Navigating the Console Wars

Too many choices can get complicated

From the start at LAN Mob we've tried to accommodate all gamers, including console gamers, PC gamers and the new breed VR gamers. This has meant investment in a lot of different types of hardware and tough decisions on which games to provide. It's one of the harder parts of running LAN Mob to predict what games will be popular and get play, something we often get wrong by either underspending or overspending in different areas.

Having options is always nice, but sometimes too many options can cause issues. It can be confusing for our customers why we'll carry Injustice 2 and Street Fighter V only on certain PS4s, and the latest CoD DLC only on XBones.  We're also stretching our video game budget thin trying to support all three major platforms, which means we have to pass on some games we really like. Simplifying the variety of systems would allow us to better focus on what matters most: good, quality games.

So we're entering a year-long process of transforming our shop to offer more focused, simplified options. We would love to make this change overnight, but the industry remains in constant flux. The Nintendo Switch and PS4 Pro were both released in the last six months, and Xbox Scorpio and augmented reality headset are arriving later this fall, as well as the emergence of VR in the gaming space.  So we're feeling our way through all the changes but have a rough idea of where we're heading.  Here is our hardware breakdown starting with in order of ascending popularity:

Nintendo Wii-U

Outside of a lot of Super Smash Bros 4 play the Wiis haven't seen much use. We currently carry 3 and they mostly collect dust, but sometimes find a niche with younger gamers.  Game support is mostly ending with the Switch now out, but due to the popularity of Smash we'll be keeping three of these around the shop at various locations and one at the retro gaming area, but this is not a system we plan to purchase any more games for!

Nintendo Switch

It's a neat little system, but game releases have been lagging. Zelda: Breath of the Wild is generally considered to be the front runner game of the year at this point, and 1-2 Switch has led to a lot of fun interactions at the shop.  We only carry one Switch and don't really plan to add more at this time, although the ARMS release could change things.  This awesome little machine will likely be making its way to the retro area as a family-oriented console, and we'll continue with very limited game support - we picked up Mario Kart just last weekend!

XBox One

We've had some success with our six Xbox Ones, but it's also our most heavily invested amongst the consoles in terms of games. For example we purchased six copies of the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare / Modern Warfare Remastered digital download which included a year's worth of DLC, while investing 0 in our PS4 CoD offering.  Consumers and publishers have followed a different road, and it's grown difficult from a business perspective for us to continue to support the Xbox platform. The Scorpio release may change things but as it stands right now we're giving serious consideration to ending our Xbox support in shop and converting over to a PS4 exclusive store.

Playstation 4

Playstation is winning the battle when it comes to high-end gaming. Playstation boasts a much larger install base, many more exclusive titles/early release DLC, and has become the platform of choice for most eSports events from Call of Duty to Street Fighter. The PS Pro was the first to introduce 4K Gaming at the console level, and the PSVR also the first to bring VR gaming to consoles. We'll be watching E3 anxiously for announcements from all console players but as it stands right now, we're prepared to make the leap to having PS4 as our primary supported gaming console. This will allow us to focus our gaming budget on providing more good quality games to our customers, and support larger eSports events from local tournaments to future WAN events. Look to our PS4s to begin to take more of a center-stage at our shop, and the introduction of 4K setups sometime in the near future.

Virtual Reality

We carry both the HTC Vive and PSVR, and have invested heavily in our game library for the former. This Vive hasn't been accessible due to a higher price and the wall separating our VR side from store side, but this wall is opening up soon and prices will be coming down. It really is a neat piece of hardware that's been underutilized and we're looking forward to the remodel bringing this back to the forefront. The PSVR is also an option, although we've found the headset tracking is not as great as what the Vive can offer, and full room VR is just not an option with the PSVR. We're still investing in the occasional PSVR title to try to grow the library of offerings but plan to make the HTC Vive our premier VR headset.

Gaming Personal Computer (PC)

Our PCs have been hot commodities and we continue to invest money into new games such as PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BattleGrounds and ShellShock Live!, with upgraded/improved cafe software and a new coins system for rewarding customer play. We've frequently sold out of PCs on busy nights and will look to scale up and add more PCs and games in the coming months. As gaming goes around our shop PCs are reigning king of the center.

The Future

Again everything is subject to change as we don't know what we don't know regarding the big three gaming platforms, but pulling everything together our future store looks to be PC-heavy, with the center of the shop focused on Playstation 4 consoles, a decent VR selection and a retro area with a variety of systems to try, including the more recent Xbox One, Nintendo Wii-U, and Nintendo Switch.

We appreciate everyone being patient while we move through this transitory time and better situate our business to serve gamers demands!
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