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What every video game store should have

Tonight I’m participating in a video game focus group where I’m getting paid $100 for 60 minutes. SWEET! They mailed me a form to fill out beforehand so actually I guess I’m getting $100 to do the focus group and fill out the form. They asked to give ideas on how a video game store like Best Buy can improve the shopping experience. Here’s my seven ideas (number 7 is my favorite):

1. IN-STORE GAME REVIEW KIOSK
Change the shopping experience by having an in-store kiosk where shoppers can search for any game title and read professional, third-party reviews of that game. There’s plenty of review websites, such as gamespot.com, that would love to get their name into brick and mortar stores like Best Buy. It completely changes the shopping experience because it empowers the buyer to find a game that suits their gaming tastes. Right now people either have to the research at home, rely on recommendations from friends, or judge a game by the box cover. There’s no way you can get a feel by the box cover. It’s fluff. I’m much more likely to buy a game in-store if I can read a review by a third party in the store. Gamers are technologically advanced. They will love this functionality.

2. SHOWCASE BEST REVIEWED AND MOST POPULAR GAMES
Have in-store signage showing the highest ranked games for each console. And have another sign showing the most popular games for each console on a monthly basis.

This is a quick-hit way for people to see the best and hottest games. I have never seen this in video game departments. Music stores always showcase the most popular music. Book stores do it with best sellers.

3. PLAY ANY GAME FOR 5 MINUTES IN-STORE
Borders allows customers to listen to samples of any song on any CD. Apply the same theory to video games. Have stations with each console with a barcode scanner. Shoppers take the game to the console and scan it. Then they can play the game for five minutes. Technology may not exist for this, but it didn’t exist for music CDs ten years ago and they made it happen. Video games push technology. This functionality should be available today.

4. MORE USE OF NINTENDO DS’ WI-FI FUNCTIONALITY
Toys R Us has a station where shoppers can bring in their DS and download demos of games. This is awesome. I’d like to see downloadable demos for all DS games. This DS demo download on-the-fly feature should be in all video game stores. I did not see it in Best Buy. The possibilities with Nintendo DS Wi-Fi is never-ending.

5. HAVE GAMING TOURNAMENTS IN-STORE
Gaming tournies bring big crowds and loads of shoppers. It creates a whole new level of vibrancy and excitement to a video game store. It also lends gamer community credibility to a store that can pull off a successful tournie. Yes, the logistics of doing this in a cramped place like Best Buy is challenging, but that would make it all the more incredible and impressive to pull off.

6. HAVE AN AREA IN THE VIDEO GAME SECTION THAT HIGHLIGHTS A PARTICULAR GAME
Transformers Autobots and Transformers Decepticons for Nintendo DS is a great example. Have a stand that’s crammed to the guilds with everything Transformers from limited edition toys to comic books to Transformers underwear to Transformers video games, plus a kiosk where people can test drive the Transformers game.

7. RETRACTIBLE COUCH THAT RISES AND LOWERS FROM THE CEILING
Because it’s freakin’ cool. The couch is an icon of the gaming community. Glorify this icon with hydraulics that raise and lower it from the ceiling.

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sparx
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I like #3.. but due to fears of enabling piracy, I don’t think it’ll ever truly come to be.

What I could see happening is having the console makers (sony, nintendo, microsoft) work together with retailers and game publishers to create a ‘new releases’ or ‘hot games’ demo disc that’s sent out maybe once a month to retailers. Even that seems far fetched given the current situation. Small steps though, maybe someday.

sparx
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Also, your email auto-responder shouldn’t respond to comments posted on your blog. Pleeeeaase?