With the scheduled release of Microsoft’s xBox still seven months in the future, Redmond-based Nintendo seems to be getting a little annoyed by the fuss retailers are already making over pre-orders for the software giant’s entry into the gaming console market.
Earlier this week, a confidential letter from Peter Main, Executive VP of Sales & Marketing for Nintendo of America, to unnamed retailers was exposed by New York rumor-mill F**kedCompany.com.
The letter, which Main’s representatives admit that Main wrote, questioned why retailers were promoting the xBox so far ahead of its release, and encouraged the stores to focus on their current stock.
“The curious question is then why, retailers would join with a potential future industry participant, eight-ten months or perhaps longer before his unspecified product arrives, to essentially sell against the current and continuing impulse sales by installing an array of point-of-sales materials, which essentially suggest to their customer, to wait (until when?) for this alleged new product,” the letter stated.
While neither Nintendo nor Microsoft were available for comment, in an Interview with IGNcube, George Harrison, Nintendo’s Vice President of Marketing explained the letter’s intent.
“Actually, the purpose of the letter was to express to retailers our own curiosity as to why they felt this material belonged in their store. We clearly understood our competitor’s motivation. Microsoft is not in the business, but they would like nothing more than to say to people, ‘Don’t buy PlayStation 2 — wait until next October.’ Our approach was, rather, to say to retailers that we weren’t sure why they would be in the business of sending the consumer away from their stores when they have the potential to sell them something they have in stock today,” Harrison told IGNcube.
Bryan Carter, better known as R.I.P., Co-Editor of Game Zero magazine, notes that while pre-ordering and other pre-launch marketing can be fine, retailers hyping a product that may not come out on time could be dangerous to the industry.
“I don’t think it unreasonable of retail outlets to be pushing any consumer product 8 to 10 months ahead of launch, when the producer actually has a physical product to sell, and is in a state of manufacturing of the product,” says R.I.P. “In the case of Microsoft, we have a company well known for their lack of ability to hit release dates with *ANY* of their products. We have a console (the X-Box), that still is nothing more than an environment running in an emulator on-top of a PC.”
In light of the tightening market and concerns about Microsoft’s lack of a manufactured product, the gaming magazine editor believes the letter was quite poignant.
“What I think Nintendo is getting at is that taking pre-orders on what amounts to vaporware is irresponsible, and that retailers should keep this in mind and also take into consideration the damage that may be added to the gaming industry if MS fails to deliver,” says R.I.P.
Dan Bailey, Editor in Chief of Silicon Magazine agrees, noting that the video game industry has suffered recent setbacks similar to the rest of the hi-tech sector, and encouriging consumers to hold off on their purchases could further the problem.
“With sales down signficantly in the year 2000 and first quarter of this year, many big names in the Video Game industry wonder if retail promotion of products more then just a few months away is a wise decision,” says Bailey. “This not only affects first party companies trying to sell hardware, but it affects 3rd party companies and 3rd party software. This is the problem.”