HMV plans to throw its hat into the ring of pre-owned games, joining the growing ranks of retailers looking to bolster their videogame bottom line.
MCV says the retailer will launch its pre-owned games business later this year, a move widely expected following a series of test runs in some of its stores. In June, Martin Baxter of HMV discussed the possibility, saying, “There are so many things in the market that can be looked at from our perspective. Pre-owned is one of those elements we’ll be looking at, but first and foremost we’ll look to see if it fits with our brand and customer base. Lots of our rivals have tried to do pre-owned in the past and failed. If we were to do it, we’d do it properly – if not, we’ll leave it on the table.”
Apparently the plan has been picked up off the table and is being waved around over the company’s head like a 40-point margin broadsword. A statement attached to the company’s most recent financial results, which saw a 25 percent growth in profit over the previous year, described the trials of a new store format featuring game zones, entertainment websites and other innovations as “successful,” adding, “All product lines in the trial outperformed the rest of the chain, providing a basis in the coming financial year to convert 10-15 stores and open all new stores in the new format. We continued to enhance our credibility with customers and suppliers in the fast-growing games console and software market, and are planning to launch a pre-played games offer in 2008/09.”
After testing an in-store “gaming zone” in October 2007 that featured 27 Xbox 360 systems running on hi-def televisions with full access to Xbox Live, the company announced a shift from music sales to videogames in December in response to slow CD sales and high growth in gaming categories. “For HMV we are already a natural destination for music and film, we want to become an equal destination for gamers, and this is about making our stores a real magnet for gamers to come and play and buy,” CEO Simon Fox said at the time of the announcement.