Gaming is changing. Physical releases for AAA games is still prominent, but more and more often, publishers are pushing digital sales to their consumers. It’s not difficult to guess at the motives of the publisher. Fewer physical copies means the publishing costs lower. Bottom line is important for Nintendo, or any publisher, and the increase of digital sales through the years is indication of where the industry is heading. The PlayStation Network generated over $12.5 billion dollars in revenue in 2018, a number that dwarfs Microsoft’s entire gaming division and all of Nintendo1.
On top of this, there are new services on the way that will offer streaming of games, similar to the Netflix model. Google Stadia is not the first to try this approach, but they are the latest. Shout out to OnLive.
As the AA game is becoming a thing of the past, quietly, the void is being filled by small publishers. Most indie titles remain digital, but a few companies now offer a very limited number of physical releases for select games. In a digital world, these companies are finding success by taking risks and offering games people still want. And so, physical releases still flourish.
Somewhere in London, England, there sits one such company, still willing to find that gem to offer customers. Super Rare Games.
George Perkins is the owner, founder, and self proclaimed “Head of Doing Stuff,” at Super Rare Games. A testament to their success, in their brief, yet fruitful, time in this business, all of their releases have been on the Nintendo Switch, and all have completely sold out. In their 14 months in business, they have published 14 games.
According to George, business is, in his words, “growing massively.” Super Rare Games sells between 3000 and 5000 copies of select physical games that is determined based on the game’s audience, the audience of SRG, and the genre/style of game. Super Rare is a pretty fitting term for these releases. 5000 copies of anything is a nice low number, and being forthrite with that number gives collectors confidence in their purchase. Not surprisingly, Ebay resellers are selling these games, with success, for up to 5 times, or more, of what the game initially sold for.
A fitting culmination to their success, Fairune Collection, the latest release from the company, completely sold out it’s pre-orders. The last 100 copies available for purchase after release sold out within minutes.
Based on this, as you might expect, George anticipates growth in 2019, pushing releases to 4000 to 6000 copies for each new release.
Of the fourteen games that have been published by Super Rare Games, about 80% of these were facilitated by George and his team, offering game developers a chance to see their game release physically. 20% of the games released have been prompted by contact by the developers themselves. The selection process can vary, but in general, Super Rare Games want people to have a chance to purchase physical copies of games that they themselves love. Games aren’t selected based on how well they have sold digitally, and they aren’t selected because George believes they will sell well. Games are selected based on quality. Basically, if Super Rare Games loves the game, there is a chance you’ll see it published, and based on history, it will be coming to the Switch.
The games themselves come packaged with some trading cards as extras. That perk, along with the physical, rare, nature of the games, allows Super Rare Games to charge up to 100% more than the game would cost to buy digitally from the eshop. That hasn’t deterred eager buyers.
On top of the games, the company has even begun selling vinyl records of select game soundtracks. I haven’t seen that anywhere else.
Getting back to the industry itself, Nintendo continues to push digital sales for the Switch, offering more Gold coins to My Nintendo members. Expect digital perks to continue as companies explore ways to entice buyers. This doesn’t seem to concern George Perkins much.
When I pressed George on whether limited physical releases of video games was a viable business model, he described his business as incredibly stable, thus making it viable for them. He is fully aware that the industry is ever moving towards digital, and admits to maybe not having put too much thought into other business strategies. George anticipates that within 10 years physical games could be a thing of the past, but he is emphatic that as long as there is a platform for physical games, Super Rare Games will release limited editions.
As a collector, as a fan, as a gamer, I hope physical games stick around a while longer. Companies like Super Rare Games could be the last standing relic of the physical game age, and business is booming. Best of luck to Super Rare Games, I’ll be watching…and probably buying, too!
Footnotes1. PlayStation Network 2018 Revenue
Please source NintendoNation.net with any use of the above information.