American McGee: Game Retailers Are A Waste of Resources

Former DOOM and Quake designer American McGee thinks that retail is an outdated model and in Shanghai (where he lives and does business with his company Spicy Horse) no one buys games anywhere but online. In an interview with Industry Gamers McGee said that retail is just a place in China where everyone manhandles merchandise they want before they go home and buy it online.

"In the (not so?) distant future there wouldn't be much need for a bricks-and-mortar retailer. Why waste resources on a physical location and unreliable employees when the entire experience can be made sharper, cleaner and more entertaining in the virtual representation? China provides a working model of the store-less retail model — millions of people purchase real-world items online ( each day – making Western electronic stores like Best Buy nothing more than places to fondle physical goods you're going to buy online anyway (Best Buy went out of business in China in less than 2 years, by the way)."

When asked how long it will be until the video game industry goes completely digital McGee responded by saying that – at least where he lives – that time is now.

"I live in China, that future is already here, and it's pretty cool actually."

Of course, developers are fond of pronouncing genres and business models dead. While retail may take a hit from digital distribution – soon to stand its long shadow by year's end, no doubt – retailers that are smart (like GameStop) will evolve and grow their market share.

You can read the entire interview here. McGee also talks about gaming in the cloud, freemium games, the everlasting love that consumers have for the PC and more.

Source: Industry Gamers

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  1. Kojiro says:

    I haven't bought a game from a store in years.  Amazon pre-orders are the best.  It is just waiting for me at home when I get out of work.  And if they switched to 100% digital distro for Xbox, then all the better.  But I am partial to not wasting my time driving to the store.

    PC games are pretty much exclusively digital distro now, aren't they?  I'm sure there are some holdouts, but I don't know anyone who buys them at a store.

  2. hellfire7885 says:

    AS convenient as DD is, honestly, I like going to a store and dealing with people more. My local Gamestop is great and I do like examining a case before I pay.

  3. Grif says:

    I'm not entirely sure you're understanding my point. Basically what I was trying to say is that what is good for the goose is not always necessarily good for the gander. What works for China may not be such a great idea for here in the U.S.A.

  4. Craig R. says:

    Well, lest we all forget: he's in China, where it's also rather easy to go down to the corner and pick up just about anything you want from a pirated copy.

  5. hellfire7885 says:

    To me it's probably more about control. To a lot of publishers eradicating the used market is too important.

  6. Yammo says:

    I for one, will never ever purchase a game in a B&M retail-store again… because of how they extort publishers to sell games 50% more expensive online, leaving me with the only option to NOT buy the games I want at all..

  7. Algus says:

    lol, it amazes me how much some in the gaming industry hate the idea of retail.  Retailers should be cherished in hobby industries

  8. greevar says:

    Exactly right. China does everything digitally because their networks aren't hampered by cable and phone companies trying to stay relevant despite being obsolete. Once that changes, we're going to see a lot fewer stores in meat space.

  9. MechaCrash says:

    America's internet infrastructure is, compared to the rest of the world, kind of shit. Until it stops being shit, there will always be a place for going to a store and buying physical goods.

  10. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Funny…. how many millions dose gamestop do? Take away used game sale you put them out of business. They are a big(20-30% geustamation) part of over all sales, we will not be seeing digital distro only for another decade or at least a few years past 015

  11. axiomatic says:

    American McGee needs to chillax a bit. I think this topic is less about game publishers distribution models and more about customers preferred method of buying.

    Market research fail 101.

  12. Murdats says:

    I think you fail to realise that while you are in America this is the internet, and not everyone is (even if GP is a US based site)

  13. Grif says:

    I think he failed to realize he is in China, while we are in America. Here, there's always going to be a place for brick-and-mortar stores.

    I swear, for being one of the most brilliant minds of our time, he can be an idiot sometimes.

  14. Neeneko says:

    Hard to say how accurate this person's prediction will be.  While China might have gone that route, in many ways we are very different cultures with different expectations of shopping experiences.   Digital downloads and other online forms are picking up steam (no pun intended) yes, but they have already been around for years and have not crushed brick and mortar operations.  

    China does not have as much of a 'department store' culture as us… Walmart's stranglehold on games is going to be difficult to break for the general population.

  15. Wraith108 says:

    I did get Deus Ex out of a shop due to having a token for reward points but before that I hadn't bought a game or DVD/Blu Ray out of a shop in a good while. So I think he might have a point. I currently have the games I want preordered on Amazon, never preordered at a physical shop at all.

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