I've been doing a less than scientific survey, but the results seem clear. In 2011, the traditional brick and mortar gaming stores are losing sales to online options. Here's why.
First, let me say that despite being a loyal member of Amazon.com for over a decade, that I always made an effort to support my local GameStop and other gaming stores. I liked the idea of supporting local workers. We went in every week, knew the staff, listened to their recommendations, and bought a lot of games. In many cases I could have gotten the games cheaper on Amazon, but I wanted to support our local economy.
However, it's now weeks (if not months) before we go to a local store. I've been polling people both locally and in my widespread internet community and I hear the same story. They simply buy online now. Here are some of the reasons people give.
With Amazon Prime, a game shows up in 2 days, free shipping. I used to wait in line at midnight for new game releases. Now, I simply order it from Amazon and for free it shows up on my doorstep first thing in the morning on that same day, no muss, no fuss. As peoples' lives get more busy, they crave that time savings.
I admit I feel guilty about not supporting the local economy. Most people I talk with have no twinges at all. They are on a very tight budget, a game is already a "luxury purchase", and they are going to get their video game as cheaply as humanly possible. It's a tough moral issue, but also an understandable one.
This is a trickier issue. I've never had my card information stolen by Amazon. However, I *have* had my credit card information stolen after using my card at GameStop. I had to completely disconnect all sorts of auto-purchases from that card and go through the hassle of getting a new card. I've heard from other people who have had cards stolen in online stores.
On the less drastic scale, there are often rude employees, dismissive employees, sarcastic employees, and the largest turnover I have ever seen. It seems that a good employee barely lasts a month before they move on. It's not like a music store where a talented employee who knows her stuff is appreciated. In a gaming store, it seems like everyone is paid rock-bottom and is seeking to get out.
When games are bought online through download systems like STEAM, they are as eco-friendly as possible. You click a button, you wait a few minutes, and your machine has the latest game. This works in every console now. No cardboard, no shipping gas used, no plastic, no DVDs burned. It's pure electronic transmission as efficiently as possible. This would seem the ideal way to move games around.
The down side, of course, is that you can't resell the game when you're done - but have you looked at the reseller market? A game you paid $60 for is worth maybe $5 a few months later, and that's if you can convince anyone to buy it from you.
I'm always seeking more input on this topic. Please head into our forums and let us know what you think about game purchases in our modern times!