Retail Solutions Briefs: Microsoft, Tandy, Games

Retail Solutions Briefs: Microsoft, Tandy, Games

MS acquires games maker

Microsoft said it would acquire Ensemble Studios, a leading US PC games maker, as it continues its foray into the gaming industry. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Privately held Ensemble Studios has had a long relationship with Microsoft, and has used the software giant as its sole publisher since the games company was founded six years ago. While Ensemble Studios has focused on the PC market, the acquisition will give the company the financial backing to expand its development into online video games and other areas, including the Xbox, Microsoft's next-generation video-game console, according to Brian Moon, chief financial officer.

The acquisition marks Microsoft's fifth purchase of a games maker in the past two years, including FASA Interactive, Access Software, Digital Anvil and Bungie Software Products.

Tandy's Web site scores dandy e-tailing ratingGlobal Reviews has rated Tandy's new Web site the number one electronics and IT e-tailer, ahead of players such as dstore, Harvey Norman and Dick Smith Electronics.

The site was also ranked equal fourth in the top overall e-tailing category, with a score of 89 out of 100. Tandy online scored four out of a possible five for usability and customer service, 4.5 for security, product and content, and 3.5 in the fulfillment sales pump despite recession fearsRetail sales in the PC and console games sector for March was up 17 per cent on February, according to latest figures from Inform.

"This means that 2001 YTD sales are currently 14 per cent greater than at the same point last year," said Inform's research manager, Phil Burnham.

The Dreamcast was the only format to see its game sales fall - down 19 per cent. This leaves it with just over 3000 units sold during the month. Shipments for the Game Boy increased 40 per cent, thanks to Nintendo's offer of free Game Boy-related merchandise with a selection of its titles.

PlayStation and PS2 games lost some market share, even though both consoles had positive growth on the previous month. According to Inform, the tie-in rate for games to console for the PS2 has increased to 2:1 from December's ratio of 1:1.5.

In hardware, Sony's PSOne accounted for 48 per cent of consoles sold. The PS2 also increased its share, by 1 per cent to 13 per cent.

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