In all the chaos of E3’s cancellation, it’s important not to let another major story fall through the cracks. Reggie Fils-Aime was among three new hires at GameStop this week, assuming a seat on the board of directors. It’s an exciting move for certain, but it has lots of gamers wondering if the move isn’t coming too late. Can GameStop turn things around, or is the writing on the wall? Let’s start by breaking down where things are at.
GameStop, A Retrospective
Headquartered in Grapevine, Texas, GameStop can trace its roots all the way back to Babbage’s in 1984. After being acquired by Barnes and Noble, Funcoland was renamed to GameStop in 2000. The company came to prominence following the acquisition of EB Games in 2005. The next 12 years saw a period of rapid expansion for GameStop as they acquired more of their rivals. Rhino Video Games, Micromania, Free Record Shops, and Jolt Online Gaming all came under the purview of GameStop.
The golden age would last for a decade, with GameStop seeing spectacular numbers into the mid 2010’s. In the eyes of many, 2016 was the year things changed as sales fell by 16%. With the rise of digital sales and the increasing trend of consumers not going into brick and mortar stores, GameStop’s sales began to plummet. Exclusive DLC and pre-order bonuses acted as bandages for awhile, but the problem was soon revealed to be much more endemic than that. Services like X-Box GamePass took a further toll on an already vulnerable company. So began a cycle of CEO’s being swapped in and out in an effort to stanch the bleeding. And that brings us to now.
Our Bodies Are Reggie
There are few people more beloved in this era of gaming than Reggie Fils-Aime. He’s so well liked that gamers actually learned to pronounce his last name. It’s “fees-ah-may” if you didn’t know. Reggie is best known for his time at Nintendo of America, where he served as the company president. He had an outstanding relationship with Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata, and helped usher in a golden age for Nintendo in America. That golden age is also known as the Wii.
In 2007, he went to introduce the Wii Balance Board at E3 and famously uttered the phrase “My body is ready.” The moment became an instant meme and endeared him to many in the gaming community. He went on to help Nintendo of America weather the storm of the Wii-U and eventually get back to the promised land of the Switch. In 2019, Reggie resigned from Nintendo, choosing not to share any future plans.
Can Reggie fix GameStop?
So now that we know how we got here, it brings us back to the most pertinent question. Can Reggie pull GameStop back from the brink? It’s a complicated question, and truthfully, no one has the answer. Even if Reggie is the perfect hire, there’s no accounting for external market factors. Look around right now. Great events are being cancelled left and right due to Coronavirus. Since we can’t just open GameStop’s books and see what they’re up against, we’ll have to settle for an educated guess.
GameStop has been hemorrhaging money for the last few years, and has gone through a number of owners in an attempt to save itself. They’ve sold off assets like Spring Mobile to stay afloat, but now is the time for a major shift in ideology. Reggie absolutely has the cache and the mindset to save GameStop. He’ll bring some fresh ideas for how to tackle the numerous challenges the company is facing.
Changes Are In The Works
Already, we’ve heard that GameStop is shifting its focus to being more of a play space than actual retail space. This is smart. One of the major things they need to do is convince people that they should leave their homes and go to a store. Selling stuff isn’t going to accomplish that, not in the era of Amazon. Instead, if customers are coming in to play Dungeons and Dragons or board games, you now have a captive audience that may be enticed to buy something.
Overall, I believe Reggie is definitely the right hire. If GameStop had made the move in 2015, I don’t think they’re where they are now. And I don’t think that Reggie would have taken the job if he believed the situation was hopeless. He has the cache to work anywhere, why would he invest his time in a lost cause? GameStop may never return to the prominence it once had, but can it be a successful business? I think so. Only time will tell.
It’s March and our Video Game Bracket Challenge is on! You and a friend could win a Respawn Gaming Chair and all you have to do is cast your votes for which games are the best of all time. You can have six chances to win by voting throughout the month. Check out the bracket here.