Australian retailers have dismissed the threat posed by games publisher, Ubisoft, and the launch of its online sales portal.
UBIShop opened its online store in Australia on June 4. Customers can buy and download PC games directly.
In a statement, the company said it will introduce merchandise and boxed products for consoles and PCs.
Ubisoft distributes to game retail outlet and has brushed off concerned over UBIShop's potential to cannibalise the company's retail partners.
"Our retail partners are obviously integral to our business and therefore are aware of our activity on UBIshop," Ubisoft Australia managing director, Eric Fong, said. "We have also actively encouraged them to replicate the same download service via their own online infrastructure."
Gametraders, but national manager, Rob Jenkins, was confident customers still favoured physical copies of games.
“Sure people have hard drive storage space, but if you lose the hard drive, you lose every game you’ve ever bought and there’s also the difficulty and pain associated with recovering the data,” he said. “It would be a horrendous experience for customers to have games stored on a drive or computer, and lose it."
While a digital copy of a game may be cheaper and faster to obtain, Jenkins said there were hidden costs.
“If you want a game manual, you will have to print it out yourself so there is a false economy of savings there,” he said.
Ubisoft will lose out in the long run if it decides to favour selling games direct online, Jenkins warned.
“A lot of mums and dads probably don’t go online to buy games as much as hardcore gamers,” he said. “They [Ubisoft] can potentially lose a lot of sales.”
“Buying games at a physical location is still the preferred method for shoppers.”
JB Hi-Fi CEO, Terry Smart, said the new UBIShop was a concern but saw it as just another competitor.
JB Hi-Fi has a large share of the casual gamer market, he said.
“There are still limitations with selling downloadable online games and one of them is broadband speed as well as the cost of a broadband service,” Smart said. “We have a lot of traffic through our stores and we can take advantage of impulse purchases whereas when people buy online, it is a considered purchase.”
UBIShop already exists in France, Germany, the UK and the US.