It’s no industry secret that GameStop has been struggling in recent years, largely due to the rise of mobile games, digital distribution of software, and e-commerce giants such as Amazon. With the company rejecting a buyout option and intent on searching for a new CEO, it must look for new ways to generate revenue, especially when its stock recently took a heavy hit. One of these methods includes a subtle change to GameStop’s pre-order policy, establishing a new 30-day limit for cash returns.
As reported by Kotaku, gamers now have a 30-day window after a game’s launch to get back full refunds for any money placed for pre-orders; after this time period, store credit is offered instead. The implication is that prior to this change, customers had a much wider timeframe to do so. Though the policy seems rather generous with a one-month buffer, it’s clear that GameStop is looking to earn back money from consumers that may have forgotten about pre-orders they’ve placed well in advance. Offering store credit incentivizes return visits by customers that do not wish to lose out money for no reason, and will allow GameStop to recoup potential losses of pre-ordered units that don’t end up getting sold.
Though in a way the new mandate reflects a rather consumer-unfriendly practice, its implementation must have been necessary for a company that is on its last legs. While it is undoubtedly looking for new revenue infusions, GameStop must seek value where it can to remain afloat for now. The days of gamers heading to brick-and-mortar local stores to pick up games are dwindling, as most people are content with downloading their software directly or waiting for packages to arrive.
Gone are the days of waiting in line to pick up an anticipated game, with most companies now allowing digital content pre-loads before a hyped release. GameStop must now adapt to the times, especially since it chose to remain independent, or else the increasing encroachment of the digital age may finally spell an end to the once prosperous retailer.