Monday, March 24, 2008

Promotion, or new distribution channel?

A few people (eg Raph) have pointed to Target's 'promotion' of some indie games by selling them bundled with t-shirts.

It's a cool idea, but I'm not sure I'd view this as only a promotion. Seems like its a viable distribution channel. The target promotion seems to just be the first instantiation of just that, as seen on the EGP Apparel here. No different than the toy-with-virtual-world examples I've been ranting about for some time. i.e. Buy a physical product that includes a game in it's 'feature set'.

It moves the transaction to the well-understood retail model, it helps combat piracy (pirates don't get the shirt, don't get to 'make the statement'/exhibit their gamer cred), and there's likely still a healthy margin for the developer.

[Back of the envelope on that last point: $12 SRP. Assume 30 points for target, and that since it's one retailer, that its done direct with their buyer, so $8.50 to EGP. Let's assume $1.50 for shipping and other middlemen/administrivia, we're down to $7.00. Maybe $3.00 for the shirt (bulk t's can be had for under $2, so I'm assuming this is reasonable with the print added) and $1.00 for the game CD and insert. Another $2.00 for EGP Apparel and you are down to $1/unit for the developer. Actually a reasonable amount, as I've seen retail games distributed for comparable prices if the bundle unit commit is high enough.]