By Brianna Ahearn, contributing writer
GameStop, one of the leading providers in retail games, has launched a new imitative designed to keep shoppers coming into their physical locations. The retailer's digital revenue was over $200 million last year, and downloads are only gaining in popularity. The company is estimated to have an annual revenue of $10.29 billion this year. On October 12, Fortune.com reported GameStop is preparing to take on the digital scene with an innovative way to make shopping at a GameStop location an “experience.”
For its brick-and-mortar stores, GameStop sees that their customer base is highly interested in used video games, and the retailer intends to keep those customers, as these customers engage in the cycle of buying a game, trading it in, and then purchasing a new one. The challenge is getting new customers into their stores, and they have turned to technology to accomplish this game. At their annual GameStop Expo, a convention dedicated to video game technology and use, the company showcased their first step toward getting new customers, an Augmented Reality (AR) demo that will let customers see virtual video game characters in the store. The new initiative is by the company's GameStop Technology Institute, which seeks to capture the attention of smartphone and tablet users to bring them into the stores by introducing a way to use that technology in-store.
The app would function in the same manner as the recently-released Disney app “Mayhem at the Mansion,” which allows Disney Park visitors to take pictures of ghosts in-app while in the parks. The GameStop app demo shown at the conference used several popular video game titles, including Disney Infinity, LEGO: The Movie Video Game, and Watch Dogs. According to Fortune, the Disney demo showed characters “opening” a wall and demonstrating a gameplay option, while the LEGO video game had the characters come out of the game case. Implemented in the app are social networking functions like Twitter and Facebook, so gamers could share their experience with others.
GameStop features a loyalty program known as Power Rewards, and the company hopes the customers visiting their physical locations would already be signed into the Power Rewards app. An entry beacon would be used to recognize each customer's device, and display product suggestions, such as newly released titles and special deals. By integrating this function along with the AR app experience, GameStop would be providing a fun and interactive way to demonstrate their game offerings in-store.
“We're making the store a platform. We believe content sells itself and since video games are very immersive, high-fidelity experiences showing customers what these experiences are is very important. The mobile device is a mechanism that we can use to have the game characters actually talk about the games or talk about the missions that are part of the game,” says Jeff Donaldson, vice president of GameStop Technology Institute. A store location in Austin, Texas will be the first location to test the new initiative.
GameStop is in talks with all of the popular game publishers and developers to create exclusive in-store options for customers. Also underway is testing of 4K TV displays to show game trailers. Customers will be able to call up this content from the cloud, and then have it stream in high-quality on the in-store TV installations. Users of the AR app will be alerted to whether the game they're “experiencing” has a 4K game trailer available so they may view additional information about the game, and see gameplay demonstrations. As wearable AR technology hits the market, such as the new Samsung Oculus Rift device, the retailer looks to integrate their AR abilities with these devices.
“We’re excited about the future of video games and 4K gaming and so we really want customers to be able to come in, take over that display and see what it’s all about,” says Donaldson.