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MidnightSpecial

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An ill wind blows nigh?

GameStop, one of the biggest video game retailers in the world, are apparently contracting their European operation. Only the other day I was shocked by their withdrawal from Northern Ireland, and I awoke to news this morning that they may also be pulling out of Portugal. It got me pondering.

While the NI operation represents only a small fraction of GameStop's Irish portfolio (around 10%), the closures and redundancies are still hard to swallow. I believe they never really progressed into the UK due to fierce competition, instead focusing that part of the operation on on-line and digital retail. However, during the golden age of the current gen when the Wii, PS3 and 360 were all released relatively close together in a crashing salvo, GameStop Ireland reaped the rewards by being on of the best.

Now though, either the economy or the digital revolution appears to be taking its toll. Ireland's economy is in a much worse state than the UK's, yet there is no news yet about them closing Irish stores. Porugal is also struggling as a country, but so are most of the European countries where GameStop have a presence. I really hope, and find it hard to believe otherwise, that the company is not struggling, and that these closures simply form a part of the newest stategy. But if this is true then it raises another prospect that makes me slightly uncomfortable: are bricks-and-mortar stores on the way out?

Granted, I don't select games in the same way I select books or music. When I walk in to a game store I know more often than not what I'm in there for. But maybe it's a sign of my age when I say that I find it hard to imagine a high street with no games retailers. And, of course, those used games can be bargains! However, this looks to be the way things are going. HMV have had to adapt as MP3 players have grown in popularity, but they are almost at the stage where they are unrecognisable to the brand they were a few short years ago.

Despite news that the 'XBox 720' will use blu-ray, I cant help but feel that digital downloads are going to play a massive part of the next gen, so I may as well get used to the prospect. I'd rather that than see a company that's close to my heart fold, so the optimist in me hopes it is not the economy that blows ill.

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creeping judas1640d ago

I have several games that I have purchased as digital downloads. Now mind you, the times I have bought these games are due to the fact they are cheaper than buying at a B&M store, or they are PSN or Xbox Arcade offered up games. I do believe that digital downloads is the future. Good read Midnight Special.

bozebo1640d ago (Edited 1640d ago )

In Europe it is a lot easier for digital downloads to be honest (more spread ADSL2+/fibre coverage and less ISPs with harsh bandwidth caps). I just hope that the savings are rewarded to the consumer (and the developer) and console games don't still cost £45-50.

MidnightSpecial1640d ago

XBLA and PSN have paved the way already, and they're full of cheap but very impressive games. Even the Games On Demand on XBL can represent good value as opposed to the RRP. But then price can open up a whole new can of worms, considering perspectives like value for money. As long as consumers are ok with paying £40 for a new release, then the price wont come down anytime soon. But when we're not actaully getting a disc in a box, perspectives will probably change.

Bladesfist1640d ago

Steam, gamersgate and greenmangaming do the best deals. They even have some atm.

Nate-Dog1640d ago

The thing I find surprising is that no-one has tapped into online gaming stores in Ireland yet. For a long time a little known website, Gamesnash.ie (which I can't praise enough for their customer service), and that was it. They are very small though and for a while had high prices in comparison to stores here until they were able to reduce them.

Gamestop tried with Gamestop.ie but I have only heard bad things about their service from there especially regarding getting new games to people on release day. Amazon.co.uk doesn't let Irish customers sell and HMV and GAME only have UK sites.

As you say GS have done very well in RoI so far, probably mainly due to the lack of stores in comparison to the UK (plus the UK has an incredible amount of websites that deal in video-games, a stark contrast to the RoI). I don't think it's just down to people buying more online, GS tried to enter an extremely competitive market in the UK and could never really make a foothold (at least I assume so), but the general importance and use of online game stores in the UK shows how well online stores can do and how they can flush out a lot of retail business in a place like the UK.

Do I think that's how all game stores are going to go in the future? Eventually probably, game stores will be no more than websites and warehouses. But for now, especially in places like Ireland, retail is still very very important.

stevenhiggster1640d ago

I work in retail myself (not gaming sadly) and I can tell you that all store that I know of are in the middle of our worst start to a year pretty much ever.
People who don't work in an industry directly effected by the economy really don't appreciate how bad it is right now. I've heard people saying things like "oh the recession is over it's getting better now". Well I can sadly assure you that going by current high street trends, it very much is not over and is infact about to get a lot worse as more and more companies gear up for closure.
The high street in my town is starting to look a bit like a ghost town and that's just sad.

Mr Patriot1640d ago

kan sam wan plez translat da heding of da artikle ... tanks

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