This retailer is like a gremlin; don’t water it, don’t feed it after midnight and keep it AWAY from our game developers!
GameStop. A store that has roots dating back decades in the games industry. I can still remember the excitement of walking into this very store as a youngster and feeling the electricity in the air. Seeing it through the eyes of what only a child can experience, this video game outlet has been a staple of my gaming legacy. Granted, at the time it was Electronics Boutique (bought out by their competitor years later). But the point remains, this was the absolute mecca for a kid like me. During my many treks to the local mall, I’d divide my time equally between the sweet Time Out arcade and this killer game store (which were located on two different floors, so the walk took some time). But OH was it worth it!
But alas, as I got older…things changed.
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you this as you’ve probably discovered this fact based on your own experiences, but our perspectives tend to change with time and age. As I grew older, my parents were less inclined to continue spilling their hard earned cash on game magazines and new titles every other month (especially when prices were continuing to rise and their baby boy had begun making his own money). As year’s past and the nature of video game marketing evolved, so did my experience with my beloved game store. To me, it didn’t matter whose name happened to hang over the store entrance (E.B. Games or Gamestop) it would always be home. At least, so I thought. My child like wonder and enthusiasm (which built each time I entered the gates of my sanctuary) gradually gave way to something a bit more uncomfortable. I began noticing a disturbing trend, one that began in the late ‘90s and had completely changed the face of the retailer by the early years of the new millennium. My old friend and trusted confidant (now officially transformed into GameStop) had twisted itself into a soulless, money grubbing whore. It would appear their motivations (instead of existing as a positive agent to prop up the industry) were now to snatch up every penny they could…by any means necessary. And with no competition, who could stop them?
Flash forward and here we sit in 2014. As I write this, I may have just decided I fuckin’ hate them. Granted, hate is a strong word…but it might be true. I’ve already touched on my laundry list of grievances with the company in the past (which you can read here and here) so I’m not going to re-tread old ground. Today I’m disturbed by a new bit of info that recently came across my desk. While I would never wish any business into bankruptcy, I must admit I didn’t see Gamestop surviving (in its current state) for another decade or so. With the advent of digital distribution, retailers such as this seemingly had no future. When the day comes where people stream virtually all their movies, music (and yes games) right into their living rooms, what use is there for a dinosaur like Gamestop?
I spoke too soon. It would seem that, like a resilient parasite, they’ve found a new host to latch onto.
I’ve you’ve ever set foot in their store, you’ve inevitably been sold on their pre-orders (another money making scam). As an incentive, they give you certain perks or DLC exclusives specific to their location. It would now appear they’ve realized how to parlay this practice into a life raft. In a recent interview, Colin Sebastian spoke with Gamestop management who claimed they would soon be “…getting involved at the time of game development where there could be some content exclusive to GameStop included in the game…We are working with our development partners to build in a longer lead time and we are working with them to get both physical and digital exclusives for our customers.”
Are you not terrified by that statement? You really should be. What this means is the horrendous practice of slicing off little bits of the pie and locking it up as DLC (for no other reason than to force gamers into one store or the other for financial gain) will soon become MUCH worse. Instead of nipping at the fringe of the development process at the tale end, Gamestop is trying to dig their claws down and influence the creative process from the ground floor. While this certainly could secure their future well into the digital age, this plays out as a real nightmare for consumers like us. Remember that $4 they paid you for the practically new title you just traded-in? Were you pissed off? Well, image that mentality applied from inside out once their roots are firmly dug in. They have a proven track record that doesn’t paint a very promising picture.
That’s the potential future of Gamestop, if they succeed in their venture. At this point, I truly hope they do not.