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Wal-Mart Controls Modern Game Design?

ScuttleMonkey posted about 8 years ago | from the telling-you-what-is-good dept.

696

An anonymous reader writes "That Wal-Mart smiley face is looking pretty evil now that Allen Varney has explained how much influence they have on virtually every modern game: 'Publisher sales reps inform Wal-Mart buyers of games in development; the games' subjects, titles, artwork and packaging are vetted and sometimes vetoed by Wal-Mart. If Wal-Mart tells a top-end publisher it won't carry a certain game, the publisher kills that game. In short, every triple-A game sold at retail in North America is managed start to finish, top to bottom, with the publisher's gaze fixed squarely on Wal-Mart, and no other.'"

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696 comments

Too much buying power... (5, Informative)

Komarechka (967622) | about 8 years ago | (#15107604)

Wal-Mart has had this impact on developers and publishers for quite some time. One of the most publicized occurrences was with BMX XXX - Wal-Mart didn't want to sell it because of its nature, so they toned it down to fit within Wal-Mart standards. It is unfortunate that one company with so much buying power runs the market. Gamestop is second though, with their recent merger with EB Games. But that's like comparing Godzilla to Oprah. You don't want to make either of them mad, but only one of them is powerful enough to destroy the planet. unless... http://uncyclopedia.org/wiki/Image:Oprahsaurus.jpg [uncyclopedia.org]

Re:Too much buying power... (4, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | about 8 years ago | (#15107687)

One of the most publicized occurrences was with BMX XXX - Wal-Mart didn't want to sell it because of its nature, so they toned it down to fit within Wal-Mart standards.

The problem is, this effect appears to be entirely unintentional. Walmart has always tried to maintain a family friendly "Bible-belt" image. As a result, they have never in their history carried games that didn't meet their current criteria. As gaming moved away from Shareware and into Hollywood-style productions, they obviously started needing bigger outlets to sell their games. Now since Wal-mart is the biggest consumer shopping center at the moment, that means that producers are going to follow Wal-mart's rules to maintain profits.

If this was still the 80's, game producers would be complaining about K-Mart or Sears instead.

On the flip side of this, Walmart has done some good. The smaller packaging of games has made them easier to store, produced less waste, and has generally been good for consumers as a whole. Which is nice, because the GIGANTOR boxes was really getting out of hand for awhile there. Especially as game producers packed less and less in the box. Anyone remember how Wing Commander included Blueprints, a manual, offers, etc? Good luck finding that stuff in a modern game. :-/

Re:Too much buying power... (0, Redundant)

Otter (3800) | about 8 years ago | (#15107797)

The smaller packaging of games has made them easier to store, produced less waste, and has generally been good for consumers as a whole.

Heaven forbid that anyone, including the submitter or editor, should bother to RTFA, but in fact the article goes into lengthy detail about how Wal-Mart drove game publishers to use more efficient packaging, as they've done for many of the goods they carry.

"from the telling-you-what-is-good dept", indeed...

Re:Too much buying power... (0)

the_mighty_$ (726261) | about 8 years ago | (#15107701)

How dare they decide what they will be selling in their own stores!

Re:Too much buying power... (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | about 8 years ago | (#15107843)

How dare they decide what they will be selling in their own stores!

I think that's pretty true statement. Exactly what fraction of game sales are through Wal*Mart? Wal*Mart is huge, but last I checked, as a whole, they only constitute 10% of the retail market in dollar sales. I think it would be pretty tough to make a valid anti-trust claim when they don't have anything near majority of sales in the market.

Raise your hand... (4, Insightful)

XorNand (517466) | about 8 years ago | (#15107616)


Raise your hand if you've ever bought a PC game from WalMart.



Me neither.

Re:Raise your hand... (0)

Radres (776901) | about 8 years ago | (#15107634)

Raise your hand if you think people buy console games at WalMart.

Duh.

Re:Raise your hand... (1)

Boone^ (151057) | about 8 years ago | (#15107667)

They're big in consoles, very very tiny in PC games. However, since many PC/console titles are released on 15 platforms all at the same time, it's a safe bet that PC games are neutered just because they [came from]/[will go to] consoles.

Re:Raise your hand... (2, Interesting)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 8 years ago | (#15107696)

I bought Temple of Elemental Evil for $10.00 there.

I wonder if they caused "pickpocketting" to be renamed "sleight of handing". The conversion of Thief to Rogue, however, probably preceeded their influence.

Re:Raise your hand... (1)

Donjo (797935) | about 8 years ago | (#15107755)

None of my friends buy PC games from wal-mart because almost every box is already opened so you know the cd-key has been jacked.

Re:Raise your hand... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15107848)

My we're being an ass with our mod points, aren't we...

Re:Raise your hand... (0, Offtopic)

garcia (6573) | about 8 years ago | (#15107656)

Me neither.

Yet you have the grammar skills of the typical Wal-Mart shopper...

Regardless of what the general Slashbotter feels about any number of retailers, a healthy majority of people buy too much of their shit at Wal-Mart.

Re:Raise your hand... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15107873)

Fuck you you fat fuck- Why do you care where people shop? You and your fucking wife are always eating out- you should be growing your own organic food and not going to restaurants, right? I mean, you bust on people who shop at Wal Mart, but you wouldn't want anyone looking at your habits... You should cook at home and save the environment, by not driving to restaurants. Jesus- you are such a self pretentious Prick Think of all the wasted crap in the food service industry- and you are supporting it...
Why is it that liberals are always so worried about everyone else's habits?

Re:Raise your hand... (1)

falcon5768 (629591) | about 8 years ago | (#15107668)

the kind of people who surf /. wouldn't. But then your talking about the same number who would leave their computers open to attacks, the same number who wouldn't know what vorbis is and the same number who think DRM is bad.

IE your talking about like .000002% of the population here.

A LOT of people shop at Walmart. and a large percentage of the technically challenged would buy things from there.

Re:Raise your hand... (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 8 years ago | (#15107722)

I bought a CD from Wal Mart once

It had the curses edited out & wasn't labeled to reflect it.

Never even tried to buy music, games, or DVDs from them again.

I imagine that many other people had the same response, but it doesn't change the fact that Wal Mart is the 8000lb gorilla when it comes to selling anything.

Geek minority (3, Insightful)

Spy der Mann (805235) | about 8 years ago | (#15107725)

Raise your hand if you've ever bought a PC game from WalMart.
Me neither.


Raise your hand if you're NOT a geek minority.

Ah-hah, I supposed.

Re:Geek minority (2, Funny)

Peter Mork (951443) | about 8 years ago | (#15107827)

Ooh, ooh, pick me, pick me!

Looks around. Oh, wait, you mean we're not the majority? But, everybody I know is a geek!

Re:Raise your hand... (1)

tedgyz (515156) | about 8 years ago | (#15107727)

Raise your hand if you've ever bought a PC game from WalMart.

Not for myself, but for my (pre-teen) kids. But then again, those games would not suffer the wrath of Wal-Mart.

Hand Raised. (2, Informative)

christian.elliott (892060) | about 8 years ago | (#15107729)

Wal-Mart has a better idea of what you're buying that you do yourself. The know what gets sold, then know what popular. They could probally tell you how many video games they sold last month, and the result would scare you.

Don't be so quick to call everything a load of shit, because it probally isn't.

It is a bit upsetting that so many companies are at the mercy of Wal-Mart. This doesn't just happen with video games. If Wal-Mart says that this years Easter Bunnies will have 3 ears, your ass better be making some mutant rabbits to scare the kids, or risk getting overthrown by the guy who will.

Wal-Mart holds to much control in the USA (and Canada now) than most people would want. It should be interesting when it all comes crashing down (sooner or later, it will).

Re:Raise your hand... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15107748)

I never even go to WalMart. Partly because it's too far away (though there's been a fight over THREE planned WalMarts in my township... don't think WalMart won), and partly because I would rather go to a place where games of my liking are stocked, you can buy used, and the staff aren't necessarily all clueless.

Re:Raise your hand... (1)

DanTheLewis (742271) | about 8 years ago | (#15107790)

I bought GTA 3 for ten bucks. But now my wife and I are boycotting Wal-Mart. So I guess it evens out.

Re:Raise your hand... (2, Insightful)

b0m8ad1l (608487) | about 8 years ago | (#15107800)

Wal-Mart is much too slow when it comes to game releases. When a game that we want is released, the vast majority of gamers will purchase within the first few weeks of the release (I'm one of the people that get it the first day). In my experience, Wal-Mart does not even get new games until weeks after the release. I would consider buying games from Wal-Mart, if I could get the games when I wanted them and if they offered some advantage over other stores (such as lower price). But until that happens Wal-Mart will not be the place that gamers buy their games.

Re:Raise your hand... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15107826)

where i live it's the only game in town ( no pun intended).

Re:Raise your hand... (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 8 years ago | (#15107863)

Wrong question.

The question is, how many people will go elsewhere if a game is not available in Walmart? Games are expensive. They're worth travelling for, and not usually an impulse purchase. There's also real competition from the specialist games stores. It does depend very much on the game, of course.

Half Life 2 (1)

jpardey (569633) | about 8 years ago | (#15107866)

Price (in $CDN) for HL2 bronze when I bought it:

Wal-Mart: $60
Electronics Boutique: $50
Staples Buisness Depot: $40

It's true for nearly everything at Wal-Mart, and has been from the beginning, that prices are in fact higher. Walston, or whatever his name was, would sell key items below cost, and everything else far above cost. And don't you love it when they drop prices to get smaller businesses out of town, and raise them right after success? Capitalism at its finest.

Not forever. (5, Interesting)

bigattichouse (527527) | about 8 years ago | (#15107624)

This won't be true forever. Companies that pride themselves on quality [snapper.com] have given Wally World the heave-ho, choosing to create lasting quality goods instead of cheap crap.

Re:Not forever. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15107646)

Yup... direct2drive will overcome this obstacle

Re:Not forever. (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about 8 years ago | (#15107683)

Unfortunately, companies don't make the rules here. Consumers do. And customers in most of provincial America are drawn to Wal-Mart for its cheap prices and wide selection, so they through their own buying preferences have made Wal-Mart the force it is. The problems of Wal-Mart are well-known, see Fishman's The Wal-Mart Effect [amazon.com] (Penguin, 2006), and any man on the street has seen news reports about how Wal-Mart hurts traditional business, ultimately limits choice in spite of the large amount of crap inside their stores, and pays their workers slave wages. Yet, consumers keep buying from them, with seemingly no slowdown.

These quality companies you mention can't effect any change until they manage to penetrate the heart of America and get the average joe to wake up.

Re:Not forever. (4, Insightful)

hal2814 (725639) | about 8 years ago | (#15107828)

"Unfortunately, companies don't make the rules here. Consumers do."

You mispelled "fortunately" by putting an "un" in front of it. I sure don't want anyone else telling me where to shop or what to buy. If Wal-Mart has what I want at a good price, then I'll buy it there. If not, I'll get it somewhere else. Wal-Mart is on top of this game for a reason. The only thing they are dictating is what their customers will buy.

Re:Not forever. (2, Insightful)

badmammajamma (171260) | about 8 years ago | (#15107688)

Game publishers (and most companies for that matter) really only care about profits. Quality is a distant second to profit. The executives that run these publishing companies don't even play games. They couldn't give a rats ass if they are good or not so long as they make a lot of money. They only care about quality to the extent that it effects their ability to make a profit.

Re:Not forever. (2, Insightful)

HardCase (14757) | about 8 years ago | (#15107749)

Better make that "a company". Also, reading the article gives an interesting view on the value of Wal-Mart, particularly the last few paragraphs:

Wier had determined to lead Snapper to focus on quality, and through quality, on cachet. Not every car is a Honda Accord or a Toyota Camry; there is more than enough business to support Audi and BMW and Lexus. And so it is with lawn mowers, Wier hoped. Still, perhaps the most remarkable thing is that the Wal-Mart effect is so pervasive that it sets the metabolism even of companies that purposefully do no business with Wal-Mart.

-h-

More than just games (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15107631)

This is about true for any product that they are going to carry.

Companies have to try very hard to get Walmart to carry and on top of that market their product.

Pffft! Walmart is not where gamers shop (2)

TheSpatulaOfLove (966301) | about 8 years ago | (#15107648)

This is for the watered down masses who normally buy games thinking their 4 year old PC's will play without a problem. Tell me how the GTA games were so successful then?! IIRC, there was a big stink about how violent GTA was and how it was corroding our kids' minds.. Give me a break.

Those who sell out to WalMart's demands deserve to be put out of business.

Re:Pffft! Walmart is not where gamers shop (1)

Radres (776901) | about 8 years ago | (#15107686)

What is with myopic Slashdot posters forgetting that the majority of games sold are for consoles and not for PC? On one hand you mention that the PC games WalMart carries are for 4 year old PCs, but then you mention Grand Theft Auto which has sold way more copies for PS2/X-Box than it ever could for PC. Ridiculous.

Re:Pffft! Walmart is not where gamers shop (1)

Kenshin (43036) | about 8 years ago | (#15107761)

"Gamers" may not shop at Wal-Mart, but "gamers" are nothing but a vocal minority amongst game purchasers. The vast majority of game players just buy whatever's popular or on-sale at the most convenient place.

Just like anyone who has an appreciation for good music won't shop at Wal-Mart... but Wal-Mart still sells more music than all the other stores combined it seems.

Re:Pffft! Walmart is not where gamers shop (1)

panthro (552708) | about 8 years ago | (#15107784)

Key word: masses.

Wal-Mart pushes a shitload of games. Thus, they have a shitload of influence over the game publishers. The game publishers don't go out of business precisely because they bow to Wal-Mart's (and to varying lesser degrees, other retailers') demands. From the publisher's point of view, it's only profitable to snub Wal-Mart and their ilk if the intrinsic quality and appeal of the unadultered game can outmarket the mighty retail machine with a watered-down version.

Does this suprise anyone? (2, Insightful)

Frenchman113 (893369) | about 8 years ago | (#15107650)

If a major top end retailer won't carry your goods, the customers who buy from those retailers (guess where kids' mommies go to pick up that new game they want?) won't ever have the chance to buy them, so why bother making them?

World's largest retailer (1)

ArcherB (796902) | about 8 years ago | (#15107653)

That's what are entitled to when you are the world's largest retailer. Walmart is known for being extremely hard on vendors. For example, they demanded that all shipments to Walmart must be RFID tagged. Vendors had the choice of tagging all their shipments or stop doing business with Walmart. I don't know of any that stopped doing business.

Currently, my company has a few trial units in Walmart. We bend over backwards to give them anything they want. If we get the account, our revenue will quadruple and make us a national player in a billion dollar industry with about 60 employees. As much of a pain that is, it is worth it to the company.

Still, I'd like to see more game manufacturors tell Wally-World to stick it and make the game to what the consumers want rather than the Walton family dictates.

Re:World's largest retailer (1)

no_pets (881013) | about 8 years ago | (#15107840)

Revenues will quadruple while margins are slashed. Good luck. It will be great in the short term.

Supply and demand (2, Insightful)

truthsearch (249536) | about 8 years ago | (#15107655)

If you're biggest destributor isn't going to sell one of your products you're going to care. Welcome to capitalism.

Of course the morals of how Wal-Mart became such a big distributor are debatable. But this outcome is quite obvious. If this article is a surprise your head's in the sand.

If you are biggest destributor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15107821)

You realize the apostrophe makes "you're" just a short way of saying/spelling you are?

The corrupted capitalist lifestyle (3, Interesting)

ylikone (589264) | about 8 years ago | (#15107659)

Walmart is destroying America [amazon.com] . They affect everything in our life, but don't you dare complain about them... they are very litigious. Plus, they have most of the American population eating from their hand. Oh well, come on everyone, it's a race to the bottom!

Re:The corrupted capitalist lifestyle (-1)

hsmith (818216) | about 8 years ago | (#15107766)

Yeah, they are destroying America by allowing the poorer people in society to buy more goods to improve their lifestyle. How dare they! So what if a family can save $2500+ dollars a year shopping at wal-mart! cheaper groceries is just a horrible thing!

Re:The corrupted capitalist lifestyle (2, Interesting)

ylikone (589264) | about 8 years ago | (#15107829)

Ever hear of the middle class? You won't for long... they are slowly being eroded away... thanks to Walmart and other corrupted capitalist practices. I'm not anti-capitalist... I'm anti monopoly and strong-arm business tactics. If you can't see the "race to the bottom", you are ignorant. "Shut up and obey, citizen" is what you like?

Re:The corrupted capitalist lifestyle (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15107844)

Ah, but many of those poor Walmart shoppers are poor because they lost their decent job when a manufactorer who supplied WalMart had to move things overseas in order to meet the prices WalMart demanded, so now the WalMart shopper is on unemployment, or working for McDs, or worse, WalMart itself. And now that they have no and/or shitty jobs, all they can afford to buy from is WalMart.

Re:The corrupted capitalist lifestyle (5, Insightful)

iocat (572367) | about 8 years ago | (#15107868)

You forget the extra $600 in taxes he's paying thanks to all the health-care free Wal-Mart employees having to take their kids to the emergency room every time they get the flu. Or the fact that his kid had to wait in the eRoom for six hours with a broken leg, keeping him out of work, while he waited for the same aforementioned Wal-Mart employees' kids. Or the fact that the cheap $60 [object] he got a great deal on at Wal Mart breaks 5 times more frequently than the $200 [object] he could have purchased elsewhere, before 100% of its production was outsourced to China.

By focusing only on the price, you are ignoring the total cost , and that can be a very short-sighted thing to do when considering Wal-Mart's overall impact.

Editors: please retitle: (5, Funny)

thefirelane (586885) | about 8 years ago | (#15107666)

New title:

Slashdot shocked to learn Wal-Mart does to gaming industry, what it does to every other industry

Nothing to see here, please move along.

true, but.. (2, Informative)

xusr (947781) | about 8 years ago | (#15107771)

it renewed my sense of horror for Wal-Mart's current management and policies. Just because you have the ability to determine the products that reach consumers shouldn't give you ethical license to do so. I wish Walton Sr. was still around, back when Wal-Mart stood for high wages, good benefits and US made products. Whatever happened to hereditary behavior?

You got it all backwards .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15107838)

Just because you have the ability to determine the products that reach consumers shouldn't give you ethical license to do so.

Err, aren't you completely supporting Walmart's position here? "We have an ethical responsibility to carefully regulate the products that we sell ...". In reality, what many are implying is that Walmart should have NO ethics here and simply let the "market" determine what they should stock.

Why Stop With Game Design? (3, Insightful)

American AC in Paris (230456) | about 8 years ago | (#15107672)

  1. Pitch your idea to Wal-Mart/get approached by Wal-Mart.
  2. Get a good deal--if you can supply enough product for Wal-Mart.
  3. Grow your company in leaps and bounds to meet the demand of your newest and most important sales outlet: Wal-Mart.
  4. Have it good for a year or two.
  5. Cringe when Wal-Mart tells you just how much less you're going to start getting per unit next year.
  6. Quail when Wal-Mart tells you just how much less you're going to be getting per unit the year after that.
  7. Whimper when Wal-Mart tells you just how much less you're going to be getting per unit the year after that.
  8. Cower when Wal-Mart tells you exactly what's wrong with your product how it is, and how very beneficial it would be to your continued business arrangement if you'd just make the following changes.
  9. Wake up one morning and realize that your company is barely scraping by--and can't afford to ditch Wal-Mart without massive layoffs and restructuring, which you can't afford to do anyhow.

That's the circle of life with Wal-Mart. You'll get a huge boost at first, but Wal-Mart always gets the last laugh. Always.

Re:Why Stop With Game Design? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15107757)

Thank God. For years and years, product manufacturers were raking consumers over the coals, acting as if there was no limit to the prices they could charge. It's a welcome change for someone powerful to be on the customer's side.

And what does the customer want? They have made that clear in a loud voice -- lower prices. Provide it or lose; don't complain that you don't like the game.

Re:Why Stop With Game Design? (1)

no_pets (881013) | about 8 years ago | (#15107857)

You forgot to lay everyone off while outsourcing to China. You can have it good for a couple of more years in the middle there somewhere.

That's not evil (4, Insightful)

NitsujTPU (19263) | about 8 years ago | (#15107674)

That's called the free market. Game design studios could choose other retail outlets if they chose to do so. Wal*Mart doesn't have to carry anything that they don't like.

There are probably lots better reasons to hate Wal*Mart than for having buyers and communicating their intentions to vendors.

Expect "unrated" versions... (4, Interesting)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about 8 years ago | (#15107675)

I fully expect that games, like movies on DVD, will soon come in two versions:
- PG-13 (the Wal-Mart version)
- unrated (the online version)

Re:Expect "unrated" versions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15107792)

At one game developer for which I worked, we actually had to produce a Wal-Mart version of our game. It wasn't officially called the Wal-Mart version; internally, it had some euphemistic name like 'mass market edition' or something. I don't remember all of the differences, but the Wal-Mart version was significantly easier. The packaging was different, too; this was back in the day when most games came in cereal-sized boxes, and the Wal-Mart edition was in a smaller box to conserve shelf space. Nothing on the box itself, however, made any mention of the fact that the contents were different.

Blockbuster (1)

Krach42 (227798) | about 8 years ago | (#15107678)

I heard the same claims against Blockbuster and movies.

It's just a standard chilling effect.

Sucks, but it's bound to happen in monopoly driven market places.

Evil Walmart (1)

mattwarden (699984) | about 8 years ago | (#15107679)

1. Walmart says it won't carry game.
2. Production company kills game.
3. ???
4. Walmart is evil!

Seems to me that this article has the crosshair on the wrong people. Besides, we already have plenty of reasons to hate Walmart.

Awful web design (0, Offtopic)

cortana (588495) | about 8 years ago | (#15107685)

I wish we'd stop linking to sites with such broken designs. It appears that my choice of font is too tall for the almighy web designers at The Escapist, and so the bottom of each column on the page is chopped off.

Also, although artificial pagination is such a common annoyance on the web today that it is not worth mentioning, for some reason whenever I switch into the tab containing the article, it sees fit to move to a different page!

(This seems to be a conflict between the page's choice of pgup/dn for next/previous page and my browser's use of ctrl+pgun/dn for next/previous tab).

Cheap household goods, maybe, but not games. (4, Informative)

Spectre (1685) | about 8 years ago | (#15107692)

Every gamer I know buys from Amazon, EB Games, Gamestop, Best Buy, CompUSA, etc ... but NONE of them go to Wal-Mart for their games. Cheap furniture, office supplies, food, automotive products, maybe. But not games. Wal-Mart in this area doesn't even begin to compete on game selection, price, or in any other way with the more specialized stores.

Oh noes! Censorship (1)

the_skywise (189793) | about 8 years ago | (#15107713)

They're dictating to us our content!

We won't be able to sell games like Dead or Alive because of the bouncing boobies!

http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_ id=3985188 [walmart.com]

Or Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas because of the violence and cop killing!
http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_ id=4665809 [walmart.com]

Or even that really truly EVIL game, Bully!
http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_ id=3942979 [walmart.com]

Mass marketing's obsession with top customers.. (1)

sailingfool (958739) | about 8 years ago | (#15107721)

This reminds me of how textbook publishers would be beholden to the Texas school board because they were the largest single customer in the USA. If they didn't like something, it was taken out of the textbook. Large corporations prefer to deal with large customers, so even if the largest customer is less than half the market they often end up controlling the entire market. That's why the big retailers all seem to carry the same 'lowest common denominator' goods. Buy from people who different - support the little guys!

Direct2Drive and its ilk.... (1)

CFTM (513264) | about 8 years ago | (#15107731)

Wal-Mart will have this control for a bit longer but as things like Direct2Drive become more prevalent I imagine we'll see the gaming industry caring less and less about what Wal-Mart has to say. Honestly, if I was a gaming company, I'd much rather sell digital copies than copies on some sort of media. There's no shipping, there's no storage, there's no 3rd party vendor who has to make copies of the game before its released; bandwidth space and data storage arn't cheap but they're far cheaper than the traditional distribution model.

Although, if Wal-Mart were smart, they'd bury Direct2Drive because they do have the market share and corporate power to do so; but what do I know? I work in a cubicle ;)

Re:Direct2Drive and its ilk.... (1)

cliffski (65094) | about 8 years ago | (#15107851)

amen. thats why I sell my stuff direct. Indie games are exactly the way the developer wants them to be.
I was sick of people from walmart fussing over same sex relationships in the last triple A retail game I worked on.

Actually Wal*Mart is #2 on the list. (4, Interesting)

Quarters (18322) | about 8 years ago | (#15107736)

I've been on game projects that have been cancelled due to lack of interest / trepidation from retailers. The company that owns EBGames/GameStop/Babbages is the #1 concern. Wal*Mart is #2, and BestBuy is #3. That's for "regular" games. If a company is working on a budget title or a hunting title then Wal*Mart definately becomes the #1 retailer to pass judgement.

That this happens shouldn't be surprising to anyone. Given the current system of putting games on discs and putting discs in boxes the retailer must be appeased or there is no place to sell the product.

Great! (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | about 8 years ago | (#15107750)

Can they do something about the bad camera angles that infest so many games? Or the scarcity of fraking save points and vindictive restart points that make you wonder if the developers actively hate their customers? C'mon, Walmart! Flex that muscle!

Some enterprising marketing person (1)

jhines (82154) | about 8 years ago | (#15107756)

Will capitalize on the phrase "not sold at Wal-Mart" or "banned from", and turn it into a plus.

Our new game is so sexy and violent it is banned from Wal-Mart.

I call bullshit (at least on PC games) (1)

ip_freely_2000 (577249) | about 8 years ago | (#15107758)

In short, every triple-A game sold at retail in North America is managed start to finish, top to bottom, with the publisher's gaze fixed squarely on Wal-Mart, and no other.'"

That may be true on consoles, but I call bullshit on PC game influence.

I have no doubt about publishers being influenced by Wal*Mart, but there are a number of 'Grade A' games like GTA, Gun, that-50-cent-piece-of-crap-game-whose-name-escapes -me that don't seem vetted by Wal*Mart. The games may have sucked, but they had some serious marketing muscle behind them.

The only time I see PC games being sold at Wal*Mart is when it's the bargain bin Deer Hunter crap. Any serious PC game gets bought by gamers going somewhere else. PC game developers may want and like Wal*Mart support, but certainly don't appear to be beholden to them.

Re:I call bullshit (at least on PC games) (1)

MORB (793798) | about 8 years ago | (#15107841)

Well, at least one thing they do for PC game is force developpers/publisher to make CD based versions... Because they don't believe that enough PC gamers have DVD drives yet.

That's what we've been told at the company I work at at least, which is about to release a game that will have one CD based version in north america made just for wal-mart. I don't know if it means that they don't sell DVD based games at all (I'm in europe, so I never been in a wal-mart), but if it does, it may explain why gamers avoid buying their PC games from their.

I don't think that many people are happy with 5+ CDs games nowadays.

Sorry, no (4, Insightful)

argStyopa (232550) | about 8 years ago | (#15107760)

And you know what? If you could predict whether a game would be hugely successful or not, you might be right. But firstly, the fact is that it's an art, not a science, and nobody knows FOR SURE which titles are going to be hits and which are going to suck.

"We're not going to carry any game with nudity."
Gee, because before Wal-Mart became big, there was a HUGE market for computer-porn games?

Are some games modified because of the tremendous buying power of Wal Mart? Sure, that's logical. But that's a big step from claiming that "every AAA game is managed start to finish, top to bottom" with WalMart in mind.

Yes, for crapware like Deer Hunter and Barbie Fashion designer, I'm sure WalMart's giant demographic is part of their calculus "Say 0.001% of the WalMart electronics browsers buy our game? That's like....a gajillion dollars!".

But AAA titles? I doubt it. How much did WalMart come into the design of World of Warcraft? Oblivion? GalCiv2? Peripherally, if at all.

As usual, reality is somewhere beneath The Escapist's flashy hyperbolic copy.

Wal-mart? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15107765)

Whats a Wal-mart? Sounds German.

offline SEO? (1)

NewmanBlur (923584) | about 8 years ago | (#15107770)

Website designers pander to Google's algorithm in order to make their sites come up earlier in the results, to attract more traffic to their sites. This is referred to as "SEO".

Companies tailor their products to Wal-Mart's practices (whether you agree with them or not) in order to make more sales. This would be... "Wal-Mart Optimization"?

WAL-MART IS EVIL!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15107778)

And all you dumb ass white trash morons who think you have a "good job" there, or can afford the "good pricing" there, wake up and realize what these pigopolists are doing to our ecconomy!! Not only that, but any company that tries to force their "morals" on their customers is EVIL!!

THE WALTON FAMILY MUST DIE!!! EVILS PIGS!!!

This is exactly what we need. (5, Interesting)

twifosp (532320) | about 8 years ago | (#15107780)

If you stop and think about this for a minute, this is a very positive thing for the gaming industry. It will only serve to stiffle and choke more creative game designers. Which is why eventually they will realize they don't need the publishers. They have the internet. Valve gave it a good shot with Steam, but underestimated how egrigious its publisher, Vivendi, really was.

We aren't far off from video game companies realizing they can maximize profits by raising their own capital and self publishing. In a world with broadband, buying games off the shelves just seems dumb. So everyone, lets gather around and thank companies like Wal-Mart for tightening its grip on the markets. The markets will choke to death and be reborn into something better.

Or if not, look on the bright side. You can still buy guns at Wal-Mart and go for the ultimate grand theft auto experience.

...guns? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15107781)

"That game is too violent, so we don't carry it. But feel free to browse our selection of guns [walmart.com] .

TFA is incomplete? (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 8 years ago | (#15107789)

Is it just me, or does TFA abruptly end.
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/issue/40/11 [escapistmagazine.com]
Do you buy your electronic games at Wal-Mart? Never mind, doesn't matter. The retail games you buy at GameStop or Best Buy or online are the games Wal-Mart has decided you can buy.

Publisher sales reps inform Wal-Mart buyers of games in development; the games' subjects, titles, artwork and packaging are vetted and sometimes vetoed by Wal-Mart. If Wal-Mart tells a top-end publisher it won't carry a certain game, the publisher kills that game. In short, every triple-A game sold at retail in North America is managed start to finish, top to bottom, with the publisher's gaze fixed squarely on Wal-Mart, and no other.

But how long will that last?

The Power
By consolidating many manufacturing sources and optimizing its supply chain, Wal-Mart has shifted the center of business power from manufacturing to retail. This has forced most American industries to move offshore, but the software business, and electronic games in particular, have been less affected this way. Though selected art resources are increasingly outsourced to India and Southeast Asia, games are largely still produced in relatively small, integral domestic groups. Is this because North American creators understand their audience better than overseas coders? Because the creators here are better skilled? Or is it simply that Wal-Mart customers, who unfailingly seek the lowest prices for food and appliances and shampoo and garden hoses, will still pay high prices for top-line computer games?

For whatever reason, the game business has so far resisted most competition from lower-wage workers overseas. Compared to physical manufacturing, software profit margins remain comfortable and can support
That's all I get, I even checked the html source.

This sounds a little far fetched to me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15107791)

Is your tin foil hat in place?

And now you know... (1)

SheeEttin (899897) | about 8 years ago | (#15107795)

And now you know why most big-name games are crap nowadays.

But then again, you probably already knew this, and quite a few other reasons.

The Wal Mart Effect (5, Interesting)

mikesmind (689651) | about 8 years ago | (#15107798)

In my family, we have coined a term - The Wal Mart Effect. This effect happens when companies lower quality to meet the Wal Mart buyer's pricing demands. This results in other stores carrying the lower quality items that Wal Mart does so they too can compete on price.

For example, you want to buy a pair of socks. You happen to like Brand X socks. Since Brand X sells socks at Wal Mart, they have to lower the quality of the product to meet the price point that the buyer demands. These same socks are then sold to Kmart, Target, Sears, etc. In order to get a good pair of socks that last, you have to move up to a brand like Gold Toe that isn't sold at Wal Mart. To get this sock, you now shop at JC Penneys, Dillards, etc. Yes, you gladly pay more, because you want your socks to last more than a few months.

If you want quality, don't buy from Wal Mart. (It wasn't this bad when Sam Walton was in charge.)

Don't Blame Walmart (2, Informative)

schnablebg (678930) | about 8 years ago | (#15107805)

Walmart has a right to decide what it wants to sell. The publishers and developers are the ones making a concsious decision here. Support independent game publishers that don't go through this channel, the ones that understand their customers enough to realize that there is a market that may lie outside of the Walmart shopper demographic and are willing to take the risk to sell to them. Remeber, only YOU can prove there is a market outside of Walmart.

Selection (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15107806)

Wal-Mart carries a tiny selection of game titles. How can they possibly exert this much control over the whole gaming market?

Admiration... (4, Insightful)

MBraynard (653724) | about 8 years ago | (#15107816)

Am I the only one who read the brief and sensed some admiration for Wal-Mart's achievement? (Though I don't think I've ever bought a PC game ther e- maybe some console games).

Wal-Mart isn't strong because of it's buying power - it is strong because of it's selling power.

Anyway, please feel free to resume your Wal-Mart hating now and label me flamebait/troll/whatever.

I can attest to that (1)

teutonic_leech (596265) | about 8 years ago | (#15107818)

I had a meeting with the business development manager of a very large game publisher just a short while ago. He basically told me the very exact thing: unless Walmart reserves a certain amount of shelf space, they game won't even see the light of day [in most cases]. It even goes so far as that the format and packaging of the game is tightly controlled - if you want to do anything fancy, Walmart won't carry it - thus it won't exist. This is really nasty and it also stifles competition. Well, that's the price we pay for those low low prices...

Re:I can attest to that (1)

MBraynard (653724) | about 8 years ago | (#15107871)

It even goes so far as that the format and packaging of the game is tightly controlled - if you want to do anything fancy, Walmart won't carry it - thus it won't exist.

Yeah - that's exactly what ails the PC game industry - a lack of fancy packaging.

Good old capitalism (3, Informative)

multiOSfreak (551711) | about 8 years ago | (#15107830)

This is hardly surprising. Wal-Mart has had quite a stranglehold on the supply sie of the market for a number of years. Technically, they're not a monopoly, but for all practical purposes, they wield the power of a monopoly from one end of the supply chain to another. You have to admire their innovation (they've revolutionized the modern retail supply chain), but it's also quite scary how much control they have.

Although it's been linked to numerous times here and elsewhere, I'd like to point those interested in learning more about how Wal-Mart deals with supppliers to the now-famous Fast Company article [fastcompany.com] on the subject.

Captain Obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15107835)

Hey, if you haven't noticed, Wal*Mart does this with every product they sell. E-V-E-R-Y. So I guess there are two options:

Stop shopping at Wal*Mart.
 
OR
 
Piss and moan about it. (This is obviously the choice of every Wal*Mart customer.)
 
I guess it takes censorship of a video game's box to get people to realize how bad of a company Wal*Mart is...oh wait, low prices make that acceptable...

AND... (1)

Aqua OS X (458522) | about 8 years ago | (#15107842)

Walmart has a giant impact upon game design... AND... music production, product (industrial) design, manufacturing, etc etc. I wouldn't be surprised to hear horror stories from software developers outside of the game industry.

If it sits on Walmart's shelf, and Walmart is responsible for selling the hell out of it, you can bet production and content will be how Walmart wants it.

 

Nuke Bentonville, AR (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | about 8 years ago | (#15107850)

... not Iraq, for it is the home of the Axis of Evil (tm). After all, where else is the power to destroy the US (inevitably strategic) manufacturing base (by slashing prices and forcing production offshore) concentrated in the hands of a small oligarchical group? I can't wait until Mal*Wart starts selling cheap Chinese cars and motorcycles. Then the US auto industry and hence the economy will be in deep smeg indeed.

-b.

WalMart is a unique phenomenon (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 8 years ago | (#15107864)

They have all but monopolized the space on a store's shelf. Yes, there will always be other places to do shopping, but WalMart is the cheapest way to spend money and that's pretty important to most of us since we don't have as much money as we used to it seems. But WalMart is rather like rust in the sense that the corruption causes heat which causes corruption which causes heat...until the material is destroyed. In this case, WalMart offers low prices and demands low costs which lowers quality... I'll leave it to the reader to determine where the cycle cycles, but ultimately, it's a downward spiral.

But WalMart is interesting because there hasn't really been one of these companies before. And for the moment, there doesn't seem to be another on their heels either. They are big. They are all but unstoppable. I almost want to watch just to see what happens as a result of WalMart's influence.

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