JB Hi-Fi’s annual report was released today and among all the information regarding sales (video game sales have seemingly declined, but at a slowing pace) is a niggling piece of information with regards to its streaming service JB Hi-Fi NOW.
JB Hi-Fi NOW started life as a music streaming service in the vein of Spotify, but expanded to offer eBooks and is set to offer movie downloads in the near future. Ultimately JB Hi-Fi is looking to create a catch all digital store that’s modern and up to the task of serving tech-savvy consumers.
But until now, JB Hi-Fi hasn’t really discussed video games.
In a quote from its annual report, JB Hi-Fi said the following (emphasis ours):
JB Hi-Fi NOW… will provide users with an integrated experience across a range of digital content including music, movies, games, books and music videos.
But what does that mean exactly? We asked JB Hi-Fi to clarify.
“It has always been inferred to the market that JB Hi-Fi NOW would ultimately aggregate digital entertainment solutions for all content experiences including interactive gaming,” claimed a representative, in a statement sent to Kotaku. “However, what this may entail specifically remains undisclosed at the moment as there are a number of models we are still considering. At this stage the key next step development focus for JB Hi-Fi NOW remains with the introduction of on demand Feature Film & TV Shows.”
So in short, yes: games will be part of the JB Hi-Fi NOW service, but at this stage it seems the ‘how’, ‘what’ and ‘why’ is still a work in progress. JB Hi-Fi could probably go down one of two roads: it could set up some sort of Steam/Origin style online service that sells digital versions of video games direct to consumers, or it could be in the process of setting up some sort of streaming service that allows users to play smaller budget games.
We’d put our money on the Steam/Origin style online store.
Regardless, it is interesting to see JB Hi-Fi in the process of trying to future proof its business. It’s often believed that the slow death of the games/retail business model would result in stores like JB Hi-Fi moving out of gaming, but it looks as though JB is attempting to evolve. This might be a way for traditional retailers to stay in games as we move to an all digital future.