How long can high street video game retail really last?

High Street Game Retail


Total votes: 60

It seems that if you look around, video game retail on the high street doesn't have a lot of time left. In the US Gamestop has announced mass closures of its locations, in the UK HMV and GAME have only just been saved from administration and the GameStation brand has been completely eliminated.

It makes sense that they're in trouble too. I'm a good cross section of a gamer that spends a fair bit on his hobby. I like to jump between titles, trying something new every few weeks. I'll dip my toe back into League of Legends every six months and crack through a Mount and Blade campaign once a year, but other than that I'm out for new experiences and games.

Despite this though, apart from picking up the odd MegaDrive (Genesis to you lot) and N64 title in my local retro shop, I haven't bought a game in a store in years. Everything is preordered via an online retailer, or more likely bought through Steam, Humble Bundle, GoG or one of the many other digital download platforms that are out there now.

I'm sure there are still people buying games in shops as they'd be crumbling far faster than they are if people weren't, but some big changes are going to have to be made if they want to survive for more than a few more years. They're going to need to make it worthwhile to go in-store again, give us some reason to drive and park and walk to their outlet, instead of just inputting our card details in Steam and clicking “install.”

While nothing huge has happened yet, we're starting to see little changes which help a bit. One has been to embrace digital culture a little more by selling Steam wallet cards. These can be bought at a lot of different outlets, as they begin to see that offering something that can be used online is a simple way of integrating their more traditional services with the newer ones. It isn't going to be enough on its own though.

There have also been announcements of early game demos in certain stores as part of a “store lock-in,” thanks to special partnerships with publishers. However this seems more like a nice offering by a publisher than some sort of sustainable business model. It would make more sense to just make the demo available online.

No, if high street retail wants to make it through the next decade and still have its head above water; it's going to need to go far more drastic. The question is what?

It's difficult to say, as almost every idea imaginable involves the games makers themselves providing the retail business with privileges that could just as easily be given to an online retailer or distribution platform like Steam. Why would it restrict itself to only those that live near a store?

This is the core problem of high street retail. Its available market range is simply minute compared to that of an online one. So what do high street stores need to do? Here are a few ideas that I think could make a big difference:

Get online: Of course they all have websites already, but I'm talking about focusing on online instead of the stores. Turn the shops into digital warehouses where there are QR codes that give you an online discount code for the website. Stick tablets in the shop like they did in that temporary EBay shop in London, where people can buy online while in-store.

Focus on hardware: Software can be bought and used anywhere, but hardware still needs shipping. If you want a new headset, the fastest way to get one is to drive and buy one. That means going in store. No need to sell much in the way of consoles themselves; until the new ones come out pretty much everyone who's going to buy one already has the one or two that they want. I'm talking peripherals: super high end headphones and aftermarket gamepads; gaming mice for the PC gamers, fancy keyboards, gaming chairs. People don't know how much better their gaming experience can be made by proper peripherals until they've tried them, so have high end systems setup ready to go and show people what they're missing.

More midnight launch events: While these aren't for everyone, some people love them. They're willing to sit in line for hours, days even for some games and hardware, so do it for everything. Have tonnes of launch events, with special deals for those that wait. Competitions for random people in line to win big prizes. Make something exclusive and people will flock to it.

It'll probably take more than all of these ideas put together to save high street games retail, but these would be a good start.

But should they be saved at all? If like me you're all buying online now, is there much more than nostalgia linking us to the game stores of old? I used to enjoy going in to see what new titles were available and checking out the box art, but now I know when something is going to be released almost a year before it hits shelves. That excitement is gone.

No, I think while game stores could do a lot to try and win me back, unless they surprise me, I'm done with them. There's no reason for me to return.

As it stands anyway.

But what about you guys? Do you want stores like GameStop to survive and if so, what do you think they could do to turn their fortunes around?

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The main problem was that

The main problem was that people started to think they could open those stores and earning their life easily without business acknowledge, most of those stores were opened without cheking the needs so that s why you could see 6 video games stores in the same street in a city of 20k inhabitants where the population is aged . i live in a 500k inhabitants city and yes in the last 15 years some stores had diseapeared most of them before the digital competition, just because of what i said but also because of the bad behaviour or policy of the landlords toward the customers. (reselling broken controllers,consoles,greedy on second hands games or poor reception of the customers. But there is still 2 big stores a gamestop and one from another brand, they both opened +10 years ago and they are well located . Also some second hand stores opened recently but they were more specialized on retro gaming.


They could save their company by going digital. but as for a physical store, why no go purely retro? the console idea is great. you still have to go in store to buy one or order it online. but unlike a digital game it wont be here instantly. or if they sell new age consoles, sell them cheaper then anywhere else does. ill drive and park to walk into your store if it saves me 50 bucks. i went into the ONLY blockbuster store in polk county florida that exists and you know what? i loved it. not only the physical browsing but they had major deals on everything. it is what attracted their customers and made it so they can stay open. and they are doing great. i spoke to them of NetFlix etc and they said they were not worried. netflix only has a select offering but they had it all. from old to new. games and movies. even hardware. Gamestop could inner mix with another franchise as well....say comic books. add these to your store on their own wall...people will come. and pick up a new game while there. and vice versa. Make gamestop like a cafe....have online capabilities and seating areas for gamers to sit with their tablets and what not. i would pay for that. All in all gamestop is large enough to survive if they switch to digital. perhaps large enough to ask devs and publishers to make GAMESTOP EXCLUSIVE GAMES. a new title brought by gamestop or even a current one, gamestop edition. they are big enough to get that done. even go full force in gamestop peripherals. better controllers, cheaper then regular ones....or do as nvidia is doing and make a friggin console. take that 8 billion bucks in used games sells and do it. lol. Sketch OneHitGamer Creator

"i spoke to them of NetFlix

"i spoke to them of NetFlix etc and they said they were not worried" - Why would employees be worried to begin with? All they do is slave off every day, regardless of where they work. If netflix doesnt worry the owner though, the guy is very shortsighted. A digital collection has the potential to offer pretty much anything ever made, a physical store is restricted by its available space. So saying they have it all won't cut it forever. To be honest I think retail stores are in a pinch, the more we grow used to doing things online, the less we want to spend time getting to and from places we don't have to go to. Some people enjoy retail of course, but over time they will become more and more scarce

supporting GameStop

Everyone is freaking out about new consoles blocking used games and taking away our freedom to do what ever we want with what we purchase. If we don't support local stores like GameStop and let ourselves be carried off into the all digital age, its the same thing as blocking used games. When physical media is gone, and we all just download cause we were too lazy to go to the store, its over. You will will told exactly what you can and can't to with your purchase. And selling it back or to a friend will certainly be out of the question. For me there will always be some special about walking over to my shelf, scanning my collection and physically picking out my favorite title. I will continue to support places like GameStop for as long as I can. When their gone and downloads are all that's left, we are that much closer to being controlled by big business.

I disagree. Digital downloads

I disagree. Digital downloads have a MUCH longer shelf life than physical disks seeing how the vendor has to keep it available to everyone who bought it even 20 years ago. Selling used digital games requires some security measures and an internet connection to validate it at least, but its very possible, people just have to make sure online retailers know it should be a priority. Having a shelf is fine, I used to back in the day, but then I threw all the boxes away and used the space to store electronic components and tools because making robots and RC vehicles is much more fun than having boxes to look at. You are also forgetting how both ms and sony have plans for no secodn hand sales of physical disks (watermarks by ms, rfid by sony) so your whole "go physical or lose your freedom" argument is invalid. ps: I'm not saying either ms or sony will implement those DRM systems right away, but you can be sure they didn't create them just for the lols.

Supporting Retailers all the way! (no Gamestop in my country)

Thank you, I too see it this way. I wish their are more people like us. Going fully digital will mean nothing is ours. As it currently stands the only digital distributor I buy from is GOG because of their strong belief in no DRM. Unlike most DD's you can download the setup file and back it up on CDs, I Can't compare a burned CD to a pressed cd with box art and manual but if the world ever goes digital that's the only service I'll ever support. I haven't bought a single DRM game since Skyrim came out, that was my very last so that makes it over 1 year not giving these control freaks the money they don't deserve.

'Control freaks' hits the

'Control freaks' hits the nail on the head! Remember EA has already blocked access to a digital game that you could have paid money for. (Like the article said this could never have happened with physical media! When games become all digital you will start to see things like 1 year usage fees just like Microsoft does now with Microsoft Office 365. Support the stores!

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