Best Buy Extends Holiday Deals With ’20 Days of Doorbusters’

On the heels of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, Best Buy has unveiled yet another promotion for the holidays starting Dec. 1: “20 Days of Doorbusters.”

Consumers can sign up to receive text alerts for each day’s “doorbuster,” which they can select on the Best Buy website.

Best Buy will offer doorbuster deals for big screen smart 4K TVs on Dec. 4, Dec. 12 and Dec. 18, and for a game console on Dec. 8. The website doesn’t specify brands.

Sony Announces 20 Games Pre-Loaded on PlayStation Classic Due Dec. 3

Sony has revealed the lineup of the 20 games that come pre-loaded on the PlayStation Classic  console when it launches in the United States and Canada Dec. 3.

In addition to the previously announced Final Fantasy VII, Jumping Flash, Ridge Racer Type 4, Tekken 3 and Wild Arms, the rest of the games are:

  • Battle Arena Toshinden
  • Cool Boarders 2
  • Destruction Derby
  • Grand Theft Auto
  • Intelligent Qube
  • Metal Gear Solid
  • Mr Driller
  • Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee
  • Rayman
  • Resident Evil Director’s Cut
  • Revelations: Persona
  • Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo
  • Syphon Filter
  • Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six
  • Twisted Metal

Xbox Partners With Taco Bell to Give Away Xbox One X Consoles

Taco Bell is partnering with Xbox to give fans in the United States the chance to win limited-edition Xbox One X consoles each time they buy a $5 double chalupa box, Xbox announced.

The promotion lasts from Oct. 18 through Nov. 21.

The exclusive platinum-colored console features Taco Bell’s “ring” when powered on (exclusive to the limited-edition consoles); a white, special-edition Xbox Elite wireless controller; and three months of Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold.

An Xbox One X will be rewarded every 10 minutes throughout the promotion and it will be delivered to fans 72 hours after being declared a winner, according to Xbox.

The Xbox One S and Xbox One X both feature a built-in 4K UHD Blu-ray player and Dolby Atmos support.

Report: Nintendo to Bow New Version of Switch

Nintendo is working on a new version of the Switch console, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal citing anonymous sources.

The new console could be released as soon as next summer, according to the report.

In a statement provided to USA Today Nintendo said it had “nothing to announce on this topic.”

The Switch debuted in March of last year.

Competitors Sony and Microsoft have each released multiple versions of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Video Game Console Ownership Drives SVOD, Pay-TV Subs

Video game consoles such as Xbox and PlayStation have long been catalysts for over-the-top video adoption. Now the proof is in writing.

IHS Markit Oct. 3 disclosed that 89.6% of video game console owners have access to at least one OTT video subscription service, compared with 51% of consumers surveyed without a game console.

Among households with games consoles, 88.6% had one or more pay-TV services, compared to 57% of all survey respondents.

There were 49 million games consoles shipped worldwide in 2017, with North America receiving the largest share (18.4 million units). At the end of 2017, the global number of connected consoles reached 164 million, of which 83% were seventh or eighth-generation consoles from Sony and Microsoft.

The latest finding from the IHS Markit “Connected Devices and Media Consumption” service revealed that 35.6% of households owned a games console. The survey examined device ownership, use and access of subscription and free video services and decision drivers.

While gaming remains the core function, Microsoft and Sony have leveraged their existing online stores to provide digital rental and retail options in their … consoles,” Daniel Sutton, senior analyst, connected devices and media consumption, IHS Markit, wrote in the report.

Sutton said game consoles availing their platforms to third-party apps has allowed major and niche online video services to access television-centered devices, which make viewing on the main screen convenient and enable media content streaming functionality similar to what’s offered by dedicated media streaming devices, like Apple TV and Amazon FireStick.

The high penetration of SVOD/pay-TV services among game console owners is hardly surprising, according to IHS Markit. Games consoles remain premium-priced devices, meaning these households have already shown a propensity toward media spending.

Console ownership and SVOD subscription varies by country:

In the U.S., the largest market in terms of games console sales and connected consoles, more than one-third (38.2%) of respondents indicated they had access to one or more games consoles. Nearly 98% of console-owning households subscribed to at least one pay-TV or SVOD service.

The majority of Brazil’s console-owning demo subscribes to multiple video services, including traditional pay-TV and OTT video services. About 80% of console owners in Brazil had a household subscription to Netflix, which is 13% higher than the national average. More than 5% of console owners who subscribed to Netflix said that their console was their preferred way to access the service.

In Germany, there were 7.6 million connected games consoles at the end of 2017. The PlayStation 4 was the most common device, with five million connected consoles. Nearly 24% of PlayStation 4 households in Germany also owned a PlayStation 3, and 14% owned an Xbox One.

Just 22% of Japanese console owners subscribe to online video service Netflix, while 14% subscribe to pay-TV. Almost 31% of PlayStation 4 owners in Japan indicated that access to content – either for themselves or other household members – was their primary driver when purchasing the device.

About 40% of U.K. survey respondents indicated that their household owned one or more games consoles. As was uniformly the case across the all markets surveyed, the PlayStation 4 was the most popular console. Netflix is the largest online video operator in the U.K. with 31% of respondents saying they had access to Netflix, rising to 48% when looking specifically at console owners.

GameStop Posts $24.9 Million Q2 Loss, Confirms Engagement with Third Parties Regarding Possible Sale of the Company

GameStop Sept. 6 reported a second-quarter (ended Aug. 4) net loss of $24.9 million, compared to a profit of $22.2 million during the previous-year period. Revenue was relatively flat at $1.64 billion.

The nation’s largest video game retailer attributed the loss in part to a one-stop tax charge regarding operations in France. Without the charge, GameStop’s adjusted net income for the second quarter was $4.7 million, compared to adjusted net income of $14.9 million in the prior-year quarter.

The company also confirmed that it continues to engage with third parties regarding a possible transaction as part of a comprehensive review of strategic and financial alternatives initiated by the company’s board of directors. The ongoing process includes a thorough evaluation of a full range of alternatives to enhance shareholder value.

“As our teams prepare for a busy and exciting holiday period, our board of directors, with the support of our financial and legal advisors, continues to conduct a comprehensive review of strategic and financial alternatives, including, but not limited to, a potential sale of the company,” Dan DeMatteo, executive chairman of the board, said in a statement.

GameStop said there could be no assurance that the board’s review will result in any sale of the company.

Meanwhile, collectibles sales increased 15.7% to $141.7 million, driven by continued expansion of licensed merchandise offerings, new and improved product offerings and notable growth in apparel.

Technology brands operating income increased 35.3% to $20.3 million compared to $15.0 million in the prior-year quarter, despite a 10.3% decline in sales to $168.9 million, primarily due to store closures relative to fiscal 2017.

New hardware sales increased 20.1%, driven by the launch of the Xbox One X and continued strong sales of the Nintendo Switch and PS4.  New software sales decreased 18.5% primarily due to the lack of significant title launches during the quarter. Pre-owned sales declined 9.9%.

 

GameStop Confirms Private Equity Talks

GameStop, the world’s largest video game retailer, June 19 confirmed it is in preliminary negotiations with unnamed third parties regarding a potential transaction.

The retailer, which has seen rapid changes with the advent of digital gaming, said there was no assurance any agreement would result from these discussions. It has hired a financial advisor.

“GameStop does not intend to make any additional comments regarding these discussions unless and until it is appropriate to do so,” the company said in a statement.

Trading of the retailer’s stock was halted by Nasdaq June 18 due to “volatility.”

The retailer remains enmeshed in corporate turbulence. Profit plummeted 52% on revenue of $1.9 billion in the most-recent fiscal period driven by declines in hardware and software sales. The company remains headed by an interim CEO after previous boss Michael Mauler departed after 90 days on the job for unspecified reasons.

 

Comcast, Activision Team for ‘Call of Duty’ Multiplayer Early-Play Promotion

Comcast and Activision are partnering to provide gamers with a chance to play the Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 multiplayer before its official release Oct. 12.

Xfinity and Activision made the announcement at the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles.

Starting June 14 and continuing through the end of August, people online can enter a sweepstakes for a chance to play Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 multiplayer at select Xfinity stores in Washington D.C., Boston, Philadelphia, Houston, Seattle, Chicago, Indianapolis and Atlanta.

“This year, Xfinity has elevated the consumer experience by offering Call of Duty fans a chance to play Black Ops 4 through the Xfinity store sweepstakes before its official release on Oct. 12,” said Tyler Michaud, VP, product management at Activision, in a statement. “Gamers will get a sneak peek at the engaging gameplay and depth of content that makes Black Ops 4 a blast to play together with your friends, and we thank Xfinity for the continued support in celebrating gamers throughout the U.S.”

In each location, Xfinity plans special events. For instance, professional basketball player Gordon Hayward (Boston Celtics) will join players at the new Cambridge Xfinity store event in Boston, where he will play Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 alongside the city’s sweepstakes winners. Hayward will also partner with Xfinity on other gaming and esports initiatives throughout the year.

“Fast internet is a must-have for every gamer and as a longtime Xfinity customer, I can vouch for the speed and seamless gameplay it delivers,” said Hayward in a statement. “I’m excited to team up with Xfinity to bring early access of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 to fans and I can’t wait to join my fellow gamers in Boston.”

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is part of a top-selling series that’s had more than 200 million players and more than 15 billion hours played, according to the companies.

“Multiplayer features gritty, grounded combat, along with new levels of customization and tactical gameplay, and a variety of new weaponry, maps and modes,” according to a press release. “’While Zombies’ mode debuts an entirely new and unprecedented experience that’s the biggest Day One offering in franchise history — with three fully-featured Zombies experiences at launch. Black Ops 4 also delivers Blackout – the new battle royale-style experience that combines Black Ops’ signature fast, fluid, guns-up combat, with fierce new levels of survival competition across iconic Black Ops settings re-imagined at a colossal scale in an experience that only Black Ops could deliver.”

“We’re excited to partner with Activision and Call of Duty in an even bigger way for fans this year,” said Todd Arata, SVP of brand marketing at Comcast, in a statement. “Xfinity is proud to offer our Internet customers this special opportunity to get in early and play what is no doubt one of the world’s most anticipated video games of the year, plus it reinforces our Internet speed and capabilities that maximize the gaming experience.”

For official rules and regulations, as well as a complete list of locations, visit xfinity.com/CallofDuty. Dates for the promotion vary by location.

This marks the second consecutive year Xfinity has partnered with Activision to provide its Internet customers with early access to one of the world’s best-selling video game franchises.

Netflix Shoots Down Video Game Interest

Netflix has become much bigger than its 125 million global subscriber base. Like ecommerce behemoth Amazon, every move made by the SVOD pioneer can send ripples through Wall Street.

On June 13, TechRadar claimed an exclusive on Netflix’s plans to enter the video game business, including working with Telltale Games to produce a version of Minecraft: Story Mode and a separate game based on its original series, “Stranger Things.”

The games would be delivered through video files with users controlling game features through the TV remote or select/directional buttons.

The news sent shares of GameStop down more than 5%, in addition to lesser drops among publishers Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts and Take-Two Interactive Software.

A Netflix representative shot down scuttlebutt it was getting into games, saying only that is working on a five-episode interactive series involving the Minecraft franchise to launch this fall, in addition to a separate game for “Stranger Things.”

“It’s an extension of our other interactive stories we have on our service like ‘Stretch Armstrong: The Breakout,’ ‘Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale’ and ‘Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile,'” said Marlee Hart.

Hart said the Stranger Things project would be launching on the Telltale platform at a later date, not on the Netflix service.

“It’s part of our marketing and title promotion efforts,” she said. “There’s a broad spectrum of entertainment available today. Games have become increasingly cinematic, but we view this as interactive narrative storytelling on our service.”

 

Trend’s Tricky Retail Slope

NEWS ANALYSIS — GameStop, along with other entertainment retailers, is attempting to sustain its national retail footprint in part by selling popular culture items such as action figures, posters, T-shirts and other collectibles.

It’s a business strategy fraught with risk and reward.

GameStop’s collectibles business increased 24.4% to $142.4 million in its most-recent fiscal period, driven by continued expansion of licensed merchandise offerings and unique product offerings.

Trans World Entertainment Corp.’s f.y.e. chain reported a 3% increase “lifestyle” sales, which partially offset a 17% decline in video, music and video games.  The lifestyle category represented 49.5% of revenue for the quarter, up from 42% a year ago.

“We are focused on efforts to differentiate our entertainment merchandise towards creating a unique specialty retailing experience of choice for families and fans of pop culture,” CEO Mike Feurer said on the company’s May 29 fiscal call.

Feurer said the changing merchandise point-of-view at f.y.e. is based in part on reinforcing the chain’s credibility with customers, while enabling it to better connect “personally with welcomed frequency.”

Maybe, but retail chains Hastings Entertainment and MovieStop tried similar approaches focusing on trend merchandise and failed.

Acquired in 2014 by the company that runs Elvis Presley’s Graceland estate, as well as Prince’s pending Paisely Park in Minneapolis, Hastings and MovieStop turned their focus away from home video to consumables, trend, comics, electronics, hobbies and books. Hastings said it generated $100 million annually in book sales.

“We are hopeful that we are on the right path,” Jim Litwak, president of the combined companies, said at the time.

He wasn’t on the right path. Both chains halted operations in 2016, shuttering a combined 162 stores nationwide.

But Michael Pachter, media analyst with Wedbush Securites in Los Angeles, contends GameStop can succeed with trend.

“The real difference is that the core customer for GameStop is an almost perfect overlap with the core memorabilia collector,” said Pachter. “The foot traffic provides a cross-selling opportunity.”

The analyst cautioned the trend category is significant for GameStop but not a gamechanger. He said collectibles generated 7% of total sales in 2017, with 9% projected for this year.

“That seems sustainable,” Pachter said.