I won’t hesitate and admit I do a hefty sum of my game purchases at Gamestop. Growing up when there were little to no means of checking out the latest games, I sometimes got to walk from school over to the store and made my shopping list of games I wanted to play. As an older man with a nice income now, I do find myself driving there to place down reservations, pick up new or used titles, and trade off games I don’t see any value in anymore. As such, whenever I read people saying, “Gamestop is dying off!” I usually blow it off. Lately, I will admit I’ve been spending much more time in thinking if gaming stores can still hold relevance in today’s world.
The Influence of the Digital Age
It is insane to think of how far technology has come from even a decade ago. While we can point towards many advances like the smart phone, broadband, and so forth, the ability to stream content is something most people do during their downtime; whether if it is for movies, TV shows, and recently… games.
It is unfortunate to think that rental stores went down with the rise of Netflix, but it was especially hurtful for gamers. It wasn’t like Netflix offers anything of worth for gamers, which meant if we wanted to “try out” a game, we would have to pay full price. So with little other options, one could argue that game stores would be the only way to not only get the games you’re looking for, but also having a wide collection to pick from as some retail stores may not have a big of a collection in comparison.
That was until we started to see a sudden influx of game streaming services and the wide range of games you can play without the need of a disk. We live in a day and age where you can boot up your console, download a game and enjoy. It would make sense that we would reach a point where we would see others take the Netflix approach to games and allow the option to stream them (or to download them to play for a limited time). Services like Playstation Now, the Xbox Game Pass, and the upcoming Google Stadia are making many consider that they will do like what Netflix did with Blockbuster, but I don’t really see it like that. The reason why I don’t see it happening is for one simple reason…
Availability & Longevity
When I look at how much we focus on being able to play games online, it reminds me of how the current gaming world focusing more on the moment than the preservation of games in the future. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not much of a “retro gamer,” and yet even I can see how playing games of the yesteryear can be near impossible if it doesn’t get a “Modern Port.” Meanwhile the same can also be said about even games that came out this generation too.
Say you wanted to play a game from a couple of years back. You could try and find it on the stream services, but there is no guarantee you’ll find it. And even if it were to be available, what is the guarantee it will stick around? The thing about streaming services is how there is a constant cycle of content. This is great if you always want something fresh, but it can certainly suck when something you enjoy suddenly leaves, and you can no longer access it. And even if it is a popular game that likely won’t get removed anytime soon, what is the promise that the service itself will stick around?
The thing some may not consider is that unlike Netflix, the world of gaming can usually be ever evolving. The next generation of games is right around the corner and who knows how much of this generation will carry over. After all, the Wii Shop isn’t around anymore, while games on the PS3 didn’t really carry over to the PS4. The same could be said about streaming games on the next generation too. If current game streaming services focus on the moment than the future, gaming stores will likely hold an edge there.
So could gaming stores have a future in a world of streaming? I like to think so, but one could argue that gaming stores could go under for a wide variety of reasons, but streaming likely won’t be the main cause. Because game streaming is still fairly new, there is a good chance that services will focus on preserving as many games as possible. Having a widespread selection at a lower cost (when comparing stream vs stores) is certainly nice and with the number of games you can grab for yourself, you can keep yourself busy for a considerable length of time. If we look at the short term, Streaming is the better choice. But for the long term? Well, that will be something we will find out at a later time.
If the gaming stores want to ensure they stick around, they would need to do two things: Play for the long game, and offer something special to customers that streaming services can’t match (at least for now). What would that special something be? You got me there, but I will like to think Gamestop was on the right track with the “Used Game Rental Subscription” service. It likely wouldn’t fix all the problems they are facing at the moment, but it would be something they could capitalize on.
That and considering how much data you need to stream games on platforms like the Stadia, it likely would completely chew through your available data fast. Do you think Netflix requires a lot of data usage? If your internet isn’t up to par, you’re likely not going to have a fun time playing it.
But What Do You Think?
Are Gaming Stores at danger of streaming services? Do you prefer downloading games? Or games on disks? And do you think game streaming will be just as effective as Netflix in the future? Leave your thoughts down below and be sure to follow us here at Culture of Gaming for more ditorials on the gaming world.