NEWS - Sunday, June 20, 2004

Ingram Secures Exclusivity for Xbox Products

Distribution giant Ingram Micro’s Xtreme video game unit has extended its distribution deal with Microsoft Canada for the Xbox video game system in a deal which has seen Ingram named master distributor for all Xbox products. From now through June of 2009, Ingram will serve as master distributor, meaning that all of Xbox products sold at retail in Canada, and other Ingram distributors, including Hip Interactive and Hartco, will purchase through Ingram. "By having a master distributor, Microsoft has one set of inventory in the country, and no other distributors," said Lang Moffatt, head of the Xtreme division. "It’s good for the other video game distribution people too, because they can turn inventory quicker because it’s all in one location." The distributor has also added on other fronts recently, including a deal to see game publishing giant Ubisoft shipping all of its games through Ingram starting next month. It also has THQ on board for all retail partners in Canada. Moffatt credits the unit’s success with its sole focus on gaming, to the point where employees of the division are all heavy gamers themselves. "We’re not just moving widgets, we’re passionate about games as well," he said. "We have people who love gaming and who are great business people, so they can talk to the 12-year-old or to the 60-year-old, and they can talk it, they understand it, they have the passion. No one else in Canada has that." The video gaming market is exploding, having last year beat out Hollywood in terms of entertainment dollars spent for the first time. And according to Moffatt, there’s still more to come as online gaming continues its broadband migration from the PC to the gaming console. He expects this fall’s eagerly- anticipated launch of Microsoft’s Halo 2, sequel to the first-person shooter that largely launched the Xbox, will help drive demand for Microsoft’s Xbox Live online service. The other big driver for home online gaming is of course wireless, simply because of the ease of installation it brings along. The arrival of wireless adapters that make it easier to get gaming consoles on the Internet will be a major boon to the online gaming market, and will likely represent the maturing of the console on the home network. "As home networking goes in the next 10 years, so will go gaming," predicted Moffatt. "Gaming is really gaining viability in the entertainment marketplace."


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