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ShopTo refusing to stock Activision titles

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Eurogamer is reporting on a very strange turn of events in Europe this morning. Apparently Shopto.net, one of Europe’s largest gaming retailers, has stated that they will no longer stock any Activision titles moving forward.

What’s made them have this change of heart? Well apparently Activision has laid down the law for Call of Duty: Ghosts and have stated that no retailer, online or offline, is allowed to release a copy of Ghosts before one minute past midnight on the release day.

Brick and Mortar stores don’t really care about this as that is how they’ve always worked but e-tailers were previously allowed to post the game a day before to allow their customers to get their titles on the day of release.

According to ShopTo boss, Ian Cipolletta,

Activision’s policy of only allowing e-tailers to despatch one day before release date effectively destroys an e-tailer’s pre-order campaign

This has the undesired effect of previously loyal and satisfied customers thinking that, if we can’t ‘get it right’ for one of the biggest games of the year, why should they trust us with any future orders?

Their friends and acquaintances, by word of mouth and social media, (despite possibly not having ever ordered from us), would see us (and possibly e-tailers as a whole) as unreliable. This despite all the time and hard work my team and the myriad of other publishers put into other titles during the year.

Of course this Activision policy is not for every title, but due to the volume and fever pitch Call of Duty seems to generate (both positive and negative), it causes the most damage to us

Apparently the UK office of Activision has become increasingly frustrated at retailers breaking release dates, something we are quite used to in South Africa as well, and as such are refusing to budge on this new rule.

In the end it’s really the customers who get hurt the most as our choices start being whittled away which always ends up meaning higher prices and worse service.

However ShopTo don’t appear to only be taking this stance on moral grounds, Ian goes on to say that selling the game on a Tuesday is simply a stock market trick to make their first week sales look better as they are counted until the end of Sunday.

And that ShopTo has actually never made a profit on a Call of Duty release.

Unfortunately, our experience with the Call Of Duty series in the past four years is that our campaigns have been extremely difficult to engender a supportable level of customer satisfaction and in regards to profit, a complete failure.

Our wholesale unit price, added to the fact that the game has a worldwide Tuesday release date, means the processing and shipping requirements of this stock does not accommodate an e-tailers needs. With the requirement to pay staffing costs over the weekend, this would destroy any profit, as we cannot increase our selling price as we risk having zero orders. Essentially, if we receive stock late on a Friday, the processing time we have is halved and our processing costs double

We have seen this year that Disney has listened to retailers regarding the release date for Disney Infinity. I really don’t see why with Activision we can’t have Friday release like any other triple-A title such as FIFA, Battlefield, Injustice, Dishonoured, Far Cry 3 and more

So do you think ShopTo are simply trying to push their weight around to make their lives easier or are Activision the bad guys in this scenario?

I personally don’t like Tuesday release dates, I have work on Wednesday and I’d rather be able to come home from a midnight launch and play until 8am and then go to bed.. not stumble into an office.

Last Updated: May 8, 2013

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