How long have video game stores got left?

GAME is betting on its BELONG gaming arenas to bring punters into stores, but will it be enough? Credit: John Nguyen/PA Wire

It’s alarming how quickly digital sales of console games have started to pick up – just the other week, Activision confirmed that 50% of Destiny 2 sales on console were digital. It made me wonder – if digital sales are rising so steeply, how long have video game stores got left? Surely there will come a point – probably very soon – when it won’t be viable to continue selling physical copies of games. And game stores have already been hit hard by competition from internet retailers.

I pitched the idea for a feature to GamesRadar+, and after a huge amount of research, where I spoke to financial analysts, GAME and scores of indie retailers, the article below is the result:

How long have video game stores actually got left (and can they save themselves)?

It was a huge amount of work, and I’m pretty proud of the result, even if it makes for depressing reading. Still, there is a ray of hope – there’s a good chance that the decline in the physical retail market will eventually plateau, so some shops could have a future. But in the meantime, expect to see lots of game stores closing in the years ahead.

Shelves in Grainger Games are dominated by merchandise these days.

7 Comments

  1. And now all the big stores like Amazon and Best Buy are starting to offer discounts on new releases if you sign up for Prime or their rewards system or etc.

    1. Yep, it’s a no brainer to buy online for most people – it’s so much cheaper and more convenient. Having said that, I’ve gone back to using my local indie store for new games, mostly because I just really like going in there for a chat. I’d hate to see it go.

  2. I wonder if these stores could shift to a model where they can sell codes on behalf of companies. If I’m not mistaken, Amazon does this something? At least i know when I bought Andromeda, I got a box but with a key inside. Maybe this approach could make them viable and they basically give a cut to the publisher and can throw in whatever else they see fit at their expense.

    But it would still be tough, digital is still too convenient as you never have to leave your house.

    1. I think Nintendo recently started selling Pokemon Yellow as an empty box with a code in it, didn’t they? I’m sure this will only appeal to a tiny range of people though. And the indies I spoke to said the margins are absolutely tiny on aelling digital games – to the point where it’s not worth bothering.

      1. when you say margins are low on digital games, that referring to boxing up a code an physically shipping it? or getting digital directly from say Nintendo or Sony’s online storefront?

      2. Well the store owners I spoke to said that they only have about 5% margins or so on selling digital codes for games – presumably Sony and the publishers are getting bigger cuts on those…

  3. I personally will sob like a little girl if our local ‘trade nation’ (Grainger’s) closes as being in a game shop 1nce a fortnight on a WedsPayDay (like today in a few hrs!!!) really helps with my anxiety & fear! Also, It’s just nice to be near so many games & also see other people shopping (boys wit t’girlf, t’odd grandparent, angry parents & whiny kids… #GamesAreMyLifeAndMySafePlace

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