Retailer takes a step toward tabletop gaming — and community

Thanks to the rise of online shopping and digital downloads, most gamers have little reason to head to their local video game store. And as the monolithic leader in the shrinking physical retail industry, GameStop need to find ways to diversify if it wants its physical stores to survive. It already started the process with its acquisition of ThinkGeek in June 2015 — now, that diversification continues with baby steps toward niche tabletop gaming, according to a few online listings spotted by iDigitalTimes.

But GameStop has a chance to do more than just improve profits by adding board games to its selection. The retail giant could also bring back a sense of community to its largely abandoned stores.

GameStop has to do more to get consumers in the door.

There was already a slump in media sales when GameStop acquired ThinkGeek. The company needed to start planning for the near future when physical game sales decline to the point where stocking new games costs more money than it’s worth.

Walking into a GameStop — or EB Games, if you’re Canadian — is a profoundly different experience than it was five years ago. Shelf space that used to house PC games now stocks Funko Pop collectibles in droves. There’s a smattering of Pokémon booster packs and the odd gamer-themed mainstream board game littering the shelves. 

These days, it’s usually a disorganized cacophony of games and game-flavored merchandise. No one really wants to be there anymore — I put out a call on Twitter to confirm it wasn’t just me, and the response was pretty unanimous. Clearly, GameStop has to do more than just line its shelves with new products to get people to care about coming in.

It isn’t enough to put tabletop games on the shelves.

Games Workshop was a staple of my wargaming tabletop past. I would spend hours with my brother looking at the new minis, enrolling in tournaments and learning new painting techniques. But when Games Workshop hiked its prices and Vancouver became a relentless real…

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