15th October 2009

Games Infiltrate Impulse Purchase Habits

NPD GroupThe video game industry has been overcome by a wave of impulse purchases fueled primarily by creative packaging and online accessibility. According to The Canadian Video Game Purchase Process, a study conducted by The NPD Group, 40 per cent of video game buyers stated that they have purchased a game on impulse in the past six months despite the recent recession.

Much like gamers overall, impulse shoppers in the industry are split almost evenly between males and females and are dominated by the 13 – 17 age group (26 per cent) and the 35 – 44 age group (23 per cent).

“Clearly gamers are becoming much less reluctant to spend on games,” said Matthew Tattle, Group Manager, The NPD Group. “One would think it is a little unusual to see impulse purchases during a recession but it’s clear that hardcore gamers will find a way to satisfy their need for something new, different and enjoyable.”

The large percentage of shoppers buying a game on impulse coincides with a rise in low-cost used games, which flourished during the recessionary months to the tune of $65 million in sales.

Impulse game buyers overwhelmingly selected low price as the primary driver behind purchasing their game at a specific retailer. Impulse shoppers in particular are more cost conscious; the average price of impulse purchases was only $27.19 compared with $42.97 for planned purchases. The reduced price of used games is, therefore, increasingly attractive to gamers. In fact, one-third of gamers reported buying a used game in the past six months and only 10 per cent say they would never buy a used game.

The study also reveals that manufacturers looking to capitalize on impulse purchases should put a strong focus on packaging while retailers should focus on merchandizing.

A survey of in-store impulse shoppers shows images or descriptions on game packaging are very or extremely important to 40 per cent, while 25 per cent are swayed by in-store demonstrations of the game.

“Game packaging is the most influential form of advertising for game manufacturers and retailers,” said Tattle. “Particularly among impulse shoppers, game packaging is considered a much stronger motivator than TV commercials, online ads or trailers. The graphics and images on game packages should be chosen strategically to ensure buyers are attracted to the game.”

Referrals are also a key to success for retailers looking to attract impulse shoppers, one-third of whom said they were motivated to make their last game purchase by having played the game at a friend’s house or receiving a referral from a family member or friend. In addition, 19 per cent of impulse buyers said a store clerk’s recommendation is very or extremely important to them and 21 per cent are swayed by a recommendation from another shopper in the store.

Canada has an extremely diverse gaming industry split almost evenly between males and females and among all income brackets. Canadian gamers reside predominantly in Ontario and Quebec with strong secondary markets in B.C. and Alberta. Gamers are passionate about their hobby with one fifth dedicating between 10 and 15 hours each week to honing their gaming skills.

Additional findings:

* Only three per cent of reported purchases were pre-ordered
* Females are more likely to buy on impulse; 46 per cent of impulse buyers are females compared to only 37 per cent of planned buyers
* Sequels sell; almost 20 per cent of gamers said they were motivated to buy a game that was a sequel to one they had previously enjoyed
* 43 per cent of impulse buyers paid only $10 – $20 for their last game purchase
* Only 15 per cent of impulse purchases were made online

The Canadian Video Game Purchase Process was conducted from Aug.10 – 21, 2009 among a population sample of 2,429 gamers (1,758 adults, 371 teens) across the country.

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15th October 2009

Bioware Updates, Xbox Preview and Best Buy Adds Game Trades

BioWare CorpBioware has announced that the first seven pages of the new Mass Effect 2 comic from Dark Horse is now available on the Bioware blog. Written by ME2 lead writer Mac Walters, the comic’s storyline is Dragon Age Journeysindependent of the upcoming Mass Effect 2’s story and follows Dr. Liara T’Soni on a dangerous and important mission to Terminus System in the Milky Way.

Bioware has also released more information about Dragon Age Journeys, a browser-based chapter of the Dragon Age franchise currently in development at EA 2D. According to Producer Ethan Levy’s blog post, “Dragon Age Journeys has been a collaboration between EA 2D, BioWare, and some of the hottest indie talent from the flash developer community. We broke ground on Journeys back in November 2008, and after so many months of blood, sweat and tears, we can’t tell you how excited we are to finally start talking about the game.”

“We have some big plans for Journeys. The first piece that we are currently building is a 3 chapter, single player, tactical rpg delivered in Flash. Right now we’re hard at work finishing the first chapter, Dragon Age Journeys: The Deep Roads”, continues Ethan. “The game will introduce you to the dwarven city of Orzammar and the Deep Roads surrounding it where the dwarves face a persistent threat from the darkspawn hordes. The Deep Roads features character classes, talent trees, sound effects, music and user interface taken directly from Dragon Age: Origins. Thanks to all these resources and input from the BioWare team, it will serve as a solid introduction to the world of Dragon Age.”

I started reading Dragon Age The Calling two nights ago. The Calling is the second book in the Dragon Age novel series penned by Bioware Lead Writer David Gaider – I highly recommend the titles to all of those who enjoy reading books in the Fantasy genre. The EB Games store where I regularly pick up all of my new addictions is already taunting those of us waiting for Dragon Age. They have two shelves of empty Dragon Age Online covers sitting on display behind the service desk. Want.

Xbox 360Microsoft is looking for gamers who would like a chance to preview the next installment of Xbox Live improvements and changes. Those who Silver or Gold XBL memberships are welcome to register – you will need some advance information when you fill in the form, such as your Xbox serial number, ID number, make and model of the TV hooked up to your Xbox, your router make and if you use wireless, the type of wireless connection you have. We participated in the last update preview, and have registered again for this one.

Best Buy Canada has joined the list of retailers who now accept game trade-ins. “Gaming enthusiasts are encouraged to bring in their previously played video games and trade them in for up to $40 in store Best Buy Canadacredit, which can be used toward anything in the store, including a new game!”

Have you braved the battle and won the war in Star Wars: Battlefront? Unsure of what to do with that copy of Final Fantasy collecting dust in your basement? Has your “Need for Speed” suddenly come to a grinding halt? “With Best Buy’s gaming trade-in program, gamers of all types can bring in previously played games to any participating Best Buy location*, where they will receive a Best Buy store credit based on the assigned value of the games.

“We have been testing this program in our Edmonton stores and it has been so highly successful that we decided to extend this offer across Canada, said Paul Fisher, Director of Merchandising, Entertainment, Best Buy Canada. “Gaming now reaches a wider group of Canadians, including women and boomers. This program will enable gamers of all types to trade in for other titles or new technology.”

Trade-in is available on more than 2,500 current game titles and games from the following consoles: Nintendo DS & DSi, Nintendo Wii, PlayStation3, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360. As part of program, Canadians can also purchase previously played titles in-store for less than the cost of a new version of the game.

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