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Xbox's GameStop deal: lifeline or table scraps? | Podcast

Latest episode available to download now, also discusses Xbox Series X/S launch day line-up

On the latest GamesIndustry.biz Podcast, four members of the team -- Matt, Brendan, Chris and James -- discuss the biggest stories of the past week.

Our main discussion for this episode is the partnership between Microsoft and GameStop, which offers the retailer a share of all digital revenues generated by users of Xbox Series consoles the retail chain has sold.

We debate whether this is a way for the platform holder to sustain a valuable retail partner or an attempt to seem charitable as it pushes its digital ecosystem.

Continuing the Xbox theme, we discuss the day one launch line-up for Series X and S, which features 31 titles but no next-gen exclusives.

You can listen to our latest episode below, subscribe to our RSS feed, or download the file directly here. It is also available via Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Overcast, Player FM, TuneIn and other widely-used podcast platforms.

Don't forget to check out the latest episodes of The Game Developers' Playlist and The Five Games Of, all episodes of which are on the same podcast feed.

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Latest comments (2)

Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing A month ago
The biggest part of the deal is this

GameStop has a large presence in disadvantaged communities which often have poor access to bank accounts and credit cards, and do their business in cash.

All Access is very appealing to lower income people, $25 with hundreds of games is a pizza dinner.

In addition, in areas with poor internet, they could even offer the ability to use them as a hub for game downloads. There could even conceivably be kiosks you can plug your external HD into to download the base game files which are then validated on your console. GS can still act as a distribution hub, you just have to think outside the box.

And if it bombs out, Microsoft sold a services package and a pile of tablets. Not a lot of risk.
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Axel Cushing Freelance Writer A month ago
@Jeff Kleist: I've heard the "kiosk" idea before. Having worked at GameStop, and seen how the sausage is made, I can virtually guarantee you that such kiosks will never happen.

First, the same fact which makes GameStop stores attractive to lower income folks also affects the stores in their immediate area. Your average GameStop store does not have a fat pipe with a 99.999% uptime SLA contract. Typically, it's the cheapest possible "business" option offered by the local telco, which is to say slow and spotty. Even if the district managers were told, "Upgrade your Internet connections, make this happen now!", it's unlikely they'd be able to do anything about it. The telcos are not going to lay fresh fiber just because the local GameStop asks nicely about upgrade options. Mutually reinforcing laziness is going to be the biggest impediment.

But let's say there's a twin burst of ambition from the DMs and the telcos. Mega-Gonzo Fiber for everyone! Now we're on to the next problem: the kiosk. Do we make it Redbox-style where one person comes up and four or five other people stand in line? Do we design it to accommodate multiple people at once? And once the form factor is settled, now you've got a completely separate point-of-sale system hooked up to a fancy server rack. One which doesn't tie into the registers currently in place (which creates problems if the kiosk eats somebody's card or denies a sale) and which is going to hold up an additional big red sign saying, "Please rob and/or trash this place!" You may laugh, or you may scoff, but the store I worked at got robbed twice in less than a year. Worse, it's not going to be the reasonably smart sort of crooks who swipe consoles or raid the drawers for sealed copies of games, but the dumb ones who don't realize there's no actual games inside the kiosk. Or it'll be the guys who think, "Let's get a tow chain and yank that sucker right out. Just like an ATM!"

Even assuming nobody will try a smash-and-grab, there's still going to be problems which the customer will expect the "guest advisors" or managers to handle, and which they won't be able to. It could be as simple as some yutz shoving chewing gum in a USB port, or it could be as bad as a black hat using the kiosks as a means to spread malware, using game consoles or add-on drives to bootstrap their way into other systems. And when something like that happens, who catches hell for it? Won't be GameStop's C-suite. Some GA or SGA will likely take it in the neck because "they should have been paying better attention to the conditions on the floor."

Bottom line: the projected convenience is not worth the probable hassles, even assuming everything went right and everybody in GameStop's management team was so enthusiastic about the idea they'd throw money at Dell or HP to start the ball rolling.
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