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sourcing one, and Donaldson says the company is speaking to ‘tech titans, venture capital funds and innovative start-ups’ to hunt out the latest solutions and products.

The role of physical shops will become clearer – how they enhance retail’s role and get items to customers. Jeff Donaldson. GameStop

SAVING SHOPS It sounds expensive, and indeed GTI is using up five per cent of GameStop’s overall IP spend. But that number could rise. “We are not limited as to how

high we can go, our CEO has not put any boundaries on that,” says Donaldson. “We have put a five per cent budget together for the experimentation, but we can spend more when it comes to rolling this stuff out.” Many of GTI’s experiments won’t work. Donaldson says the projects that get rolled out will be the ones that not only benefit GameStop, but that customers genuinely find useful. Yet GameStop has money to spend, and with uncertainty in


the retail space, it views now as a good time to invest in its future. Will the physical store survive the next generation? Donaldson is convinced they will. Yet, he says, it is not all about saving the local shop. “The role of physical shops

will become clearer – how they enhance retail’s role and get items to customers,” he concludes. “While that is true, we did not

create GTI just to enhance the role of the store. The experimentation isn’t just in a physical outlet, but online, too. As an example, if I am on and playing a game, if I need to ask a question about what I am playing, I should be able to video call my local store and get some advice. “That is something I can do in

store, so it should be able to do the same thing online. GTI is more about equalising the channels, rather than emphasising one over the other.”

Will shops be more like this one day?

ANYONE that has ever got me on the topic of physical games retailers will have heard me excitedly explain

Donaldson has been given carte blanche to ensure that GameStop is ahead of the curve when it comes to game retail 43

my vision of its future. My view is a Games Workshop-style store, filled with machines for gamers to play. And around the side you can find hardware and merchandise, but not necessarily software. If a gamer likes the title he or she is playing, that customer can simply flick out their GAME/ GameStop/whatever app, scan a QR code besides the game, and they’ve bought it. In fact, if their console is ‘always on’ (as

Xbox had originally proposed) then the game might even be downloaded before he or she even gets home. Well, I thought that was just

my idea. “That experience you just described is an experience that we have up and running in our lab,” says Jeff Donaldson, the man in charge of GameStop Technology Institute. “I can’t comment on who

we are working with on that. But I can say we have strong relationships with Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. They are interested in what we are doing and we will be working with them on.” Christopher Dring

June 6th 2014

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