Can GameStop become the go-to place for the gaming lifestyle?
Video games are the latest form of once-exclusively physical media being disrupted by digital downloads. In efforts to adapt, GameStop, a brick-and-mortar chain largely reliant on physical game sales, is now piloting a store redesign to make the in-store experience as much about the gaming lifestyle as the games themselves.
The pilot stores will offer new ways for visitors to try out games, in-store e-sports competitions and a special separate store concept catering entirely to retro gaming and classic consoles, according to Engadget.
GameStop’s performance is currently in the doldrums due to a combination of slowing physical game purchases and a current gap in the release of popular physical consoles. Stores that specialize in physical media were some of the earliest and hardest hit by the advent of e-commerce, but recent trends have begun to demonstrate a path forward for this type of retail, if perhaps on a smaller scale.
For instance, as mass retail record and CD stores largely disappeared from the U.S. retail landscape, mom-and-pops remained and even experienced enhanced interest since the mid-’00s with industry-supported events such as Record Store Day catering to the collector market.
Likewise, the one-two punch of Amazon in its initial incarnation as a low-priced online bookseller and the advent of e-readers put most of the dominant big box booksellers of the late-’90s out of business. A rebound in interest in physical books since the 2009 low point, however, has led to the proliferation of experience-focused indie booksellers, with Barnes & Noble left as the big remaining chain struggling to find its place.
Rethinking brick-and-mortar stores as lifestyle destinations for serious fans and collectors hasn’t been restricted to mom-and-pops, though. In the sneaker world, Nike and Foot Locker have both launched stores focused on cultural activities that fit the lifestyle of fanatical “sneakerheads.”
GameStop’s attempt at brick-and-mortar reinvention comes at the same time when it is closing ThinkGeek.com, which sells fandom-focused licensed products, according to TechCrunch. ThinkGeek’s 40 standalone brick-and-mortar stores, however, will remain open and the brand will have a new presence in GameStop stores.
ThinkGeek was originally an e-tail only outfit acquired by GameStop in 2015. GameStop gave the chain a brick-and-mortar presence shortly after the acquisition.
- GameStop hopes renovations will keep its retail stores alive – Engadget
- ThinkGeek.com to close, replaced as a section of GameStop – TechCrunch
- Once e-tail-only, ThinkGeek expands brick-and-mortar presence – RetailWire
- Small bookstores are booming after nearly being wiped out – CBS News
- New Foot Locker concept is powered by local culture – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will a rethinking of its brick-and-mortar stores allow GameStop to remain relevant as customers increasingly download games than buy physical copies? How might the chain make this initiative a success?