GameStop.com now has the Xbox 360 HD-DVD Drive available for pre-order online. Pricing, as previously mentioned, is $199.99 and currently includes the King Kong HD-DVD Movie pack-in. According to GameStop, the drive will be available on 11/30, a couple of weeks after the Playstation 3 and the Wii release. With the Playstation 3, Wii, Zune, and the HD-DVD shipping this holiday season, it looks like there’s going to be a ton of hardware competing for consumer dollars in November and December.
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Victor Godinez, author of the Dallas Morning News article from the GameStop conference in Texas, has updated his blog with additional information. There are quick impressions of the various company presences at the show. Sony’s Resistance: Fall of Man was “pretty standard first-person shooter fare… well executed, fun to play, and graphically impressive.”
For the Wii, Godinez indicates that graphics have generally improved since E3. Sword fighting mapping isn’t 100% precise in Red Steel, but seems to be much closer than E3.
On pre-orders, the company line as of Sunday is still that there will either be very limited pre-order campaigns or none at all. GameStop appears to be really gunshy with the pre-order situation. It may be possible that GameStop will get enough console allocation assurance from Sony and Nintendo, but it isn’t looking particularly likely. However, there is at least one person on the 1up forum boards that claims to be a GameStop manager whose store will be offering pre-orders on Tuesday, October 10.
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Word of a new test program for pre-orders at GameStop/EBGames surfaced this weekend. GoNintendo found a thread on the NeoGAF forums pointing to pre-orders for the Wii and Playstation 3 opening for one week, starting September 18. The key part of the pre-order program was the catch: gamers would only be able to place a pre-order by trading in $50 in games or accessories. However, this “improved” pre-order program would not actually fix any of the problems faced by gamers last year. The pre-order would not guarantee a system at launch (or even during the holidays) and effect doesn’t really even hold your place in line.
Since the initial report, it has been confirmed by GoNintendo that the trade-in program is going to be a test program, only for GameStop stores in Hawaii and Guam. GameStop is apparently trying to determine how effective a program would be.
It is pretty easy to understand why GameStop would want to make gamers trade in software and accessories to hold their place in line for a Wii or a Playstation 3; trade-in sales made up by far the largest percentage of gross profit on last year’s annual report. GameStop gets the highest gross margin from used software sales; so much so, that it appears that trade-in software is more valuable to the company than cash. Trade-ins are traditionally the worst possible deal for the consumer, giving meager amounts of money for software that is then turned around and sold for large profits.
So, GameStop has huge incentive to push gamers towards trade-ins. But along with this horrendously punishing trade-in program, little is being done to fix their broken pre-order system. Like last year, the pre-order only gives the customer a place in line at the store they pre-ordered from. Gamers also witnessed in-store hard sell programs, where people that put money down on more of the profit-generating software and accessories got to jump in line. The new program seems to address this somewhat, but a place in line means nothing if the stores never get the product. When the Xbox 360 launched, gamers holding pre-order tickets would see GameStop and EBGames place huge, expensive bundle systems online, while stores were crying for product. GameStop has shown in the past that they care little for the people that have given them money in the promise of a game console at or near launch, and these new moves would seem to indicate that they have learned little from the past.
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