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Microsoft Corporation (MSFT), GameStop Corp. (GME): This Game is Complex and Risky

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The last few days have been super exciting for gamers across the globe with the announcement of the much awaited Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s Xbox One, as well as the announcement for the launch of the PlayStation 4. Even though Xbox One has been caught in a privacy issue, its functionality and other aspects have been lauded by gaming experts across the board. This could well be the break the gaming industry had been looking for and a window of new opportunities for GameStop Corp. (NYSE:GME), the world’s largest multi-channel video games retailer.

Microsoft Corporation (MSFT)

First quarter: the good and the bad

The results for the first quarter had both high and low points, with the biggest area of concern being a drop of approximately 25% in GameStop Corp. (NYSE:GME)’s net earnings on a year-over-year basis. Total global sales took a hit of 6.8% amidst tough business challenges. Lately, the gaming industry has slowed down because of a lack of newer attractions that could keep customers engaged.

Some good news for investors is a massive growth of 290% in mobile sales. We know mobile is going to be the future, and it is encouraging to see GameStop Corp. (NYSE:GME) already in the league in a big way. The advent of smartphones has led to customers switching from gaming consoles to cheaper and exciting mobile games, and as such have led to hard times for the video games retailer. Hence, a growth of 290% in mobile sales is welcome news for the company.

Another laudable thing was GameStop Corp. (NYSE:GME)’s cost cutting initiatives, which enabled the company to achieve higher margins this quarter compared to last year. GameStop Corp. (NYSE:GME) also increased its market share this quarter, and expanded its gross margin by 100 basis points.

The beginning of new challenges

It’s definitely soothing to see some good things happening, but sadly the challenges are far from over for the company. One of the biggest challenges GameStop faces is around the used games business, which accounts for almost a third of the company’s revenues. The buying and selling of used games is a big component of GameStop Corp. (NYSE:GME)’s business, whereas console manufacturers like Microsoft are inclined towards the sale of new games more than used games. As per reports, Microsoft is expected to charge a fee for used games with the launch of Xbox One, and this will put GameStop in a tight spot as to the pricing of used games, as well its distribution.

However, I am not really confident about Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s pricing strategy for Xbox One at $399, as the high price can easily discourage gamers from buying a new console. Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has packed in a host of new features, including watching TV, into the new console, but since its main audience is gamers, such a high price might not be sustainable.

Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE:BBY) Vs. GameStop Corp. (NYSE:GME)

Being the world’s largest video gaming retailer, GameStop does not face huge competition in the industry–it mainly competes with Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE:BBY). Lately, GameStop has been eating into Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE:BBY)’s market share as the latter has failed to provide a diverse collection of new and used games at competitive prices. Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE:BBY) has been struggling for quite some time to meet investor expectations as a result of fierce competition, high costs, and a limited selection of products.

Even though it reported better than expected results in the first quarter with non-GAAP EPS of $0.32, Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE:BBY) is far from having a positive trajectory. CEO Hubert Joly has done a good job on managing spending and discontinuing unfavorable operations as a move to sustain profitability. Like GameStop, Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE:BBY) is also expecting to ramp up its gaming sales with the launch of new gaming consoles. If Best Buy can capitalize well on these newfound opportunities in the gaming industry, it would provide a fresh breeze during a rough patch.

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