Last night's Xbox 360 midnight launch saw the flagship store of leading UK and European videogames retailer GAME, on London's Oxford Street, being decked out in the green and white livery of the new console, as hundreds queued to collect their pre-orders and musc pumped out of a DJ booth to warm up the crowd on the cold, damp December night.
Lisa Morgan, deputy CEO of GAME, was on hand to chat about the importance of the launch, the impact on the Christmas market - and the type of consumer who's picking up an Xbox 360 from the first shipment.
GamesIndustry.biz: Tonight sees the first launch of a next-generation console - how important is an event like this for a retailer like GAME?
Lisa Morgan: This is really, really important for GAME. As the UK's largest specialist retailer of videogames, it doesn't get much more exciting than this. We've been planning and preparing for months, and it's just fantastic to see so many people actually queuing up and buying the machines!
Do you have any idea what kind of numbers you have here this evening?
I think there are easily about a couple of hundred people here this evening. We only invited consumers who placed a deposit, and who pre-ordered the machine with us probably many months ago now, and we're pretty confident that every one of them will go away with their machine - that's the job that we wanted to do for them.
Looking onwards towards Christmas, how important is Xbox 360 going to be to you over the next few weeks?
I think we have to be realistic. We're really being kept in tune with what kind of stock is coming into the market, and the volumes of stock are not necessarily what we would have liked to have seen as a retailer - so in terms of overall impact on our business, there are other formats that are going to play a bigger part in terms of revenue.
In terms of sentiment, though, this is really key to our business. We think it's important to the market that there's new product coming into the industry, and this product is absolutely fantastic. It's really taking gaming that one step forward for us. So for us, 360 isn't just about the next few weeks - it's about next year and the year after, because we're in this for the long term.
What kind of people have you seen coming in to pre-order the 360? You've probably got more pre-orders than any other UK retailer - do you have any data on those people?
We've got our GAME Reward Card database - we've got over five million customers on that, and we've tracked all of our pre-orders on the database. So we can tell you that the bulk of the consumers so far are male, between the age of 20 and 30 years old, and virtually all of them are historical Xbox purchasers. The majority have bought games like Halo and Fable - so a really loyal Microsoft following for the new machine.
It's quite an achievement to build up such a loyal following in just four years...
I think it's a real credit to them.
From your perspective as a retailer, how has that following been built up? What's different about Microsoft's approach that allowed them to do this?
I think, having done the first launch with them, and obviously being a very key part of the second launch - we're their official partner - it's fair to say, I think, that both of us have learned an awful lot along the way. I think what's really great from the guys at Microsoft is that they've listened. They've listened to retail, they've listened to consumers, and they've really responded to things that I believe will really make this machine a much bigger success than the first machine. So yeah, we're feeling really encouraged.
Looking to the software - any predictions as to what titles are really going to do well on Xbox 360 in the coming weeks?
Well, we'll take a quick look at the figures tomorrow, that's for sure - but I think Project Gotham will probably be number one, Perfect Dark Zero number two, Call of Duty number three... That's probably my projection.
Lisa, thanks for taking the time to speak to us.