In my small town, we have a local game shop. It is filled with new and used video games, board games, movies, comics and collectible toys. It is a hub for all things that most nerds hold near and dear to our hearts. Most afternoons, they have some type of tabletop or video game activity like tourneys and free play events. It really is one of the last “mom and pop” stores where people can gather, hang out and be with like minded people.
As an example of how wonderful these stores can be, during my wife’s pregnancy they would offer her a seat if she looked tired, and just in case, had the employee bathroom key on hand if she needed it. When our son was born, one of the employees sent balloons to my wife’s hospital room. Before we took our son home from the hospital, we brought him to the store. A kind of baptism of all things nerdy and cool. Today, we take our son there at least weekly to see what is new in the store and with our friends that work there.
Sure, there is a franchised store close by where you can get video games. But the mentality is different. The only time there is any social interaction with fellow gamers at this store is when there is a midnight launch. The rest of the experiences I’ve had at these types of stores are as follows: You go through the door, the sales person immediately asks if your looking for a particular game and if not, they ignore you. Only after you’re in line with a game to purchase do they seem interested in talking to you. Then they want to talk about the upcoming games that “you can pre-order right now” or, attempt to coax you into a membership where you acquire points for “free” stuff.
The point I’m trying to make is this. Local, non-franchised game stores tend to enhance and cultivate what makes our gaming community closer. These places promote video games more by word of mouth and with tourneys than any other store has ever done. They pour their hearts and souls into great customer service with a family feel, and yet they get no love from the video game publishers and distributors. Sometimes a new title will not be available to our local store until the day of, or up to a week after a launch. It is if these stores don’t matter at all.
I would love if these companies gave launch day exclusives to all brick and mortar stores. They don’t have to get all fancy with handouts, just DLC all other Big Box stores get. Exclusive DLC should be for anyone buying their game on launch day, not because they are buying from a franchised outlet. I feel that if given a choice of stores, people would rather spend their money to local store owners if this option was available.
Thanks to a increased interest in tabletop board games, our local store has seen a small increase in traffic and their selection of said games has exploded. But because of slow distribution, and lack of launch day exclusive DLC, new game sales are low. I wonder what the impact would be if game store patronage was based on the quality of service and not because of what DLC customers could get at different stores. How hard could it really be to make this happen?
I’m not saying that I think people should stop supporting franchised stores, we need, as consumers, competition on the best prices and service. I’m just saying to the distributors and companies they should stop playing favorites. Let these “Mom and Pop” stores in on the DLC action.