A thread has been started over on Reddit, in which a man claiming to be a GameStop manager (Reddit requires proof of status for its Ask me Anything threads, apparently) has taken quite a glum outlook on the company’s future.
In response to a user asking (I assume in a semi-joke) when GameStop will die, the manager replied quite seriously with “I don’t think GameStop will die with this console generation,” before going on to insist “but I think it’s very possible it will with the one afterward. That, or the company will be less of a GameStop and more of an Electronics Boutique again.”
Much has been made of the slow down in physical game sales, year-on-year, with most people assuming it’s simply a response to the rise in digital sales. While I have no doubt that it’s more complicated than that, I think it’s still a concern for retailers and brushing it off as simple “generation fatigue” would be equally as dangerous. In short, companies like GameStop have to adapt to the emerging landscape of videogame retail if they want to survive.
Adaptation is something that’s coming, of course. As the original poster on this AmA notes, GameStop already sells most big Steam releases through their stores via codes and all traditional games retailers these days sell points and credit for the digital stores on cards. Most are also doing what they can to get into the tablet and even smartphone markets, as well as stocking iTunes cards.
If rumours around Microsoft’s next console and its always-online possibilities blocking the use of pre-owned games come true, that’s a huge revenue stream for GameStop completely shut down – but that’s a big if before Microsoft makes any sort of announcement.
An end to the business model for the world’s largest specialist retailer of videogames seems a little extreme but, as noted, a change in the way the company does business is almost inevitable. Hopefully that won’t come with the usual restructuring that sees so many lose their jobs.