When I moved out to Miami in early 2009 there were tons of non-Gamestop video game stores. From multiple Play ‘n Trades to other non-chain stores, there were dozens of options to choose from. Enter 2011 and virtually none of these places are in business anymore. They have all dropped like flies. So what has happened to all our gaming stores?
What we need to look at are a couple of factors, namely money and progress. Costs required to run a game store are not too extravagant however Miami has one major issue when it comes to running any business, high rental costs. Any business owner trying to make a buck in Miami has to first contend with outrageous monthly building rental costs. Combine that with other expenses such as hiring employees and items to maintain/refurbish systems/games and you have what may come across as a never-ending hole of debt.
Another factor I feel is possibly more of a contributor to the fall of gaming stores, not only in Miami but nationwide, is the widespread use of the Internet. Websites like eBay, Amazon, and Craigslist continue to become more and more popular and make it easy for gamers to sell their unwanted games and systems for much more than they would get from any store. Why sell your copy of Modern Warfare 2 for $5 of trade-in store credit when you can possibly sell it for over $20 cash? Why buy a brand new copy of Mortal Kombat for $60 from a game store when it will be $50 a few weeks after it’s release online? For a while, general user ignorance and website complexity has kept a majority of people from using the Internet and going to game stores, but every new day seems to lead more in the favor of the Interwebs. Not only does this increased use of the net increase the amount of items available online, it also drives down the price via competition. It’s a win/win situation for buyers.
Besides for gamers going online to sell and buy, sellers are also moving their entire stock to the Internet. Why would you go through all the hassle of having a video game store when you can sell online with exposure to millions of buyers worldwide? Plus it’s extremely simple to do; even I have my own eBay and Amazon stores where I have all my items listed for sale. As cool as running a video game store may seem, the hard cold truth is that it is all about making money in the end. In the long run, selling a game for a little bit cheaper usually outweighs the cost of running your own facility.
So that’s it, used video game stores have been given their walking papers. What’s going to happen in a couple of years when our gaming options are Best Buy and Gamestop? What will happen to retro collectors who prefer games that those stores don’t necessarily carry? While the Internet does make locating specific games much easier, it’s nothing like the rush you get finding that same game in the wild. I have a feeling we are going to be limited to garage sales and flea markets. When that day comes, what a sad world of gaming it will be.