Sony Computer Entertainment is to give PC resellers a crack at the computer game console market with the news that it has signed a distribution deal with Tech Pacific.
The broadline distributor will begin selling PlayStation 2 consoles from November 1, although Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) managing director, Michael Ephraim, said a decision hadn’t been made about whether Tech Pac would also have access to the next generation PSX console when it was released.
The distribution deal is a change of retail strategy for SCE, which traditionally sells direct to consumer retailers such as Harvey Norman. SCE did have distribution deals with several smaller distributors such as Brisbane’s All Interactive Distribution, but they were largely focussed on the rental market, said Ephraim.
“Tech Pac is a much more strategic move into PC shops,” he said.
Sony’s signing of Tech Pac coincides with this month’s launch of online gaming for PS2.
Ephraim said that PS2’s broadband gaming capability was spearheading the home entertainment computing convergence.
“We have 1 million PS2 consoles in homes, more than the number of Foxtel boxes," he said. "Hence we feel now with Tech Pac its time to develop the PC retail market.”
An issue that resellers will need to contend with is the price sensitivity of the PS2 consoles.
While it will be purchasing through a distributor, Tech Pac will compete against mass retailers such as Harvey Norman which buys direct from Sony.
While admitting that “any new distribution channel is competition”, Ephraim said that PC resellers would offer a “completely different kind of solution” than that offered by the mass merchant retailers such as Harvey Norman.
“I think it complements our retail channel,” Ephraim said.
PC shops now had an opportunity to “educate the home user”, he said.
While admitting that “price is one factor”, Ephraim said that resellers would have an opportunity to add value such as technical support and home installation. Mass retailers didn’t do this.
“If you’re not in the market at all, you don’t even get a chance to compete,” he said.
Tech Pacific’s peripheral category manager, Joshua Velling, said the signing by SCE reflected “the big growth Tech Pac is seeing in the digital home space”.
Velling said resellers would have a value offering of local support but admitted that price competition with the mass retailers was also a factor.
“The key is to not to hold stock, but leverage Tech Pacific’s infrastructure,” he said.
The distribution of PS2 consoles would compliment other gaming peripherals already being sold by Tech Pac, including Logitech peripherals and Guillemot Thrustmaster, he said.
The next generation PlayStation, PSX is expected to be on sale in Japan by the end of the year, although Sony has yet to announce release dates for the rest of the world.
The PSX console is a PS2, hard disk and DVD digital video recorder in one.