It must be difficult to own an empire of physical video game stores as the market marches towards our inevitable all-digital future. Gamestop has tried anything they could think of to draw in customers and convince them to spend money. Then, in February, Gamestop announced a strange new venture that they assured everyone wasn’t a foray into game publishing. They decided to publish a game. And today, the non-game publisher announced, again, that they would be publishing video games.
Insomniac’s Song of the Deep is still scheduled to be released in mid-July with physical copies sold in Gamestop stores. Now developers Tequila Works, Ready at Dawn, and Frozenbyte have made deals with Gamestop to develop and publish their games. The new publishing arm will be called GameTrust, because that sounds the most foreboding.
It is nice to see Gamestop finding smaller games from smaller developers and giving them a hand, but this all seems confusing to me. GameTrust will release physical copies of these titles in Gamestop stores but, assuming they’re released like Song of the Deep, will also be available digitally. It is smart to sell games however you can, and Gamestop should be investing in the future, but investing in the very business model that will end you seems damaging.
Then of course you have a retailer possibly running afoul of other publishers. Every publisher competes and GameTrust, no matter how small, is running up against a lot of heavy hitters who also give Gamestop their inventory. What if EA or Activision decide not to sell major titles at Gamestop stores? What if Call of Duty and Madden don’t get those midnight releases? As Gamestop pokes and prods the publishing market and holds on tight to their waning used game market, something will eventually implode.