Game On

Take it from 7-Eleven: Today’s average gamer is not a teenager – 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.

This month, participating 7-Eleven stores are introducing a line-up 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 (12 am) 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.

7-Eleven said these game titles – predicted to be the hottest sellers this holiday season – are available at its stores while supplies last:

  • Guitar Hero: World Tour-Band Kit (Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 2, Nintendo Wii)
  • Fallout 3 (Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony PS3, personal computer or PC)
  • World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King (MMOG available on PC only)
  • 007: Quantum of Solace (Xbox 360, PS3 and PS2)
  • Gears of War 2 (exclusive to Xbox 360)
  • WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2009 (Xbox 360, Sony PS3 and PS 2)
  • Call of Duty: World at War (Xbox 360, PS3)

    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 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.

    While most games are free to play, players can use microtransactions, an innovative cash-shop system that allows payments of as little as a quarter for a virtual item, to make purchases to individualize their characters and create unique identities.

    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 card line-up includes Nexon, Habbo, Gaia, Guild Wars, gPotato, Runescape, Aeria, City of Heroes, Exteel, ijji, IMVU, Neopets and Sims2 prepaid game cards. Sold primarily in denominations of $10 and $25, 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 the two biggest game platforms – 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.

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