking in the past, now to the point where we see delays at a national level.

      We’re a small market and publishers don’t make us a priority. Their main thought regarding releases is purely DLC or multiplayer time-related issues if anything. Breaking street dates doesn’t make a publisher stop and think ‘Oh, they’re doing that, maybe we should help them out by giving this one country the title first’. They tend to go the other way, and that means more likely the thing most irrational date-followers hate – increasingly delayed releases.

      Working in retail I’m not fussed about the breaks at a store level, unless like yesterday I have to have a whole team of staff working a shift in the middle of the night that amounted to a colossal waste of time. Hell I even enjoy taking a game home after the break if I’m keen on it, knowing I get to play it that little bit earlier. It annoys me when people make ignorant statements assuming being proactive about trying to break dates will help the cause when it comes to trying to get worldwide releases or negotiating the damn costs of the games so you and walk into a bloody store and pay only marginally more than you would buying from the other side of the FUCKING WORLD. I work in the store and I HATE this.

  • It is interesting seeing this sort of thing happening in a country so obsessed with competitive equality. I am surprised the ACCC has not stepped up on this one. How is this not a case of the “big retailers” saying F it and breaking street. As much as EB are called the “bad guys”, I felt sorry for them (more so their staff) on this one.

  • The way I see it is, if they already have the stock sitting in the back rooms of their stores, and the game is already released elsewhere in the world, then why the hell can we not play it too? They’re just holding it an extra day… for what reason?

  • I don’t like it when they break street dates.
    I mean yeah I like playing the game early, but I feel sad for the kid going there on the actual release date thinking he’s getting it the same time as everyone else. Thinking he’s the greatest fan.

    Especially with midnight releases, the streetdate breaking really takes the life out of them.

    Like with BF3, my local Game had this thing with giveaways, food & a fair bit of props decorating the place.
    Everyone going to it would been the schmo who missed out on getting it early.

    I didn’t read the article, just saying my brief opinion anyway.

  • When I was working at GAME here in the UK, street dates were quite regularly broken. Only on a local level mind – we never got memos from head office to start selling a game early.

    Where I worked actually had five different video game stores and the others would routinely break dates by selling games early. In such an occasion we had to ring head office to get permission to start selling the game and, more often than not, it was granted.

    Usually, unless it was a major game, we didn’t get stock in until two days before at the most.

    There was also the Tomb Raider – Angel Of Darkness date. At the time when we started selling we hadn’t broken any dates – the game had been delayed (the Sony rep had told us it was because the French version hadn’t been fully approved) and so came in two weeks after it’s release date. We hadn’t been given a new one and so started selling it as soon as it came in, on a Tuesday (our games release on a Friday). The other shops in the city centre went livid (apparently it’s one rule for us and another for them) and the some of their managers walked in en masse and accused us of unfair business practices because they hadn’t got the stock yet.

    However, this does show how important release dates are. As video game retail suffers around the globe, it’s a way of levelling the playing field.

  • Has a publisher ever actually punished a retailer for a street date break?

    Not to my knowledge they haven’t..

    Threats of publishers withholding the next big release are all talk. Until they actually enforce it then this whole situation falls back on the publishers..

    If a store isn’t capable of holding their stock in a secure location until its time to sell it then there needs to be consequences.

    Problem is that its very hard for a publisher to actually pin point who sold first.

    I used to work in retail and the buyer would be pulling reports and calling any store who sold something ahead of time to question it. Stores try to do the right thing, but you can’t blame them for selling once the have confirmed a competitor is already doing the same.

  • I think Australian gamers deserve to suffer. There is still such a selfish, apathetic attitude towards the industry in general. It’s all just “Who cares, it’s big corporation stuff, I just want MAH GAMES”. If you’re not prepared even garner the vaguest understanding of how this industry works, you’re not allowed to bring out all the whiny, selfish, entitled consumer BS. Do you even know why games are more expensive in Australia? Is it EB’s fault? Or a games company or developers?

    It’s reading the reaction of gamers like this that makes me seriously doubt it whenever the old statistic pops up that the average age of a gamer is 35. This industry will never grow as long as the people supporting don’t grow up themselves.

    • +1

      Honestly one of the more mature responses I’ve seen on this wonderful can of worms.

      I’m not a big fan of the AU pricing system but as it stands I’m not too fussed to pre order special eds on games I like in AU.

      The whole net attitutide of I want it and I want it now can get fairly toxic and its a pain when people sometimes can’t see the far longer implications of “non”-issues like these.

      Honestly au gamers are so utterly spoiled these days its not funny. I seem to remember a good 20 or so years back when Game shops didn’t even EXIST and if you really wanted a game you had to either dig through the (ironically) overpriced crap from Target/Big-W or travel far and wide for that niche gaming “specialist” shop. I *rejoiced* when a Gaming Shop finally opened near where I lived as a teenager. Seeing as I no longer had to literally travel to the city to purchase decent games.

      These days you’ve got 3 major gaming retailers in EB, GAME and Gametraders.. as well as cheaper options from JB Hifi, Target and Big W.

      • so, because when the gaming industry was small there were no dedicated gaming shops, it means that now that there are lots of game shops to match the industry size, we are spoiled?

        The reason people are annoyed is that the industry DOESN’T NEED to charge premiums any more, as most games can be assured to sell. Also, the fact that the differant region versions of console games are only incompatible due to region lockout rather than actual technological differances, means that extremely delayed release dates (especialy delaying australian release for more than a week after an EU release, so they dont even have the excuse of waiting for a PAL version from europe) are alsp inexcusable.

        TL:DR evolution of the industry =/= people being spoiled.

  • Level Playing field my a$$. If the publishers want to make level playing field, why not standardize the sell price like in Japan. Why should JB/EB etc get a bigger discount and collectors editions etc and smaller guys cant?
    JB undercuts all the small retailers in price – this is fair? Pfft whatever mate.

  • The problem with release dates is this. US have 25th midnight releases then the publisher tells Australia to sell it on the 26th. Where this becomes a problem is as a general rule, yes we’re a day ahead of US, midnight still falls on the 25th here, for PST somewhere between 5pm and 7pm. This issue gets compacted when the games introduce server and world firsts as by the release schedule only US players get to attempt these when the server is turned on. The fix to this is turning servers on/updating them only when all countries have had the game released, considering local dates/times.

  • The publishers wouldn’t lose money from this. If anything, they’d get even more hype for their game through word of mouth and the same amount of sales. Its not like they’re gonna lose sales because it’s been released a day early. The servers and patches for the game would also be up because the Yanks would be playing it already.

    I just think the publishers are bullshitting everyone and trying to look like the good guys. I could go on and talk about DRM and DLC, but that’s another can of worms.

  • The publishers wouldn’t lose money from this. If anything, they’d get even more hype for their game through word of mouth and the same amount of sales. Its not like they’re gonna lose sales because it’s been released a day early. The servers and patches for the game would also be up because the Yanks would be playing it already.

    I just think the publishers are bullshitting everyone and trying to look like the good guys. I could go on and talk about DRM and DLC, but that’s another can of worms.

  • I’d just like to point out that EB never “follows suit” and sells street date broken games as a retaliation (as JB seems to have done in the case of BF3). There is actually a proceedure we have to follow; we have to purchase a copy from the offending retailer, send a copy of this receipt to our head office who then goes about contacting the developer/publisher/whoever to negotiate where to go from there. Only when they receive the ok and, in turn, us in the stores get the confirmation, can we start selling.
    But yeah as an EB retail worker I very much apreciate this article. Not to mention it results in us being very unprepared for a games launch in terms of rostering/getting stock on the shelves so a lot of the time customer service suffers because we suddenly get run off our toes.

  • this saying that it’s bad for the gaming industry is a misnomer. it’s bad for smaller store competition. If there were no street dates, the big chain stores, like EB games and JB HiFi, with their larger warehouses and superior logistics would be able to sell games earlier than most. Thus destroying smaller stores. But in reality smaller stores are ALREADY being destroyed. Since the bigger stores buy and store in bulk they are able to sell for cheaper than the majority of smaller stores. Not to mention the exclusive DLC publishers give to these chains only… The battle has already been lost! There are hardly any independent game stores left in Australia that are successful. I bet many of you can’t even name local ones in your area. If you are a fan of this page I assume you aren’t supporting them… The worst case scenario is that publishers switch earlier to a digital only distribution system. Which isn’t that big of a deal since we are heading their inevitably. All of this uproar about street date breaks is really moot in the modern brick and mortar gaming market in this country. Ten or fifteen years ago this would be a relevant discussion…

  • When CoD MW3 was coming out, a bunch of people were playing 30 DAYS EARLY! Their reason? Quote “muslim dude” selling from the trunk of his car… Oh OK! But yes I despise street dates. Game is done and in stores 2 weeks early then just sell them. I got crackdown 2 a week early and didn’t even know. And fight night 2 and DMC3 all from walmart early long ago. Small businesses pffft. While I support them, nobody buys games from them where I live. Now where can I get Witcher 3 today. Hmm. Seriously where?

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