GameStop confirmed on Tuesday, June 19th, that they are “in exploratory discussions with third parties regarding a potential transaction.”
For most gamers, this doesn’t come as a surprise when video game downloads are at an all time high, GameStop’s leadership changed, and they had a credit card breach. The company has been making changes too which is also no surprise when other national stores are pivoting to sales models that include more than just one type of product. For example, Barnes and Noble used to sell just books, but go into their store now and you’ll find toys, music, movies, and other gift items. They’ve also started having restaurants attached to their stores to stay more competitive. However, these strategies don’t seem to be working as shown by their employment cut recently.
Many businesses are fighting for survival as internet sales keep climbing. What’s the point of a physical copy of a game when we can just have it downloaded instantaneously on our consoles? Furthermore, even if you have the physical copy, you still have to wait for the download and updates along with every other game. There is no incentive to buy physical for most gamers. Some might argue that special editions are an incentive, but that became less true when everyone scrambled to pre-order special editions of No Man’s Sky. Also, many special editions go unsold, such as the Halo 5 kit which I remember seeing on the clearance rack at my local GameStop store.
Yes, I still physically shop at a GameStop. However, I’m one of the few who prefer physically walking into a store and paying for my products. I also haven’t shopped at Amazon in 10 years (but that’s a different story). Most gamers do shop online though where things are cheaper and arrive faster. I completely understand the convenience and GameStop isn’t doing much to stay competitive. For example, my friend can order a game on Amazon and receive the game on release day. My order on GameStop for the same game won’t ship until release day, which means I have to wait at least two days to play a game my friend is already leveling up in.
So what could this all mean for GameStop? Well, for one, it means they’re hurting for sales. This is proof that downloads and online shopping really are hurting brick-and-mortar store sales. We don’t know who is interested in buying the store though so it’s hard to predict what will happen to the company. There’s no guarantee the buyer will have gamers in mind if they take over and they’ll be able to dismantle the company any way they see fit. They could focus solely on the ThinkGeek products or transform everything into a Sprint Mobile store (though doubtful).
What could this mean for gamers? It means our purchasing options might become a little more limited. This could result in a number of things, but I know one thing is certain – the people who work at GameStop are in for a stressful year.