Tim Ellis, head of games for HMV, has told GamesIndustry.biz that high street retailers still have an advantage over digital distributors when it comes to benefits for publishers and platform holders.
Speaking in an interview at the UK launch of the Nintendo Wii last week, Ellis said, "There"s a lot of doom-mongering about downloading, but downloading audio has been big for quite a long time, and we"re selling more music units than ever.
"You"ve got to be rational about it and think, "Where will we be in five years" time?". Yes, downloading will be an element of it, but can Microsoft do without retail partners? Can Nintendo? I don"t think they really can, because they wouldn"t get the standout," he continued.
"You need standout on the high street to get that perception out. If you"re just relying on people sitting in bedrooms to buy your product, you"re not going to get that excitement factor."
According to Ellis, HMV is "only seeing growth" for the games market at present - although, he conceded, things could change in the long term.
"In ten or fifteen years" time, will we come under pressure? Perhaps we might, but I don"t think it"s in the interest of publishers or platform holders to do away with retail, because they won"t get the standout any more," he warned.
"So I think there will always be a retail element. Where we"ll be in 20 years, who knows, but I think there will be a retail element to all the formats we currently sell."