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GAMESTOP also plans to introduce its Power Up rewards card to Europe. Power Up inverts the idea of an accessible, mass market points card we’re used to in the UK and turns being a card-holder into being the member of a special club. The premium ‘Pro’ version even asks an upfront $15, guaranteeing early access to game betas. International EVP Mike Mauler says it takes inspiration from the “very, very powerful loyalty programme” run at GameStop’s French chain Micromania’s and focuses on benefits.

He says most users sign up for the Pro tier – and the majority of users aren’t the vocal minority hardcore.

“One thing we were very surprised by was the perception that the majority of our loyalty card members would be hardcore gamers – but the majority aren’t hardcore, it’s mums, grandmas and dads joining up.”

swoop just on the other side of the Channel gave it the only non-US e- commerce in GameStop’s business. But it also gave it a thirst for other ways to grow, too, such as growing its loyalty card programme (see ‘Added Power’).

GROWING GAMESTOP GameStop, like any business, has eyes on being the leader in its category. It’s already the games retail daddy in North America – so it’s no surprise it wants to achieve the same success in other markets. Says Mauler: “We’re seeing growth in most countries. We have No.1 market share in the majority of the countries we are in – and all the key territories where it is measured closely, such as France and Germany. Of course there are markets where we are well established, but there are others where we are newer and are expanding rapidly – Italy or Gemany.”

And the big trend encouraging a niche retailer to expand at a time when Facebook, iPhone, Wii, Kinect and Move is attracting the mass market? Well, it’s that exact mainstream audience, of course. That’s why GameStop has started selling DLC in store. “It attracts a diverse array of people to buying DLC, and we can help new users actually find content. Look at the iPhone – there are thousands of apps, and most people have only looked at five. Whether it’s apps or DLC, we can market the content in- store. And unique to GameStop is that our trained associates can help customers find the content they want, and then at the push of a button buy the content, with a code to redeem it on their receipt. There’s a lot less friction to that approach than usual for customers.” Plus, it’s not as if the tide of new casual and social players is eroding

GameStop has a chain in Ireland and two UK stores (one of which is pictured above) –but it isn’t growing its High Street empire, the focus is on digital and newer retail concepts

We can promote digital content in- store. There’s a lot less friction to that approach than usual for customers.

Mike Mauler, GameStop

the principles of a traditionally core- gamer-focused retail like GameStop. “What’s happening with social gaming and casual gaming is that it is bringing more and more people into console gaming,” says Mauler. “A year or two ago everyone thought games like FarmVillewere detracting from boxed product, and that less people would play console games. I think it’s the opposite – those channels introduce games to people. It started with the music genre, and then grew with Wii and so on. Now we’re seeing all these consumers say ‘Hey, games are cool’ and then trying the big budget game such as Assassin’s Creedor GT5. Ultimately, the entertainment value consumers get from those smaller games drives them to games like Call of Duty. It’s additive to the industry – it’s good for publishers, it’s good for gamers and it’s good for retailers like us.”

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