In an interview with The Verge, executives from Gamestop have confirmed that the world’s most popular video game retailer is starting to enact plans for the next generation of consoles.
Starting with the Wii U, which, as CEO Paul Raines says, “we expect at holiday,” Gamestop will begin to re-prioritize, hoping to draw in a new gaming fan-base, and revitalize the old.
“I think it (the Wii U) is going to draw a lot of people,” said Ashley Sheetz, the Gamestop’s Chief Marketing Officer. “It’s been quieting down over the past several years. We think it’s going to be kind of a resurgence in people’s interest in the category.” Referring to the waning audience of casual gamers–more interested in the Wii and musical games–Sheetz says the company “see(s) this as an opportunity to pick that back up again.”
Raines added that he’s been hearing a lot of rumors recently about the other next-gen consoles–the as-of-yet-unconfirmed PlayStation 4 and Xbox 720.. “We have not been expecting two more consoles in 2013,” he said. “We’re expecting Wii U this holiday, another one next year, and another in ’14.” He noted, though, that the rumors change weekly, and more recent rumors indicate that both consoles may launch next year.
One of the biggest obstacles Gamestop will have to traverse is in dealing with this generation of consoles and games once their successors enter the playing field. Chief among these concerns is the question of last-gen pricing. It’s no secret that the retailer has a say in price cuts, though the final decision does come down to the manufacturer.
“We’re constantly in dialog with (the manufactures),” says Mike Hogan, Gamestop’s executive VP of marketing. “We’re not opposed to price cuts. There’s a point in time where you’d look at a console and say, ‘We support the idea of you taking a price cut, because we’ll sell a lot more units.” Referring to the inverse relationship between console price and game sales, Hogan mentioned that “(Gamestop’s) interests are pretty well aligned with Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo when it comes to that.
Leaving no stone unturned, Gamestop also hopes to supply gamers with “creative ways to trade their old consoles and give them a new one,” as Paul Raines confirmed.
Of course, if you’ve walked into a Gamestop recently, you may be privy to another issue the company will face. As of now, the retailer still sells PlayStation 2 consoles and games. According to Mike Dzura, senior VP of store operations, “We still generate a whole lot of profit off PS2 sales, but we’re going to keep PS2 where PS2 does sell, and we won’t put it in stores where we see really lapsed sales.” By taking a look at sales numbers across the world, the company will reassess which stores should continue to carry the 6th-generation consoles, and which will begin to drop support of the PS2.
With some plans for the “Big Three” (Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft) already in motion, and others in development, Gamestop seems confident about its handling of the next generation. There are, however, a few variable the company will have to factor in. We learned about the Ouya earlier this year, a console that hopes to kick down the door to open-console gaming. As of now, it seems Gamestop is a little in the dark about the Kickstarter-funded system. Raines stated that he’s “not sure how soon they’re going to be in the market.” If the Ouya comes launches in the same way it was announced (without much warning), Gamestop could be scrambling to contract with its developers and get in on the action.
That being said, Raines appears to be excited about the console’s prospects. “To the degree Ouya can find its GTA, or its Halo, or its Madden,” he said,” I think that’s what will drive it.” He also conveyed the company’s interest in helping to sell the open-source console. “We’d love to be a part of it. I expect that really any console that comes out in the near future, we’ll be a big part of launching it.”
As Gamestop gets ready for the next generation of consoles, what are you most looking forward to? Be sure to join the next-gen conversation in our forums!