Video Game Store Owner Says Mobile Phones Killed His Business

Video Game Store Owner Says Mobile Phones Killed His Business

For the last few years, I have been a frequent customer at a local family-run video game store here in Japan. Today I walked in to see the shelves with empty spaces and the games majorly discounted. After 21 years of selling games, the store is going out of business.

Surprised and saddened by this, I asked the elderly owner why the store was closing. She explained that since the beginning, a large portion of her customers have been children. Moreover, in the summers during holidays, kids would practically flood the store every day buying or trading in games. However, this past summer, not a single child entered the store.

When I asked why this change had occurred, her reply was immediate: “Because of mobile phones.”

She went on to explain that these days, every child has a mobile phone. And with companies like Mobage and GREE, there are tons of free games to choose from. And if the games are fun, free and addictive, why bother to go to a game store?

I asked if she thought downloadable game services like the PSN and Xbox Live were partly to blame as well; but she seemed to think that the online aspect wasn’t the problem, but the lack of cost.

Sadly, the closing of this long-established game store is unlikely to be an isolated event. As large gaming companies put more and more money into mobile, freemium game development — which is clearly evidenced by this year’s TGS lineup — this is a scene that is likely to be repeated over and over across Japan in the years to come.


  • I always read these articles about the hard times retail outlets are having and I imagine these were the types of articles going around at the start of the industrial revolution. At the end of the day an out dated business model has failed to adapt to the changes in technology and now that business isn’t viable. Sucks for them. It of course they are going out of business what have they done to attract new customers or change or adapt to the changing landscape and market? Perhaps the story does not tell enough of this but many businesses fail due to ther lack of foresight about industry changes. Just look at the recent articles surrounding Harvey Norman in this space.

    Sure it won’t be the end of it, but it’s a constant feature in business and failure to adapt is what this story is really about.

    • while I agree that businesses need to keep up, for a family run store like this, there isn’t really anything they can do other than change the store into a different store selling different goods.

  • Actually it is merely an observation.- you are hard pressed to find an article on kotaku channel — If the premise is correct – How does a ma and pa video game store compete with free mobile games? Going online (as stated) wasn’t the problem. Should they have hired programmers to make free mobile games to advertise their decrepit store? The recent closure of Kodak is an example of what you ate talking about. In this instance I fear you are mearly trying to play intellectual shenanigans with the mutterings of a writer who is paid by the word.

  • “Video Game Store Owner Says Mobile Phones Killed His Business”
    Pretty sure the owner was only ever referred to as “she”.

    Anyway, it’s sad to hear these kinds of things. It might be the fact that I hate mobile phones, and I think the games on them usually suck, but I wish mobile gaming would just die.

      • How about letting us know what these amazing games are called?

        I’ve seen plenty of mobile games, and while I enjoy a few, I am yet to find a mobile game which I would consider ‘amazing’.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!