Game over for GameStop, for better or worse

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Gaming stores are seeing a sharp decline in sales in the digital age. Online marketplaces seem like the inevitable future of gaming. Photo credit: flickr

Rafael Magana, Staff Writer

The days of people walking into retail stores and coming out of them with physical copies of video games are numbered. In an era where console manufacturers are offering digital-only versions of their new consoles (both the PS5 and Xbox Series S), brick and mortar stores like GameStop have started to lose relevance and value.

It’s a very real possibility that we might see GameStop sizzle out by the end of the PS5’s and Xbox Series X/S’s lifetime.

GameStop has been closing more stores as of late, with anywhere between 400 to 450 stores being set to close this year.

Their business model of selling new and pre-owned games is no longer sustainable. This has been happening not only due in part to the changing landscape of gaming itself but also due to COVID-19 affecting their sales.

This isn’t even mentioning the fractured relationship that GameStop has developed with its customer base that contributed to this.

It’s become a long-running joke that the companies’ trade-in prices when selling used games to them is absolutely atrocious.

In the current day and age where most consumers can download any movie or video game from the comfort of their home, it’s no surprise this is happening. There is no longer a need for retail game stores. At least, not dedicated ones.

Big retail chains like Best Buy, Walmart, and Target will continue to prosper when selling copies of video games as that is not their only source of revenue. Amazon even offers release day delivery for physical copies of games as well. Going into your car, driving down to your local GameStop, and preordering just seems like a hassle now.

The loss of retail games stores will hurt those that enjoy the experience of walking into a store and picking out a game. The new generation of gamers will not be able to experience a midnight release of a hotly anticipated game, or anything of the sort.

The convenience of buying a game digitally is something that many gamers are not willing to give up, yet many also do not want to lose the experience of being able to walk in and see advertisements and merchandise for the hobby that they love. The business model for these retail stores may not be perfect, but the experience that they provide cannot be easily replicated.

It’s sad to think that in the very near future, this experience may be gone.

GameStop has quickly been going down the same path that Blockbuster went down before it too went out of business. It’s troubling to think about. Even though a retail game store is not profitable in this day and age, the experiences that are provided at them are timeless and will be missed by many.

Gamers should begin to prepare for a digital future without dedicated retail game stores, whether they like it or not.