LONDON GAMES CONFERENCE 2011: Growth for the industry can only be good for retail, GameStop boss says

‘Digital revolution will help, not hinder retail’

The traditional console customer is evolving into something else entirely, an executive at the world’s biggest games retailer has said.

Mike Mauler, executive vice president GameStop International, said the console customer has now become the “hybrid customer”. Fans of traditional boxed blockbusters such as Call of Duty are turning their attentions to games on social media, tablets and smartphones, he said.

But the growth of digital media is an opportunity for retailers, not a threat, he claimed.

“We’re very bullish about online,” Mauler claimed.

“Digital is complimentary to our business, and growing the industry. What’s good for the industry is good for retail,” he added.

Mauler’s comments come from the opening keynote address at the 2011 London Games Conference. Speaking at a packed auditorium, Mauler revealed GameStop’s estimates for global video game sales over the next three years.

Traditional boxed retail will flat-line until 2014, making about $50 billion every year until then, he said.

And while Mauler didn’t expect digital to overtake retail during the same time frame, he revealed GameStop’s estimates that online revenues will grow 75 per cent from now until 2014. That would be an increase from $20 billion to $35 billion.

But because of the unprecedented growth, the focused retail model is needed more than ever, he said.

“We’re now in an environment where there are 100,000 SKUs per year,” he said.

“I’ve purchased scores of iPhone apps that I’ve deleted ten minutes later,” he added, commenting issues of discoverability within oceanic content portals such as Apple’s App Store.

Retail outlets are still necessary in this age, he said, because they can inform customers of the best content suited to their tastes.

“We have a closer relationship with the customers, we can cut through and speak to the market directly,” he said.

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