Last Sunday, I attempted to trade in some games to my local GameStop. To my surprise, the storefront was abandoned, adorned with a poster stating that Little Caesar's Pizza was "Coming Soon!" My first thought, "Holy shit Little Caesar's still exists!"
No problem, I thought to myself. Sure, I heard GameStop was shuttering some of their underperforming and redundant stores, but this location always seemed pretty busy. It's not like I had access to their balance sheet, but I assumed that this one location would not be one of the stores to get the axe. Having seen the crowds for their midnight launches of both the PS4 and the Xbox One, this store seemed to be doing pretty well.
A little inconvenienced, but not completely put off, I decided to stop at a secondary GameStop a little later as I made my way to Father's Day festivities at my sister's, where I would stuff my face, drink way too much and watch the World Cup. To my surprise, this GameStop was also closed down. There was no indication whether a national takeout pizza chain would soon occupy this location.
Now I was surprised, as this GameStop was in an affluent town and this store always seemed to be busy with soccer moms buying games for their kids in between Pilates classes and blowing the pool boy. I was also, at this point, quite annoyed, as my time has been wasted not once, but twice. Not to mention, that there was no longer a GameStop a conveniently located near my home.
As I pulled out of the second shopping center empty handed, my wife asked me what the heck was going on with GameStop? I mentioned to her that GameStop had announced that they were shutting down stores, but I never thought that it would have been this aggressive. She assumed, that GameStop were doing great, since I gave them so much of my fucking money.
All in all, GameStop has claimed to shut down between 120 to 130 stores, but it seems like a lot more. 130 stores is not much in the grand scheme of things as they have 6,457 stores worldwide, these closures only accounts for approximately 2% of their total locations. What’s more symbolic is why GameStop has decided to start shutting down stores in the first place.
GameStop’s CEO Paul Raines describes the closures as the beginning of “GameStop, 3.0”. Just give me a moment for me to slam my fucking face onto my desk as hard as I can, because I love marketing buzzword bullshit so much. Think, for just a moment, how the news of this was broken to GameStop employees who were just shit canned. I’d imagine it went something like this, “Good news, GameStop is now GameStop 3.0…. AND YOU’RE FUCKING FIRED!”
So what is GameStop 3.0? Apparently, it’s less about games and more about mobile technology. So they’ve closed down 130 stores, but they’re going to open 200 to 250 additional stores that will cater to mobile phones and computers. Tim Raines calls these “gaming-adjacent fields.” MARKETING BUZZWORD! Excuse me while I punch myself repeatedly in the nuts. So will GameStop continue calling themselves GameStop, since, you know, they aren’t exactly just selling games anymore?
So let’s back track a bit back to last Sunday after finding that the second GameStop location I went to was closed. I was visibly annoyed and my wife asked me if I was upset, which quite honestly I was not. She then asked me where I would be buying my games now.
As we drove down the road, I pondered this question. There was always Wal-Mart, but I refuse to shop there out of principle. There was Target, but once again, even though the lesser of two evils, buying games at a big box store is just not appealing to me.
“How about Best Buy?” My wife asked? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! We both had a good, hardy laugh about that. Maybe I’ll just use Amazon and my Prime membership? That still is not optimal, since chances are, I wouldn’t be able to play the day and date a game is released, which is not a huge deal, but still.
Finally, almost out of nowhere, I said, almost to myself, “Maybe I’ll just start downloading them from PSN or Xbox Live.”
“I don’t understand why you are not doing that already… Stupid Face.” That was my wife’s candid, and frankly, hurtful response. As I sat there, wondering if I should call her something equally awful (coal mine hooker came to mind), I tried to think of a reason why this wasn’t a good idea either. However, those reasons were pretty shallow.
There really isn’t a good reason why I shouldn’t be downloading games instead of buying physical media. I went to GameStop becasue it was convenient and they gave me store credit for used games. Now, that GameStop is no longer convenient, I can no longer personally justify going there just because they give me store credit on my used games, which quite frankly is a pittance.
I’ve had a love/hate relationship for many years with GameStop, but I think I’ve finally come to the revelation that it’s time for me to evolve and begin downloading my games. So all that store credit that I have still GameStop, will be used to purchase PSN and Xbox Live points, for future downloadable games.
It’s not like GameStop didn’t see the writing on the wall either. They always said that the eventual industry’s transition to digital distribution would not impact them. What they didn’t say was that it would not impact them because they were going to start selling cell phones and computers and pretty much become fucking Radio Shack.
So you can say that I’m venturing into a new frontier of digital distribution, which is not so new if you think about it. I went from buying music CDs (like an animal) to downloading and streaming, like a civilized person. PC gamers pretty much download everything through Steam now, so why shouldn’t console gamers like myself do the same?
Sony has recently announced that their AAA titles will soon allow for pre-loading, which would alleviate the need to go to a midnight launch. While suckers are waiting on line at a brick and mortar location, at the stroke of midnight, I could be playing. Unless of course, it’s a game from EA then you’ll be lucky if the online component even fucking works at all.
With the news that Sony will soon be allowing pre-loading for AAA titles on the PS4, Microsoft cannot be far behind with the Xbox One. Given the fact that online and digital distribution was such a major part of their initial plans, all they probably need to do is flip a switch. I would like to add that I know absolutely nothing on how any of this shit works by the way, but I’d like to think some tech just flicks a switch and shit just happens.
I’d would also add, which will probably inflame a lot of people out there and cause a mob to form outside my house where the townsfolk will brandish pitch forks and start a bonfire, burning me in effigy, but never the less, Microsoft’s initial plan for the Xbox One sounded pretty cool to me. Yes, there were certain parts that made me concerned, but change is scary. Sometimes you just need to jump in. Sure, sometimes the water is too shallow and you’ll have a depilating spinal injury, but maybe not. Maybe that water is deep enough, and all the chicks will think you’re hot shit and will want to go steady. (What am I talking about again?)
It’s time for me to change how I acquire games. Buying physical media is really, no loner that attractive to me. I’ve been gaming a long time and very little has changed on how I got my games, but this old dog is willing to learn new tricks. It’s time to take a leap off the cliff and hope the water is deep enough. What do I have to lose? If I don’t like it, I can always just start buying my games at Wal-Mart.
Kidding. Fuck Wal-Mart.
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Hyper Lemon Buster Cannon 1