GameStop, seeking to restore goodwill among its customers, is giving away $50 gift cards and running a âbuy 2 get 1 freeâ promotion on pre-owned titles as an apology for its decision to remove coupons from retail packages of Square Enixâs âDeus Ex: Human Revolutionâ last week (via Joystiq).
âWe regret the events surrounding this title release and that our customers were put in the middle of this issue between GameStop and Square Enix,â Paul Raines, GameStopâs chief executive, wrote in an email to members of the chainâs loyalty program as well as customers who pre-ordered the affected PC edition of âDeus Ex.â
It remains unclear whether GameStop is extending its offer to walk-in customers who purchased copies of the game (via PC Magazine). In PC-edition packages, Square Enix had included a promotional offer from streaming game site OnLive, which GameStop regards as a competitor. The chain faced customer outcry after news reports revealed that GameStop had directed store employees to open the âDeus Exâ packages, remove and discard the OnLive coupons, and restock the packages for sale. More on the issue at CBS News.
Walmart: Xbox Price Promotion Was an ‘Error’
In other video game news, Joystiq reports that Walmartâs stated price ârollbackâ of the Xbox 360 Kinect console bundle in an advertising circular was an âerror.â The retailer says that it is honoring the $50 sale on the video game system this week, but it will not permanently reduce the price of the bundle, according to the report.
Making the announcement today that it would acquire Internet communications company Skype for $8.5 billion in cash, Microsoft said that Skype would support a range of products, including Kinect video game sensors and Xbox consoles connected to the Xbox Live service. Skype currently counts 170 million monthly users worldwide, although The Wall Street Journal points out that not all users make video phone calls with the companyâs voice-over-Internet-protocol technology.
Sales of Xbox 360 consoles increased 68% year-over-year in November, thanks to Microsoftâs introduction of the Kinect motion sensor accessory, according to new data from the NPD Group (via Information Week). Meanwhile, Activisionâs âCall of Duty: Black Opsâ rung up sales of 8.4 million units during the month, accounting for an estimated 25% of all Novemberâs videogame software sales.
Total game software sales (not including downloads) topped $1.46 billion in November, up 4% from 2009. Total hardware sales increased 2% year-over-year to $1.08 billion.
Separately, NPD reported that retailers sold some 400,000 Blu-ray players during the week encompassing Black Friday, an increase of more than 50% from the corresponding period in 2009 (via Home Media Magazine). The median price per unit during the week was $113, down 23% from the median player price of $145 last year.
Videogame software sales for the month of October rose 6% year-over-year to $605 million, while accessory sales for the industry increased 18% on the introduction of Sonyâs PlayStation Move motion controller, according to NPD (via Bloomberg).
The gains were not enough to offset a 30% annual decline in both console and portable hardware unit sales, which brought overall industry revenue down by 4% during the month.
The Xbox 360 system, however, did see a year-on-year sales gain in October â perhaps in anticipation of Microsoftâs Kinect, which went on sale Nov. 4. Microsoft separately reported that sales of the Kinect topped 1 million units in the deviceâs first 10 days (via Information Week); the company expects to sell 5 million Kinect systems by yearâs end.
Microsoft expects to sell 5 million Kinect motion controllers for its Xbox 360 game system this quarter, Bloomberg reports. The company had previously expected to sell 3 million units of the Kinect accessory, which goes on sale today. But it revised its forecast in the wake of strong consumer pre-sales and retailer orders. Review of the Kinect system at The New York Times.
Lazard Capital market analyst Colin Sebastian is looking for Microsoftâs Kinect motion sensor to sell four million units worldwide in the fourth quarter of 2010. The analyst said in a note to investors (via MCV) that the videogame accessory, which Microsoft plans to release Nov. 4, is building more buzz in the marketplace than Sonyâs competing Move motion controller (which is due in North America Sept. 19).
Sebastian also noted that with Microsoft ramping up its Kinect manufacturing to some two million units a month, price promotions on the $149 sensor could be in the offing.
Microsoft says it will market the Kinect motion/voice sensor in November as a $149.99 accessory for the Xbox 360 console. The company also will sell a new version of the Xbox 360 system bundles with Kinect for $299.99.
The pricing matches pre-announcement reporting by game blog Gamasutra â which earlier this month quoted analysts as stating that a price point over $100 has potential to âseverely limit sales.â But the price might be OK, Wedbush analysts Michael Pachter and Edward Woo said, if Microsoft expects constrained supply during launch.
Sonyâs rival motion control platform for PlayStation, the Move, arrives in September with a price point of $99. That price includes a camera, controller, and Move-enabled videogame.
Microsoft and other videogame publishers are expected to unveil more than a dozen titles this week for Kinect, the hands-free motion-control platform for the Xbox (formerly known as Project Natal). On Sunday, Microsoft revealed the Kinect brand name, promising more details at its e# press briefing today. In the meantime, PC World has a roundup of Kinect news tidbits â including a report that the platform will launch in November.