Ben Gilbert/Business Insider
Like Blockbuster Video and Tower Records before it, video game retailer GameStop faces major challenges to its business model from the internet.
As more people buy video games through digital storefronts, fewer buy games on physical discs from GameStop.
That trend was a huge problem for the company — until the coronavirus pandemic forced millions of people indoors. Many of those people, with loads of free time on their hands suddenly, turned to video games. Sales of video-game hardware, software, accessories, and game cards topped $1.6 billion for March, according to The NPD Group’s monthly report — “the highest reported spend for a March month since the $1.8 billion achieved in March 2008.”
And GameStop was a primary recipient of those sales.
Online sales at GameStop rocketed over 1,500% between March 1 and April 10, according to market analytics firm Earnest Research, speaking to the New York Times.
Moreover, GameStop’s market share of online sales spiked.
In January, GameStop’s online sales occupied a tiny fraction of the overall market, with Apple and Best Buy dominating. By late March, GameStop’s share of online sales were topping both companies by a wide margin.
There’s a good reason for that: Nintendo.
“Animal Crossing: New Horizons” arrived in March and topped the sales charts. Nintendo’s Switch has been hard to find for months as demand for the console surged. And there’s no way to buy Nintendo’s game console, nor Nintendo’s games, through your iPhone.
GameStop representatives did not respond to a request for comment as of publishing.