Special Editions to become standard in future - Hein

Port Plexus COO explains how publishers and retailers can benefit from added value boxes

As the videogames industry trends increasingly towards the digital distribution of product, the future of the packaged goods sector could well lie with a strong strategy for Special Editions - which in time could become part of the standard release for a title.

That's the opinion of newly-installed Port Plexus COO, Marko Hein, who believes that publishers and retailers alike stand to benefit from adding variety and value for consumers when it comes to boxed games.

"I think the Special or Collector's Editions of today could become the standard editions of tomorrow, because you have to differentiate your physical product from the digital download or online game," he explained. "There's a certain need to provide more additional value to your goods, to stand out against digital distribution in the future.

"Saying this, the boxed product has a problem, which is that it doesn't necessarily provide additional value to what you get when you download a game. That means that if your company is in the boxed product business, you need to think how you can provide additional value that doesn't exist in the digital download.

"Otherwise, when you can download the product for 10 or 20, there's no need for the consumer to pay exactly the same price for the box," he added.

He went on to explain that the possibilities for Special Editions go beyond the classic Collector's Edition for a core audience - although particularly strong brands can benefit from high price points here - to take in a range of opportunities, including bringing entirely new players into game franchises.

"Imagine you have a game like The Sims, which has a certain heritage. Some people who might be new to the brand would never have experienced the game before," he explained. "Or the German game Anno, which is very complex, and might need a certain type of introduction to the game - so you could provide an Entry Edition, or Beginner's Edition, that explains the game in a completely different way by providing either the previous games in the series, or maybe a book or strategy guide that helps the player coming fresh into the brand.

"Therefore, people who might have felt before that a game was too complex, or that it was too far into a series, if they see a boxed set that gives them the heritage, or the help to get into the game - that might be a trigger to getting new players on board who have previously shied away from the franchise."

Hein added that there was strong interest from retailers in his company's plans, as the pace of digital downloads increases, but that the music and film industries were also opportunities for Special Edition strategies.

"When you look at the film or music businesses, they have the same type of needs, because digital distribution produces exactly the same issues for them - sometimes more important," he said. "So we'd like to provide the same type of strategic design and production service for other entertainment sectors."

The full interview with Marko Hein, formerly a senior executive with other companies including Nintendo, THQ and Bigpoint, is available now.

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Latest comments (2)

Christopher Bowen Owner, Gaming Bus 7 years ago
Interesting idea, but considering the fact that downloading downloadable games takes away rights from consumers - such as the right of portability, the right of a physical copy of the game, and therefore, the lack of right to trade or sell it - I think this guy has it backwards.
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I generally agree that with the growing importance of the digital distribution the standard box will loose more and more of its appeal. Yes, we old school gamers are very fond of the physical realm. But looking at the iPod generation that is used to buy online only I just don't see any need for a simple box with a DVD sleeve and no added value. Portability is much better than DVD since I can install a digital copy on any device. Lifetime storage, online save games, automatic patches are so much more comfortable. Even the trading issues is addressed already. Last week the first online shop openend where you can trade-in your digital games. I believe it's must a matter of time before other (online) players will adapt some of this ideas. With Steam's monopoly in the digital distribution this is a strong factor for differentiation and another blow for the retail package. However, having a nice collectors edition with some real physical value might be one way to keep fans buying physical.
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