Can Gamestop Stay Relevant In An Expanding Digital World?

The last time I was in a Gamestop store, I was shocked by how much emphasis was being put on non-gaming merchandise. I couldn’t take two steps without bumping into a Game of Thrones Funko Pop, or a Batman V Superman action figure, or some other kind of pop culture swag. It’s become increasingly clear that Gamestop isn’t going to sit by and watch the digital storefront swallow them whole. They’ve already begun diversifying their business, adding cell phone and tablet sales, as well as beginning their own game publishing arm. The question I have is, does Gamestop risk alienating their long time customers by reducing the amount of games they stock, or have those customers already left them for Amazon, Steam, or the Playstation Network?

Gamestop has always drawn the scorn of gamers for their stingy trade-in rates. A game that they sell you for $60 on launch day will net you a paltry $15 in store credit just a few weeks later. However, as much as gamers love to complain, they still came back to Gamestop, usually with a pile of games to trade in. With digital downloads now becoming more affordable than ever, how is Gamestop going compete if they can’t buy those used games for $15 and then sell them for $50? Apparently, it’s by offering as many toys, phones, tablets, and non-gaming items as possible. It remains to be seen whether or not that strategy will end up saving them, or sinking them.