The actual acquiring of new games is part of the gaming life, so what is it like to shop for games? Before acquiring a new game, maybe you are the ones that like to stroll around in the store and check out the box, maybe even try the game, or do you prefer to shop everything online or over digital distribution? No matter what, there is some shopping involved in the gaming life. In this article I will take a look at the current and future state of Shopping (from a gamer’s point of view).
Good and bad times
Right now is a very good time to be a game shopper, but one the other hand it is also a grim time. How, do you wonder?
On the bright side the Internet has brought so many free games to us that we are almost drowning amongst them. Thanks to the vast net there are also more cool game projects that you can ever read about; you have to keep your head cool and be on the lookout for the ones that stands out. Facebook has also given its users a big range of free games; although many of these can start to cost you quite a bit; especially if you want to be more involved than most games allow for free.
When I start writing about second hand games, it is hard to place it on the “good” or “bad” side; this all depends on which side You are standing on. If you are a developer or distributor of games you would rather not see that so many people just buy second hand copies of your games, since the profit of the second hand purchases goes more or less directly to the retailer, leaving you with nothing money-wise (although there will be new players for your game). If you instead are a gamer who just wants to buy a game as cheap as possible, then the second hand business is wonderful.
The sad state of physical stores
A bit on the grim side is the current state of the whole “physical” retail business. Recently there has coming a lot of bad press about HMV, GAME and other retailers and how they are losing on many fronts right now. HMV’s, GAME’s and other stores’ stories are based on what I have heard in UK, but the retail business and the game retails business is quite similar in many places, at least in the “west”. If I have been curious on a game, it has always been nice to have been able to go to a store, check out the box and look at other cool game related stuff there. All these things appear more and more as a thing of the past. Why? I think the biggest reasons are the online sales of games (think Amazon & Zavvi) but also the digital distribution of games; though I must say that the physical game stores have quite much to blame themselves for this; they have clearly not kept up with the changes.
One thing I don’t like about the game stores where I live is that they close so early. Sometimes after work when I want to go and check out some game, maybe around 5:30 pm, the stores are already closing! It seems they have missed that all the people who grew up with games in the 80s and 90s are adults now, many of them with jobs and families. Another issue is that the physical stores get “out of stock” so quickly, even on the newest games! It would also be cool with a comfortable place in the store where you can hang out for a bit, test some games or some other activities. The stores have to be more creative to survive; although maybe the digital distribution will kill it anyway sooner or later.
Shopping through the digital distribution chain, I am referring to downloading games legally here, is surely a very comfortable activity. Just start your computer/console/tablet and open the store; there you will find everything you need when talking about games. There are of course concerns with digital shopping also. One thing that I think of and ponder over is the “fast history” of video games; I will not talk about that history yet, will leave that for future articles, but in short it can be summarized as games are, by many, put in the history books just years or even months after being released. This also happens for consoles and computers after 5-10 years.
When talking about the fast history of video games, I have to mention the problem with “playing the game again when the console is not supported any longer”, will that be possible!? There might be a risk here. If you buy game X on the console’s marketplace, what will happen when you want to play it again, in for example ten years, when two new generations of consoles already have passed through your living room? The old console is still alive and kicking, but the disk is empty, so you login to the online store, but your game is not to be found anymore, since that was made for the store a previous generation of the console. I think and hope that this is just a worst fear of a lover of old games, but technically it can happen and probably will happen, especially for games on consoles and tablets whose manufacturer and developers are no longer in operation.
Final words of comfort
No reason to complain too much over a situation out of my hand, these words were just my two cents. But nonetheless shopping for games is more diverse today than 10-15 years ago; there are so many different channels to use and ways to shop, so as far as possible I try to see it from the bright side: if you want to play a good game it is easier than ever to find one. Remember to keep updated by reading this blog for example!