Take it from 7-Eleven: Today’s average gamer is not a teenage—he’s in his early 30s and most likely a male. That’s good news for the Dallas-based retailer, whose customer base skews heavily toward males between the ages of 18 and 34.
The c-store chain said it’s taking the plunge into video game sales after dabbling in it over the past years with successful Slurpee beverage promotions aimed at top-selling game franchises like Microsoft’s Halo and EA Sport’s Madden. Participating 7-Eleven stores are introducing a lineup of seven of the top videogame titles for sale, as well as one of the most comprehensive selection of prepaid gift cards for another growing gaming phenomenon: Massively Multi-player Online Games, or MMOGs.
"Videogames aren’t just for kids anymore, and they’re not just sold at big box and game stores either," said Michael Jester, 7-Eleven category manager for gaming and electronics. "We can compete with the major players and offer consumers a more convenient place to purchase games and accessories. They can pay a deposit and reserve their copies ahead of time and pick them up starting midnight on the release date at locations closer to their homes."
The video game industry is a $12 billion business that continues to grow. A recent Entertainment Software Association survey found that 65% of American households play computer and video games, with 41% of Americans expecting to purchase one or more games this year. Of the top-selling games, 85% are rated E for "Everyone" and T for "Teen."
"AAA" games are the top-selling, most-anticipated games, many of them sequels that appeal to both serious and casual players. Suggested retail prices are $59.99 for Xbox 360 and PS3 games, $49.99 for Nintendo Wii, and $39.99 for PS2. Some of the games include: Guitar Hero: World Tour-Band Kit; Fallout 3; Quantum of Solace and WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2009
Jester said the game titles aren’t just a holiday promotion—they’ll be available year-round.
Displayed next to the console games will be a broad selection of online game gift cards to make virtual purchases in MMOGs or pay for monthly subscriptions. Played on the Internet, these online games feature at least one virtual world and enable players from around the world to communicate, cooperate and compete with each other.
"MMOGs got their start in Asia, but have gained a worldwide audience of millions," said Brian Haynes, 7-Eleven’s category manager for services. "In November of 2007, 7-Eleven was the first convenience retailer in the U.S. to introduce the Nexon gift card, its first foray into the world of MMOGs."
This year, the number of prepaid game cards available at participating 7-Eleven stores has expanded to approximately 20 different cards in varying denominations. So popular have these prepaid game cards become that 7-Eleven is placing a major focus on this growing segment of the prepaid business this year next. Plus, many of the online MMOGs are "casual," "role-playing" or "experiential" games that attract a higher percentage of female players.
The 7-Eleven prepaid game cards will be sold primarily in denominations of $10 and $25 and many of the cards can be used to make purchases within multiple online games. 7-Eleven and Slurpee have a presence in some games where players can receive a FREE Slurpee Machine to place in their virtual room.
Along with the prepaid MMOG cards, 7-Eleven offers prepaid gift cards for Sony PlayStation Network and Microsoft Xbox Live. Players can use the Xbox and PlayStation gift cards to download new games, and game content and access playable demos of upcoming releases.