MW2 street date "most broken in history"

Retailers lash out at supermarkets, etailers.

The release date for Modern Warfare 2 has been one of the most disregarded in the history of UK games retail, according to SimplyGames MD Neil Muspratt.

Evidence suggests that many online retailers received stock of the game as early as last Wednesday and shipped it immediately, he told GamesIndustry.biz; an action which has led to hundreds of cancelled pre-orders for stores adhering to the official November 10 release date.

"So far it appears that the street date of Modern Warfare has been one of the most commonly broken in the history of UK games retailing. We only got our stock on Saturday and have had to pay for every copy to go out by courier in order that it reaches people tomorrow.

"We've seen dispatch notes, delivery reports and hundreds of cancelled orders from people who received their copy early."

Retailers have further concerns too that even after stock is sent to customers they could experience high numbers of returns and refunds as the supermarkets slash prices as low as GBP 25.

There are fears, said ShopTo CEO Igor Cipolletta, the title will be devalued by these supermarket deals, both upon launch and in the future as the value of trade-ins and second hand stock is impacted.

"We invested a lot of money and energy to ensure our customers receive their game on release date and hope that the most awaited game of the year is able to retain its value, but fear that loss leaders are both devaluing a new product and consequently affecting second hand and trade-in prices also," he commented.

Cipolletta called for publishers to consider "categorising" their customers as a result before they see themselves hit by the actions of the supermarkets.

"This may be something that Activision and others can control. We feel that there are currently enough specialist retailers and etailers to supply and cover the market, and publishers do not need supermarkets and similar to promote such titles as this and FIFA," he said.

"Publishers may need to begin categorising their customers and supplying the right product to the right ones. For example, a mass market title like Professor Layton may be more oriented to a supermarket, whereas a 'hardcore' title such as MW2 might be better suited to specialist retailers, otherwise we may find ourselves in a position where there will be less unit sales, which will hurt publishers and their investments as a result.

"I hope publishers are looking into this and make changes where appropriate."

Earlier today several specialist retailers praised Activision's handling of MW2's launch so far, saying it has dealt with it to the best of its ability.

The sentiment was echoed by Cipolletta who blamed the early sending out of copies of the game on etailers selling European stock not meant for UK customers.

"Activision has done a good job with the direct account holders that they are dealing with," he said. "I don't see how they can improve on this, with some stock always being outside of their control."

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