Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Needed Shift In Sales of Games

The title could be a little less ambiguous, but sales for GameStop and other retailers selling hard copies haven’t been good this year.


The article attributes it to digital downloads which, yes, had an impact when it came to the Diablo 3 release but that’s not the only reason. As a whole, there isn’t much going on in the gaming world these past few months. The big releases won’t be happening until later this year, i.e. Halo Fing 4. And D3 is a PC game with a big push from Blizzard for online ordering to help with falling WoW subscriptions. Most retailers have moved away from PC games because of lack of sales. What’s that? WoW sells a lot with each expansion? Well considering that they come on a 2-3 year interval, selling that many copies every few years doesn’t make up for the billions in revenue for console games sold every year. It’s more cost efficient to stock fewer PC games and more console, while making space for the large PC releases when needed.

In the case of GameStop, the used game market is with console. The bulk of their sales are used. You can’t sell a used PC game because of the cd key issues that arise (boxes arrive with the codes, the codes are invalid, the codes have limited uses-aka DRM, etc.).

Diablo 3 selling more copies online is not the end for standard retailers. If anything, they can use this as a call to look for upgrading their services. What makes the physical stores stand out over online are the sales staff. If they can find a way to integrate that into an online aspect while maintain a good service in-store, people will be willing to go to them.

After I left GameStop, I stopped going to their stores. Not because of my dislike for the company, but the lack of service. The only reason I kept pre-ordering was for the employee discount. Now it’s full on Amazon. When I go to a store, I want the employees to be helpful, knowledgeable, and not pushy. I rarely ask for help, but when I do, I want to be able to talk to the person and expect an answer that will resolve my issue. When they are rude, overbearing, or annoying, I’m less inclined to give them my business. Online ordering all the way!

This isn’t to say that all GameStop, BestBuy, Walmarts etc. are like this. I know there are good employees and well managed stores. I just happen to not have any in my area.

In any case, there are still the purists like myself. I want a hard copy of my game. I don’t trust a soft copy. I know things happen to a hard copy, but things can happen to your soft copy too. Just look at EA and the sh*tfest that is Oracle. You can get screwed over for buying digital just as you can for getting a physical disc.

Diablo 3 isn’t the start of the downfall of brick stores. If anything, it should be a notice that things need to change with the digital age taking over.

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