Xbox One Sees Strong Early Demand

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Microsoft's (MSFT) Xbox One game console was officially released Friday and it seems like all the hype and promotion has started to pay off. After a quick sampling of local retailers, we can report early sales of the new game/entertainment system are brisk, to say the least.

The Xbox One is Microsoft's third-generation gaming console featuring upgraded hardware and software as well as a suggested retail price of $500. Microsoft designed the device function as the basis for a whole home entertainment system able to control everything from watching TV and movies to playing interactive games.

Mega-retailer Toys 'R' Us began selling the Xbox One at midnight in its Times Square flagship store, offering special events in addition to the prized product. Although actual totals are still being tallied, corporate spokeswoman Nicole Hayes said there were hundreds of people who waited in a very long line for their chance to be first to buy the device. That line reportedly stretched all the way around to West 45th Street from Broadway.

Toys 'R' Us rewarded each person on the line with a special "goody bag" containing two free games and a six-month subscription to Xbox Live services. When the store opened, those first-nighters were offered the rare "Day One" edition of the new Xbox. Other Toys 'R' Us outlets began selling the consoles Friday morning.

The national GameStop (GME) chain of video game shops has a large number of locations in the area.. One downtown branch and another in Rockefeller Plaza were too busy to pick up the phone. An Upper West Side store did pick up but hung up shortly thereafter without saying a word.

Finally we found one location where a worker answered the phone and recited a prepared short statement hawking the new Xbox. When I asked about actual sales he instructed me to contact the corporate office for an official comment. In the background I could hear what sounded like Grand Central Station during rush hour. They were swamped. We're now waiting to hear back from the corporate public relations department with a more definitive statement.

J&R, the block-long Park Row stores near City Hall opened its doors at 10 a.m. There too a call to the showroom sales staff resulted in a "not now - too busy" response before the line went dead.

As for online sales, Amazon.com (AMZN) always makes it a practice of not releasing actual sales numbers. But a morning check of the Amazon Web site showed the Xbox as being "out of stock." Amazon asks customers to sign-up and be notified when the consoles become available once again.

-- Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

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