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Tales from the Trenches

The Big Retail Score

I ran an independent game store in a mid-size town and was doing fairly well.  We opened up with an imported N64 (the first in town); we rented out a Neo Geo CD system; we had arcade machines along the back wall, and we just happened to be at our peak when Final Fantasy VII came out.

Now we had a long history of selling Final Fantasy games, we had a serious core customer group who relied on us for their RPG fix.  FFVII was going to be massive, and we had dollar signs in our eyes when we placed our pre-order for 125 copies.  This was the biggest order for a single game we ever placed, by far.

We were stunned when, in an industry where ordering 20 means you get four, we got our entire order.  One hundred and twenty five copies, it was a huge deal for us.  We had pre-orders for everyone, and a waiting list as well.  And at twelve dollars profit per copy, we were expecting a pretty decent week.

And then Wal Mart dropped the retail price to below our cost.  We sold 125 copies of the game at a dollar loss, then cleaned out Wal Mart and sold 40 more with the slimmest of profit, matching the other big retailers.  The biggest game launch in our four year history, and we didn’t even make fifty bucks.