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THQ fully expects Wii/DS Christmas market surge

Publisher focuses on Kids, Family and Casual products 'Great Games, Great Value' campaign

THQ's UK marketing director, Jon Rooke, has told GamesIndustry.biz that the company is "confident and fully expecting" the Wii and DS markets to bounce back this Christmas, following a slow rest of the year - mirroring sales activity in 2009, when the Wii platform in particular took off in the final two months of the year.

The news comes as the publisher launches a major marketing campaign for its Kids, Family and Casual line-up called 'Great Games, Great Value' - a campaign which echoes a push back in 2006, when the company needed to plug a revenue gap at Christmas left by the delay in release of Disney Pixar's Cars movie.

"We had a number of key learnings from that initial campaign, one of which was that we never really partnered closely enough with retail on it," Rooke explained. "We had a great umbrella brand which worked for the consumer, wrapped a lot of titles together and allowed us to put titles onto TV which on their own might not have received the weight of spend we'd have wanted - but the delivery of that at retail fell short of where we wanted it to be.

"It was a successful campaign, however - it absolutely achieved what we were looking for at that point in 2006," he added.

That partnership with retail will see a range of ten titles sold under the GGGV umbrella brand in a move that has universally been welcomed, said Rooke - in part thanks to the challenge for retailers in having enough space to dedicate to family or casual titles, as well as the challenge of marketing spend for each title individually.

"We went out to retail, we presented the proposal, and the response was unanimously positive," he said. "They all loved the idea, that we were coming to them with a solution to a problem at Christmas, and every single retailer brought into the umbrella campaign. The process we've been going through ever since has just been fine-tuning those plans with retail - which titles are they taking, what are their hero titles.

"The whole campaign is focused with retail in mind, so all the TV will be tagged with a retailer. A 30-second ad might have two or three titles in it, and the end message will be something like: 'Great games, such as Megamind, available now from ASDA' - at whatever the pricing is."

While the decline in overall core videogame market numbers has been blamed in some quarters on a sharp fall in Nintendo platform software and music game genre sales, Rooke echoed comments made previously by THQ CEO Brian Farrell in believing the Wii behaves more like a toy than a traditional videogame product in terms of seasonality.

"When you look back, in particular at the Wii software market, last year - and we looked into this in a lot of detail - it started very strong coming out of Christmas [2008], then declined as you'd expect and flattened out through Summer and Autumn," Rooke explained. "Then in the tail end of October, and through November and December it really started picking up again - and in those last two months of the year it started doing massive volumes.

"It's one of those challenges that everyone forgets - what's happened before. The Wii is behaving a bit more like a toy - people get it out at Christmas, start playing with it again. It's not depressed in that people aren't engaging with the Wii - there are a lot of active users out there, they haven't put it away and it's still set up next to the TV in the living room. But they probably just haven't had a really compelling piece of software to get hold of to really engage with.

"I think seasonality is part of that, and we've always been forecasting through this year to be in a position where we're depressed at this point in time. But we're confident and fully expecting that market to come back; despite Kinect and Move maybe coming a bit into that space, we still see a lot of active users out there.

"Both Microsoft and Sony would have to sell a lot of those motion gaming peripherals to start to cut in significantly to that market," he added.

Titles to be marketed under the GGGV umbrella brand, and released on either November 19 or November 26, include: Barbie, Hot Wheels, Megamind, Truth or Lies, Superhero Squad, Pictionary, Penguins of Madagascar and The Biggest Loser.

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