Despite being a fixture in strip malls for two decades, more GameStop locations are set to close. Over the last couple of years, hundreds of locations have closed down. And now, in the midst of a profitable fourth quarter, over 400 more locations are about to get the ax. Facing ongoing struggles with the physical video game market, GameStop continues to shed physical locations and focus more on digital distribution.
We originally thought it would be 300
The last fiscal year saw the closure of 321 locations to date, with roughly 5,500 locations remaining in the United States. Originally, it was thought that an additional 300 GameStop locations would close in 2021. An investor call has now revealed that the number actually sits somewhere between 400-450 stores.
One bit of good news from GameStop however is that GameInformer doesn’t look like it’s going to get the ax just yet. After massive layoffs earlier this year, they’re looking to build new value into the brand on the digital front. What exactly that means is anyone’s guess.
Heading towards the end of an era
Last weekend, I went to the mall I’d grown up visiting almost every weekend. The GameStop there was closed down, and I’ll admit it was a weird feeling of loss. A quick run-through GameStop was a fixture on weekend trips to the mall, even if I rarely ever bought anything. And maybe that’s the real problem. GameStop is great for browsing, but at the end of the day, shopping is done online these days.
I don’t know if GameStop can truly staunch the bleeding. They turned a profit in the fourth fiscal quarter this year, and it’s not like they’re the only business to struggle in the age of COVID. I just don’t know if it’s going to be enough to turn the tide. The release of the new X-Box and PlayStation console should keep them afloat for a while. And the rumored new Nintendo console next spring is sure to be a nice boost. But it doesn’t change the fact that consumers are increasingly moving away from brick and mortar stores and online. Digital distribution is and will continue to be, the future of game development.