Will Amazon Hurt Microsoft, Sony, and GameStop?

Amazon's Fire TV is flexing its gaming muscles.

Apr 3, 2014 at 10:00AM

Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) is putting on its game face. One of the neat features of yesterday's Fire TV unveiling is that it will also serve as a gaming console. Amazon spent a fair amount of time during yesterday's media event to show off the games -- both in-house releases as well as diversions from leading developers -- that can be played through the new set-top device.

Amazon isn't simply phoning it in here. There are more than 100 free or nearly free games now, and it expects thousands of titles to be available before long. The modest remote doesn't have a lot of buttons, but Amazon's got gamers covered. It also introduced a $39 video game controller that die-hard gamers can use to play Fire TV games with a more familiar form factor. 

Are we at the point where traditional gaming platforms and retailers should start to get worried? Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Sony (NYSE:SNE) have sold millions of their new consoles since November's launch of the Xbox One and PS4. GameStop (NYSE:GME) is coming off a holiday quarter where strong console sales paved the way to robust same-store sales growth. It doesn't seem likely that a $99 set-top media player running on a tweaked version of Android could be much of a threat to traditional gaming. Where's the optical disc drive to hold the chunky game files? Where's the storage capacity? Where's the live network for intense multiplayer engagement?

Fire TV obviously isn't perfect. It has a long way to go to gain street cred with gamers that will see the first batch of games as little more than glorified apps. However, let's not write off Android's chances of becoming a viable gaming platform outside of casual and social titles. There are already a few Android-based gaming devices on the market. Ouya, G-Box, and others have been on the market at similar price points to Fire TV, and there are also a couple of handheld Android systems. The one thing keeping Android-based video games from going mainstream outside of tablets and smartphones is the awareness that Amazon will bring to the table.

GameStop should be worried. Amazon's counting on digital delivery to sell Fire TV diversions, sidestepping the physical stores and the eventual trade-in of pre-owned software that drive a sizable chunk of GameStop's profits. Microsoft and Sony should be worried, too. Fire TV games may never be as engrossing as full-blown console titles, but Amazon revealed yesterday that the average price for a game at launch is a mere $1.85. This is the kind of pricing that disrupts the perceived value of games in general, limiting the appeal of $60 disc-based releases for Microsoft and Sony.

The key here is naturally market penetration. Fire TV is going to be popular, but will it sell millions or tens of millions? The bigger it gets, the wider the developer support will be to put out games that will improve in quality over time. 

You can't blame Amazon for giving Fire TV a surprisingly large role in the realm of gaming. Microsoft and Sony spent a lot of time during the Xbox and PlayStation unveiling presentations showing off their TV viewing features. Set-top devices truly are multimedia devices, and that's why Fire TV streams music, plays photo slideshows, and serves up games. It's not just about the video.

Amazon's coming for you, video game industry.

Your cable company is scared, but you can get rich
You know cable's going away. But do you know how to profit? There's $2.2 trillion out there to be had. Currently, cable grabs a big piece of it. That won't last. And when cable falters, three companies are poised to benefit. Click here for their names. Hint: They're not Netflix, Google, and Apple.


Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Amazon.com. It also owns shares of GameStop and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Money to your ears - A great FREE investing resource for you

The best way to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as “binge-worthy finance.”

Feb 1, 2016 at 5:03PM

Whether we're in the midst of earnings season or riding out the market's lulls, you want to know the best strategies for your money.

And you'll want to go beyond the hype of screaming TV personalities, fear-mongering ads, and "analysis" from people who might have your email address ... but no track record of success.

In short, you want a voice of reason you can count on.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich," rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

And one of the easiest, most enjoyable, most valuable ways to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as "binge-worthy finance."

Whether you make it part of your daily commute or you save up and listen to a handful of episodes for your 50-mile bike rides or long soaks in a bubble bath (or both!), the podcasts make sense of your money.

And unlike so many who want to make the subjects of personal finance and investing complicated and scary, our podcasts are clear, insightful, and (yes, it's true) fun.

Our free suite of podcasts

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. The show is also heard weekly on dozens of radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers are timeless, so it's worth going back to and listening from the very start; the other three are focused more on today's events, so listen to the most recent first.

All are available for free at www.fool.com/podcasts.

If you're looking for a friendly voice ... with great advice on how to make the most of your money ... from a business with a lengthy track record of success ... in clear, compelling language ... I encourage you to give a listen to our free podcasts.

Head to www.fool.com/podcasts, give them a spin, and you can subscribe there (at iTunes, Stitcher, or our other partners) if you want to receive them regularly.

It's money to your ears.


Compare Brokers