We approached the gaming section and looked for the obligatory GTA IV POS and was shocked when we found none – not even in the chart shelves for pre-order or on any ‘coming soon’ displays.
The sales advisor told us there was a GTA IV Gift Card available for purchase with a minimum deposit of £5 to pre-order, which could be redeemed later. There were no incentives to persuade me to pre-order, just the assurance of the game on April 29th.
The store representative was clearly a Sony PlayStation 3 fan, claiming that “with the PS3 you are future-proofing your console.”
He added: “There will be no differences in the game between consoles. But you’ll find that the consoles are good for certain things, the PS3 is great for racing games like GT5 and the Xbox 360 is better for Tom Clancy-style games.”
Overall, the gaming section and product knowledge was average.
On approaching the store we were immediately hit with a wall of POS pushing Mario Kart Wii, GT5 and GTA IV. There was also a gondola filled with GTA IV pre-order dummy boxes.
However, this enthusiastic invite seemed to be outdated as our sales advisor said that GAME had sold out of its 700-strong allocation. The split was a clear win for Xbox 360, with 500 pre-orders and just 200 for PS3.
When asked which console was better for playing GTA, the PS3 was considered ‘the higher spec model.’ However, he concluded that “for pure gaming the Xbox 360 wins. Microsoft has the advantage, it’s much easier to use and will be better for multiplayer in GTA IV.”
The sales rep added that there might be a midnight launch for the game, and that it would definitely be a busy night. We also asked if there were any pre-order incentives, but were told that no more pre-orders are being taken and that we should visit their ‘partner store’ Gamestation.
He couldn’t tell us what hardware bundles were available either, as they wouldn’t go live until after the launch.
As we walked over to the gaming section in this large PC World store, we found plenty of POS for the impending release of the year’s big car-jacking sequel.
Unfortunately, asking in-store got us nowhere. The sales advisor didn’t seem to know what GTA IV was, let alone the pre-order procedure or platform benefits. She asked a colleague who was similarly baffled.
This was hardly confidence inspiring – we continued on by asking if they would recommend a platform, at which point a visiting rep for another company started to help the bewildered sales advisor and offered some advice.
Realising that we weren’t going to get any real advice from a PC World employee we made our excuses and left the store.
While the release of Grand Theft Auto IV is big enough for the company to justify its own shelf stripping, it clearly isn’t a big deal to the multi-specialist sales advisors.
Like GAME, there was a lot of promotional material encouraging gamers to pre-order GTA IV. Anyone pre-ordering the Xbox 360 format would be rewarded with 500 Xbox points and four exclusive Gamer pics.
Despite some great incentives to plump for 360, the sales advisor said that the pre-order allocation had been reached, before adding that the store was planning a midnight launch and that they often had a few copies spare.
Pre-orders had been an even split across both consoles, but the store assistant recommended the PlayStation 3 saying: “The PS3 has so much further potential, the Xbox 360 has reached its peak”
However, he did mention Xbox 360’s exclusive downloadable content, but added: “It’s probably a timed exclusive and it’s inevitable that the PlayStation 3 will get the content at some point in the future.”
Click here to read the second part of this feature.