GamesBeat: The Future of Video Game Retailers

GameStop President, Tony Bartel, discusses the importance of brick and mortar retailers as companies like his look to the future.
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President of GameStop, Tony Bartel, presented at the GamesBeat 2013 live event today to talk to Adam Sessler about the future of brick and mortar retailers in a world of digital downloads and DLC. 

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Bartel said that retailers like GameStop are planning on being as successful as their earlier years–10 years ago when people would only buy games at a physical store. He said that it might take a couple of years to get to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 era of success, but he believes that technology will actually keep game retailers alive. 

Launching Pad for Developers

Technological innovation will bring new hardware and software that people will want to test before they buy. Bartel stated that his company “wants to be the best place to discover mobile content,” and he thinks that his type of business will be a massive launching pad for new games and developers that want to break onto the gaming scene. 

He hopes that new developers can bring their games to the popular launch parties and customers will be able to try new games while they wait in line. GameStop’s goal is to “help people find the game they love,” and Bartel hopes to achieve this while including digital content instead of separating it from physical copies of games. 

Looking into the Future

Brick and mortar companies are having to rely on gamers still wanting physical copies of the games they play. With DLC and other ways to get games to the players faster–like Steam and Origin–the only saving grace for retailers is that the download size for the next-gen games are so big for the current hardware.

Games made for next-gen consoles, like Call of Duty: Ghosts, are taking up near 50 gb of data, and to download that huge file on an average 500 gb hard drive you can see how it will fill up quickly and be a problem. This is why I think Bartel was talking about the next two to three years being critical for success; games will only be made for current consoles in the next few years and then GameStop and retailers like it will have to reevaluate ways to stay relevant in a growing digital world. 

I think that there will be a place for stores, but I am not sure in what ways–only time will tell. If anything, people will go to stores to network and then just work digitally, because who really wants to take fifteen minutes out of their day to go buy their game when they can stay at home and have it downloaded within the same amount of time? As downloads get faster, I’m afraid there’s no place for game stores like this–think what happened to Circuit City and the ever drifting RadioShack, only this time it will be games.

What do you think the future holds for games shops? Do you still like to have physical copies of the games you own?


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Miranda Kirk
Former member and Senior Intern of the JTP program, woo!