Over the last several months, GameStop has been trialing 12 new concept stores in Tulsa, Oklahoma in an attempt to reinvent (and salvage) itself. GamesIndustry.biz was recently invited to provide coverage on the struggling chain’s experiments, and apparently, they seem to be working.
Gamestop’s new concept stores are “loud, bustling, and packed with people playing games” thanks to a shift to communal experiences. Instead of shelves and kiosks of pre-owned cases and collectibles, the majority of space is now reserved for activities such as LAN parties and tabletop gaming.
One of the stores features 36 gaming stations in the back, where customers can battle one another in Fortnite tournaments and win prizes. These “were almost entirely full with a wide age range of players, most of whom were participating in the event (though others were demoing titles such as Pokémon and Super Mario Maker 2),” described GamesIndustry.biz.
The stores also feature a couch co-op station for multiplayer gaming, as well as a community table for Dungeons & Dragons and other tabletop games. What’s particularly interesting are the retro-themed store concepts, which let customers play classic arcade machines. There’s even giant, heavy CRTs available to play 8-bit and 16-bit titles as they were intended.
GameStop is calling its concept stores “laboratories,” but while the experiment appears to be working in terms of increasing foot traffic, it isn’t clear how they’ll translate to sales. Is anyone going to even buy anything, or will they just treat GameStop like a modern arcade?
Time will tell, but there’s no shortage of bad news for the retailer these days. Just yesterday, Polygon received news that GameStop had laid off as many as 10 district managers. This was “part of a middle-management cost-cutting exercise.”