Talking Game Rentals, Digital vs. Physical, and Game Selection with Redbox’s Daisy Yuhas
PlayStation LifeStyle recently had the opportunity to speak with Daisy Yuhas, the Senior Marketing Manager for Video Games at Redbox, and Redbox’s Head of Public Relations Kate Brennan. With digital media seemingly growing and physical media on the decline, we were surprised to find that the company was more confident in their place within the marketplace than previous years. Check out our interview to find out why they feel that way, how they decide upon what games to carry, and much more.
PlayStation LifeStyle: So, obviously Redbox is mostly known for movies, but how big are video games for you? Do you want to keep expanding in that direction in the future?
Daisy Yuhas: Yes, absolutely. We see quite the opportunity for the market. We are one of the only ones that you can do game rentals across the nation, and there’s quite the opportunity to see a crossover between the people that are renting movies and then the people who want to consume video games as an entertainment option. We’re a small portion of the business just because movies have been around a lot longer than video games has for Redbox. We launched nationwide in 2011 for video games, while Redbox as a whole is going on 15 years. But yes, we’re a smaller portion but we look forward to continuing to grow that and we see a lot of opportunity as people are continuing to adapt to the Xbox One and PS4 consoles. That casual gamer that we speak to, which is not the hardcore gamer, they are starting to want to consume that type of entertainment with us as well besides just movies.
DY: We have a variety of different ways that we decide that. So, if you keep in mind that we have over 40,000 locations across the nation and there’s a variety of people we’re trying to talk to. We’re in 100s and 100s of different retailers be that a convenience store or a grocery store. So there’s a variety of people we want to talk to across the nation. So, what we do is we look at the nation, we look at the biggest and best titles. As you know those AAA titles are starting to kick off with Madden, but in the meantime, we’re looking to talk to the family customer that has more time this summer to rent. Before Madden, we have LEGO Worlds, Micro Machines and a lot of family product. So between picking the biggest and most AAA product that we know everyone will consume we also want to fill the rest of the year with catalog product. Just because if you’re going to rent a movie or a game you have more time in the summer to play, so that’s who we cater to when we’re deciding what to put across the nation.
PSLS: What’s the most rented game of all time for you guys?
DY: [Our most rented game is] Call of Duty: Black Ops II. For this year, the top two titles in 2017 are Horizon Zero Dawn and Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands.
PSLS: You mention targeting a family audience. Since kids are so expensive to take care of, and games are $60. Do you feel like that price tag gives you a good opportunity to step in as a rental service?
DY: Absolutely. That’s one of the messaging we try to push constantly that Redbox is a convenient, cheap way to consume entertainment. You have a great point. We’re $3 per night for a game instead of $60 per purchase. A lot of these kids want to try a lot of different things but the parents can’t afford to do $60 times four, so we have the opportunity to let them rent it and try it. Here’s an interesting stat, 80% of our games renters inform their buying decision based on a rental from us. So, that tells you right there that we’re absolutely that trial before purchase opportunity. Then in Q4 we start to get those hardcore gamers that can’t decide what they want to purchase for $60 between all the shooters, sports titles and all those things that are coming out. So, I want to push that trial message during that time period. You might want to try Destiny, the new Call of Duty not knowing how you felt about Infinite Warfare, so you might want to see what they’re doing with WWII.
PSLS: Obviously streaming and digital purchases are becoming more popular, I think even more in film than gaming, but do you feel that gaming, due to the price tag and the size of games, that they’ll have more of a physical presence going forward?
DY: Absolutely. As we see physical start to decline as an industry, there’s still a lot of opportunity both on the rental DVD side and for games. So many people who are already streaming are still consuming a physical game, and since we’re that trial you might rent a game and then decide to download if the game is worth your time. So, there’s still that crossover between someone wanting to try and then purchase. There’s still a lot of people, like the casual gamer, who might just be getting a console and aren’t really ready to start streaming or do downloads. They’re a little more intimidated than the hardcore gamer might be. So, there’s still an opportunity to help educate that, and physical & game rentals are a way to do that.
Kate Brennan: From a value perspective, there’s nothing else out there in terms of offering movies or games for $1.50/3 a night with no membership, so while there is a transition from physical media to streaming, we actually feel really confident about where we are right now. More so than we have in a while because there aren’t any competitors out there for people who are looking for value/convenience. We’re actually rolling out 1,500 new kiosks this year, which was a really big shock to the industry when we announced that in May. We’re also planning to roll out more kiosks next year, so we’re going to be more convenient as we go from 40,000 kiosks worldwide to 42,000 by next year.
PSLS: Since you don’t really have any competitors, do you see the gaming catalog growing. Will there eventually be more games on offer? Will you ever see smaller games that aren’t targeting as wide an audience down the line, and expand that way?
DY: Yes. We are in some interesting conversations. There is a lot of opportunity with game developers who might go straight to digital, and we could absolutely be a physical option for them. We’ve started some interesting conversations that I can’t say much about, but it’s a great opportunity to get behind all those amazing things that are being developed that don’t go to physical. We have such a large footprint, and as we continue to grow the business, it’s an opportunity for those developers to grow their footprint by partnering with us. So, I see a lot of opportunity in that field.
PSLS: Are there any major differences between dealing with game companies and film companies when it comes to distribution?
DY: It absolutely varies studio by studio and publisher to publisher. We work with distributors to work with the publishers to get all the video games out, and the relationships are just different between them. We have what we call AAA publishers all the way to the smaller publishers, same thing with the studios. We play with all the larger studios and the direct-to-video ones.
PSLS: Have you had any Nintendo Switch games on Redbox yet?
DY: [Not yet,] but we’re going to watch [the sales of the system]. We want to make sure that there’s a certain amount of Nintendo Switch consoles out in the US before we decide to roll anything out nationwide. But we’re always looking at the industry and are speaking to the consumers about what they want from us, and we’re always testing. So look forward to something either later this year or early next year in regards to Switch.
PSLS: It just seems like it’d fit in with your markets really well since when you think of games that appeal to both family and casual gamers, you tend to think Nintendo.
DY: Absolutely. We had a huge Wii consumer. Huge! We ended up being the #1 retailer purchasing Wii products from third-party publishers. Then we all know what happened with Wii U. We tried to launch that as well, but we listened to our consumers and they weren’t interested. So, we put it on the backburner. But the Switch looks good, we have one in the office and it’s a lot of fun.
PSLS: You mention getting feedback from consumers, does that inform your game selection?
DY: Yeah. We have a monthly games panel that is comprised of Redbox games renters, and we ask them what they want to consume on a monthly basis and how they use Redbox gaming compared to how they purchase. So, we absolutely use that data, as well as working with publishers and we know what they’re selling across the nation. What’s going to be popular, what’s a smaller game, and then we decide from there what we get to the consumer.
PSLS: Since there are over 40,000 Redbox locations, are there ever regional differences on game selection? Maybe try to test games in certain markets.
DY: We look at every one of our locations as a storefront. So, we buy things in a smaller quantity, put them in certain kiosks, watch the behavior of what’s popular, and then if it does well then we’ll look into doing it nationwide. If not, we just move onto the next game.
PSLS: Tell our readers why they should check out Redbox and rent their next game through you.
DY: I think your readers should absolutely check out Redbox. We’re a smarter way to consume entertainment, we’re just $3 a night. We’re easy, convenient, and if you’re looking for something to try yet don’t know what to purchase then we’re a wonderful option for that.
PlayStation LifeStyle would like to thank Redbox for their cooperation, and Daisy Yuhas & Kate Brennan for their time.