The Failures of Game Retailers

In my eyes, there are four key factors that are hampering the mainstream acceptance of this hobby that I love: the content of the games themselves, the lack of any quality mainstream cultural writing about games (this is improving), bad marketing, and horrible retailers. Retail is the one that baffles me the most.

You’d think that dedicated game retailers would be knowledgeable, well stocked with the proper releases, and, uh, dedicated. But no. They’re a hormonal wasteland of pandering Xtreme Gamerness™, managed by clueless dumbwits and higher-ups with questionable business practices.

Not just questionable, but baffling too.

In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, we have the biggest game of 2004 (perhaps debatable, but the install base of the PS2 is far greater than that of the XBox and Halo 2). Game retailers should thrive on releases like this. Sales should be through the roof. So why does the following happen?

Hi, you got Outrun 2?

*checks* We should have it in two days. (more on this aside later).

Ok, can I get San Andreas then?

Preorders only.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? Here’s a game expected to sell 15 million copies and is expected to gross over $200 million in revenues over the first week, and Microplay has the brilliant foresight to get just enough copies to sell to the people that already paid for a part of it. I’m sure Rockstar pressed enough copies; it’s all thanks to the brilliant planning by retailers. Nevermind the lost sales to people coming into the store off the street. Like I did.

These retailers are stringing together a nice pattern of incompetence and shortsightedness, which was even more visibly apparent with Katamari Damacy.

To paraphrase. The biggest game of the year and… Microplay? Preorders only. EBGames? Preorders only. GameShack? Sold out. Selling games is the only thing they do, and they can’t do it right. Fuck em. I headed down to Futureshop (an electronics chain with a modest gaming section) and — surprise, surprise — they had STACKS of them.

Why the hell are dedicated game retailers the worst kind of game sellers around?

(The aside. Here’s another -1 for Microplay — they must be at -38 by now: that Outrun 2 that they won’t get for two days? Well, guess what I bought at the much smaller and non-major chain backed GameShack? Score two lost sales for Microplay today! Keep it up and you’ll be even more irrelevant.)

Also, talk about pulling the company lineby its dick. I quote: How can IGN give a game that has NO online component a review score of 9.9 ? Yes, because sticking an ethernet cable into a pile of shit automatically makes it not stink. Sluuuuuuuuurp.

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