Personally, the only game I’ve gotten from Gamestop in the last three years was GTA V for the PS3. They were the only retailer selling the Collector’s Edition of the game, so it’s not like I had a choice in the matter. One of the other reasons they lost my business was their employees. Most of them weren’t helpful and were only interested in pushing presales. This is also the first year in quite a while I didn’t renew my subscription; I just felt there was no need.
That said, the move to digital has likely hurt all retailers, but Gamestop especially as they have no alternative inventory. Hardware is available everywhere. They’ll occasionally have exclusive pre-order bonuses, but those are almost never worth going out of your way to get. Plus with all the disappointment in AAA titles this past year, I think a lot of people are moving away from pre-ordering games. It’s a move I absolutely agree with.
What they likely need to do now is downsize considerably. Close a few hundred of their retail locations. Extend their digital presence as much as they can. I’m not sure how second-hand game sales are doing lately, but even that isn’t exclusive to Gamestop anymore. Amazon, Best Buy, and just about everyone else now offers game trade-ins, and their deals are usually equal to or better than Gamestops.
Maybe they should consider going to gaming-media only, focusing on their publications, or see if the market would bear a competitor to Gamefly, a service that isn’t very competitively priced. That said, I don’t really think physical distribution will wane to all-digital any time soon. I personally still prefer to have physical copies of all my games. I don’t fully trust internet networks yet in terms of reliability, and obviously broadband speeds are still limiting especially when servers are crowded.
As you’ve already mentioned, Gamestop needs to re-find their niche now or they’ll be going the way of Blockbuster.