September 6th, 2006, 18:54 Posted By: wraggster
But March launch will open up major sales opportunities
Microsoft is set to take full advantage of the lack of Sony competition at retail this Christmas, but UK specialists are warning that the PS3 is still likely to clean up come March 2007.
Speaking exclusively to GamesIndustry.biz, leading UK retailers have expressed surprise at the PS3 delay - but also relief that there's one less console to worry about in an already crowded Christmas market.
"I have to admit this is pretty disappointing news as we've been gearing up for the launch for some time now," said Tim Ellis, head of games at entertainment retailer HMV.
"It also presents a major opportunity for Microsoft to consolidate Xbox's position in the market, while Nintendo has a great chance to launch and firmly establish Wii," he added.
“We’ve got a substantial amount of orders for the PS3, so from a consumer point of view they’re going to be gutted,” revealed Don McCabe, MD of Chips.
“But from a logistical point of view trying to deal with all this hardware - with all these pink SKU’s, the DS, PSP, PS2 and Wii – it’s going to be a hardware Christmas, even without the star turn."
The lack of a solid pre-ordering scheme for the PS3 had led many UK retailers to initiate their own plans, which now leaves UK stores with the unenviable task of placating the disappointed customer.
"This will be all about managing the consumers’ expectations,” commented Steve O’Brien, MD of Action Replay and Gameshop.
“With the absence of any concrete pre-order scheme in place for the UK from Sony, many retailers have taken it upon themselves to be pro-active in this area. Now it's a case of managing the aftermath.”
“Ultimately, it will have very little financial impact for retail this Christmas as the consumer has very attractive alternatives. I'm sure Microsoft and Nintendo will grab onto this opportunity with both hands," he added.
With the retail sector looking forward to a bumper Christmas, the delay of the PlayStation 3 until March next year represents a new opportunity for stores in a traditionally quiet period.
“The delay means we now have a major sales opportunity to look forward to next Spring instead, and hopefully this means there will be plenty of hardware produced to go round, so there will be no shortages,” said Ellis.
“In many respects it will give a really good boost to the spring period. It’s going to be like the second coming and it will make this Easter an extremely good one for retail,” offered McCabe.
He added: “All the other hardware manufacturers are going to benefit from this delay. And that’s without a doubt. But I don’t think it’s going to affect PlayStation 3. The PS3 is going to sell in significant quantities, but it gives Microsoft longer to grow its installed base and maximise its abilities.”
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