Despite the rise of digital distribution, GameStop is a bricks and mortar game retailer who’s managed to weather the changing seasons remarkably well. The company has it’s hands in multiple “channels”, including PC game download portals and games media, in the guise of magazine Game Informer. Now, the GameStop Corporation’s Chief Executive has thrown his support behind the coming virtual reality revolution stating “We’re going to be the destination for VR”.
The games industry has traditionally been a pretty fluid place for retailers, with those caught lagging behind often punished severely. GameStop has been a stalwart of games industry retail business since 2004. With the growth in online and digital content distribution, traditional mall or high street based shops have had a hard time. GameStop have stuck in there however, with over 4000 outlets across the states, it’s one of the largest dedicated game retailers out there.
In an interview with Fortune, GameStop CEO Paul Raines has added his company’s support for the forthcoming tide of consumer virtual reality. “Analysts believe there could be 10 million VR users by the end of 2016, and there are hardware forecasts of $30 billion by 2020,” Raines says. “We’re going to be the destination for VR.”
GameStop has seen profits rise this year as the company’s digital distribution platform grows, but Raines doesn’t see physical media going anywhere any time soon, and that includes VR based content. “Disc-based games will be around forever,” he says. “The market has seen physical music sales down 50% from its peak and physical movie sales down 60% from its peak, but even in a doomsday scenario, disc-based games will be around for a long time. I see a complimentary business where we sell discs plus download like the current console mode. Virtual reality games will also likely follow this model.”
Oculus’s Rift and HTC’s Vice VR headsets are due to hit retail in numbers in Q1 2016 with Sony’s Playstation VR following in Q2, so it’s an opportunity for retailers the world over to embrace this new source of revenue for the industry. What’s more, unlike traditional games, VR really does require a physical demonstration to convey it’s power. This is an area retailers like GameStop are in an ideal position to exploit. Oculus founder Palmer Luckey confirmed to us in an interview at this year’s E3 that retail presence is absolutely something the company will be engaging in.