Maybe Microsoft gave GameStop
a scare when it briefly flirted with ditching optical discs in favor of streaming games from the cloud for its Xbox One console or tying game discs to specific systems
, either of which would have a put a serious dent in the company's used games business. Or perhaps GameStop realizes there's a ton of cash to be made in mobile. Either way, the future of GameStop includes less game stores and a bigger retail presence from its mobile properties.
According to Games Industry
, GameStop CEO Paul Raines is calling this initiative GameStop 3.0. It entails opening between 200 and 250 AT&T-branded "Spring Mobile" stores, which would more than double the 164 locations it had last year. In addition it will open another 20 to 25 "Simply Mac" locations, which focus on Apple products, and another 100 to 150 Cricket locations.
While all this is taking place, Raines expects to close around 120 to 130 of its 6,457 retail GameStop locations. That still leaves plenty of stores to get your new and used games fix, but clearly GameStop's decision makers are infatuated with mobile at the moment. You could also view the mobile expansion as a safety net of sorts in case the used games market bottoms out for whatever reason.
Don't read this to mean that GameStop is losing interest in games. Even though it's shutting down some locations, GameStop continues to be a big money maker. In the fourth quarter of 2013, GameStop raked in $3.68 billion in revenue, a 3.4 percent increase versus the $3.56 billion in the same quarter a year prior. That resulted in a profit of $220.5 million.