So the news came out not too long ago that GameStop intends to close around 200 or so stores worldwide. It’s never a good thing to hear about stores closing and people losing jobs, that’s never fun for anyone and as someone who’s been a part of an entire division shutting down, it sucks, it REALLY sucks!
But putting the sad soon-to-be unemployment of a number of people who work their asses off…GameStop really had this coming to them.
This is a store chain that survived a lot of other brands shutting down. Rental stores completely withered away, so many mom and pop shops have closed down, opened up and closed down again. We’ve lost major companies like Blockbuster, hell I’m Canadian so I’ve watched retail chains like Zellers completely shut down and the U.S. juggernaut Target fall flat on its ass. And through all this, GameStop is pretty much one of the only major games in town and is certainly the only major video games only store around. There’s still BestBuy, Walmart and other chains, but when it comes to being video game central, GameStop is all that’s left really, not counting the odd mom and pop shop that’s barely hanging on. And yet with this dominance, with this monopoly on the market, GameStop has done everything in their power to make every mistake they possibly could and piss it all away.
Let me ask you this question: When’s the last time you meant to walk into a GameStop for a reason other than picking up a game on release day? How often do you of your volition walk into a GameStop just to browse their stock and maybe leave with something? I can’t answer that question, I don’t remember. I have always walked into one specifically for something, or I have been in a mall where one sits and I decided to walk in and check it out. I don’t think in my own head “Hey, I’m going to go into GameStop and see what they’ve got!”, I haven’t thought this in a long time. I would assume that most people don’t do this anymore, you just don’t walk into GameStop unless you have a specific reason, or you just stumbled into one purely by accident.
You know where we do browse stock at random times, trying to find a good deal on games? Places like Amazon, BestBuy, or if you’re a PC guy, y’know…oh what’s that service called…it’s really popular…hm…OH YEAH, FUCKING STEAM!!! You know what these places have that GameStop doesn’t have? An online store that is functional and easy-to-use! I cannot stand shopping on GameStop’s online store, it’s an absolute chore and it’s at the point that if they have a really good deal, I’d rather just go straight to the nearest store.
You know what else I could do? PRICE MATCH SOMEWHERE ELSE!!! GameStop, the sole dominant brand for video games, they don’t price match. Uh…WHAT?! The most basic thing in retail and you don’t do it?! Are you insane?! Well clearly the answer is yes. Why would you ever shop at their store, you can just go to BestBuy, get the deal they’ve got on a game and then price match another deal GameStop’s got with them too and kill two birds with one stone. For most though, they’ll just buy online, usually from Amazon as they’re always killing it with console game deals. Why make the trip to their store when you can price match elsewhere or buy online from a better online store?
And then there’s all the POP figures and ThinkGeek merch. If GameStop wants to become Hot Topic with video games, fine, but we know that’s not the case. The reality of it is that GameStop went this route because their game sales are going down and they need to find other outlets for more cash flow. I have no intention of ever buying one of these things at a GameStop, if I wanted a NERF gun, there are so many other places I could get one and for a far better price.
So what does GameStop have to do in order to counter what they’ve done. Honestly, I’m not sure if they can recover, I think the gaming industry is going the online route, who knows how long they’ve got. We’ve all been assuming that this store would be eventually closing the same way video rental stores like Blockbuster did years ago.
But let’s say GameStop can recover, what would they have to do? Here’s a few ideas I have:
- Improve their website, holy shit I can’t stress this out enough. It’s an absolute nightmare to use!
- Price match. Pretty straightforward.
- Get rid of Kongregate and Game Informer. No one uses either of these, nor did they ever want them.
- Remove the massive shelves of figurines, apparel and other shit and have retro games in there. They don’t have to go Turbografx level of retro, but stock the important stuff. PlayStation, Nintendo, SEGA, etc.
- Bring back the play test machines where you could play games. Have a set game every day, maybe switch it every couple of hours. Have a Call of Duty game on, a sports game, a racing game, whatever works. Give customers the chance to test a game and they might think about buying it.
- Plop an arcade machine or two in there as well, something fun that most stores don’t have. I’m not saying Time Crisis level of arcade machine, keep it to arcade stick machines, like fighting games and such, that way it doesn’t take up too much space.
- Maybe stay out of the news for a little while with stories about ripping off your customers or keeping things away from them!
That’s just a few things that GameStop could do to solve a couple problems and maybe better themselves. Will they do any of these things? Probably not, they’re stubborn and think they know better. And based on their sales numbers and the fact they’re about to close not a couple stores, but a couple hundred? Yeah, they’re way lost now.
GameStop…the WWE of retail. Fuck, man…