Did Sony's PlayStation 4 Save GameStop? (SNE, GME)
The video game retailer relies heavily on the sale of used games for revenue and to drive customers back into its stores. While some consumers may only buy new software, many sell the ones they are no longer playing.
More than half of those customers apply their used game credit to new software, which is not only good for GameStop, it's good for the entire video game industry.
At least one analyst believes that GameStop will hand out $2.5 billion in store credit to consumers as they trade in Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 units (and stacks of old games) to buy the new consoles this fall.
Xbox One, however, will restrict some of these sales. While Microsoft has said that consumers will be allowed to sell their disc-based games to participating retailers, the company will also allow publishers to reject the sale of used games.
This info caused a panic among investors, who ran from GameStop after the Xbox One was unveiled.
GameStop has started to rebound now that Sony (NYSE: SNE) has announced that it will not employ any used restrictions on disc-based PlayStation 4 games. Consumers will be able to share them, lend them, sell them -- whatever they want.
Shares of GameStop rose three percent this morning and are currently up more than eight percent.
PlayStation 4 will also retail for $100 less than Xbox One and will not require users to connect to the Internet every single day. This could make it appear more attractive to consumers, which is great news for GameStop. It ensures that the retailer's business model can continue.
Sony has also helped GameStop by making disc-based games more attractive on PlayStation 4. With Xbox One, Microsoft is trying everything it can to get consumers to buy them online. Sony, meanwhile, does not care how consumers buy their games so long as they buy them.
Not only that, but Sony announced that it will launch its cloud gaming service next year for old PlayStation 3 games. This is a great way to spend its $380 million investment in Gaikai, which created a platform to stream full games. That technology is promising, but it is not ready for prime time. By testing it on older games (which will require less bandwidth), Sony can work out the kinks before attempting a broader launch.
For better or worse, Gaikai may be the real reason why Sony is okay with used games. Looking ahead to the future, Sony may know (or assume) that PlayStation 5 will have the potential to stream everything right out of the box, potentially eliminating the sale of individual games -- new or used -- altogether.
Long-term, that wouldn't be good for GameStop or any other retailer that sells games.
Louis Bedigian is the Senior Tech Analyst and Features Writer of Benzinga. You can reach him at 248-636-1322 or louis(at)benzingapro(dot)com. Follow him @LouisBedigianBZ
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