For years, MCV has asked: Just when will global games giant GameStop finally, properly expand its chain into the UK?
But it turns out GameStop doesn’t have to be here to tap into the second-largest games retail market in the world: the firm has told MCV its new digital games strategy can help it reach gamers across the UK – without having to open another shop.
Discussing its digital plans with MCV following the acquisition of Flash games portal Kongregate last week, digital ventures GM Chris Petrovic said: “The benefit of any digital business is that it is location agnostic.
“It does give us purview into those territories where we don’t have a physical presence.”
He added that acquisitions like Kongregate “give us an opportunity to make an entrée into areas where we don’t have a retail presence at all, or where our retail base isn’t as strong as other countries”.
GameStop owns only two mainland UK stores – in Birmingham and Cheshire - with sites across Ireland. But maybe that relatively slight British foothold is enough in a vast business that includes more than 6,500 stores across almost 20 countries worldwide, and one of the last remaining consumer games magazine superbrands in Game Informer.
Certainly, the approach can help GameStop reach out to developers and other content firms, as well as consumers.
The user community and developers using Kongregate are spread across the world, beyond its home of North America. Site founder Jim Greer told MCV that the UK is its number two traffic source. “We definitely can help GameStop enter new areas,” he said.
And it won’t just be GAME, GameStation and HMV that could feel pressure from GameStop’s sneaking into UK mindshare via the web.
The likes of IGN, GameSpot and Eurogamer may find themselves challenged too, as GameStop looks to engage consumers with all sorts of content online.
Added Greer: “GameStop.com presents the same opportunity. It’s moving towards being a broad portal with gameplay, content and community as well as e-commerce features.
“Along with Kongregate, it won’t be just a place where you want to buy a game, but somewhere you go to find out more about a game, or play it.”