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Apr 6, 2017

GameStop's Challenges Affect All Brick & Mortar Retailers

GameStop plans to close more than 225 stores worldwide. It's neither a good nor doom and gloom for the parent company, GameStop Corp. It's just a challenge all specialty retailers face in their physical Stores.






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"If you play video games and you don't have Amazon Prime, you're being silly," co-host Ian Ferguson said in a recent clip of the CU Podcast with Pat (Contri) the NES Punk.


Though Ian is referring specifically to the service's 20% discount on video game pre-orders and new releases, you don't have to have Prime to understand the points being made. If you can buy it in GameStop you can buy it online, usually cheaper and sometimes sooner.

This isn't the end of GameStop. The parent company has a diverse portfolio that should allow it to keep GameStop alive, and potentially even repurpose some of these vacated storefronts, well into the future. It's just an interesting case study for how companies will adapt to the changing state of retail.

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Stores that don't sell essentials or consumables are losing business. I work in footwear, and 15 years ago industry professionals said people would never buy shoes online because they need to be tried on. Those professionals were wrong.
Zappos proved the footwear industry wrong.

Even big box stores are adapting. Buying groceries online and picking them up is fantastic. I think most retailers will move this direction, acting less like stores and more like warehouses.

If big box stores are one step ahead, video game sellers are inherently one step behind. Physical copies of video games will never disappear entirely, but gaming is going digital. Gamers can receive purchases instantly, and digital games create savings for everyone in the product's life cycle. As gaming goes digital, the need for video game stores (even as warehouses) shrinks rapidly.

Once we didn't need to leave the house to buy movies, we didn't need Blockbuster.

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Transparently, I'm not a GameStop shopper.

Gamer's HQ is my Graceland.

Sometimes I need customer service, or a social outing. I go to my local video game store, the greatest video game store in the world. I care about GameStop because I care about the industry as a whole, and because I love independent video game stores like this.

These stores face the same challenges. They differentiate themselves with a retro niche, a great arcade, stellar customer service, or a communal feel. In the future, it's no guarantee that these qualities won't feel more like gimmicks than legitimate reasons for foot traffic.

I'm intrigued to see how these adapt to the future. Maybe they do become warehouses that happen to house tournaments and arcades. Maybe they create partnerships to become authorized seller-distributors for larger digital companies.

I'm just making these up as I go. The point is even game stores that currently feel immune to customer traffic losses need to keep their eyes toward the future.

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Many news services and popular digital gamers are voicing opinions on the topic. A few I found interesting (not necessarily good or bad) include:
If anything you've watched or read has caught your fancy, please leave it in the comments for me. I'm excited to experience any other unique perspectives out there related to the topic.