Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Gaming Notes

First off, Matt Matthews has an excellent three-part series analyzing GameStop. A few tidbits:
--the profit margin for sales of used products is 48%, more than 2X the margin for new software and 8X the margin for new harware.
--surprisingly, in the last two years GameStop has sold as many new units of software as it has used.
--GameStop accounts for 21% of the U.S. market for new hardware and software.

That's just a sample--there are a ton of interesting bits of information in the series, which you can find here:
part one
part two
part three

Michael Pachter predicted last week that the next generation for consoles wouldn't begin until 2013:
Pachter believes previous cycles won't repeat themselves -- next year won't be the year this time, in other words.

"We do not expect a 'new; console in 2010 (other than the long-rumored high definition Wii, which is likely to upgrade the Wii to current console technology)," he says.

"We do not expect the 'next' generation to begin before 2013, if at all. We remain convinced that the publishers will resist the introduction of any video game hardware technology that requires a refresh of software, as the publishers have as yet to capitalize on the immense investments made in being competitive in the current cycle."

I like Michael Pachter, but I think analysts, by the nature of their position, have to make too many predictions too often, which is why their hit rate is often fairly low.

In this case, I don't think anyone expected a new console (again, possibly excepting "Wii HD", and I'm not even banking on that) in 2010, but that's a long way from saying the next generation won't start until 2013 (or "at all"--what?).

I do think this generation is different from previous ones, because I think it's likely that the successor to the 360 won't come out until 2011. That would be six years, and that's the longest it's ever taken to go from the first console of a new generation to the first console of the next generation.

Even six years, though, is stretching it. Eight years seems preposterous. Technology is still advancing far, far too quickly. And don't forget that the next generation will likely feature storage capacity that will make it possible for publishers to shift their model to download instead of disc. I'm not sure that's as wise an idea as it would initially seem for publishers, but they're hellbent on destroying used game sales. So I believe they would have much interest in supporting the next generation than Pachter believes.

Introversion's Chris Delay wrote about what went so terribly wrong for the company in 2008, and it's a great read. I think Introversion is full of some of the brightest people in gaming today, so to hear how they stumbled makes for fascinating reading. Take a look here.

One last note: Plants vs. Zombies comes out today.

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