Gamer's Thumb

Why we’re the reason stores like GameStop close

In Gamer's Thumb

JR Ortega

By JR Ortega
April 8, 2017 at 12:02 a.m.
Updated April 8, 2017 at 12:08 a.m.

The musty smell of the rental store in my small hometown is one I can – to this day – easily call to my mind’s nose.

As a child, Friday night marked the day my mom and I would take our weekly trip to pick out two movies, but most importantly for me, a video game.I always got so excited, and I couldn’t wait to dive in and throw my weekend away by going on an adventure.

Of course, that experience changed as the years went by, and rental stores have mostly been made obsolete.

Sure, it’s much better these days: We simply stay home and stream virtually any TV show or movie we feel like watching.

And, if we’re really feeling active, we may venture out to a Redbox to get one of the newer releases that may not be available via streaming devices.

Well, times are changing again, and slowly we are seeing the decline of game shops; specifically GameStop, which two weeks ago announced it would be closing more than 100 of its stores nationwide.

The company reported on its website that its overall sales last quarter compared to the year prior fell 13.6 percent.

That’s a pretty substantial decrease, and the reason sadly makes sense: not enough in-store purchases.

Granted, I know GameStop is relatively in good standing with thousands of  stores still operating, the news of even more than 100 closures hurts my core.

I don’t want the experience of shopping at at game store to go by the wayside. It’s understandable that many people see the efficiency in downloading new video games straight into their PlayStation 4, Xbox One or Nintendo consoles.

Still, for me, nothing beats going into a store and stumbling across something new. It’s the smell of the merchandise, the voices on the flat-screen TV talking about the latest, hottest games. It’s chatting up a fellow gamer at the store or talking to the GameStop expert about a new release.

Most recently, my partner and I experienced the passion and excitement during a midnight release for the Nintendo Switch and “Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild.”

To me – much like my experience as a kid in a rental store – these experiences are what it means to be a gamer. Nothing surpasses that feeling.

Again, I understand why downloading games is more efficient. It’s instant, you don’t have to leave your home and you save space in your home, though you may whittle down your console’s memory. That’s tough to compete with.

To be honest, I’ve even found myself tempted to make a digital download, especially during the middle of the night on an impulse buy.

But much like bookstores, gaming stores need us to survive.

Like gaming stores, I thoroughly enjoy perusing a bookstore. Grabbing that venti Earl Grey tea latte and walking around for hours discovering new finds is something I can’t experience by clicking “purchase” on my iPad.

Now, I’m somewhat of a hypocrite, because I actually own a slew of digital books; however, I continue adding to my bookshelves at home.It’s the best of both worlds.

I say we embrace all the great technological changes while at the same time supporting how they all got their start – a store. There’s no reason our physical and digital worlds can’t live in harmony.

Want to get the latest in gaming news and reviews, then follow J.R. Ortega on Twitter, @j_r_ortega. You can also keep up with his Gamer’s Thumb blog on



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