GameStop is always bullish on video games. But this year looks better than usual because there are so many new intellectual properties as well as regular installments such as the newest Call of Duty: Black Ops III, according to Eric Bright, director of merchandising at GameStop.
Bright is one of the biggest evangelists for gaming at GameStop. He’s like the booster of boosters. But we used our chance to interview him to pull out his own personal views on who is going to have the best results this year. Triple-A games are having a great revival, even amid global growth for online and mobile games.
In an interview with GameStop, Bright said that “everyone is jazzed about the titles that are coming out in the back half of the year.”
He added, “I have no doubt it is going to be a powerful back half. I have no doubt. This is one of the strongest back halfs we’ve seen in quite some time. The top publishers are really focusing on the best possible quality.”
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Part of the reasons is that there are strong intellectual properties coming this year that don’t come every year. Bethesda Softworks has worked on Fallout 4 for more than six years, and that game is finally launching on Nov. 10.
“There’s a lot of pent-up demand for it,” he said. “We also haven’t had a Halo in some time. And we have much bigger demand for Black Ops III this year than we’ve seen for a normal Call of Duty. We’ve got Assassin’s Creed Syndicate coming as an annualized title. That’s why it’s a strong back half.”
A couple of weeks ago, GameStop brought all of its store managers from more than 6,600 stores to an expo event in Las Vegas where they tried out the new games and went through training on how to get consumers excited about them. GameStop also invites consumers into the event so that it can absorb how excited players are about certain upcoming titles. Among the big titles coming are Star Wars Battlefront, coming Nov. 17 from Electronic Arts for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
“With all of the Star Wars news that our friends at Disney have been able to generate, Star Wars Battlefront is obviously big,” he said. “Call of Duty: Black Ops III (coming Nov. 6) is going to be a juggernaut. There’s a huge amount of interest around that title. Fallout 4 has a huge amount of interest, and there’s a lot of interest around the toys-to-life category.”
He said that Skylanders Superchargers (out yesterday), Disney Infinity 2.0, Nintendo Amiibo, and Lego Dimensions will slug it out in that category, which combines physical toys and games.
“Interestingly enough, we noticed as every time that a new one comes out, the overall category grows,” Bright said. “It’s bringing in additional people into the category. That’s exciting for us and for our customers.”
On the digital side, Bright said that GameStop is pleased with the growth of mobile games on Kongregate, which GameStop acquired back in 2010. Emily Greer, cofounder of Kongregate, will speak at our upcoming GamesBeat 2015 event. Overall, digital sales should be more than $1 billion in 2015 for GameStop.
“I am excited about so many new releases,” Bright said. “I’m hard pressed to play the games that are out. I can’t wait for Star Wars. I always have to play Call of Duty. How do you pass on that?”
Bright said that recent titles such as Sony’s Until Dawn, Warner’s Mad Max, and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain are also doing extremely well.
“All are exceeding our expectations,” Bright said.
As for the consoles, Bright said Microsoft will benefit from having a new Elite console bundle coming with a new controller for pro gamers, as well as Halo 5: Guardians (which debuts on Oct. 27).
“Obviously, Halo is one of the lead titles of the year,” he said. “With the introduction of Locke as well as having Master Chief, it’s igniting interest in our consumers. You’ve got Sony with great partnerships on Star Wars with a console bundle, and with Call of Duty, as the preferred platform, they will have a strong back half as well. It’s going to be very interesting how it all turns out.”
As for Nintendo, he noted it has a strong title in Star Fox for the Wii U. But of course, Nintendo delayed the title until next year. The delayed games will make 2016 a great time for gamers as well, Bright said.
“The excitement around Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, is through the roof,” he said.
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