Retailers join the THQ game

US-based games publisher THQ has opened a Melbourne sales office in a bid to ramp up its retail presence in Australia and New Zealand.

THQ plans to manage the distribution for large retail chains like Coles Myer, Blockbusters and Toys R Us, but distribution to independent retail outlets will be managed by games distributor Infogrames.

Previously, all Aust-ralian distribution was done through GT Interactive, which was acquired by Infogrames earlier this year. According to THQ's general manager, Martin Good, this was a major reason for the company deciding to distribute through Infogrames.

"Partly it was [due to] our previous relationship with them. It also has very good infrastructure across the Tasman into New Zealand and it is already very familiar with the THQ product. To have such a steep learning curve in such a short period of time would have been a major obstacle."

Good said THQ needed a distributor because minimum overheads and tight margins mean the company cannot deal directly with numerous small, independent retailers. The independent market is worth 30 per cent of THQ's business.

"[Infogrames] has economies of scale, with offices and sales teams in each state. It's the only way to manage smaller accounts. We will treat the distributor as one of our key accounts and provide critical information on our products for sales and marketing."

THQ is number four in US market share for games, behind Nintendo, Sony and Electronic Arts, according to the company. Its titles include WWF wrestling and MTV Sports like skateboarding, snowboarding and BMX, Power Rangers and Scooby Doo for all formats, Tomb Raider and Rug Rats' Totally Angelica for Gameboy Colour. A major release of a PlayStation 2 title, Summoner, is expected for the launch of the PS2 console.

"Retailers should consider us because they can sell the products at a good margin and it will be profitable because the licences are so strong," Good said. "We are also investing in a cross-marketing campaign to broaden the public appeal of each of the games."

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