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Posts Tagged ‘casual gamers’

After a few successful trials with Halo 3, Gears of War 2 and WOW: Wrath of the Lich King, 7-11 announced this week that they’ll sell a selection of titles an on ongoing basis at locations across the country.  I think this is a great move, and not just because I *love* Slurpees.

As the industry continues the march towards mainstream entertainment, we have to address the issue of availability/awareness at retail.  In particular, where is the best place for casual gamers to make their games purchase?  GameStop has served its purpose for hardcore gamers, but I can’t really see the type of gamer-parent that buys a Wii and 2 pieces of software a year wanting to spend any more time than absolutely necessary in the country’s most successful chain of pawn shops.  If your employees feel like they need to write a strategy guide to help consumers shop in your store, you’ve got a problem.  And I’ve long held that blind commitment to a subpar retail channel has held back comic books from truly connecting with an audience that clearly loves the product.

Of course, there’s an argument here for online distribution, and I’m happy to see active channels on all three home consoles in this genereation.  But I’d really be interested to see what percentage of casual gamers ever even set up an Xbox Live account, or mate their Wii to their wireless router.  Beyond that, you’ve still got the issue of getting new hardware to these people.  Brisk sales of Wii Fit, Guitar Hero and Rock Band mean that’s not a trend that will come to an end any time soon.

Big box stores usually have adequate supply on hand, and don’t seem as willing to put their customer through preorder shenanigans as specialty retailers.  They come up really short on knowledgable staff, though, and that can be critical for people making infrequent, less-than-informed purchases a few times a year.

Staff knowledge will obviously be a huge obstacle for 7-11’s effort, but with such a limited number of titles on offer, it’s got to be a much easier mountain to climb.  And after all, what better way to noramlize game purchases than put them right there with lottery tickets, magazines, and Doritos?  It’s worked in Japan for decades.

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