Opinions are divided on games distribution as the space continues to change and evolve as a result of emerging trends.

There has been plenty of talk surrounding the challenges faced by the retail market and the importance of traditional suppliers.

But while the market has changed, forcing suppliers to change with it, the distributors moving software about have remained resilient.

In fact, when we investigated games distribution for this overview we found a number of businesses – many of them long-serving over decades – that haven't just adapted to changes in the market, they have driven them.

PCR talks to the some of the biggest and brightest minds in games software distribution to find out how they stayed ahead of the curve.


UK general manager Darren Houghton tells PCR why Gem has remained successful in the games distribution space by sticking with its key principles.

“Since Gem was founded in 1984, the core principles have remained the same throughout the firm’s evolution, and that is to always try and offer something different in terms of product and
service innovation to both suppliers and customers.

“There are way too many ‘me too’ copycat distributors out there all claiming to be offering something different. However, they are more often than not exposed as being nothing more than box shifting wholesalers or glorified market traders.

“Gem’s success over the years, especially in the video games space, is because we have proved time and time again that we can provide a demonstrable value-add service to our partners’ strategies. This is probably why we have remained Microsoft’s sole UK distributor for over ten years.

“Our success can be measured in a multitude of ways from driving incremental sales and new customer breadth through creatively constructed, margin enhancing bundle propositions, all the way to delivering inspirational in- store concepts for major high street retail partners.

“Gem’s differentiation doesn’t stop there either, with a wealth of UK and European services being offered by our logistics division as well as our digital business (Ztorm) working with a growing number of games publishers and retailers on developing combined digital and physical solutions in which to reach new targeted audiences.”

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The UK budget games publisher and distributor tells PCR about its successful portfolio and one particular account that has driven sales…

When it comes to distribution, all of the industry’s biggest players know that stocking the right publishers and their titles will ultimately lead to success.

That’s why Focus’ catalogue features a wide range of titles and the business prides itself on offering ‘products that sell 52 weeks of the year’ – all of which culminated earlier this year as the company took home the award for Leisure Software Publisher at the PCR 2012 Awards. The brand has a firm focus on offering entertainment products through both traditional and non- traditional channels across the UK and overseas.

Nothing guarantees success like the exclusivity of a deal with one of the hottest gaming properties around, something that Focus has been able to achieve and benefit from through its partnership with Rovio and the chart- topping franchise Angry Birds.

After releasing the original Angry Birds title at retail in November 2011, Focus has benefitted greatly from the success of the brand and its host of follow-up titles, most recently with Angry Birds Star Wars, which charged its way to the top of the PC budget title charts and provided the distributor with a jump in seasonal sales.

The distributor hosts a variety of additional budget and leisure franchise that continue to dominate the budget PC games charts, which reinforce the firm’s highly regarded reputation with the games distribution space.

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Founder Robert Stallibrass discusses the company’s beginnings and growth throughout its 16 years…

In 2012, Contact Sales has become more than just a video games software distributor, expanding its business after games industry veteran Robert Stallibrass founded it 16 years ago.

It has grown into a £3m per year business offering primary and third- party distribution services whilst also being an umbrella company for its own full price PC publishing label, Excalibur Publishing and budget label Extra Play.

Contact Sales has rapidly become known as a specialist sales team and distribution partner for flight and train simulation products with exclusive licensing and distribution deals including Abacus, Aerosoft, EuropeanBahn and Blue Arrow.

As the firm’s deals increased further, the company was approached by other simulation developers and publishers who were keen to licence their titles into the UK and the other European territories serviced by Contact Sales, and as a result, the First Class Simulations label was formed in 2004.

In the same year, Contact Sales identified a need for a new PC games publisher, which could work as an outlet for the vast array of games developers in Europe looking for a publisher for their titles. From that idea, the Excalibur Publishing label was introduced and has since published over 50 quality PC titles.

2011 saw the launch of the Extra Play budget brand, intended to offer a cheaper alternative to full-priced PC titles and boasting a diverse range of genres including first person shooters, real-time strategy games and driving sims.

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Director Kawsaw Miah highlights the distributor’s ability to grow its business overseas and what it can do to help the struggles of the High Street…

Nottingham-based Digicom Solutions is a business-to-business electronics distributor established in 2006 by director Kawsar Miah, who discovered a niche in the export market.

Offering an extensive range of software across all gaming formats, the distributor has primarily focused on supplying small to medium-sized independents.

In recent years the firm has widened its horizons by looking past its business within the UK by supplying retailers, e-tailers, wholesalers and other distributors both at home and across the shores in Europe and the Middle East.

As a result, Digicom has grown its customer base by 60 per cent whilst also broadening its product ranges to achieve over double the sales it generated the previous year.

The business’ on-going aim is to perfect its supply and logistics so it can provide the best possible service to our customers making distribution easy, simple and hassle free.

Miah believes that it’s up to distributors to play their part in aiding retailers and the struggling High Street. “In a tough climate, access to the right stock at the right time is key, ensuring retailers have the stock they need on their shelves.”

Looking into the New Year, the director identifies the issues facing games distribution moving forward. “I think the biggest challenge to the gaming industry is the economy itself.”

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Founder Paul Williams discusses how Ideal Software has changed little over the years to remain as one of the UK’s longest-running distributors...

Since being founded back in 1994, Ideal Software has grown to become one of the longest running distributors of video games within the UK with 18 years of proven business behind it.

Most companies have undergone radical change as a result of working within a rapidly evolving industry, many of whom are now unrecognisable compared to when they first started out.

However, Ideal Software has stuck to its business and believes it remains the brand it always has been minus the drastic changes that rivals within the space have been forced to succumb to.

As a result, when asked to summarise what has changed for Ideal Software over the years, owner Paul Williams is able to keep the answer short and sweet.

“We have moved to a new warehouse with windows,” says Williams. “Aside from that, Ideal Software hasn’t changed in 18 years.”

The firm handles over 1,000 different product lines from well-known gaming brands such as Focus Multimedia, Mastertronic, A4T, Tecmo Koei along with peripherals and accessories for the iPad and iPhone, which it ships to markets across the world.

In 2013, the company will be hoping to replicate the success it achieved in 2012, during which Ideal Software reported year-on-year growth of 30 per cent, whilst maintaining the same tried-and-tested approach to business it has done for the past 18 years.

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