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GameStop underscores role of retailers in digital content space

By: Muhammad Qasim Hassan

  |   November 13th, 2012   |  
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Video game publishers have been putting in a great deal of thought in turning to a digital distribution channel instead of selling the games through retailers, but the latter does not think of it as a great idea.

GameStop, America’s largest video game and entertainment software retailers believe that the role of retailers cannot be undermined just because of the advent of virtual stores that make it possible for publishers to sell their product as well as downloadable content (DLC).

While the retailer has been coming forward on numerous occasions in the past to point out the various factors that make physical stores an attractive medium to sell games, the director of digital content at GameStop Brad Schliesser noted during an interview with GameSpot that the company’s success in selling digital content over the last couple of years proves that the medium can still play a meaningful role in distribution.

“We had an opportunity over the last two years to prove to first-party that we can play a meaningful role in the distribution of digital content. In 2010, we started with 35 stores and five sellable DLC SKUs in a [pilot program] with Microsoft. Since then, we’ve added 4,500 stores and 1,800 products available for sale just on the console side,” Schliesser said. “And we’ve sold over 10 million units of DLC in that time period. I think we’ve proven that retail still provides a very meaningful role, even in the digital content space.”

He further went on to add that the success of selling digital content is strongly associated with the employees at GameStop, who directly communicate with consumers at the time of sale and inform them of the additional game content, while highlighting its appeal.

Schliesser told GameSpot that this direct communication with consumers at the store is something that gives retailers an edge over its competitors, even the first-party virtual stores.

GameStop’s director of digital content agreed that leaving the house to purchase DLC from a store may come off as inconvenient for some people and thus they would prefer to purchase it through the comfort of their living room through virtual stores such as Xbox Live or PlayStation Network.

He acknowledged the limitations of the in-store DLC, admitting that convincing people to leave their house to buy digital content will not be easy.

However, he stressed on giving people the option to choose between a digital store and physical store based on their own preferences and taking both the merits and demerits into account.

With the growing interest of publishers in digital distribution channel, a significant amount of analysts are predicting a massive decline in the distribution role of retailers. Earlier this year, Electronic Arts (EA) went as far as stating that it plans on going 100 percent digital in the future.