Sometime during the post-Christmas holiday season, Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) sold its one millionth PlayStation console to an Australian household. With that staggering 15 per cent loungeroom penetration, the games platform represents a future cash cow for all sorts of retailers keeping those consoles fed with new games and accessories.
According to Michael Ephraim, managing director of SCE Australia, PlayStation is an opportunity not to be ignored by computer retailers and dealers despite muscular competition from mass merchants.
"Mass merchants can't match specialist retailers in other areas," Ephraim said before adding that computer retailers are in as good a position as any to introduce rampant software title development to a huge and hungry market.
"There is no reason to believe the majors will take over the whole business. There is a lot of room for different sorts of retailers," he continued. "I think the demographics we are dealing with at the moment show it is not a niche market anymore. It is a legitimate form of entertainment sitting next to books, music and video."
Ephraim said SCE is expecting to have sold about 585,000 PlayStation consoles to Australians in the 12 months to the end of March (the current Japanese fiscal year) bringing the total to 1.1 million since November 1995.
Ephraim also said games and other software developers have been quick to jump on the bandwagon with close to 500 titles currently available. "That is where the real opportunity is for specialists -- in selling games and accessories," he said.
The stampede will continue throughout this year as new products are released including the movie spin-off "A Bugs Life", "Ridge Racer Type 4" and a new improved controller.
PlayStation had forged ahead of desktop systems as a gaming platform because it is a true plug-and-play technology, Ephraim said. "Our only real competitor is Nintendo, but analysts say we have 70 per cent of the market," he said.
SCE's awesome retail bonanza over Christmas and the New Year also included:
* 125,000 console units going under the mistletoe late in 1998* Nearly $14 million in sales of "Grand Tourismo" in Australia (175,000 at $79.95)* 55,000 copies sold of "Crash Bandicoot - Warped" plus another 25,000 of the original (now platinum) "Crash Bandicoot"* 36,000 copies of "Shane Warne Cricket" sold in December.