I don’t think Walmart and Best Buy don’t compete directly with GameStop. GameStop makes all of its money on resells, there just isn’t much profit margin on new sales (at least not as much margin as GameStop wants) compared to a resell.
The shame is that the developer doesn’t get any part of the resell, and yet that resell is competing with new sales that the developer would get profit from. Try buying a new game at a Gamestop on anything but release week, they always push the “we have a used version of that for $5 less”. Why do they push it? Because they are making a lot more profit on that used copy then they would if you bought a new copy.
Unfortunatly that means that outside of release week publishers are unlikely to see anything more than a trickle in software sales through this method even if their game is a hit.
Sure this is the same model followed in other industries, no one complains when a dealer resells a traded in car even though the manufacturer doesnt get any of that sale. But the difference with software is that there is little to no depreciation and the turnaround is so quick (the time it takes a player to get tired of the game).
Other gaming stores dabbled in resales but Gamestop made it the core of their business (one of the reasons they dont care about PC games) and they are making a ton of money off of it.
I had this conversation with a guy at Gamestop yesterday. They were selling a copy of Motorcross from a PS3 bundle. The one marked “Not for Resale” across the top. I mentioned that that may make them unable to resale that copy of Motorcross, and he argued that it only means that they cant break it from the bundle and sell it new. If they sell it and buy it back then they can sell it for whatever they want. Now this is just some kid shooting the breeze with me in a Gamestop, not any real legal arguement so Im sure we were both full of crap, but it does show that Gamestop is pressing resales and not letting anything stand in their way.
I don’t know what the answer is. I am looking forward to direct distribution of all gaming content. Let the developer control his assets from start to finish. I used ot be scared of losing the local gaming retailer, now I cant wait for that day to come.