____Thoughts: Are the days of physical games numbered?


Hi guys´n girls! On june 24th, my irish video gaming fellow meu2, also known an Alan, has uploaded a video on Youtube, showing all of his games he got by the Gamestop Fire Sale. This was Gamestop´s last day in Ireland and someone said that Gamestop did the same in Sweden years ago. I think that this day is coming in Germany as well in the near future, since Gamestop has closed a lot of stores in Germany recently, with only 70 stores left in the whole country. Here in Berlin, there are six stores left and some of the stores I used to rarely visit have been closed.

Why isn´t Gamestop interesting for me? Because they buy games from people for horrible low money and resell them for overpriced amounts. They offer some trading as well, but that´s as unfair as the way they acquire games from people. To be honest, it´s no surprise that Gamestop is digging it´s own grave, but let me say that this is no offence against the dudes and ladies who are working there. It´s more what the bosses are doing. I can´t remember that I´ve ever bought any games in their stores, but more or less some merchandise like Master System and Mega Drive keychains or my beloved Lemming plushie. To be fair with them, their stores always looked tempting to step in as long as I remember. I feel sad for Alan that there is only one video game retailer left in Ireland. Here in Germany, I wouldn´t miss Gamestop that much, but the situation of physical media is quite different and much better. We have electronic markets here and most of them have a video game corner. Depending from the size of the store, the sizes of the gaming corners are varying, but if you come to Germany, you will always find a video game section in Saturn markets and Media Markt stores. There´s also a small chain of electronic stores called Medi Max. In rare cases, Kaufland (which is a chain of supermarkets) has a video game section too, if the branch is very huge.
I can only remember of one traditional video game store here in Berlin, which is in Berlin-Spandau, led by an arabic dude. Sadly, he takes Ebay prices for mostly all of his games; he even looks at Ebay from time to time to update the prices of his games. Since he knows me, he always noticed what games I bought from him and then he looked at Ebay, and if he has more copies of the games I bought, he´s updating them to sell them for much more money. I decided to stop supporting him, since I won´t make bargain anymore. How does he survive with those prices? Well, he´s selling used mobile phones to fellows *lol*
My favourite seller is normally to find on a market place near my home, two times a week. His prices are still fair, but he wasn´t there since last november, because he had a very horrible car accident, following a long medical treament. He´s already over 60 and he was looking for retirement in the next few years. If he retires, which would be well deserved after decades of hard work, I will be really sad. At this time, I hope that I will see him again on that market place. If he comes back, I´m going to support him as much as I can. But if I think of video game exclusive stores, well, there isn´t much left in Germany and most people are selling different things in their stores, like video games, DVDs, mobile phones and technical stuff alltogether.

Well, the era of downloading games makes it difficult for physical game retailers. The bad thing about downloading games is that the games eat up a lot of gigabytes of memory. Especially if you have a PS5, which is way too expensive anyway, you need a huge external memory device to save up all of the games you´ve downloaded. Here comes the positive aspect of physical games: Only the save stats and maybe some updates take some memory here, and with my Nintendo Switch, I clearly see the positive point that most of my games are physical. Well, yes I´ve downloaded a few games indeed, like the original Alex Kidd in Miracle World, just to support it, in hope for more classic Sega games on the Switch in the future, and in hope for some remakes and successors too. If you are some kind of minimalistic, if that´s the right term for it, downloading games seem to be logical in the first place. Sometimes, physical games are going down in prices, with the e-store prices not going down. You still pay 60 bucks for a download, while the physical game costs just the half of that or even less. Going with dowloads only could be more expensive then, maybe? At times, there are some offers to save money, though, but you need to see if that´s worthwhile. Some dudes would say that the download way saves materials. Does it? If you download many a hundred games, how many external memory devices do you need, exactly? If I take a look at the insides of an external memory device and compare it with a single switch game..^^ Not to insult anybody! The shells are made of cheap materials and the chip cards (you can´t call them game carts) are as small as SD cards, that can´t be expensive to produce at all and it doesn´t eat much material, too. Those small PCBs inside of the chip cards are produced in no time as well.

A rental store in the 90s - look at that Sega Genesis shelf!

Another thing I´d like to talk about a little bit are the legendary rental stores. Here in Berlin, I can only remember of one rental store left, which is to find more central of the city. It is led by some arabics again, but too fay away from my home to be interesting anyway. Back at the end of the 90s, when I was living in a flat with my mom, my grandma and my youngest uncle, who shared a room with me, he always used to go to the rental store nearby to bring some Super Nintendo games. This way, I was lucky to play Yoshi´s Island, Donkey Kong Country 2, 90 Minutes European Prime Goal, Jurassic Park and TopGear - games that I have in my collection for years now. I remember that we had some crazy fun hours by playing 90 Minutes and TopGear, but also Fifa ´97. Later at my high school times, I used to visit a rental store with a friend who was in the same class as me - and who is still one of my very best friends today. This is something that won´t change for sure, but what changed is the existence of rental stores. There was nothing better than going trough all the colorful shelves and to grab a game you want to play for just a few bucks. Nothing! The same goes for the movies: Usually, you got a movie for just a day and brought it back to the rental store then, only paying 1,50€ or something? Well, with internet TV, the people are paying a monthly bill to choose between a huge offer of movies and TV series and watching them at home. That´s not only bad for the cinemas, it takes some fun, too. I mean, it was sooo good to look through all the colorful shelves, looking at all the incredible (or bad) frontcovers of the movies. You were also able to grab a free poster here and there. One of the saddest things is the piracy, something I don´t want to talk too much about, but yeah, illegal downloads of all media have made things even worse.
The era of rental stores only lasted for 40 years at best, with their peak in the 80s & 90s - and we are the relicts of that era. We should tell our kids about this, to not let this time be forgotten too early. Many video game collectors are building their gaming rooms after the looks of a rental store, which is just awesome. I hope to do the same someday, but that´s a question of space and money. I´ve recently seen a german documentary on Youtube about rental stores and to see all those photos and video sequences made me a little wistful. It was just an awesome time and I bet that you have similar memories of it, being at a rental store with your parents as kids or later with some buddies or the whole gang.

So, to answer the main question of this article: NO, the days of physical games are NOT numbered. No chance to change my opinion on that! :D I have a few good reasons for that. First, there are still enough stores here in Germany to get new games and many people still appreciate it. It makes me sad to see that the situations are different in other countries like the wonderful Ireland, but you can still order some physical games online. It´s absolutely not the same like buying a game in a store, but it´s better than nothing. 2nd, I use to order many physical games online too, because there are some special retailers out there to keep an eye on, like Red Art Games for example. Some developers do sell their games by themselves in their exclusive online stores, where you can find some aaaaaawesome collector´s editions and more. Let´s not forget that the developers are gamers themselves, they know what collectors want! :D They also see the download community as well, but I really like art books, soundtrack CDs and so on, but yeah I know some people don´t want extra stuff or collector´s items. But regarding the case of ´wasting´ materials: It all depends from what you create out of the materials you have. The results can be outstanding. But let´s get back to the main point: To order your games online isn´t still the same like getting a game in a store in your hometown, but they offer some really sweet stuff that´s worth it to support. Going this way, physical media doesn´t die out, too ;) The landscape has changed, no question, and if I can help some of my video gaming fellows who live outside of Germany, I´m glad to do so.

As long as we live up to the physical games, they will not leave us! There´s nothing better to get a christmas gift with a colorful, beautiful video game inside! Of course there are other cute christmas gifts as well, don´t get me wrong, but you know what I mean :D It´s up to us to keep the physical video game spirit alive and YES, we are gonna keep that spirit alive! And even if it´s a freakin´ Super Mario Bros. The Movie DVD.

I wish you all the best and a lot of good vibes, buddies.

Marco / Gordman