Remember a time when you'd camp out in front of your local gaming store because a new game or console was about to come out? I do, but that stopped a long time ago. Mostly because my local gaming store began hiring people who knew nothing about video games or what was going on inside the store.
I've been noticing this decline in retail businesses for quite a few years now. It first started with the movie retail business. With spectacular services like Netflix and Redbox, many places have closed their doors. Hollywood Video, West Coast Video, and Blockbuster Videos have changed their business strategy. In my area, some of them have closed and the new Blockbuster Rental Kiosks (ala Redbox) have taken their place. Nobody wants to deal with the hassle of late fees, extremely limited special edition copies, and other hassles. People just want to sit and watch movies together. Netflix has a userbase of approxiamately 20 million subscribers. That's a lot of people, a lot of people the retail industry wish they currently had. It was pretty much a no brainer to me to begin seeing so many retail movie businesses close down. With Netflix, there's no late fees, hefty amounts of Blu-ray copies, instant streaming, getting your order in one business day or less, and low costs, why go to a retail store? Netflix has outperformed so well that there's suppose to be a new digital downloading service that will launch movies alongside their theatrical release. Since so many people have their own personal home theatres, why not? Digital downloading is appearing to be the way of the future, and it's appeasing many people.
The question is, will there ever be a Netflix to gaming that'll begin putting every retail business to shame? The answer is, yes. In fact, there are already many of them. To name of a few, you have Valve's Steam service, Gamefly (which is overpriced in my opinion), Gametap, and the newly released OnLive digital gaming console. A service like Steam is a fantastic service. For Valve's games on Steam, you get automatic DLC and updates. You can buy the special edition of games on Steam just as you would if you were to go to a store. Except, all this is done digitally and rather quickly. If PC gaming isn't your kind of thing, then you have the other 3 services to choose from. Many gaming companies have been saying that digital downloading gaming consoles will be the way of the future, and in all honesty, I think they're right. I think that day is coming and it's coming rather soon. Many gaming retail stores have shut down, to name one was Gamecrazy, which was contracted with Hollywood Video. I knew Gamecrazy was going to be dying out when they started the "You have to pre-order in order to buy this game" rule. It's obvious they began having a shortened library of games to choose from, so they started a ridiculous rule. I haven't had the time to check out the OnLive service, but from what I've been hearing it's a really great console with a lot of potential. It's just most gamers of today are so afraid to not have a disc in their hand. I don't really know why, but that's just how some of them are. I believe it's because of some misconception they have about digital downloading. Some seem to think there's performance issues with digital downloading, I can't really see that argument, but some make it. With digital downloading, you get faster boot ups, fewer loads, and just overall better organization. You don't have to constantly look where you put your disc or check if it has any scratches.
Another reason I jumped shipped from the retail gaming business was simply because their pre-order bonus specials were mediocre, at best. No one cares about getting a strategy guide, I want more. Where do I get more, you ask? From websites like Amazon or Play. Amazon is a fantastic website where you can get awesome special edition copies, pre-order bonuses at probably a lower price. Amazon is one of the only places you can buy a game at a lower price rather than paying 60 dollars for a game that's been out for over a year. There's not one person who doesn't like Amazon's sales specials, how can you not? They're great. I can't even remember the last time I stepped into a Gamestop. If I were to guess, I'd say 7 months ago. From what I remember when I was there, there was almost no traffic inside the store. Virtually empty. I noticed the decline in the amount of customers at Gamestop stores a while ago. I think Gamestop is noticing this too, considering all of their stores in my area are spamming game character cardboard cut-outs and posters all over the main entrance of the store to attract more customers. I remember a time when Gamestop wasn't really doing that. So much has changed since the uprising of digital downloading. Services like Wii Ware, Playstation Network, and Xbox Live Arcade on the current home consoles are also proving that. Downloadable games are now winning awards, getting media attention, and causing people to look at gaming in a new light.
You're probably asking yourself, "well what do you think is happening with the future of gaming?" My answer is, I think going digital is the way it's going to be, whether people like it or not. Personally, I love digital, and I do hope this is the future of movies and gaming business.
PS: Gamestop just recently bought a digital downloading company, so it's obvious they are noticing the change too.
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