Let’s talk about GameStop.
I loved GameStop as a kid. All those games on the shelves made the place feel like a library full of adventures, with limitless possibilities. As an adult… I can tolerate the store. I was in their Elite Pro program last year and they helped me afford all of the Wii, DS, and 3DS games that I review for my Retro Catch Up (I’ve only played through about 1/3 of what I have). I’m grateful for their competitive prices, and they definitely have an important role to fill in the market.
However, they tend to cut corners with their refurbished products, and walking into a GameStop isn’t exactly a pleasant experience. The “unkempt gamer” vibe was cool when I was 11, but as an adult it makes me uncomfortable. I’m a hard-working, responsible member of society, and yet GameStop makes me feel lazy and selfish just by being in the place.
With the rise of digital downloads and streaming services, physical media stores of all kinds have been struggling, and it’s no secret that GameStop is one of them. I’ve noticed that my GameStop has slowly moved the games to the sides of the store and pushed the Funco figures and T-shirts into the center. Then I heard the news that GameStop was closing several stores and I thought, “well, I guess this is the beginning of the end.”
But then I read IGN’s recent article about a GameStop in Oklahoma that’s undergoing a massive makeover. A video leaked online of a virtual tour that I’ll link to below.
I gotta say, I’d feel much better in a store like this.
The place looks a lot cleaner, something more akin to trendy mall stores. The merch is still there, but it feels balanced with the games on display. The minimalist approach works well. But best of all, their retro games are back.
The end of the store is lined with CRT TVs and old consoles, and I love it. It reminds me of some cyber cafe / game kiosk hybrid. This would be the perfect place to sample old games that I’m on the fence about. And it would be fun to host events there. I can think of lots of kids I work with who would love a speech clinic trip to GameStop for a Smash Bros. or Mario Kart tournament on a weekend.
I’m not a fan of the snack shelf, because video game controllers and food do not mix well. I can see it quickly getting messy back there, and that could be a nightmare for the staff to clean. Someone might also hog a TV for hours on end, with others waiting for a turn. There should probably be a time limit on how long a TV can be used during regular hours, or a way to reserve one ahead of time.
All the same, if my GameStop was remodeled to look like this, I’d go in much more often. I’ve been looking into buying N64 and Gamecube games that I missed as a kid. I’ve started looking on eBay for good prices, but if GameStop made these changes in my area, I’d totally be back on board.
What do you think? Is GameStop worth keeping around? And if so, what would they have to do to convince you to come into their store and buy something? Most of all, will they be able to keep themselves afloat, or is it inevitable that they’ll become the next Blockbuster?