Future Shop, Best Buy’s videogame promotion designed to build buzz

There is probably a whole lot of copies of 2010′s NHL 10 and 2011′s Madden NFL 11 on Future Shop and Best Buy shelves today following a weekend promotion that delighted gamers but mystified industry observers. The promotion invited gamers to trade in a current-generation console game of any vintage for one of three hot […]

There is probably a whole lot of copies of 2010′s NHL 10 and 2011′s Madden NFL 11 on Future Shop and Best Buy shelves today following a weekend promotion that delighted gamers but mystified industry observers.

The promotion invited gamers to trade in a current-generation console game of any vintage for one of three hot new titles: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Battlefield 4 or the 10th iteration of the Call of Duty franchise, Call of Duty: Ghosts.

In other words, the promotion invited shoppers to trade in one game with a potential value of almost $0 for a new game valued at $59.99. It led to pandemonium at Best Buy and Future Shop stores across the country, with lineups stretching out the door at many stores. Some stores reported that they were sold out of all three titles within 45 minutes.

“I would stack this type of promotion right next to what you would see at Boxing Day,” Elliott Chun, communications manager for Future Shop in Burnaby, B.C., told Marketing on Monday.

Chun said that the electronics retailer’s gaming division conceived the promotion in order to generate buzz for what some are calling the biggest month in gaming history.

The next two weeks will see the launch of two new gaming consoles, Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PlayStation 4, as well as a spate of highly anticipated titles including the three included in the promotion.

“We knew that going into this weekend there was a lot of buzz both for consoles and for new game titles,” said Chun. “It’s not a coincidence that these three titles were part of this offer, because we knew they were top-of-mind with our customers.

“We saw an opportunity with all this gaming buzz in the month of November to offer an unprecedented deal,” he added. “If you asked gamers out there, they’ve probably never heard of such a good deal.”

Chun said that the promotion was also developed to create greater awareness of Future Shop’s used gaming business, which launched in 2008 but is not widely known among customers. “It’s safe to say that after this weekend it’s certainly on the map,” said Chun.

He couldn’t say how many of the three games were distributed at the 139 Future Shop stores, but said there were reports that a lot of stores had sold out despite having a “healthy inventory” of the new titles. Chun predicted that most stores would be sold out by the time the promotion formally ended on Monday.

But Chun said that any outlay was surpassed by the awareness the promotion generated. It lit up social media on Saturday, and also generated extensive coverage from major media outlets.

“You can be assured that the team that put this together did think those things through,” said Chun. “We see tremendous value in terms of putting our used gaming category on the map, and more importantly putting our business on the map for the holiday period. Just the awareness play for our category at this time of the year was very important for us.”

Future Shop is also readying a major ad blitz for the new consoles, which formally debut with the PlayStation 4 this week. The store will have midnight openings in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton on Friday, and will open at 8 a.m. instead of its usual 10 a.m. on Friday. Most stores will also open at midnight on Nov. 22 for the Xbox One launch.

Chun said that pre-orders for both new consoles have “exceeded expectations,” but some stores will also carry between 25 and 250 of the PlayStation 4 on the launch date. Former Saturday Night Live star Chris Kattan will also be at Future Shop’s flagship store in downtown Toronto for the PlayStation 4 launch this week in a PR initiative developed by Citizen Optimum.

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