Is the GameStop EXPO an E3 for Consumers?
Matt Hodges, GameStop's Vice President of Public and Investor Relations, tells Benzinga what to expect from the show.
"We are doing this to help out the vendor community," said Hodges. "They do a great job with our expo for our employees, so we wanted to give them the opportunity to leverage all that work they're doing and have some visibility to the consumer."
Hodges said that it decided to open the GameStop (NYSE: GME) EXPO to the public after spending the last few years conducting research. The video game retailer also spoke with its vendor partners to discuss availability, layout, and any concerns they might have.
"Our Australian team -- the EB Games Australia folks -- have now done this two years in a row and they've had great success," said Hodges. "The timing worked out to where we could test it and highlight it in San Antonio, so we think it's a great opportunity."
First Managers, Now You
The GameStop EXPO is famous among GameStop managers for providing them with a brief, hands-on experience with upcoming games. It is often referred to as smaller (and perhaps more exclusive) version of the Electronic Entertainment Expo. But unlike E3, all 18 million PowerUp Rewards members are eligible to attend this year's show. However, due to space limitations, only 6,000 of them will be admitted. And it will only be open for five hours.
"The vendors will have already done this [the day before] for our store employees," Hodges explained. "This just gives them the opportunity to leverage the setup that they already have for no additional charges at all. But a chance to give them exposure to the consumers.
"Beyond that, we would have extra days for the hotel, for paying for the space, booth rentals, all that. So this initial pilot will be just for the five hours because that's what everyone was most comfortable with."
Next year, Hodges said that there is a "possibility" that GameStop could extend the hours of the expo. "I think it's too early to tell until we get past this one," said Hodges. "If it's as wildly successful as we'd like it to be, you could definitely add more hours and additional days if it worked out that way. That has yet to be determined."
But don't expect GameStop to take the show on the road -- or hold more than one annual event like the Penny Arcade Expo.
"I think we would keep it at one time a year, during the same period," said Hodges. "Again, to cut down on the cost for our publisher partners. Because they are [heavily] involved in this. This is not just about us -- it's about all our publishers as well."
GameStop Expo vs. E3
Hodges wouldn't comment on which games will appear at this year's GameStop EXPO. However, he did say that publishers will bring "the latest, greatest games that are currently available or will be available for holiday or into 2013."
"Consumers will get to see the latest console games that are coming out," he said. "As far as size, with 6,000 people being in attendance, it will be smaller than either one of those shows. So it's a more intimate setting for consumers who are interested in gaming."
Hodges wouldn't confirm or deny speculation that the demos would mirror those featured at this year's E3. "We haven't teased out anything on what will be seen yet," he said. "But you can expect some of the things from E3. And you should be able to expect, if there's additional titles that are announced between now and our show, those would also be shown."
As far as the publisher lineup is concerned, Hodges mentioned most of the big players, including Activision (NASDAQ: ATVI), EA (NASDAQ: EA), Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), Nintendo (NTDOY), Take-Two (NASDAQ: TTWO), THQ (NASDAQ: THQI), Sony (NYSE: SNE), Square Enix and Bethesda.
"All of our major publishers will be there displaying the games," said Hodges. "So you'll have multiples of games. I don't have an exact count for you. But it's a substantial number."
Further, Hodges said that we can expect to see a bunch of "great booths" at the show.
"They do a great job with our store managers," he said. "They're there to sell their products and get buy-in from our store manager base. When you have the GameStop army behind a title, it makes it that much easier to sell through the holiday. That's what they're there for. They bring their best stuff. I always equate it to a mini-E3."
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