The lockdown has affected every aspect of life worldwide. Naturally this extends to the way we shop for video games. Something any game collector will tell you is how much fun it can be to browse a used game store’s shelves to find something new and exciting to add to your collection. But when shopping in person is still not easy to do safely, online shopping is sometimes the only option.
I saw sometimes because you can still shop in-person at stores like GameStop. Granted, it’s a bit different: there are limited number of patrons allowed in the store, and there are a lot less demo kiosks and merchandise on the shelves.
Like… a lot less merchandise.
I went to GameStop to shop in-person a few weeks back. I wanted to check out the in store selection of games, after having searching online through their website’s offerings. It was early in the morning, there wasn’t any line to get in, and I was the only one there. It seemed like an easy and safe way to look at what they had to offer!
Perhaps because of COVID or maybe a new direction for the store, there weren’t a lot of game cases on the shelves. Yes, there were still new and used games for all sorts of systems, but there were not the stacks and stacks of games for you to browse. Rather, in the PS4 section for example, there were maybe 30-40 games on the used game shelf. A far cry from the normal 100+ I am used to seeing. Then, next to the shelf, there was a printed out paper catalog of what I am assuming to be the other games this particular GameStop store had for sale.
It was sad. As someone that really enjoys browsing a shelf, seeing a title, and getting excited about adding to the collection, this new method was definitely a bummer. And I think I understand why GameStop went this way: it absolutely cuts down on the amount of hands, and therefore potential spread of COVID. In theory, if you are only showing the front of a game’s cover, someone won’t need to touch it to see what it is. And, if you’re only showing off the consoles 30 or 40 most popular games at the time, you will likely address the needs of the large majority of consumers coming in to buy games. It makes sense: it’s safe and effective for the customers of GameStop.
Unfortunately though, it means the days of looking for games on the shelf might be gone. At least for the time being: I am hoping this change was made solely in an effort to combat COVID. And that’s awesome, that’s exactly the responsible choice a video game store should do. For what it’s worth, I think GameStop’s online options are pretty damn good too. It doesn’t compare looking at images online versus looking at physical discs and cases in store, but it’s an alternative I am okay with doing if it means people can stop getting sick.
However, I really do hope we can get back to in-person shopping for video games. It’s how I really enjoyed finding new games, and is undeniably one of the reasons I started collecting in the first place. Plus, buying online from a big reseller like GameStop doesn’t afford you to know the quality of the game you’re purchasing: What is the quality of the disc? Is it complete with the original case and art? Is it really the special edition or a regular edition you’ll be sent? Lots of concerns, though minor, that would be eliminated once we can safely shop in-person again.
With all that in mind, I am happy to wait to shop my preferred way. This is going to be a new chapter in the game collection journey, and it’ll be one I won’t forget (I definitely found some games online I otherwise likely wouldn’t have found at my local GameStop stores).
While I am ready to return to some semblance of normal in the game collecting community, I am happy to wait my turn and keep others safe and on the road to recovery. If nothing else, I’ve got plenty of great titles to hold me over until then.
Stay safe out there,