LIKE clockwork, the retail sector explodes into activity in the lead up to the lucrative festive season, and as in recent years the gaming market is set to take a big chunk of the dollars flowing into cash registers this year.
This spending spree is already well underway in the console space with two new gaming titles breaking sales records in New Zealand, while Sony has enjoyed a rush for its new slim-line PlayStation 2 console.
The new model was released the same weekend at the end of October as exclusive PlayStation title Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, of which over 10,000 copies were sold in the first week.
Meanwhile, Microsoft Xbox’s answer for the festive season, Halo 2, was released on November 9 and sold nearly 11,500 copies in the first week.
According to Steve Dykes, ma-naging director of Sony Computer Entertainment New Zealand, around 9,000 units of the new-look PlayStation 2 have been shipped since its launch, with most retailers racking up pre-release orders.
Dykes says this is a remarkable result for the introduction of a redesigned version of a product that is already well established.
“You would expect that kind of response to a brand new product,” he says.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was a further boost for the console, adds Dykes.
“It was big weekend for us. It was the best opening weekend for a console game to date, ear-ning over $1 million,” he says.
The launch of the smaller PlayStation did impact slightly on Xbox sales, says Microsoft senior account manager Bob Glancy.
While Xbox sold at record levels, taking 68% of all console sales in the week prior to the release of the new PlayStation and 56% in the three weeks before that, this figure dropped to 40% in the week following the release.
“But this is still good compared with PlayStation 2, considering a new model was released,” says Glancy, adding Xbox is catching up to its rival, even though PlayStation has a two-year lead over Xbox with a larger installed base.
“New Zealand is still the most successful Xbox market in the world,” he says.
Halo 2, the sequel to the game that became the flagship title for Xbox, will be the main title for the Christmas period and beyond, says Glancy.
“Halo 2 will remain the obsession for the next few months — no other Xbox game will sell as much. It is definitely our number one game,” he states.