So long, game retailers. But what’s next?

Dismal news continues to pour in about the sad state of gaming retail stores across Europe and Australia. The Australian Financial Review reports today that many shops are now simply cleaning house: 

Game Group isn’t the only retailer to feel the slow death of brick and mortar video games in Australia.

Yesterday morning embattled retail outlet Dick Smith began a sale of video games that some trade media reported as “ridiculous”. New release titles that would normally sell for up to $98 were suddenly available for as little as $1.

The moves were part of the Woolworths outlet’s plans to all but shut down its presence in the gaming market.

“We did a full business review and we decided to accelerate [our consolidation of gaming],” a Woolworths spokeswoman said. “This isn’t about clearing out to restock again.

“There are games stores and online gaming specialists, so we’ll leave that market largely to them and just have a very core range of titles and much tighter purchasing strategies.”

It’s a long way from the 1990s when a trip to the local Games Wizards was a rite of passage for many growing up. Titles like Super Mario Bros and Sonic the Hedgehog lined the walls, each offering hours of escapism.

The problem, the article continues, is a sort of holy trinity of financial woes: “falling retail spending, much cheaper prices overseas and the steady growth of internet sales.” Will the gaming industry have to reinvent itself like the music industry has in order to cope with decreased monetization of its original strategies for distribution, or is this only a problem for retail? The next generation of consoles has already been reported to offer more robust anti-piracy and anti-used games DRM, a move that has put Gamestop at odds with some developers. And, of course, there’s the rise of free-to-play games supported by the most ardent and curious gamers. How publishers will continue to turn a profit without angering fans too much will certainly be a fun battle to watch.

[via The Financial Review]