GAME’s Xbox Concept Store
JULY 22, 2013 • At the end of June research firm GfK Chart-Track reported that the Xbox 360 had overtaken the Nintendo Wii as the United Kingdom’s best selling console at 8.4 million units. Now retailer GAME has opened an exclusive Xbox concept store in the Shoreditch district of London. The location is close to the area called Silicon Roundabout where many new digital creative businesses have set up shop. Both GAME and Microsoft describe the endeavor as a partnership, although neither has provided specifics on exactly what each has invested in the venture. The store is featuring the new Xbox One themed Xbox 360, a wide selection of titles, plus My Xbox custom console skins. The store also features several two-player game pods, as well as a lounge section where Kinect titles can be played. Other Microsoft products such as the Surface tablet are also stocked and on display. Neither GAME nor Microsoft would say when Xbox One demo units would make it to the store.
Impact: The Xbox 360 has always done well in the United Kingdom and it is the leading platform for the system outside the U.S. Many British console gamers share the same love of core action games as their U.S. counterparts – a software category that has been the 360’s bread-and-butter since the beginning. That proclivity makes the British market something of an anomaly compared to the rest of Europe, yet explains the console’s long legs in the U.K. The Wii’s breakthrough status shot Nintendo’s system into the number one position for years, but we are not surprised that the Xbox 360 turned out to be a long distance runner – especially after the Kinect widened the appeal of the console. The U.K., therefore, probably is the most favorable market after North America for the new Xbox One. We can see many reasons why Microsoft would want to go the extra mile to billboard the Xbox brand in the tech district of the British capital. The rewards for GAME are less clear-cut but we suspect that Microsoft is footing much of the bill. Only last year the retailer was having difficulties maintaining credit terms with major console publishers (including Microsoft), and entered administration (the British form of bankruptcy). So we doubt that GAME would want to invest much into this summer marketing program that obviously benefits Microsoft more than GAME. Still, this Xbox concept store speaks volumes on how confident Microsoft feels in the British market, and telegraphs a willingness to cement those gains versus Sony this fall.