Everyone has heard the stories of woe about a GameStop experience. The one time loved gaming haven has fallen on hard times in the last few years and has turned every which way to make a profit and rebuild its brand. Unfortunately, years of acting more like pawnbrokers than gamers and recycling top titles to regular players hasn’t proved very profitable for their bottom line.
In contrast, retro gaming has picked up over the years and the industry had noticed. A new submarket that values sought after classics and offers more of an experience for customers than just a hustle, reward points, and a year-long magazine subscription. These throwbacks to the dawn of gaming offer nostalgia for families but also caters to the next generation with new releases and other fun pop culture offerings.
Biloxi & Mobile’s Play and Talk is one example of the new era of retro gaming done right. Stores that offered used games have been around before GameStop, but what Play and Talk offers is the full experience with a staff that enjoys their job and talking to customers about gaming as a shared passion. Beyond old and new games, the stores feature vinyl records of your favorite game soundtracks, collectible figurines of popular anime, and even more fanfare no matter your price point when shopping for someone else.
GameStop has suffered layoffs, cutbacks, and poor market reports making it a scary place to do longterm business with. They started relying on pushing pre-orders promising collectibles, but after a decade of people realizing $100 statues and plastic packages didn’t improve their experience and weren’t worth anything on the second market, even that strategy has fallen short. The era of the “used games” that GameStop made one-third of their money on is disappearing as the newer platforms are pushing for more and more digital content.
Whether or not GameStop manages to hang on, the new platform announcements might be the last it sees. They’ll get a boon from gamers trading in used games and hardware, but now with competition from local retro stores that are more accepted in their communities than the business dealings of GameStop, it may still not be enough. One this is for sure now more than ever, “power to the players.”