British retailer Currys last week took the astonishing decision to
publicly refuse to stock Bully, renamed Canis Canem Edit
in Europe, a clear bending to tabloid will in the face of perfectly
clear facts about the product. This kind of spineless pandering to the
tabloid mentality is rife among US retailers. However, in the UK,
retailers do not customarily pander to tabloid outrage, and Currys'
decision to do so is a disgustingly simpering attempt to hop onto a PR
bandwagon which, we hope, is rolling inexorably over a cliff.
There are a few possible scenarios which arise from Currys' decision.
The first is that the firm gets the PR it wants from the decision,
appeals to the narrow cross-section of middle England which is prepared
to get its hackles up over lunch about videogames they've never even
seen, and loses only a tiny amount of revenue from lost sales of the
game. In this instance, we start to slide down a slippery slope towards
the US situation, where retailers routinely refuse to stock anything
that the newspapers, or the moral moronity, might have a whinge about.
This is not a situation we'd like to see mirrored in Britain.
Another scenario, however, is that people who are sick and tired of this
treatment of the videogames medium decide to take matters into their own
hands, rather than simply rolling their eyes at the media's ignorant
reporting or at the antics of ludicrous characters such as Keith Vaz and
Currys is a major home electronics retailer. They sell videogame
consoles, televisions, speaker systems, cables, and a host of other
related devices - and with HDTV being rolled out at increasing pace in
Britain, they will be expecting a bumper Christmas as people, many of
them gamers, walk through the doors of the store to upgrade their home
entertainment systems. Wouldn't it be quite a message to send, if a
significant proportion of gamers were to decide to boycott the Currys
chain - and to let them know that their appalling behaviour over Canis Canem Edit was the reason for this boycott?
After all, there are many places to buy high definition TV sets and so
on; and only one of them has chosen to take the side of the tabloids
over this issue, when simply doing their job and stocking the product
without such judgments would have been perfectly acceptable. As a member
of the games industry, or simply as a gamer, this is certainly worth
bearing in mind if you find yourself pondering a home entertainment
system upgrade in the next few months. When our opponents have reached
the point of lying about products to push their agenda forward, perhaps
it's time to make our voices as consumers heard.