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Friday, October 13, 2006


By William Trent, CFA of Stock Market Beat

Reuters reports:
Electronic Arts Inc. (ERTS), the world’s biggest video game publisher, sees a good holiday season ahead and expects the $30 billion industry will be “off to the races” next year as consumers snap up new game consoles, including Sony Corp.’s (SNE) anticipated PlayStation 3.

Of course, good luck getting your hands on one of those. Due to production problems we have detailed extensively, Sony is only releasing a limited number of units in the US and Japan - and many of those have already been claimed.

GameStop and EB Games stores are going to start accepting pre-orders for Sony’s PlayStation 3 game console this morning. Due to “extremely limited supply,” the stores expect their allocations of what is perhaps the holiday’s season’s most eagerly anticipated gadget to run out in minutes. I managed to make it up to GameStop at 9:40am and was able to reserve a premium PS3 by being the fourth and last order taken!

A $100 deposit is required for each order, but even that won’t guarantee that a PlayStation 3 will be available when the console goes on sale on Nov. 17.

Because of the delays, only a limited number of games will be available, leaving many to think that Sony will be the number-three console this holiday season (after years in the top spot.) The Reuters article notes that Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) rolled out its Xbox 360 console about a year ago and expects to have shipped 10 million units into the market by year end, and GamaSutra notes:
In a new research note, Wedbush Morgan’s Michael Pachter has predicted that Wii game sales will be double those of the PlayStation 3 in North America this holiday season, based on hardware sales that are also almost double as strong for Wii.

With consoles heavily subsidized, the gainers in the reheated battle would most likely be the electronics retailers and gaming software firms such as Electronic Arts and Activision (ATVI.)

The author may hold a position in the securities discussed. A current list of the author's holdings is available here.

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