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Retail praises Activision's handling of MW2 release

But run up to Christmas will be real test, according to Chips MD

Despite widespread reports of Modern Warfare 2 being available on the High Street over the weekend, specialist retailers have praised Activision's handling of the launch so far, saying "they've done as much as they can."

"Activision has managed it to the best of their ability," Chips MD Don McCabe told GamesIndustry.biz. "They caused themselves a problem by going for a Tuesday release date, which was always going to be a problem in terms of getting so much stock into place. Some of it had to be shipped before the weekend. But they've done as much as they can to negate any street break situations. I'm sure one or two will happen but they will be sporadic.

"I expected something from the onliners, which, to a certain degree, has happened. The online people always try to do it so that they arrive on the date of release. If you're going to be shipping over a weekend you're always going to get the situation where some will turn up early, but there'll also be a proportion that will turn up late. In terms of High Street retail, I haven't seen any real breaks as yet - the test will be over the next 24 hours."

What is of more concern, added McCabe, is whether stock supplies can be maintained by Activision throughout the Christmas period.

The game's launch week is also likely to be tainted for specialist retailers by the widely expected price promotions from the supermarkets. According to adverts in the press today, Sainsburys will sell the game at GBP 26, while Asda and Tesco are offering the game at between GBP 25 and GBP 32.

McCabe acknowledges the low price will draw customers in, but predicts Modern Warfare 2 will have no problem holding its price over the coming months.

"I think once we've got past the Sainsburys price point it will hold its price fairly well," he said. "I can see both Asda and Tesco doing something for the weekend, then once this week's over it'll be a good constant seller right through to Christmas."

McCabe's opinion on Activision's handling of the launch was mirrored by Chris Harwood, purchasing director of Granger Games.

"I think Activision have handled the situation as well as they could," he said, adding the street date breaks were down to individual retailers and "pretty much out of Activision's hands."

"We have put a lot of time and money into advertising our midnight launches so we don't want to disrupt this for either our staff or customers," he continued, confirming Grainger was sticking to the Tuesday release date.

"We haven't had any pre-orders cancelled yet and, fingers crossed, we won't get any cancellations."

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Kath Brice