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Was Black Friday a good thing?

PlayStation UK and Ireland boss Fergal Gara discusses the recent pre-Christmas sales bonanza and the 20th anniversary of PlayStation…

Well what an amazing couple of weeks for the games industry.

It’s almost exactly one year since the launch of two new consoles and perhaps, all across the industry, we were preparing for big year-on-year negatives given the phenomenal day one launch volumes generated 12 months ago. Instead, this year saw a new phenomenon for retail to drive huge business, delivering growth for the software market and massive boost for hardware sales across the board.

So another American import, Black Friday, has truly arrived in the UK and has delivered its first major impact on the games market. Followed then by Cyber Monday, both have shown that consumer appetite is strong and that a big call to action can have an amazing stimulus effect.

We have Amazon to thank for first introducing Black Friday to the UK in 2010 and then Asda for bringing the phenomenon to physical retail in 2013. By 2014, it’s hard to think of a retail multiple in any category who did not get behind the event. The results were spectacular in many ways – big sales, a huge market boost and a welcome dose of optimism for the key December weeks to come.

However, there is still much to deliberate on… Is it really a good thing? Many shops had to close with security risks to stores, staff and customers alike. At times, functioning websites seemed a rarity… And now, as an industry, we are trying to work out if December will be bigger or smaller as a result? Have sales been pulled forward or have we ignited a fantastic month to come? Only time can truly answer that question.

There’s also the key question of margin to consider. Delivering a high proportion of sales at rock bottom margin may weigh heavy on retail and publisher P&Ls as our respective year ends draw to a close. If Black Friday is indeed named after the day when retailers should turn a profit for the year, it will be interesting to see just how much ‘Black’ was actually generated.

20 YEARS OF PLAYSTATION

So, from one major anniversary to another, I have the honour of writing for MCV as PlayStation continues to celebrate its landmark 20th birthday. Although I was not directly involved in the business at the time, I am not alone in thinking that the launch of PlayStation in Japan on December 3rd 1994 was a key moment for this fantastic industry we all work and thrive in.

[PlayStation boss] Andy House has just announced an original PlayStation-inspired PS4, manufactured in limited numbers, but getting an amazing response from PlayStation fans across the globe. A fitting tribute to a formative console and a great 20 years.

We decided to follow up Black Friday with Original Grey Wednesday this week where some genuine PlayStation players were able to get hold of this extremely rare PS4 20th Anniversary Edition console for a startling 19.94.

Now we start to work with our partners at retail to again offer a small number of these consoles to the cognoscenti.

It just remains for me to wish you all a very successful last few weeks of 2014. There should be plenty of scope for all to prosper and, hopefully, Black Friday has proven to be a market boost and not a substitute for a great December.

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