I'm standing in line at a local department store, waiting to checkout. On my left is a display of snack cakes, nicely on sale. On my right is a display of scones, nicely on sale. I'm hungry. This familiar scenario resulted in the purchase of a box of chocolaty goodness that the health professions would unanimously condemn.
Ten minutes prior, in that same store, I noticed something similarly clever. GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra: The Game was on display in the toy section, across from electronics. All other recently released console games were behind glass requiring an employee with a key to access. Except GI Joe. GI Joe was out in the open, on a high traffic main aisle, ready and waiting for impulse grabs by some of the millions of nostalgia infested eighties children in America.
Video games, given a similar impulse buy shelf placement to snack cakes? Brilliant! Attention all stores: Do This More!
Granted, with many video games, theft is a major concern. I'm not saying Halo 3:ODST should be displayed by the checkouts when it comes out. High profile and recently released titles are liable to be shoplifted. I get that. Then again, high profile or new release titles are destination games. We drive to the store with the intent of buying the game. They don't count as impulse buys anyway.
I'm thinking of games more along the lines of Tropico Reloaded, or the Fallout Trilogy on the PC, or the aforementioned GI Joe or Ghostbusters on consoles. As game publishers increasingly push to market themselves to a wider demographic, it does not makes sense to continue to hide all games in an out of the way section of stores hoping that people remember to wander back and look. Video games are becoming an ever more prevalent part of the typical consumer's entertainment budget. Why not place older classic title, lower budget titles, or movie tie-in games out in areas where sales can benefit from impulse buys?
I sincerely hope the GI Joe shelf placement is the start of a trend, and not a mere aberration. Better shelf placement should result in stronger game sales and a stronger gaming industry overall. And even the worst game ever made can't be much worse for us than snack cakes.