GameStop has made big bucks over the years by promising to deliver exclusive content if you preorder games at its store. Now, it is devising a plan to get even cozier with developers and publishers to help it nab bigger, better, and more important exclusives in the future.
The retailer recently sat down with investment company R.W. Baird to talk about the games industry’s present and future, and Baird analyst Colin Sebastian revealed that the brick-and-mortar chain wants to find ways to give customers more value when they preorder games. GameStop often offers special items and downloadable content when customers reserve big-name releases like Watch Dogs or Call of Duty, and that’s one of the reasons (along with its trade-in and rewards programs) that are helping it gain record market share for software sales on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. In an effort to deliver more attractive exclusives in the future, the company has confirmed to GamesBeat that it is looking to get involved early in the development process of big games — something it does not do now.
“[GamesStop] indicated that software publishers are more enthusiastic about partnering with it,” Sebastian wrote in his note to investors. “For example, by offering exclusive content on each major game release, and longer term, future models may include GameStop offering exclusive gameplay.”
We reached out to Sebastian for clarification on that, and he explained that GameStop is thinking about “getting involved at the time of game development where there could be some content exclusive to [the retailer] included in the game.”
We also reached out to GameStop and asked if it is trying to get involved earlier in a game’s development to secure better and more important exclusives for its preorder customers. GameStop said that is “accurate.”
“We are working with our [development] partners to build in a longer lead time,” GameStop public-relations spokesperson Jackie Smith told GamesBeat. “And we are working with them to get both physical and digital exclusives for our customers.”
What kind of physical and digital exclusives? GameStop doesn’t know yet because it is only just starting to implement this strategy, but it’s clear that it wants more than what it is getting now. If it has intimate knowledge of a game still in development, that may give it more leverage to negotiate better exclusives.
And while some gamers might not love the idea of GameStop getting involved in the development of upcoming releases, it makes sense financially for both the retailer and publishers.
GameStop is making a killing right now thanks to the new-gen consoles from Sony and Microsoft. A greater percentage of consumers are making their Xbox One and PS4 purchases at GameStop than they did at this same point during the Xbox 360 and PS3 generation. That is because of GameStop’s aforementioned used-games program, its membership-rewards system, and the exclusive content it already advertises. If it can convince gamers that they’ll get more from their purchases if they preorder at GameStop, then that may help it defend against digital distribution.