Written by Alex Maidment (nSanity Beach)
I have fond memories from childhood when my family would go into town and I got to visit the game store. Back then, everything was disc and cartridge based which made game shopping genuinely quite exciting – new game releases meant queuing up at the store to get a copy and then spending the car ride home reading through the instruction manual getting hyped to play it. Side note, remember when games actually had proper manuals in the box? If you were really lucky, you got a map as well!
It was a truly great time for gaming and for me, it was a time when I was playing a new game every week – I’d buy a used game, play it for the week, go back to the shop a week later, trade it in and get a new game. Rinse and repeat. It was an amazing way to spend my pocket money! (I’m talking super cheap used games!)
So what changed? Gaming did.
Consider this, some of the biggest games of the past 5-10 years have been downloadable cheap or freemium games. Minecraft has never been particularly expensive and while you can buy a disc version of it, the price of buying it digitally was the same for the most part and made more sense to do. Fortnite is free to play and downloadable. The list goes on.
New consoles with larger storage sizes and better internet has made digital a good way to go.
What’s really disappointing about the physical game stores is that used games aren’t always much cheaper, which takes a lot of the fun out of buying games there. As for new games, I actually often find that they’re more expensive than most of the online retailers and only a little bit cheaper than the digital versions of the games that you can buy on the console.
In the UK, the leading game shop, Game, has actually been on the brink of collapse a few times and when I do go into one, I can sort of see why. It feels like for game stores to survive, they need to move away from selling console games and actually convert to selling hardware, PC gaming accessories and merchandise. Sure, they can still have games to buy, but why not just have the download code cards and scrap the discs. Sure, it’s not as exciting and it’ll never be like the times I remember with the manual in the car, but it might bring some excitement back to visiting the shops.
Another idea could be to have mini-mutiplayer set-ups in the store to try the different peripherals, equipment and just generally create an experience for gamers to meet other gamers. In fact, why not chuck a cafe into the mix?
Things are changing and unless game shops change with them, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the death of the physical game store within the next decade!