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Gamestop Re-imagining Retail – 3 Ways to make it better

In a recent article shared across colleagues on LinkedIn, the video game retail store icon GameStop is looking to reinvent how retail is done using their network of brick-and-mortar locations in collaboration with innovation design firm, R/GA.

This is the secret sauce that everyone, including me, has search on high for and has yet to be found, and I seriously doubt GameStop will succeed. An undertaking of this magnitude is going to take not only a tremendous infusion of funding, but some serious insight into what it takes to get the gamer back in the doors. Last I checked, the average gamer is around 28 years old (console owners even older), and the audience is a bit more sophisticated than standard impulse buyers.

The article outlines a strategy to knuckle down on key locations, and to grow stores with a bevy of benefits including the possibility of home grown eLeague groups to retro-fitted specialty stores. There are a few more advantages mentioned as well as some fancy presentation jargon (it is a puff piece, donchaknow).

There is mention about trying games out before buying and stores solely focused on retro games and hardware, but com’on… isn’t that what downloading a demo is for, and hasn’t GameStop been in the business of retro selling of pre-owned games? Last I checked, GameStop was trying to get away from older consoles by flat lining prices on software and hardware for consoles more than 2 generations back.

Sounds to me that this is a pitch not to actual games, but to much needed investors who might not otherwise know what’s what in the gaming world aside from ‘its what all the kids are in to nowadays.’

In order to offer retro, real retro, they’ll need to have some sort of secret stash of classic games which they’d be better off selling to collectors online. If its going to simply be some lifestyle goods shop with those shoddy retro emulators, I don’t think they should waste there time.

The eLeague idea if done right can be really strong. Having fun my own fight league between 2008-2009 for Smash Brawl and Street Fighter IV, I can definitely attest to the fact that its an amazing community builder and its only gotten stronger over the years.

In addition to that possible golden nugget of a thought, I do have some ideas that I saw in Japan that might help if anyone out there really wants some hard and fast thoughts to the situation:

1) Trading Card Gaming Machines – All the fun of loot boxes, and a true multi-media experience (can’t get much more retro than that).  This is the power of arcade video gaming and trading card collecting.  It costs a dollar to play, you get a random card with each play, and highly versatile as the player doesn’t need another opponent to battle unlike traditional card games.

Dragon Ball Heroes is now in their 10th game version

2) Gundam Build Fighters – if an arcade machine can do what this animated series can do, I’d break my bank going at it. Customized part swapping model kits that transpose over to a AR battle field for competitive combat is very high on my ‘gotta play this before I die’ list.

3) Game Streaming booths – for both eLeague events as well as rentable space for stream talent. Out in Japan, I saw this kid set up a phone rig that was streaming live on Twitch his game play of a drum game called Taiko No Tatsujin. I knew of the game, but didn’t know people streamed the stuff, and man could that kid wail. The hearts and happy faces couldn’t come fast enough. Setting up stream rigs is simply but not all people really know how to do it or have a decent place to do it in. Offering this space and time might pull in some regulars who could become local celebrities.


Eiketsu, otherwise known as “Akihabara no Kamisama” or “God of Akihabara” just killing it

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Been busy… found a new obsession along with some toy nooze…

Its been a while, but in the last week, I finally got permission from Amazon to start selling again! I was banned sometime last year… that a whole ‘nother story, but now I’m back in action, and this time, I wanted to better streamline my process for updating quantities, changing pricing, and managing primary inventory levels across multiple 3rd party selling venues. Using some fancy formula finger work along with my penchant for spaghetti coding, I’ve created a whole basic management system using Google Sheets! More on this later as e-commerce interactions have been something of an on and off hobby of mine for the last 17 years.

In toy news, lots of good things!

1) Retro Nintendo consoles have just been announced for release later this year! This includes the popular NES classic that sold out immediately a few years ago, and a new Japanese ‘Fami-Com’ system that features all Shonen Jump games in celebration of the titular magazine’s 50th anniversary!

Retro gaming is definitely one of the hottest tickets outside the Disney juggernaut with great history, an appreciation for 8-bit designs, and a slew of wild, organically loved licenses of yesteryear. Nintendo has really been the only system maker who’s retro systems actually see any type of demand which goes to show how much of people’s childhood they control over the likes of Sega and Atari. I personally am looking forward to the Fami-Com edition. It won’t be available in America, so I might need to try and pull some favors with some connections in Japan to make this happen. I do feel it’ll be a hot ticket, and with TRU out of the picture, I can see other major retailers owning up to bigger chunks of business and also related venues like Hot Topic and Box Lunch which do cater strongly to gaming lifestyle goods.

2) TRU is closing out fast and it was revealed that the company will be shelling out around $350M just in bankruptcy fees.

No toy news would be complete without something on TRU nowadays. Its a rough time. With workers, executives, and politicians weighing in on the demise of TRU, the job loss count has been calculated to be anywhere around 30,000 (B. Sanders) to 133,000 (I. Larian). Seems like there’s still money to be had, but on the legal side of things. Painful to hear and it doesn’t make these growing pains any better. Note to all those former TRU workers: its easier than ever to get into selling online. You’ve got the experience, and the industry doesn’t have an official voice yet. Get heard, get to selling, and get paid.

2) MGA is killing it with their victory judgement of $1.1M and injunctions on overseas counterfeiters of the popular LOL Surprise product.

Though I’m pretty sure they’re not the first, MGA has proven that even in this day and age with internet everywhere and the ambiguity of world wide licensing control, protecting one’s IP is still achievable and enforceable. For the longest time in my own specialized industry (anime collectibles and media) bootlegging and counterfeits are of an enormous burden on all who are trying to make an honest living selling it here in the US. It was particularly troublesome in the late 2000’s, and even today, you can jump on EBay or Amazon and find fake products being offered form international sellers by the tank load. Most I’ve talked to including licensees, licensors, and distributors claim chasing these sellers would be extremely expensive financially. And being there were larger avenues of selling available for domestic product, the official goods should drown out the bootlegs. As more and more of these ‘larger avenues’ start to disappear though, the reality is starting to set in that in the long run, not addressing the issue early will not only cost a company financial trouble, but IP integrity trouble as well. To all IP holders out there, your IP IS your business in my opinion. Protect it at all costs. Now if we can extend this to that pesky parallel import issue…


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