GameStop: Preorders Are Down Overall, But That's Not A Reason to Worry

Gamers are still uncertain of what platform they want to play on, retailer says; but it doesn't matter much, because actual sales are up.

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During a post-earnings financial call today, GameStop president Tony Bartel acknowledged that preorders overall are down, but said this is nothing to worry about. That's because the downward trend in preorders doesn't equal lower overall sales. In fact, total sales are up, as evidenced in GameStop's latest rosy sales report for the latest quarter that saw software sales rise 15.6 percent.

So what's causing the downturn in preorders? According to Bartel, some consumers are still undecided about about which platform they want to play on, and so they won't take the time to reserve a game. You can understand why gamers might have a hard time making up their minds, as many multiplatform titles are often available on two generations of competitng platforms (Xbox 360/Xbox One and PS3/PS4).

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"They are down from what we've seen in the past, we think for a couple of reasons," Bartel said about preorder figures. "One, we think people are still debating what console they're going to buy the game on. And so, what we have seen, is just because our pre-sales are down, it does not mean that are actual sales are down. And as [GameStop executive vice president Mike Hogan] shared, [sales] are actually over-performing on all of the launches on Xbox One and PS4. So that's a trend we're continuing to see."

In the short-term, Bartel said GameStop has seen a "significant increase" in preorders for recent game announcements (none were named outright), but this jump was not enough to stem the overall dip.

Also during the call, Bartel said preorders remain the best indicator of future sales. "So even though presales are down a bit, we still believe they are the best barometer in the industry of what a game's actual demand will be. It's just that we have to buy a lot more relative to our pre-sales than what we've had to do in the past," he said.

This goes against what Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg said last month, when he claimed that preorders are no longer the most effective tool with which to measure future sales, according to a report from GamesIndustry International. For his part, Hirshberg argues that general awareness and purchase intent measured in other ways are becoming more and more important.

Do you find yourself preordering fewer games but still buying as many as you normally would? Let us know in the comments below!

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