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GameStop to get into comics, but should trade-in itself for a fistful of dirt

🎵 Let it go, let it go. Turn away and slam the door. 🎵

Image: Medium

After the news broke that troubled retailer GameStop was considering a buyout, I entered into a phase of deep self-reflection. We had just lost Toys R Us, are we ready to lose another staple of pop culture and gaming brick and mortar? With GameStop confirming the buyout talks, perhaps it is time for it to fuck off into the brick and mortar retail graveyard in the plot next to Toys R Us and Radio Shack.

There is a certain antiquated nostalgia that comes with shopping at a physical retail location, but times have changed. We’ve grown as a society to not have to rely on physical copies of a game. We can download that shit. Of course, with downloading games (and paying the full retail price) we lose the ability to trade or sell the game after we are done with it. But was that ability ever really worth the effort? Did we ever feel satisfaction after selling or trading a pile of games in for a single new disc at GameStop? Or was it akin to deluding yourself into thinking your best friends’ new step-mom is totally into you?

The only thing to this point that has saved GameStop from immediate extinction at the hands of discounted games on Xbox Live and Amazon was its foray into pop culture merchandise. Its purchase of ThinkGeek and stocking its shelves with Funko toys helped keep it kind of relevant in malls and with Gen-X shoppers unable to mature past the 1990s, but it was clearly just a band-aid.

The used game business is a scab that won’t heal and every time we pick at it we get one step closer to sepsis. The self-loathing we have to swallow every time we trade in a $70 disc for somewhere around $2.14 cash (or $7 in trade value) is thick and palatable. The back of our throats fill up with bile as we accept the trade value and pick up a $29 used game. But then, the cycle ends. That game won’t be traded or sold back to GameStop.

But let’s forget about video games for a second. Let’s talk about that pop culture spin. To this point, there hasn’t been a true retail giant that has threatened independent comic book stores. My town has one great comic book store, Dark Side Comics. While there is some crossover with retailers like Barnes & Noble (board games) and GameStop (pop culture toys), they still manage to be the top spot in the area for comics. Now, in a last-gasp effort to be relevant, GameStop is getting into the comic book business.

Will this threaten local shops like Dark Side? Probably not. Even with the three or four GameStop stores in town, there is no way they can compete with the back issues or sheer selection of a pure comic book store. I expect mostly new comics and exclusive deals with brands such as Marvel, but nothing that would give the impression that GameStop would become a one-stop-shop for anything but a lecture on the social implications of Final Fantasy history. Will more diversification be enough to save GameStop? Should it?

We lamented the death of Toys R Us, but why? Why should we shed a tear for a business that was unable to adapt to the changing face of retail? The same thing applies here. Why shed a tear for a business that has survived on the pawn shop model of retail for so long? GameStop has profited off the insanely high depreciation of discs and secondary market value that has only screwed consumers. The math never works out in our favor in the long term.

My advice to whatever investor group purchases GameStop is to let it die. Sure, the NES Classic is back in stock but Walmart carries that. Walmart always has the new game you want, without having to spend five bucks to reserve it. Plus, Walmart won’t try to sell you a magazine subscription so you can save about as much as you spent on the magazine subscription.

Get your comics at the local comic shop, get your board games there too. Get your video games at Walmart, Amazon or Xbox Live, Steam or Playstation Now. Sell whatever discs you have remaining on eBay if you must continue to delude yourself that the secondary market is profitable in any way. All these sources offer everything GameStop offers, just without the condemnation from the employee who doesn’t approve of your purchase of Deer Hunter: Reloaded.

Chime in – what do you think about GameStop getting into comics? Let us know below.

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A tech writer on the internet for over 15 years for outlets such as Forbes, Wired, TNW, and others, Curtis is exhausted, burnt out and happy to just write buying guides and the occasional review for KnowTechie, the best tech blog your mom never told you about. Ephemeral existence for ephemeral times. Please send pitches and grainy pictures of the inside of your elbow to kevin@knowtechie.com

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