Sure, Sony says that people in the UK are willing to shell out the lofty $249 price tag for the PSPgo. Assuming we buy into that optimistic little morsel, Sony may still find themselves without much success in the UK if the retailers don’t stock the system.
“From my point of view I’ve got to think, ‘Do I want to stock this?’ Right now I can’t see any justification for stocking it,” Don McCage, a “Chips” retailer, told Edge-Online. “Certainly I’m not getting the response from consumers. Normally when a new piece of kit is launched or announced I’ll get a multitude of people saying ‘As soon as that comes out I want one of those.’ [Potential] first adopters are on the phone within seconds of it being announced and you’ve got your pre-orders. I don’t have a single pre-order for PSP Go at the moment.”
UK gamers’ apparent lack of enthusiasm isn’t the only thing making retailers hesitant about the stocking the system. Since the system is aiming for a purely download formula, any shop willing to sell the device would see very little gain from the transaction.
McCabe continued, saying, “At the moment [PSP hardware and software sales represent] about five to six per cent of our overall turnover. You’d never throw that sort of percentage away – they’re not flying machines but they’re nice and steady. [But] on hardware [alone] you make next to no money and in some instances we actually lose money on each piece of hardware we sell, so if you’re going to just sell a piece of hardware and then never see that customer again, from a retail point of view you might as well just shoot yourself in the head.”
I believe this UK business keeper has effectively said what has been on many people’s minds since the PSPgo first became a hot topic. It’s incredibly interesting to see the awkward relationship between retail and digital distribution already taking shape. If this one retailer’s opinion on the matter is any indication, it doesn’t look like the future distribution of digital-only platforms will be a smooth ride.
Considering Sony’s past relationship with this Chip’s spokesman wasn’t enough for him to justify carrying a new version of an established handheld, it will be even more interesting to see how newcomer On Live will fare in the retail arena.
What will the future of digital reliant devices be if this sort of attitude intesnifies? Mail order only? First party specialty stores? What do you guys think?