GameStop has been struggling for years, losing tons of money every year. The company has been trying to rebrand, pushing more and more collectibles and other addon products to try and push the “experience” of shopping there, but consumers remain unconvinced. Holiday 2019 results were bad for the company, and it doesn’t look to be getting any better. A new interview with various current and former employees says that GameStop has become increasingly desperate at a corporate level.
The recent article posted by Polygon features many different interviews from a dozen different employees with GameStop, and the picture painted is desperate and unflattering. The interviews were all pretty frank, reinforcing a central point about the dire straights games retail finds itself in. “I think they’ll close a thousand stores this year,” one former store manager explained. “They have to cut costs. The games retail market is dying.”
Going into more specifics about the state of GameStop in the last few years, the picture isn’t good. According to another interviewee, “customer traffic has dipped significantly in the past two years. Aside from some expected high-traffic days like Thanksgiving, Black Friday and major game release days, we’re missing our daily sales plans almost every single day.”
This has led to crackdowns on stores and employees, which has seemingly destroyed company morale. One frontline employee says “if we aren’t hitting these company-set goals, we are getting written up,” and that’s the attitude applied to everyone. “They want us to hound customers about trading in their old cell phones and tablets. I recently had a visit from a senior manager who said that close [to hitting target] isn’t good enough. If you aren’t hitting the goals set, you are failing.”
This statement is pretty consistent with the current financial state of the company. There have been hundreds of millions of dollars hemorrhaging out of the company for the last several years. And as a result, the corporate culture has changed. “The company is frantic and distrustful,” the claims asserted, “You can feel it in every message they sent. The structure is falling apart and they’re scrambling.”
Gamers have been pretty frank about the lack of willingness to shop at GameStop. Digital distribution has made the retail experience overall fairly unnecessary. People often head to online sources or other stores for better prices in some areas. The upsells and cross-sells for pre-orders and used games have also pushed many away.
After closing more than 60 stores last month, the company has seen its various revival efforts falter. The retail outlet had previously tried other innovations, like a rental program, which failed quickly. It remains to be seen if the company can overcome these shortcomings and failures in 2020.