Is GameStop Ushering in the Digital Age, or Just Dying a Slow Death?

Posted by Tim Sheehy on Jan 25, 2012 in Videogames |

GameStop closings

Last Monday, GameStop surprised many of their European customers by closing their shops throughout Northern Ireland and Portugal. Reports state that employees were only given a days notice, and were subsequently required to sign non-disclosure agreements until the retailer made an official statement. It wasn’t long before a spokesperson commented on the closures, stating that the move was part of an existing plan “to exit the UK market from a brick and mortar perspective…” They went on to state “…our go-forward plan is to serve the UK market with enhanced digital and online offerings.”

That statement alone would seem to suggest that every store throughout the United Kingdom could potentially close in the coming months. Additionally, if the closings in Portugal are any indication, the plan may extend beyond the United Kingdom. Could the US be next? It’s not likely, but the retailer has previously stated that it intends to evolve with the times. Its current locations throughout the US offer digital content via redeemable codes, and the impending release of Sony’s Playstation Vita may add fuel to the growing digital market. The handheld with offer both digital and retail releases, though its digital releases may come at a considerable discount.

I’m not sure if Gamestop is simply predicting the direction the wind will blow, or the closings are truly a sign of the times. What I do know is that their employees and the customers who rely on the retailer will be the ones hurt the most. While some may count on the retailer for their employment and lively-hood, many others who live and game offline patron it. Fortunately for them, other retailers exist throughout the United Kingdom, and mega-stores like Wal-mart and BestBuy may provide a welcome alternative stateside — even if they may lack the customer service or expertise GameStop claims to have.


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