We mentioned over a year ago about GameStop hiring an executive to manage digital distribution and followed up with an article about DLC being sold in their stores, but now GameStop wants to link to your Xbox Live account to bring you content that you can already download from the comfort of your home.
GameStop is still hanging onto the fact that a store strictly for games is still a viable and necessary option and numbers back that up, with the fact that Xbox Live Arcade point cards are usually the number one selling accessory in gaming every month as of late.
Why would customers buy digital products in a physical store? Click the break to find out.
GameStop's hired SVP/GM of Digital, Shawn Freeman said GameStop has plans to link your Xbox Live account to GameStop with some sort of GameStop ID, so you can make purchases that would immediately show up on your console when it connects to the Internet. This would also be an option for the PlayStation Network.
(We) have been a huge seller of those points in the marketplace. As I understand it, we're neck and neck, or we sell even more, than they sell directly through Xbox Live or the PlayStation Network. Which speaks to our access to gamers who care about playing those games.
Physical locations would be an advantage in selling add-ons like this, but only if the retailer hires at least half-intelligent salespeople, which GameStop clearly does not. The point cards are being sold nearly as a convenience to the people coming into the store to pick up a new console or the latest game, not because the associate is selling the product.
With the addition of the DLC cards being sold, the necessity to push these cards becomes even higher, especially when GameStop wants to be able to integrate all of these cards into the GameStop ID idea.
Today you pick the card up off the rack that's associated with that map pack, we ring it up as part of your transaction in the store, and then we give you the code that allows you go home and (access the content).
Ultimately, we want to reduce even more of that friction, so when you buy that map pack in our store, we're going to be able to associate your Xbox profile with your GameStop profile, and then automatically push that to your download queue.
Freeman also mentioned that GameStop does have partners that they are actively working with to create this idea and put it into practice. The question still remains though: how do we get past the divide of good practices and ideas with bad salespeople, a problem which has plagued GameStop from the regional level down.
Freeman defends his position adamantly:
We're the ones that do a great job of helping consumers understand what their opportunities and options are for playing games.
This may be true from region to region but up and down the east coast I have yet to run into a GameStop in which I have been offered anything except a used game, a subscription to an outdated and paid-off magazine or a pre-order. Never have I been offered an accessory or add-on to a game or console that I have purchased from the store. That point directly refutes Freeman's take on the issue, which he says the associates would sell a map add-on card, say to a Call of Duty game or something of the like.
Lastly, this option would somewhat cut into profit from Microsoft or from Sony. Freeman slightly disagrees.
I would argue that we're not hurting their bottom line. If we're increasing their sales, we're helping their bottom line. Our view is that when you look at all the different ways people buy content digitally, that experience and that discovery experience is key to realize that opportunity... if we do a good job, that's going to continue to bring value to our publishers and our platform partners, because we're going to continue to drive more sales for them.
It makes sense on a quantity level but again goes down to the associates constantly selling the product. It all comes down to a great idea that needs the right people in place. GameStop needs to shift its hiring process to a more "employee-first" mindset that not only hires the right people and gives those people the right tools to complete their job but also allows the employees to understand why selling certain items benefit the company and themselves alike. Secondly, GameStop would also have to alter its business model to ensure that it becomes accepted in the hardcore gamer and tech communities. This is done by convincing people like myself that it is no longer a money-hungry beast that cannot be fed. I don't foresee the second option happening, but there is hope. Maybe a product like this backed by a couple of strong people in the company can turn around the business. Only time will tell.