Everyone loves a bargain, and you can't get much better than a decent PC game at under a fiver, so with Sold Out's catalogue now reaching dizzying heights when it comes to the number of big name budget titles on offer, we simply had to speak with the main man himself, Garry Williams.
How did the Sold Out business start, and why was budget software chosen instead of full price titles?Garry:
The guys here had all played Mastertronic games, and we had seen the growth of Virgin's White Label. We knew good games sell and they sell over time. As seasoned games players we were tired of buying something at £24.99 that told you that your machine was too low spec to run it, and that if you wanted to be a games player you had to phone a premium rate line just to find out how to play the game you just bought.
We realised that full price companies just have too many revenue streams to attend to and cannot give the budget market the focus it needs to grow.
Since we started our sales mantra has been Quality, Range and Value. The Quality
is in the fact we sell big name titles that have topped the charts, the Range
relates to the fact that we have many top titles over all the gaming genres. The Value
is in the fact that for £4.99 you get over 30 hours of gaming experience.
Our aim was to entice the "casual" gamer into taking a chance and dipping their toe into the rich gaming experience this industry provides. GamesPaper:
Sold Out's taking part in Milia 2002 - is Europe a major market that you want to expand in to?Garry:
We know our basic principles are sound and believe gamers all over Europe are similar. The Sold Out message has been spreading and over a third of our current business is conducted overseas. I believe with the correct partners there is massive room for growth, all gamers want a quality gaming experience at an affordable price - we intend to deliver this!GamesPaper:
On the subject of Europe, do you want to keep the British pound, or dump it in favour of that strange new Euro money?Garry:
I am English and proud of the fact, I believe we have given many things to Europe. We should be a major part of Europe, but with regards to the "money" I think, "Europe had entered this idea with both feet firmly in the air!"
Budget software appears to be growing in popularity all of the time, so what do you think the next 12 months holds in store for Sold Out, and the budget games market in general?Garry:
The games market will always grow, it maybe that the rewards become bigger for only the larger players. Consumers are tired of being told that the thing they have just brought is out dated, will have no software support, or was an ill informed purchase. Budget gives them the game they want for the machine they bought at a price they can afford.
Sold Out currently accounts for at least a third of the positions in the ChartTrack Budget Top 50. Very soon we aim to provide at least half the chart.
Pre Christmas PSOne was accounting for around 180,000 units sales a week, Sony currently have something like a 6.4 million installed base in the U.K. Are the owners still playing the machines? What are these people expected to play whilst publishers move on to different platforms??? There will be very few new titles as developers move to the latest machines. As people have paid less for their (older technology) console they will expect the software to cost less.
There will be a lot more low priced console gaming and as publishers desert the PC market for XBox, a lot less quality PC games will be found. The consumer having spent on the hardware will want some software to maintain their interest. Who will provide these games?
Do you think console platforms will ever get a budget range, with prices that compare with PC budget titles, and are Sold Out considering a Budget console game range?Garry:
Consoles already have budget ranges. Below a certain price, software publishers cannot afford to spend time looking at the sector. Again, focus will be lost and the consumer will suffer. The manufacturer is looking to their next machine, not to the people that bought their last offering, which is a sad fact of the market.
In the PC market Sold Out added to releases by creating easier installation front-ends, improving technical support information, adding patches and generally improving the whole product whilst still reducing the price. To be able to make a difference to the consumer you need an open publishing model. In short in console publishing, without the support of the hardware producer you struggle to add value to the product, consumer and market. So the question is will Sony favour Sold Out operating in this model???GamesPaper:
Xbox or Gamecube - which is your favourite?Garry:
As a Mario fan, my personal favourite is obvious. I think Nintendo always deliver what the consumer wants, there is something really appealing about a simple box you can take around to your friends house and "kick his ass" on a truly playable game. I really would like someone to break the console dominance of the Japanese, I’m just not sure Microsoft understand that console culture.
At E3 the eye candy
on the XBox stand blew me away, then I went to play the finished games on Nintendo's stand. Nintendo had working systems, with a host of publishers that you could actually sample.
I came away from the show remembering the Star Wars game, Luigi's Mansion (GhostBusters for the new millennium) and many other games. When I tried to remember the game I liked on the XBox stand I struggled to recall them!GamesPaper:
Are there any PC games that you always wanted to have as a Sold Out title but haven't been able to?Garry:
Yes, quite a few games normally from two large publishers that have not yet realised that Sold Out is the best way to the budget market. They insist on releasing themselves and sentencing these titles too much poorer sales. GamesPaper:
What three current full price PC games, would you ideally like to see in the Sold Out range in the future?Garry:
There are three 'stonking' titles I want to sign. Watch for our May to June release schedule!
What three Sold Out titles are your personal favourites, and why?Garry:
Worms, because I am old enough to have played the tank commander style games and think this was one of Martyn Brown's great ideas. Atomic Bomberman, because it is a class multiplayer family game. Finally Tomb Raider, because it sells "shed loads!"GamesPaper:
So there you go, budget software's never been so good, and if you've never experienced the wallet friendly Sold Out range, then we suggest you take a look at the Sold Out website
to see just what you're missing.Related articles: Sold Out gets bout of Worms 2Sold Out Gallups up the budget chartSold Out just keeps on selling and selling"Checkout" bargain games at your local Tesco