If you’ve ever stopped by GameStop’s corporate site, you may notice something “clever.” In an attempt to prove the company is super cool and hip to the young kids, Lara Croft is listed on the Executive Leadership page as Executive Vice President of Tomb Raiding and Relic Discovery. Which means if you count up the number of people in charge at GameStop, factoring in the executives and Board of Directors, there are 14 men and 3 women, one of whom is “digitally challenged.”
Which actually makes sense, in an ironic kind of way, because GameStop itself is “digitally challenged.” All we keep hearing is that the future is digital, which will naturally cut into GameStop’s business. Back on January 7, 2014, GameStop shares plunged almost 9% after Sony made its PlayStation Now announcement that would bring classic PS2 and PS3 games to the PS4 via the cloud. The company has attempted damage control by selling eShop, PlayStation Store and Xbox Live cards, PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold subscriptions, and even digital copies of games, but they’re last ditch efforts. I mean really, who’s going to walk into a store to buy a code to download a game, when they can just turn on their handheld or console and do the same thing in their home?
Though, that isn’t the only thing hurting the retailer. It’s unchallenged position as the one major location anyone can trade in and buy used games is facing competition. Amazon, Best Buy, Target, and now even Walmart buy back used games, and I know from experience that Best Buy and Target often offer more money. That isn’t even taking into account smaller chains like Half Price Books and independently owned retailers like Disc Replay. We know GameStop doesn’t have our best interests at heart.
The smell of desperation is in the air. It isn’t just about GameStop’s attempts to be clever by featuring Lara Croft and hoping people will see that, smile, and think about stopping by their local store. It’s also about the recent decision to close as many as 130 GameStop stores in the 2014 fiscal year and open 300-400 Cricket Wireless, Simply Mac, and Spring Mobile stores in their place.
Let’s be honest. Diversification isn’t going to save GameStop, and Lara Croft isn’t either. The company has dug itself into a hole with its business practices, and it won’t be able to dig itself out. Other retailers are doing everything they do, only better, and the PlayStation Store, Xbox Live Arcade, and Nintendo eShop are there to pick up the slack. The funeral dirge may not be playing yet, but we’ll probably hear it sometime in the next five years.