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GameStop: Physical vs Digital

Mike Mauler
Former CEO at Gamestop

Learning outcomes

  • Outlook in the mix shift between physical and digital games

Executive Bio

Mike Mauler

Former CEO at Gamestop

Mike is the Former CEO of GameStop, the gaming retailer with over 5,500 stores globally and $8bn of revenue. In 2005, he joined GameStop as the Global Distribution and Logistics President before leading Gamestop International, where he was responsible for over 2,000 stores and 12,000 employees, from 2010-18. Prior to GameStop, he enjoyed 20 years building and running retail and supply chain operations for companies such as Fisher Scientific, Mattress Discounters, and Electronics Boutique. Mike now advises various startups and lectures at universities throughout the US. Read more

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Interview Transcript

Looking more specifically at the industry now, what is your long-term view on that mix between digital and physical gains?

Yes, I think long-term it’s not going to be more than 50/50. If you look at books and music and CD’s or movies, 50/50 seems to be the plateau. I think that will continue to be the plateau. I do like the fact that there’s more progress being made on the physical side. To give you an example. There’s been a few games that were digital, Minecraft is a good example. Where Minecraft was off the charts, only digital. Then it released on disk and it was the top ten selling disk in videos for like a year. There’s a version of the population that wants physical and there’s a version that likes digital. I think the two can live together. I don’t see one thing replacing the other, certainly, it hasn’t with any other genre.

The other thing is, what retailers can do with loyalty and omnichannel is pretty amazing. Companies like Amazon, I’m sure Amazon is higher market share today because of the coronavirus thing. Amazon six months ago was seven percent market share on video games. The reason for that is, people want to go to the store, they want to talk to somebody who’s an expert in video games. They want to buy a physical gift for their kid or their cousin. I don’t see that changing at the moment. It might be counterintuitive, but I don’t see it changing.

You think the consumer behavior around going to the store, buying a physical product for Christmas, for birthday, for friends, for family, that’s the kind of emotional attachment that people have to those physical games versus downloading it, for example?

I believe that. I can’t imagine my 13-year-old going to a party and giving them a download receipt. It’s just not very exciting. I definitely think that will continue. The coronavirus I’m sure will change things for a little bit here, but I think it goes back.

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