Thursday, July 19, 2007

Supply and Demand

All this talk about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows leaking online reminds me of the record number of 12 million copies for its first pressing. Feeling 98% sure I will find plentiful copies at the Borders near my favorite Saturday lunchtime spot this weekend, I think about supply and demand. Scholastic knows how wide the reach of the series is and chances are very good this first pressing will sell out in a few days. Seeing how well this stuff sells (and keeps on selling well), I wonder about other mass appeal products. Especially one where the demand almost always greatly outweighs the supply: video game consoles.

During my time as a "media specialist" at Best Buy, I experienced months and months of being asked about the availability of GoldenEye, PlayStation 2 and GameBoy Advance. When I heard about similar availability issues with X-Box, X-Box 360, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii, I wondered when the console industry would get their act straight. What am I missing here folks?

I understand assembling and shipping a video game console requires more parts and labor than printing a 700-page book, but the large demand is pretty much given with any new console. Kids, teenagers and adults want to play these things and are willing to drop hundreds of dollars to get them right away. And it's not like the demand withers away after the first week of sale. Plenty of people still want a Wii, but the chances of there being one at their local retail outlet is iffy.

Aren't gamers annoyed and put off by this? For me, I'm still very satisfied with PlayStation 2 and enjoy playing Wii Sports on Jason's Wii. I'm not studying up on the latest gadgetry or games, but I still like playing video games in general. If I was really into getting stuff on the day of release, I'd be twice shy when the next big thing came out.

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