GameStop Reports Strong Sales

GameStop turned in solid results with an increase of 18.8 percent in sales for the last quarter (compared to 2012), pushing sales to $2.11 billion. The company had a profit of $68.6 million compared to last year’s $624.3 million loss, though last year’s loss was due to a goodwill writedown of $627 million. The results were, of course, driven by sales of new software (up over 43 percent), which was led by Grand Theft Auto V. New hardware sales were up by 15.3 percent, due to the strength of the Nintendo 3DS and the 2DS.

Analysts were also bullish on GameStop’s prospects, with Baird’s Colin Sebastian putting forth a $57 price target and Wedbush Securitues’ Michael Pachter targeting $60 for GameStop shares (currently hovering around $50 per share).

Pachter did note that used game margins were a concern. “While explained well on the call, used margins were at their lowest level in 12 quarters, and the second lowest level in GameStop’s 11 year history,” Pachter said in an investment note. “It attributed weakness to mix and promotional activity, as it intentionally offered extra trade-in credits for customers buying next-gen consoles.”

GameStop’s optimism didn’t hide some key info from Pachter’s sharp gaze. “The company’s positive commentary about console launches and allocations implied that they expect robust sales, but it is clear to us that sales of current generation software have been impacted by the launches, and it is possible that current generation software sales are down by 20 percent or more in November — January, with only partial offset from next generation software sales,” Pachter said.

Mercedes-Benz’ Gran Turismo Concept Car

Just in time for the series’ 15th anniversary – and the forthcoming release of Gran Turismo 6 – Polyphony Digital team producer Kazunori Yamauchi commissioned automaker design studios to create their ideal sports car. The project, known as “Vision Gran Turismo,” certainly got the attention of various car makers. Up first – Mercedes-Benz, one of the companies partnering with Polyphony for the game’s release.

The AMG Vision Gran Turismo is a sleek silvery model that features a Formula 1 inspired rear air diffuser, sleek build, and various other features, as well as a specialized V8 engine to assure the sound of the virtual 577hg AMG V8 biturbo engine is like the one used in the game.

The vehicle was inspired by the legendary 1952 300SL racing car, complete with classic louvered grille and star emblem, among other features.

The car made its recent debut at the 2013 LA Auto Show, though it’s not likely to be offered for real. Still, you’ll get your chance to drive it in Gran Turismo 6 when the game releases for PlayStation 3 on December 6th.

Source: PSFK

Xbox One’s Big Night In LA

The Xbox One launch at Milk Studios was set up like a huge party last night, just south of the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. Lucky gamers attending were ushered into the studios with much fanfare along with cheers, plastic lightup cheer sticks thundering and cameras flashing. The event was a good melding of focusing on the real stars of the night — the games and their enabler, the Xbox One.

The party atmosphere was sustained with a few bars and a hotly anticipated performance by Deadmau5. The event attracted some big celebrity gamers as well as Snoop Dogg, now Snoop Lion, and Donald Faison, of ‘Scrubs’ and ‘Clueless.’

Upon entering the main room of the event, we were greeted with the host of the night, decked out with Turtle Beach’s ‘Seven Series’ headphones and enough bottles of hand sanitizer to carpet the floor– you can never be too careful this time of year.

Everyone heads toward the launch title they were most eager to try out before buying, and they were well represented here. Games were divided into huge swaths of sections and one only had to meander around a bit to find the title you were looking for. Attendees were encouraged to try at least 3 games and receive stamps to be eligible for a contest for some of these games.

It wasn’t all games, however. Forza brought in a few cars costing about as much as two very expensive houses.

In gallery cases next to the Forza Motorsport 5 cars were an array of beautifully decorated controllers, presumably part of the Xbox One’s Wireless Controller Design Contest. Some were decorated cartoonishly, some elaborately, and one even was outfitted with a tortoise-like shell and dubbed the “Primordial Controller.”

Also in attendance were representatives from Best Buy, pictured here getting ready for the undoubtedly crazy night.

Overhead was a ominous net of balloons just waiting for the big balloon drop of the night to cap off one of the biggest nights in gaming.

 

PlayStation 4, Xbox One Pre-Orders Near Parity

After the dust settled at the Electronic Entertainment Expo earlier this year, many gamers thought that Sony would be the clear-cut winner of the next-generation console race. However, if pre-orders have anything to say about it, it’s more along the lines of neck-and-neck.

IGN gathered pre-order data from various retail partners across the United States, and have learned that the gap in reservations between the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 has dwindled. There’s now only a ten percent difference in pre-orders between the two, with Sony still retaining an edge.

Granted, Microsoft has eased up on a lot of its limitations since E3 a few months ago, including the always-on connectivity and used game restrictions that were first implied. This decreased Sony’s odds a bit, though the lower price point of $399 was expected to be a home run for the company compared to Xbox One’s $499 price tag.

We’ll see where the dust settles after this holiday season, as the Xbox One just released in stores today.

Source: IGN

Tyson Returns Holyfield’s Ear

With the new shoes available at Foot Locker, the company says all is right with the world in general. They’re demonstrating this with several sports figure “make ups”, like Tyson giving Holyfield back his ear, Dennis Rodman leaving forever for North Korea and Brett Farve acknowledging that sometimes you have to know when enough is enough.

Xbox One Worldwide Launch Events

The Xbox One officially launches today, so of course there were events last night to herald the arrival of the console in customer hands at midnight. The major action took place in Los Angeles, New York London and Berlin, but we have reports also from San Francisco and Toronto.

San Francisco

It’s amazing the difference an event team can make. Last week at the PlayStation 4 launch in San Francisco, Sony sent a PR team and a dozen PS4 demo stations, while GameStop sent president Tony Bartel and VP Jason Cochran along with other staffers. The result was a party with searchlights painting the building with Sony logos, a DJ dishing out tunes and raffle prizes, PR folks and GameStop associates passing out t-shirts and other goodies to the crowd of over a hundred people.

The Xbox One launch at the same GameStop store on San Francisco’s Market Street was sleepy by comparison. Ten people waited in line outside the front door. There was no DJ, no party atmosphere, no crowds inside, no piles of Xbox Ones waiting to be handed out to eager customers. It looked like just another night at GameStop. Several Xbox One demo stations were set up and running, but no one was playing them. (The only demo station in use in the store was someone playing FIFA 14 on a PS4 demo station.) There was a handful of customers in the store, but they were looking at a wide variety of things, and not just Xbox Ones. The in-store displays for the Xbox One were impressive, as was the store’s appearance in general.

The GameStop store in San Francisco expected to do a very good business with the Xbox pre-order customers buying additional products. As for availability of the Xbox One, it’s anyone’s guess at this point. Certainly both Sony and Microsoft are trying hard to manufacture more consoles and get them out to stores, particularly for the Black Friday shopping extravaganza beginning next week. (GameStop stores will open at midnight on Thanksgiving Day, and many other retailers will be opening early as well.) This GameStop, at least, is ready to handle customers for any system, with plenty of space, numerous demo stations for all systems, and well-stocked shelves.

This showing in San Francisco is probably more representative of launch time at most stores, with people coming in to pick up their pre-orders and not much else happening. The hoopla at official opening parties is fun and photogenic, but the bulk of the sales is handled with little fuss at most stores. The excitement is inside the eager customers who have pre-ordered these new consoles, buying into the promise of new technology more than the reality of a handful of launch titles.

The takeaway message is that neither the PlayStation 4 nor the Xbox One’s future should be judged by the size or quality of the crowds at carefully managed launch parties. Sales of both consoles will be constrained by manufacturing for some time to come. Generating enthusiasm now is useful in many ways for Sony and Microsoft, but the big challenge for both companies will be to maintain that enthusiasm when there aren’t enough consoles to go around . . . and to maintain that enthusiasm later, when there are plenty of consoles to go around. 

New York

Microsoft actually delivered Xbox One units to the Times Square Best Buy Theater by armored truck! After a performance by Macklemore to get the fans fired up, Xbox corporate VP Marc Whitten finally took the stage as the clock neared midnight to officially count down to the very first Xbox Ones being sold in the US. Being in Times Square it definitely had a New Year’s Eve vibe to it as he counted down. The first ten fans who had been waiting in line from the start were welcomed onto the stage and jogged in through the crowd like an NFL or NBA roster. 

Berlin

Microsoft’s launch party in Berlin is at the Microsoft Center in the Unter den Linden district with around 500 guests from the media and the games industry. Thirty of those are local celebrities including actress Jessica Schwarz and David Kross. Like London there are no official midnight sales at a retail outlet, but Microsoft’s German Xbox boss Oliver Kaltner and Microsoft German CEO Christian P Illek are on hand to share some of their goals — one of which is to grow market share mid-term to 40 per cent (it currently claims around 30 per cent). Part of that is by increasing the marketing message, with Kaltner stating: “We have the biggest marketing budget in the history of Xbox in Germany. We are speaking about a double digit million euro budget.” 

London

A chilly crowd is beginning to respond more warmly to Microsoft’s Xbox One showcase in London as celebrities take to the stage. So far, music has been interspersed with gameplay and trailers as zombies, legionaries and the ubiquitous purveyors of Mountain Dew circulate through the crowd. A solid core of people who’ve planned to be here has been supplemented by various curious passers-by, both gamers and those simply intrigued by the spectacle. Despite a few technical teething problems the show is now in full swing, with Katy B taking the stage as we spoke to the audience before retreating to a nearby hotel for warmth and wi-fi.

Toronto

As forecast, the rain started falling as the evening wore on. And while it made for a generally cold and miserable evening outside, the weather couldn’t keep the lines from growing. In the minutes before midnight, Best Buy’s line was roughly 50 people long, with around 80 at EB Games and more than 150 at Future Shop, where the retailer and Microsoft were giving out all manner of swag and keeping a party atmosphere rolling with the help of a DJ. The scene also attracted some EB Games employees, who were enticing gamers to make the short walk to their store with promises of plentiful unreserved Xbox Ones and, as a clincher, the ability to wait inside the store.

Apple Gets Moving, Kinect-Style

With its iTV and other iGadgets rumored to be gathering speed for the 2014 electronics season, Apple could be looking to key companies to make said technology happen.

An Israeli financial news site named Calcalist has reported that Apple has purchased PrimeSense, the Tel Aviv-based company that made the motion tracking technology for Microsoft’s Kinect device for the Xbox 360. The deal is reportedly worth around $345 million. Apple may be seeking to add Kinect-like capability to Apple TV or the rumored iTV.

PrimeSense responded by stating the rumor wasn’t true. “We do not relate to rumors about our customers and partners,” said executive vice president of sales and marketing, Yaniv Vakrat.

However, another PrimeSense rep had a more passive statement. “PrimeSense is the leading 3D technology in the market. We are focused on building a prosperous company while bringing 3D sensing and Natural Interaction to the mass market in a variety of markets such as interacting living room and mobile devices. We do not comment on what any of our partners, customers or potential customers are doing and we do not relate to rumors or recycled rumors.”

Despite these early denials, you can probably expect an official confirmation sooner rather than later.

Source: Venturebeat

Xbox One’s Massive Fan

While the Xbox 360 is certainly a popular game console in today’s market, it hasn’t been without its problems. Many users have experienced the “red ring of death” over the years, which has resulted in the failure of their system when it comes to operations. This was usually attributed to cooling problems.

However, the Xbox One will avoid this problem. In disassembling of the system, iFixit located a “beefy cooling system” inside the hardware, which will allow it to keep the Xbox One at moderate temperatures so it doesn’t overheat and cause a system shutdown. In addition, if the heat-sink or fan ever do go bad on the console, replacing them is “easy-breezy” with simple amateur mechanics.

That said, it’s still advised you don’t take the system apart on your own, as it may void your warranty. iFixit learned that the Xbox One’s hard drive is a 500 GB 2.5 inch Samsung Spinpoint M8 SATA II model, and could be replaced with a larger one — but that will definitely void your warranty, and it’s not known if the Xbox One can deal with an unformatted hard drive in any case. Better to plug in a USB hard drive if you need more space, though that feature is not supported at launch (it’s planned for later).

Source: iFixit