Four publishers to rule them all

Evil Empire GameStop announced recently that there were just four publishers that made up 65% of all the new product in 2007. These four publishers stood out amongst a crowd of over 40 popular publishing houses to take the top spots on the sales list. Are you ready for a big shocker? Those 4 publisher were Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft and Electronic Arts. Yeah, I hear what you’re saying, I wasn’t surprised either. Given that hardware sales are factored into these numbers would clearly account for the fact that the three console manufacturers are tops on the list, and of course EA is never far down any list of money-makers.

Breaking down the numbers a bit further, Nintendo was the biggest winner with 21% of all sales flowing through the house that Mario built. Sony took second with 17%, Microsoft following closely behind at 16% and bringing up the tail is third-party giant EA with 11%. Perhaps even less shocking is the reason that GameStop gives for the larger-than-average sales numbers from the first party publishers, “Due to our strong relationships with the manufacturers of these platforms, we often receive disproportionately large allocations of new release hardware products.”

As is customary, GameStop had to let us know that they’re still making money off of our own stupidity by sighting that their second-hand market is stronger than ever. Their number show that they offer 3000 used software titles, compared with just 1000 new titles. If you take into account the fact that they pay the bare minimum for customer trade-ins and turn around and sell the very same game for 2 or 3 times as much, you can see where the money is being made.

However, if Microsoft has its way, digital distribution is just around the corner, and the company spokesperson at GS was quick to point that out, “If advances in technology continue to expand our customers’ ability to access software through these and other sources, our customers may no longer choose to purchase video games or PC entertainment software in our stores. As a result, sales and earnings could decline.” What does that mean for you, the gamer? Expect to see a GameStop direct-to-download service attacking your wallet at some point in the future, it just might be inevitable.