Here at Consumer Electronics Show, the video games designers shudder when they walk by the Kandy Man. There, but for the grace of God and a fickle public, go they.
For every video game hit that turns a pimply 20-year-old into an instant millionaire, there are half a dozen games that couldn't trip the video fantastic. For them, the Kandy Man can if the price is right.
Just as fad diet books and first novels eventually are remaindered for $1.98, video games finally have found their seller of last resort.
"We're going to be the low-end video game supplier," said Bill McCarthy, vice president of purchasing for Kandy Man Sales Inc. of Wichita, Kan. Kandy Man has picked up the domestic distribtuiton rights for games from Data Age and U.S. Games, two companies that recently went belly up, and has picked up assorted titles from other cartridge suppliers.
"We already own 4.5 million cartridges," McCarthy boasted, and he insisted that "we're not in a closeout situation--we're going to be producing our own games."
The idea is to retail these games at between $5.99 and $9.99--far less expensive than most of the games now sold, he said. By keeping overhead low and acquiring more product, McCarthy said his company can capture a lot of dollars from consumers who literally want a cheap thrill from their games machines.
In addition to being an aspiring video games company, Kandy Man garners $30 million a year in revenues by disposing inventory for companies in fields as diverse as bicycles and photographic equipment. McCarthy is confident that his new business will mushroom as more and more video games companies are shaken out of the business by the intense competition.
Many industry observers believe there already is a glut of video games and video game companies in the market. Either failed companies or failed products will feed the Kandy Man.
"We already have 24 titles," he said. "By the January show, we'll have 50."
Major games companies such as Atari and Imagic have had inventory problems, but Kandy Man has yet to secure them as suppliers. McCarthy is very optimistic, however. He said that Kandy Man even plans a media campaign to promote one of its newly acquired games, Frankenstein's Monster.
Games designers generally are unimpressed by Kandy Man's offerings. "Those games belong there," one designer confided.
McCarthy waved that off. "This is the last straw for a lot of these companies," he said. "This is a terrific show; I'm doing a good business."