Today sees the launch of a new player in the digital distribution space - Get Games. It's a joint venture between Eurogamer Network MD Rupert Loman and Mastertronic chairman Andy Payne, and here Loman explains the thinking behind the move and why the time is right.
Q: What's the thinking behind launching Get Games?
Rupert Loman: We've created Get Games to give consumers and content creators a fresh alternative to the current digital distribution services. For our users, we hope to offer a great range of products at competitive price points - from new releases to indie and classic titles, as well as free-to-play games. For developers and publishers we're a way of reaching millions of consumers with your product easily and on attractive terms. And as a further bonus, we have a local presence in eleven countries already - so it's a global opportunity from day one.
Q: Why is it a good fit for the Eurogamer Network?
Rupert Loman: We already do a lot of the things that a gamer needs - from news, reviews and previews to videos, tournaments and live events. Now, by giving them the opportunity to get games from us too means we have a more complete offering for them. It will also allow us to work with game creators more closely and allow them to put their products in front of over 6 million unique users per month across our websites.
Q: Who else is involved in the project?
Rupert Loman: Get Games is a joint venture between Eurogamer Network and Andy Payne from Mastertronic. Andy is hugely experienced with retail and distribution - which is complementary to what we do here at Eurogamer in terms of creating great websites and having a fantastic relationship with gamers. So it's a great match of skills and experience. Additionally, we have Graeme Struthers as part of the team, who brings a wealth of experience in content acquisition and working with developers.
Q: Why is now a good time?
Rupert Loman: The market is ready. A lot of the difficult ground work has already been done by others and everyone in the industry is now working on their digital plans - so it's been a relatively easy sell to content creators who are looking to maximise their revenues from as many different routes as possible.
Q: How much of a revenue stream do you expect it to be for the company, and what are your growth expectations?
Rupert Loman: It's important to know that although Eurogamer is involved in the project, Get Games is a different company, and will be completely focused on the digital download business and have its own staff. We think the Get Games business will grow rapidly to become one of the three key online PC game distribution services.
Our goal is to work with people professionally and to run a nimble and efficient business which should result in a service that makes sense for the content owner as well as the retailer, a relationship which too often seems to be out of step in traditional retail and digital distribution at the moment.
Q: Do you expect Eurogamer editorial content to have an effect on GetGames sales?
Rupert Loman: One of the great things that Get Games will offer is editorial content and community around the games. It is our goal for the site not to look like another e-shop. And because Eurogamer already has a database of thousands of games, screenshots, videos and so on, this makes it a bit easier to do than it otherwise would be. However, it should be stressed that the written editorial content is completely separate to the main Eurogamer website.
Q: What's the general pricing approach for GetGames?
Rupert Loman: We will attempt to be as competitive as possible and hopefully the trend for games to be released online at the same time - and the same price - as they are available in the shops will continue. It's important to the growth of digital downloads that games are not available online at a premium in comparison to their retail counterpart as is sometimes the case currently.
As we've seen today with our launch alongside Serious Sam HD (available at GBP 9.99) there will be special offers available where we aim to shake the market up a bit too.
Q: How have the publishers responded to the idea?
Rupert Loman: They've got it straight away. We've already signed most of the major publishers, alongside some independent developers too. And they are particularly excited that we have a network of websites in 10 European languages and will be taking Get Games across the continent very soon.
Q: What are your thoughts on the way that digital distribution and traditional retail will evolve over the next few years?
Rupert Loman: Both will evolve and have a part to play for a long time to come. Clearly for the PC, the Get Games service makes a huge amount of sense and the model has already been proven to work with Steam. The most exciting thing for me is to see console content starting to be purchased via the web - which is still a more intuitive place to buy content than places like PSN.
We have the hundreds of thousands of gamers on our sites every day, and we know what they like, so this is a huge new opportunity for the console platforms.
Rupert Loman is MD of the Eurogamer Network and co-founder of GetGames. Interview by Phil Elliott.