We Joke, but the State of GameStop’s Business Isn’t Funny

Yeah, dunk on the suits, but people's lives are being affected.

This started out as a news post about GameStop, the video game and Funko Pop chain store, announcing it plans to close over 300 of its locations in the next fiscal year. News of this came from an earnings call, where executive vice president and chief financial officer Jim Bell said these closures weren’t indicative of business trends, but were instead addressing more specific issues within the business in order to maximize profit.

[via Gamasutra]

“We continue to focus on optimizing our global store fleet in fiscal 2019 and closed a net total of 321 stores inclusive of 333 closings and 12 openings. In fiscal 2020, we will continue in our efforts to de-densify our store base, focused on maximizing product productivity of the entire fleet,” he said.

“[We] anticipate store closures to be equal to or more than 320 net closures we saw in fiscal 2019 on a global basis. Importantly, we want to emphasize that these store closures are a very specific and proactive part of our de-densification plan and they are not related to recent business trends.”

In other news:

This all comes just days after the company attempted to keep its stores open to the public during the coronavirus pandemic, claiming its stores were “essential” businesses in these trying times. Obviously, this was quickly met with criticism, and GameStop made the decision to close its stores to the public within the week.

GameStop’s attempts to stay relevant in a world where digital distribution is becoming more prominent by the day, as well as the laughable notion that it could be deemed “essential” during a worldwide crisis, are worthy of some jokes. And yeah, there might be some pretty good ones out there on the internet, but I find it hard to be snarky about hundreds of people losing their jobs, especially when we are in the midst of a pandemic that is putting people out of work while landlords are more concerned about whether or not they’re going to receive rent money than they are the livelihoods of their tenants.

Not even a week ago, employees were having to anonymously talk to outlets like Kotaku about how poorly GameStop has been handling the coronavirus, and several of them were fearing for their lives as they attempted to go to work to pay for things they shouldn’t have to right now. This is a company that is so concerned about profit that it willingly put its workers in danger with no protection, or even so much as a bottle of hand sanitizer.

GameStop and its higher-ups are deplorable, but the people with a figurative gun at their backs being told to tell anyone who walks in they should pre-order the next Ubisoft collectathon are the ones who are going to suffer. So while I would love to join in on the dunkfest as people like Jim Bell scurry around like a rat desperate to scavenge the last bit of life from a cashier making barely above minimum wage, I’m more worried about what’s going to happen to that cashier when their store is closed and their landlord is still knocking on their door asking where April’s rent is.

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Kenneth Shepard

Kenneth is a Georgia-based writer who still periodically cries about the Mass Effect trilogy years after it concluded.

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