So far so good for videogame retailer GameStop's (GME) first venture into the world of virtual reality.
"We saw tremendous demand, and in fact right now many of our stores will be sold out of the first wave of Sony's (SNE) Playstation VR by tonight -- we are working with them to try and get more product," GameStop COO Tony Bartel told TheStreet in a phone interview.
GameStop opened at midnight at more than 1,600 of its 4,400 stores across the country to sell the entry level Playstation VR bundle, which costs $399 and includes goggles, cables, stereo headphones, and a demo disc with 18 games. For $499, GameStop offered the Playstation VR Launch Bundle that also included two Playstation motion controllers, a Playstation camera and a dose of extra content. In total, eight physical games such as Batman: Arkham from Warner Bros. were available on launch day.
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Smiles before the trials!! Come to the midnight release of the Playstation VR at Gamestop (: try it out today! . . . . #playstationvr #virtualreality #midnightrelease #gamestop #playstation #ps4 #batmanvr #icantfreakingwait #nerdingout #canitbemidnightalready
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Bartel, who was at a New York City GameStop from 10:00 p.m. to around midnight to checkout the launch, expects some 50 more games for the Playstation VR to debut between now and Christmas.
Sony's PlayStation VR device is tied to some 46 million PlayStation 4 consoles that are already in homes globally. Its debut comes amid mixed sales forecasts this year for often hyped virtual reality goggles, in large part due to their lofty price and consumers not seeing a need for them just yet.
SuperData Research forecasts Sony could sell 2.6 million Playstation VR headsets this year. In contrast, Samsung's $100 Gear VR, which works with its Galaxy phones, is forecast to generate about 2.3 million in unit sales. SuperData Research predicts Facebook (FB) will sell 360,000 Oculus Rifts, HTC will move 420,000 Vives and Google (Alphabet) (GOOG) will sell 450,000 of its new $80 Daydreams in 2016.
The view from inside a virtual world, compliments of Playstation VR.
Says Bartel on the murmurs of tepid uptake for the new hardware, "Slow adoption has been driven more by supply than demand, you don't see a lot of product sitting on the shelves - I liken virtual reality to the internet back when it was a novelty, but then all of a sudden you tried it and then people figured out ways to use it." SuperData Research forecasts by 2020 that virtual reality gaming will account for $9 billion and non-gaming VR will exceed $31 billion across all platforms.
Nevertheless, the arrival of Playstation VR and its various accessories could provide a badly needed lift to GameStop's business this holiday season and into next year.
Gamestop's second quarter same-store sales plunged 10.6% due to a lack of new must-have videogames. Earnings declined 12.9% from the prior year to 27 cents a share. For the full year, Gamestop sees same-store sales declining in a range of 1.5% to 4.5%. Earnings are pegged between $3.90 a share to $4.05 a share compared to $3.90 a share last year.
Shares have lost about 10% this year, lagging the S&P 500's 5% gain.