From the August 14, 1995 issue of Smart

Maxis Extends Reach With Mass Merchants, Specialists

By David English

Using its franchise in SimCity to build up a stable of top-selling software products, Maxis has grown to become the No. 4 game publisher. It has also begun to rack up respectable sales in education and personal productivity software through its affiliated label program. With this success has come the opportunity to try out a variety of new retail channels.

"We're just now in the process of working with T.J. Maxx," says Ileana Seander, vice president of sales at Maxis. Tests will begin with SimCity Classic and SimCity 2000. "We're pretty excited about the potential, because they're a true mass merchant account that has had no previous [experience with] real electronics."

Maxis sells some of its software titles through the Scholastic Software and Book Club, which targets children in the classroom. The kids receive the catalog from their teachers, and part of the money for each purchase goes back to the school.

The company's products also are sold through kids-oriented retailers, such as Imaginarium and Leaningsmith, and nature-oriented retailers, such as The Nature Company. "You'll find the random copy of SimEarth and SimLife in those areas," Seander says.

While Maxis has sold its sampler CD-ROM in supermarkets, the prices on its premium products, such as SimCity 2000, have made it hard to establish a strong position in this segment. The company is currently talking with distributors about selling some of its older titles at lower price points. Supermarkets prefer software they can sell for $4.95 to $14.95.

The company also has experimented with online shopping. Sales through the Interactive Shopping Network have "gone reasonably well," Seander says. Maxis is working with companies that are marketing software over the Internet—though products are delivered through the mail or by Federal Express. None of the online companies that Maxis is working with are attempting to download programs over the phone line. Despite the opening of these channels, the bulk of Maxis' business still comes from traditional retail segments and the mass merchants.

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