Runescape dev: physical games retail will disappear within 10 years

"The writing has been on the wall for quite some time."

Physical games retail will disappear within 10 years, the boss of Runescape maker Jagex has predicted.

Jagex chief Mark Gerhard told an audience at the BAFTA Question Time event last night that the eventual closure of embattled retailer GAME is now inevitable.

"I think, 10 years out from now, we'll be talking about [physical] retail nostalgically, as a museum piece," he said, reported by GamesIndustry.biz.

"I don't think there's much there that would give it a second life."

Physical retail "erodes the economics for developers being able to make money" Gerhard said. "They take a chunk - say 20 or 30 per cent - the publishers take a bit, and after inflation it's no wonder that the independent games industry isn't alive and vibrant, because they're not making any money."

GAME, the UK's biggest specialist video game shop, was thrust into the spotlight last month after it emerged it had lost credit insurance with the banks and doubt was cast on its ability to stock new games.

Although it has secured new terms with its lenders, trimmed its head office staff count and implemented a strategic review of the company, there remains concern over GAME's long-term future.

"It's sad to see an institution decline," Gerhard continued, "but the writing has been on the wall for quite some time - the internet didn't happen yesterday... People are still playing games. They're still doing business; they're just doing it in a different place... If you don't adapt you die. It's as simple as that."

Countering the doom and gloom, however, was UKIE's Jo Twist, who urged the industry not to "undersell" the retail experience. To those unfamiliar with gaming or shopping for somebody else it can be the only way to make an informed purchase, she said.

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