Sozzi: Are These the Next Videogame Blockbusters?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Each month, videogame sales are reported by various third-parties. This year the data has been especially fun to track as the Sony (SNE) Playstation 4 and Microsoft (MSFT) Xbox One are the newbie consoles on the market,  pitched as living room entertainment hubs by the folks at Sony, Microsoft, and Best Buy (BBY) stores. For March, hardware sales spiked 78% year over year, and thus far for the five months of availability of the new consoles, sales have risen 60% compared to the same point in the demand cycle for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.

Unfortunately, I have some blunt truth to share with the number crunchers: this industry data basically tells you nothing regarding the next major hardware trends or games in the industry that could cause shares of Electronic Arts (EA) and Activision Blizzard (ATVI) to pop or drop, or bring GameStop (GME) much closer to the grave in the age of increasingly streaming everything.

To get the true pulse of the videogame market you have to search in obscure places. Here are four things that could be hot topics in short order:

Game pre-loading: mostly for intense gamers, and available only on the Playstation 4 (for now, an update to the Xbox One will likely bring with it a pre-loading option), a game could be bought and downloaded from a digital store ahead of its official release. The title stays locked until it launches for the masses, but pre-loading saves the avid gamer precious hours of download time. The benefit to game publishers Electronic Arts, Activision Blizzard, Ubisoft, and others is that they receive improved early reads on demand, can tweak marketing if need be, and build in promos to download further content for those that opted to pre-load. Obviously this is bad news for GameStop, less so for Best Buy as it has substantially reduced floor space for videogames, in their place installing shops from Sony, Samsung, Google (GOOG), and Apple (AAPL).

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