hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

GameStop braving the digital renaissance

4:00 PM on 01.09.2013 // Steven Hansen

Jingle bells, Batman smells, GameStop's here to stay?

If my obsession with Lumines: Electronic Symphony has taught me anything, it’s that the future of the future will still contain the past (and that time goes slow, time goes fast). I didn’t buy Electronic Symphony at a GameStop, GameStop-owned EB Games, or any other brick and mortar storefront. Like a civilized man of the 21st century, I downloaded it straight to my Vita -- at a mildly reduced price and sans San Francisco’s ten percent sales tax. I embraced the future and sucked all of its bytes through my internet tubes so it could be forever emblazoned on my Vita. Restaurants still deliver, you can buy groceries on Amazon, and we can make videogames magically arrive in our homes. Every day there are less and less reasons to bother leaving the house or putting pants on.

Despite the oft talked about “digital future” that looks more like a “digital present” each day, vestiges of the past stand plenty and stalwart. GameStop's year-end revenue may be down slightly and its stock prices may be struggling to reclaim 2008 numbers like a lot of companies, but the chain perseveres, and not just in antiquity. Whereas a lot of physical retailers have done nothing to ensure their own survival (pour one out for Borders and Tower Records), GameStop is doing everything it can to future proof itself. Brad Schliesser, director of retail digital distribution has had a hand in this, working to peddle digital content in our material meat space.

GameStop is showing no signs of resting on its laurels. Working with Microsoft in 2012, the retailer now offers an alternate delivery method for redeeming Xbox Live codes. You can have the code emailed to you with a direct link to the XBL redemption page, at which point your content is only a copy and paste away. Mind you, this isn’t a revolution as much as it’s a solution to the first worldiest of problems -- typing out the entire code from a printed receipt (of course, you can also buy DLC, for all systems, through the retailer’s website). It’s just a small example of how the retailer is playing catch up with the digital market, but it becomes more significant when you realize just how much digital business GameStop is doing through its brick and mortar storefronts.

In polling its Power Up Rewards members some time ago, the company found only half of the respondents had purchased DLC and only 75 percent knew about it. Potentially shocking numbers to the hip and savvy person reading an article about a retailer on a games blog, but not all that remarkable. Many of those who had purchased DLC did so at the recommendation of a sales associate. For publishers, it’s tantamount to free soliciting to an untapped market, the swaths of individuals still trudging down to GameStop’s to pick up games who are potentially less aware of DLC.

I met with Schliesser, a salesman in his own right, in a GameStop. There’s a newly opened one in a hot location in downtown San Francisco, a few feet away from Powell Street BART and across from the lively Westfield Mall. There are nine GameStop’s within nine miles of where I live, but the last purchase I’ve made from the chain came in fall of 2011 and it was conducted online. As I escaped a dull, grey San Francisco afternoon into the repository walled with games, I couldn’t help scanning the shelves out of habit before retreating to the quieter downstairs area for our chat.

It all started with Gears of War 3, Schliesser explained to me. In conjunction with Microsoft, the DLC was marketed immediately, along with pre-order conditional beta access -- maybe you remember all of the commercials. GameStop was able to attach Gears 3 DLC to 10 percent of units sold, a marked increase from the two-percent attach rate on prior releases. Attach rates have only gone up, which has also led to much more day-one DLC, to the chagrin of the entire population of the world if internet comments are to be believed. Call of Duty Elite attached at 17 percent, Mass Effect 3’s “From Ashes” launch DLC attached at 30 percent, and so on.

GameStop has put itself into this position knowingly. 2011 saw store closures and more capital set aside for expanding the digital market than openings and renovations. 65-70 percent of DLC is paid for either by cash or trade-in credit, neatly folding itself into the existing, cyclical economy the company bred with its sale of used games (the PowerUp Rewards program hit 20 million members in fall of last year; the company clearly wants to keep its community intact). The ability to buy DLC with cash (or stop in to buy PlayStation Network cards or Microsoft Bux) is also an important sales factor, especially in light of various hacks and security scares over the years. Still, most important is the chain’s ability to actively peddle DLC to people already in a spending mood.

“Downloadable content is easier for us to sell compared to strategy guides or accessories. They’re games and our sales associates are gamers,” Schliesser explains. Being able to sell a concrete, albeit digital, product is an easier sell to average consumers than getting them to buy PSN gift cards or Microsoft money and explaining there are more things to buy on those digital storefronts. That salesmanship, however much of a nuisance it might be to savvy customers not wanting to pre-order all of the things, is an important commodity the still-heavily trafficked stores have to offer. Most people who buy games and game related content aren’t avidly reading Destructoid et al. Having GameStop sales associates actively peddling DLC is enticing for publishers, who are quite happy to work with the company in order to maximize sales.

“The perception of GameStop is one guy in a three-piece suit walks into a publisher’s office and says, ‘Give us content,’” Schliesser candidly offered regarding retail exclusive pre-order bonuses. In reality, publishers come in with all of their pre-order bonuses in mind; GameStop just organizes and markets them. For all the doom and gloom that is associated with used-games sales, publishers work with the biggest used-games seller quite happily, in a mutually beneficial way.

Digital sales are growing by 50 percent year over year. You can now buy and download PC games directly from GameStop’s site, a boon for those in the cult of PowerUp Rewards or with those gift cards that seem to linger forever. The company is trying all sorts of things. It bought Kongregate a couple of years ago and in my preview of the Wikipad, an incredibly cool, gaming-oriented tablet sold exclusively through GameStop, I got a look at the mobile digital storefront. It remains to be seen if the company will persevere in the fascinating world we live in which seems at the whim of volatile change at any moment, but, at the very least, you can download your DLC a little bit easier.

Steven Hansen, Features Editor
 Follow Blog + disclosure dtoidsteven Tips
Steven watches anime & sports, buys meat out of trucks, dates a Muppet, and is only good at cooking. He stands before you bereft of solace and well on the road to perdition. ('^ω^) more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

Status updates from C-bloggers

ShadeOfLight avatarShadeOfLight
Who's that Dtoider?! [img][/img]
wutangclam avatarwutangclam
Pathologic Classic HD just got announced and holy crap am I excited. If you haven't played the game, keep your eyes on this one. It's the very definition of an underrated title. Though I'm not sure what'll happen to the remake that was being shown...
El Dango avatarEl Dango
My opinion on Tomba has changed, now I dig it again. Stay tuned for updates.
techsupport avatartechsupport
MGO is a blast and after playing for a few hours as each class, I'm glad I stuck with Infiltrator.
CblogRecaps avatarCblogRecaps
So assuming the terrible blog tools functions correctly, soon there may be a nefarious call to arms. So keep an eye out and hope there isn't a typo due to light-grey on white background text.
Jiraya avatarJiraya
Gonna have a date tonight ? Here's a song for you. [youtube][/youtube]
LinkSlayer64 avatarLinkSlayer64
[youtube][/youtube] And yes, this is video game related!
Nathan D avatarNathan D
"Everlasting. True love. I am yours." -Rule of Rose T^T
Shinta avatarShinta
MGO's pretty fun! I suck at it though. I mostly hang back and just mark enemies and get the occasional sniper kill. It's pretty fun to be semi-useful with a very hands off role like that. Love my avatar character guy too.
Mike Martin avatarMike Martin
Fuck Insecticons
nanashi avatarnanashi
they pooped in my food they pooped in my food they pooped in my food they pooped in my food
Robo Panda Z avatarRobo Panda Z
I have been accused of the greatest of crimes - cookie snobbery.
KyWii avatarKyWii
Rock Band 4 is really fun...takes me back to my teenage days of high school. Also reminds me of all the hours I wasted on a plastic guitar instead of getting better on a real one xD
Avoclefo avatarAvoclefo
Team Fortress 2 just got a massive community-made Invasion update. SFM short, reskins, cosmetics, and 4 brand new maps?!?! God, I love this game and its wonderful community so, so much. [youtube][/youtube]
Rad Party God avatarRad Party God
AARRGGGHHHH!!!, GODDAMIT!, fucking SOMA has crashed 3 fucking times in a row and I always lose ~20 minutes of playtime!, playing the same section over and over kinda ruins the tension! >.<'
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
N-Not that P1 isn't perfect the way she is! Isn't that right sweetie? Yes it... Oh, now don't you go and listen to those P2 fans! They just go around spreading rumors and pretending Hitler was just a handsome gentleman in sunglasses, that's what THEY do!
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
Persona Q has made me realize I really want a Persona 1 remake on 3DS in a similar style. A lot. A loooooooot. You listening, Atlus?
Super Mario Maker, the announcement of Sonic Lost World for Steam, and remembering all of the mods that got made for the PC version of Sonic Generations makes me wish SEGA/Sonic Team would make their own dedicated Sonic level creation game.
gajknight avatargajknight
Hey, is your fridge running? You better catch it. I mean, it has all your food, and without food, you die. Like, forever. You don't wanna die right? If you die, how will you watch The Good wife with your favourite bowl of Ben and Jerry's ice cream? Go.
CJ Andriessen avatarCJ Andriessen
My local Best Buy is drowning in Marth & Dark Pit amiibo
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -