If you were to ask someone about the news relating to GameStop closing stores, you'd probably hear them give off a soft laugh or even a snarky remark. It's not uncommon for shoppers to feel that way since GameStop has probably burn them in the past. It's not because GameStop itself is a bad company, but their tactics in trades, sales, and used game pricing is painfully hard to deal with. The downside is evident as the company is feeling the hard blows of this as GameStop prepares to shut down roughly 2% to 3% of all their stores.
That comes out to between 150 to 170 of their total stores, which is actually not bad, but it's not flattering either. The root of the problem? Poor game sales. If you're GameStop's CEO Raines, it's because he believes the video game category was pretty weak in the final quarter of the year. Well Mr. Raines, that's not quite true. You see, there were a lot of great games, but unfortunately for you. They just didn't go on sale at your companies stores. So to him the blame sits around the fact that Sony and Microsoft haven't updated their consoles in a bit, which according to Raines, seems cause a "lag in business". Sadly, this doesn't seem all that true since, y'know, we did just see two massive updates over the holiday season for both PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One.
That's because the biggest names in gaming -- PlayStation maker Sony and Xbox maker Microsoft -- haven't updated their consoles in a while, Raines said. That creates a lag in business for retailers like GameStop. But what, didn't Sony just release the PlayStation 4 Pro back in November and Microsoft had just unleashed their new update to change out the dashboard and upgrade functionality? Well the Devil is in the details. However, what's not in those details? How devastating a company such as them closing could be for gamers around the world and in rural areas.
GameStop Closing Could be Damaging to Rural Towns
I want you to stop and think a second about the current state of gaming. Currently we are in that flow where digital games are beginning to quite easily compete against physical games as far as sales go. Why would I know? I'm part of the many who have begun slowly turning towards the sale of digital games. I'm a part of the generation that grew up owning physical titles before they went exclusively digital. I'm a part of the crowd that has been leaning towards digital only purchase. Not because I don't like collecting games, but because of convenience and sometimes those flash sales are just too good to pass up.
But what if you aren't like me and you can't exactly get the best internet out there for your gaming experience? That's where the trouble of GameStop's closing could cause be a bit of a fiasco when all they want is that new big release, but they can't access it digitally because their store closed. That's a very real problem for North America, especially for those who don't live in or near the big cities such as Chicago, New York, Dallas, etc. They don't always have access to an internet that isn't capped by their ISP. Luckily, that's where the selling of physical games and goods come hand-in-hand for these folks.
Sadly, even though 150 stores is a tiny number? That's 150 stores that customers who may not have a near by game store won't have access to anymore. Sure there are things such as Amazon, Best Buy, and Wal-Mart. However, GameStop also does get exclusive titles those retailers may not get their hands on due to their limited partnerships. Trust me, if you ever want to grab a rare title such as #Disgaea or #AtelierFiris that's not happening at Wal-Mart or Best Buy. Amazon would be your best bet for a game like that.
That means with the closing of even 150 stores? If they are in rural towns, that is thousands of people that will lose access to the company. That's also potentially thousands of dollars a month in sales the company will lose. While it doesn't seem a lot, it's pretty damning when the larger scope of things is looked at. If you've ever played Jenga you already know the smallest thing can quickly end the game.
Trading in Games at GameStop? We'll Give You 5.50 for All of Those.
If you ever wanted to trade-in a game anywhere? You know you're about to get scalped. It's the unfortunate event that happens when purchasing a new game that just happens to flop. It's an issue that GameStop, Best Buy, and even Wal-Mart have been trying to circumvent for quite some time. Mostly GameStop as they do offer special trade bonuses for the new big-release that you'll want to get your hands on.
Remember the launch for #BreathoftheWild? There were some nifty little promotions towards that game at its launch. 50% trade-in bonuses and even a unique twist if you decided to go for a Nintendo Switch bundle in the process. The downside? The supplies were limited, which meant not everyone got to see that trade-in bonus, nor were all those people even interested in it. It's a damned if you do and damned if you don't situation.
The number one step for GameStop to fix this issue? Give an incentive for their loyal customers to keep coming back. Give people a reason not to go to their competitors so that they don't keep losing out. Or y'know, just offer more for smash hits so gamers don't feel burnt when they do trade-in's. After all, who wants to lose out over 50% of what they paid for to get a new game when they trade it in?
GameStops PowerUp Rewards Has Got to Change. 20% off New Games is the Big Deal.
If you have Amazon Prime or Best Buy's Gamer's Club Unlocked, you already know what I'm about to say. Both of these things offer huge discounts on newly released titles. They take a whopping 20% off the brand new price on day one, which takes games down to around $48 USD and some change at the games launch. For gamers, that's actually a rather large savings, which technically pays for both of those memberships within just a few game purchases, and even sends gamers saving some money.
For Best Buy's Gamer's Club Unlocked, gamers are looking at a rough $30 USD for two years while Amazon Prime sits at a painful $100 USD before tax. Luckily, as I stated, both of these memberships pay for themselves within a year. If you go to Best Buy, you can luckily save your reward points from your purchases to renew your membership within just a few games, so it's not a bad deal. Downside for GameStop? Their memberships point system is out of date and isn't keeping up with either of their competitors, which means it's time to change. Downside there as well? Chances are, they won't. Not after the #CircleofLife debacle that happened recently.
Sadly, GameStops Store Closings Could Escalate
Just like J.C. Penny's parent company, it's not going to be easy to see GameStop announcing that they will have more store closings. With the growth of digital sales, it's imperative that the company finds a way to circumvent this. Whether it's through the establishing of trade-in bonuses, discounts on new games, or even an all-new membership system that fans will enjoy. Sadly, for members, they can no longer use their coupon's they can redeem to purchase digital goods, which lowers down the possibilities of what they will buy.
If GameStop want's to prevent further closings, it's probably time for them to figure out a new approach to business, and drop the collectibles side of things all together. After all, who really goes to a GameStop to buy collectible items? Hardly anyone it seems. That's what specialty shops are for and it seems the company has lost side of that in recent days. Sadly, we just have to wait and see if GameStop announces that things have escalated and that they'll be shutting down more stores by the end of 2017.
After all, we aren't seeing a ton of major fall games being announced just yet, and it seems GameStop will depend on those games being their big holiday sellers. For now, you can sit back, and know that you may not be at risk for the inability to visit one of their local stores. Just remember, that store may not be there forever, and you may have to find your new shop to visit to obtain those new big hits.