Citing growing consumer interest beyond the traditional audience, video game retailer GameStop has announced its top picks for the upcoming holiday season among some 500 titles, sorting audience by area of interest, in a move aimed at simplifying the gift-giving process for a new crop of game purchasers.
For "The Music Enthusiast," GameStop recommends both Activision's Guitar Hero III and MTV Games' Rock Band, declining to back either horse in one of the biggest races of the year's end. For "The Academic Gamer," GameStop's picks among brain training titles are Brain Age, Picross amd My Spanish Coach.
Sidestepping the word "hardcore," GameStop also made recommendations for what it calls "The Avid Gamer," recommending both anticipated and current titles including Halo 3, Call of Duty 4, Bioshock, Crysis, Half-Life 2: The Orange Box, and Unreal Tournament III. The retailer did note that these are all Mature-rated games appropriate for the 17-and-older set.
GameStop highlighted its picks specifically for portable systems, singling out Zelda: Phantom Hourglass for DS and Final Fantasy Tactics for PSP as its top recommendations.
GameStop also stated its staff would be on hand to assist parents by explaining the various ESRB ratings, to which it recommends attention in partnership with the ESRB.
GameStop senior VP of merchandising Bob McKenzie said, "The popularity of casual gaming is growing exponentially. Thanks to advancements like the Nintendo Wii that has moved gamers off the couch and into action, people of all ages are picking up the controls."
[UPDATE: Gamasutra followed up with Chris Olivera, Division Vice President of Corporate Communications at GameStop, who had the following statement on their picks, which are extremely important from a sales perspective to many top publishers:
"Our announcement of hot picks for the holidays is a representation of the hundreds of titles that could be on wish lists this upcoming holiday season. As always, one of the best ways for gift-givers to determine what is best, is to visit a local store GameStop and speak directly with a sales associate to determine the best game for an individual household."
Olivera also noted, particularly referencing a connection with the ESRB over some of the Mature-rated titles: "The communication that we released today is the second year in a row that we have suggested hot picks. Likewise, it is the second year in a row that we have partnered with the ESRB during the holidays to promote ratings education, including in-store signage, public service announcements, and training for associates on our corporate policy to not sell M-rated games to anyone under 17."]