Concern That Japanese Video Game Stores Will Die Out

Concern That Japanese Video Game Stores Will Die Out

People come from around the world to shop at Japanese game stores. Yet, in the country, some worry that those specialty shops will vanish. One insider even thinks video game shops will vanish in the next five years.

On website Gekicore Gamelife, game retail employee Osho writes about how tough business has been for brick-and-mortar video game shops. Osho does sales promotion for Tokyo video game specialty shop Pao, which has locations across the city.

As Osho points out in his article, among other things, small shops in Japan are seeing profits decrease due to digital game sales, which are reducing the number of packaged titles sold. Amazon and other online retailers are also hurting small shops' bottom line. Osho points out that obvious fact that managers in retail aim to make a profit — hence the problem. Of course, this isn't unique to Japan as retailers in other countries are having a tough go, too.

"Real-world 'game specialty shops' will not survive [in Japan]," Osho writes. "It seems like they will completely vanish in the next five years."

Note that Osho is referring to these "game specialty shops" as "geemu senmonten" (ゲーム専門店), meaning that they only deal in video games. This is important because Pao refers to itself as "Video Game Specialty Shop Pao" (an important distinction, because, as Osho continues, he explains that video game stores will sell more trading cards, toys and figurines, because of simple economics. He points to Pao as an example.

Concern That Japanese Video Game Stores Will Die Out

This Pao branch introduced a trading card section this past summer.

"If there is a reason to come to your shops, then the increase in customers is directly tied to the resulting profits," Osho writes. That reason, it seems, is no longer only video games, because people don't need to come to stores anymore. And thus, this is what will end the specialty shop.

Personally, I think the video game specialty shop will survive, but it will be a combination of some new games and mostly older, used, and rare games. In Japan, they will be more for collectors, and there are already numerous stores like this. I don't think they will all vanish. Brick and mortar shops like Super Potato, which have an incredible stock of used games and consoles, will stick around. But some of them could move to online only.

I've already seen stores near where I live start making the shift from mostly video games to the seemingly more profitable trading cards and merchandise. I don't expect that to stop anytime soon, especially not when it's so much easier to download or order online than getting up off your duff and leaving the house. That's the era in which we live.

『ゲーム専門店』は生き残れるのか? [Gekicore Gamelife]

Picture: Gekicore Gamelife


    I'd happily make the transition to purely digital games, but my concern is that one day stores like the PS4 and Xbox market will eventually lose support for the older generation of games (like how we cant access PS1 games via the PS4). At the moment, I'd rather own my physical copies, rather than be at the mercy of online stores terms and conditions. Not to mention, going digital kills a lot of local retail businesses and causes job losses.

      I still prefer physical copies. If they sold the digital for substantially less (at launch not talking about steam sales) I'd move across but that would totally kill brick and mortar stores.

      One issue in the future with old games will be if they still provide the updates needed. Think of all the recent releases that have had day one patches to fix and add on major parts to games. In 20 years time when the xbox one and ps4 are no longer supported we won't be able to go back and play those unless they were installed on the console already and with console hard drive sizes that fill up fast how many games can we keep installed?

        That brings up an interesting, different point, online gaming servers. Already Sony, Microsoft and EA have shut down online game servers so they are no longer playable. The most recent I can think of that effected me was NBA Live. The online servers were shut down so I could no longer get the 100% achievement points. Imagine servers for Titanfall or Destiny getting shut down, the game will be completely unplayable! And I bet this will happen in less than 20years. What I'm getting at I guess is it doesn't matter if you can't patch them, you probably won't be able to play them anyway.

        After saying that, I still personally prefer digital copies. I've owned a console since the Nintendo Famicom and everything since then and have NEVER sold a game, ever! I can see the advantage of not having to swap discs when I want to play a different game, and I tuck away and 'hide' the console because I never have to physically touch it. I buy almost everything online, pay my bills online and watch my tv online. Everythings' online now.

    I prefer physical too - for example I have been craving trying out Hyperdimension Neptunia Producing Perfection for PSVita - its currenly $20ish dollars on sale on PSN, but I want a proper cartridge version, which is still retailing for close to $50-55 (if stores are even stocking it)

    Unfortunately I couldnt pass up Curry God when it was $14 on sale, and same with paying only $8 for EDF2017 - although in my defence there isnt a physical english version of this game for the Vita

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