The future of gaming sales has never been as up in the air as it has today with an ever-declining physical sales market and an uprising in rents for shop fronts. But what lies in store for GameStop?
GameStop has reported a drop in sales of 27.5% from the previous year, these sales are still in the billions worldwide but this is not a trend to be ignored. GameStop’s market share is far from stable and its debts are getting ever closer to being a big problem for the company to handle. It seems GameStop is trying to stay afloat until the end of the top two consoles’ life cycles and pray for a new beginning with the PS5 and Xbox Series X.
The new consoles are rumored to be priced competitively and will be making the shift towards the digital market place. So, what will these companies do?
If you walk into a GameStop today, you’re met with a split store with one side of merchandise and the other side of games. Whenever I head into the stores it seems like the gaming side of the shop generally has 30% new games and 70% trade-ins. The other half looks like a local Smyths store with toys, board games, and figurines.
In my own opinion, this has to change if the GameStop is to succeed. Adapt or die comes to mind with the latest trend in sales for the business, leaning heavily on the latter.
What changes is GameStop making?
In the past few years, GameStop as a company has been putting up a fight, which has been fighting to survive in a changing market full of uncertainties. They have been trying to set a plan in place by experimenting with several stores across the US.
The main focus of this experiment is to see if people would like to hang out in the GameStop stores. These stores have set up Tabletop game sections, some with even co-op gaming sections with big-screen TVs and all the modern consoles, including PCs.
A couple more have been testing out eSports tournaments and coding classes. It seems like they’re trying to adapt and they’re not giving up on a market that they once were big players in.
One of the experiments, GameStop Retro is the one I am most excited about. The store itself will have a massive selection of pre-owned games and modern titles.
The store will consist of four gaming bay sections that will have classic CRTs set up with a selection of retro consoles and games. I’m not sure if this will lead to GameStop buying and selling retro titles but I think this is a step in the right direction.
A very big recent change to the company is with the tactical move of changing up its board of directors. GameStop announced that they would remove four of its long-time board members Including co-founder and executive chairman Dan Dematteo, these members are to be replaced by three very experienced retail managers including former Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aimé.
Fils-Aimé has a long list of accomplishments which includes working on the Nintendo DS series, Wii, 3DS, and the Switch. This gives me hope for the future of GameStop.
I think Nintendo has done well over the years, they’re not afraid to stay in their own lane and focus on what they want as a company and really create their own market. While Sony and Microsoft focused on graphics and power, Nintendo kept the eye on what they wanted and focused on storytelling and artwork.
If a company was ever in need of the same direction as Nintendo, essentially keeping their own space and moving the market in the direction they want, it’s GameStop.
So, what would I change?
All the moves that can be seen by GameStop are showing us they are putting up a fight and they have taken a few knocks in round ten but are not quite out. The question is, as a gamer and gaming enthusiast, what would I do if I was on that board of directors?
I really like the experiments they have started and hope they continue, an idea I would throw out is to let chain owners experiment with what they want in their individual stores.
If all the GameStop shops were allowed their own twist it could prove to be exciting. Imagine if the decision on what type of Gamestop store it would be could be up to the individual store owner. This is my opinion would allow the store to have its own personality.
I think because of this more personal approach people would be more inclined to visit them to see what each store has to offer. Some could focus on card games, another on TTRPGS, and others on modern and retro.
They could all still sell new games but create an individual feel in each store. It would give people a reason to visit the store other than just turning up for a game that you can have delivered to your door.
If GameStop does fail you will see even more niche gaming stores pop up to fill the void and they will find it easier to adapt as they will not have a massive market on its shoulders. So by adapting and becoming more like independent stores, Gamestop may be able to leave behind a bit of the corporate mentality.
In the short term, I’d open the trade-in policies for older games as far back as Atari and allow all sides of the gaming market to come to my stores.
Niche games and retro titles still have a massive following and are ignored by the likes of the big stores like GameStop and Smyths. This would tap into peoples’ want for nostalgia which is ever-present and can be proven by the sales of Classic Nintendo Mini and SNES Mini which have sales of over 8 million, I feel they have shut themselves out of a market. I think a lot of collectors would agree.
In the long term, if nothing is changed or adapted, all I could say is close up small shopfronts outside of big cities and target the online community. I Think a warehouse would make sense. Then shift focus to the online infrastructure to follow many big firms into the ever-expanding online market place.
Let the market do the talking and maybe not fight the future, which is the digital age.