Parks Associates Blog

Monday, January 29, 2007

Field Trip Report from GameStop

I made two trips to two different gamestop stores in Plano and Frisco over the weekend, trying to do some informal channel research on the three next-gen game consoles.

Both stores have sold out all of their Wii consoles but have PS3 machines available. The store in Frisco, which is inside of one of the most popular mega-malls in the area, has two PS3s and the sales clerk said they've had them for more than 3 days. In contrast, besides a Wii for demo purposes, they don't have any Wii consoles left in store. The clerk, who owns a PS3 himself, said the PS3 is definitely scaring people off with its high price point and many consumers coming the the store have already made up their mind to get a Wii. The store features a promotion of PS3 on its front window-if you trade in your PS2 and some accessories such as wireless controllers, you'll get $100 off a new PS3 (the promotion is through GameStop, not Sony). It's hard to imagine a highly-desired game console would have needed such marketing gimmicks. It would have flown off the shelves all by itself like it had wings, wouldn't it? I heard that Gamestop is also running a similar promotion for the Wii (trade in a Gamecube and get $50 off a Wii) but I did not see the poster featured anywhere.

The field trip confirmed a few hypothesis:
1. The initial demand for the PS3 has waned off whereas Wii still has strong legs.
2. Price does matter for gamers outside of the small number of hard-core enthusiasts.
3. The negative press on the high price of PS3 has curbed the enthusiasm whereas the wrist-strap debacle of Wii may have actually increased people's curiosity about the innovative design of the Wii. By now you should have heard of the conspiracy theory about the wrist-strap, haven't you?
4. Blue-ray is not yet helping to sell PS3, making it harder to justify the high price point.
5. PS3 faces competition from not only Xbox 360 and Wii but also Sony's own venerable PS2.

The Gamestop guys, to their credit, did tell me they believe a year from now, PS3 will rule again because of its HD graphics and next-gen game capabilities. Nevertheless, he also told me how unhappy he was when he found out that the Monster HD cables he bought for the PS3 weren't compatible and he had to spend hours fixing the problem...


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