Why Would A Publisher Want To Release A GameStop Exclusive Game?

By Spencer . October 20, 2009 . 3:13pm

image A reasonable question since greater retail distribution should yield more sales. And yet, a selection of niche titles are only available at GameStop.


By the end of this month, Natsume will have shipped two GameStop exclusives this year, Harvest Moon: Magical Melody (the Wii version) and Adventures to Go.


Why did Natsume go this route? I asked Graham Markay, Vice President of Operations at Natsume, to elaborate the benefits of being a GameStop exclusive.


Adventures To Go is a niche title aimed at hardcore and casual RPG fans. GameStop is really the best place to go for gamers who want to find those niche titles that won’t necessarily be out on the shelves of all of the big-box retailers. So this lets us put our title in the store where it’s going to get plenty of attention and shelf space, and it really helps us focus our advertising on where it counts most.


Obviously the con is that, on some level, you’d always like to see your game getting the treatment of a Halo or Madden and have it out there front and center at every single retailer, but that just wasn’t a strategy that made sense for a niche title like this one. GameStop has a ton of stores across the county, so we don’t think anyone will have a problem finding this game.


Interesting note about the shelf space. Aren’t GameStops typically cluttered? If Adventures to Go gets a big sign or centered display that might help the tiny title get attention. We’ll check up on this next week when Adventures to Go arrives in stores.


Want to know more about Adventures to Go? Markay will be back later this week to give us an overview.

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  • BK0000

    Most Gamestops I’ve gone to lately have their PSP games on a rack in the middle of the floor, like they do for their PC games. They’re really easy to miss.

    • Its in a corner next to a Demo game station at mine lol

      • In a rack in the corner of the back of the store. Right next to a wall where some PC games are displayed.

      • Mine too, and it’s only new releases and preorders of about three or four shelves.
        Compare that to the overflowed bins of used PS2, Gamecube and Xbox games.
        Then again, the GS in my city was never a heavy hitter when it came to selling new released games.

  • endaround

    Most big box stores can charge huge stocking fees. For a game that is going to sell a few thousand its just not worth it to pay six figures to get placement.

  • Gamestop in my town is the only one with a good PSP selection. I don’t see huge shelf space for PSP games in other stores and the only niche game they carry is Pangya Fantasy Golf.

    If they could, maybe a download version would benefit them too if they aren’t already doing so.

  • nyoron

    Amazon.com is really the best place to go for gamers who want to find those niche titles that won’t necessarily be out on the shelves of all of the big-box retailers.”


    Well except for this game I guess.

    • Yup, *F-WORD* gamestop.

    • Ereek

      Agree, Amazon is where I get most of my games.

      It’s a shame Amazon isn’t carrying it, since I had every intention of buying this game.

    • I don’t even use Amazon more than once or twice a year and I agree with this comment.

  • JeremyR

    I was going to order this from Amazon.com, but now i won’t be buying it period.

    Gamestop.com is too expensive to order from, what with shipping and tax and no discount. $29.99 ends up being closer to $40.

    And unfortunately, at least for where I live, ordering online is about the only way to get a new PSP game. The PSP section at my closest Best Buy is dusty. There is a gamestop, but they rarely carry new titles except the major releases (and when they do, they only get 1, so I have to buy an open copy as “new”, which bugs me)

    • Well there’s always Ebay I guess.

    • Fel_Fele

      The only reason why stores might only get one copy is because of the lack of reserves. For instance, Borderlands was suppose to be a big hit today, however for the PS3, we only got 2 copies in. One for a reserve, the other to sell to customers. >.> Don’t blame the store when there’s a lack of reserves for titles that you’re interested in.

  • Well ive always prefered a gamestop and it can be obtained using amazon, the shipping shouldnt be much if you live in the US, besides im interested in this game i liked the trailer and graphics, and im sure it will catch more attention on the psp shelves, since they are like always colorless =(
    Personally, from a person that doesnt live in the US but goes sometimes, when i go to gamestop i always love watching all the games on the shelves, so i know why the natsume vice president though of that, i think is not a baad idea

    • JeremyR

      Well, Amazon isn’t carrying it. They have a listing, but “Out of Stock”.

      And like I said, once you add in shipping ($5) plus tax ($3), it ends up being closer to $40 than $30. With amazon, they have free shipping plus no tax, plus generally a $2 or so discount on most games, so it would have been $27, or about $11 difference.

      • Well 10-20$ is nothing compared to some of us that live outside of the country and have to wait months for it to be in our not many game stores 3 times overprices, or have the luck of a friend/familiar going or bringing something and ask the favor to bring a game D:, besides when i went there most of the psp games were 40 dollars, so is almost as buying it like that o.0

        • Slashlen

          True, it could be worse, but when talking about a single game it’s probably best to compare it to the other games in that market. Most PSP games in the states are $40, but they knocked $10 off, probably to help it sell.

          The ironic thing is that for people who would have picked this up online, it ends up being a little more than they would have paid for a normally priced PSP game online.

          If you work at it and get stuff to stack(and live in the US), the discounts from Amazon can get sick.

          • Yeah ive seen that T-T i had the oportunity to use amazon once and it was all so freaking cheap, so… i think is better to think as amazon as the cheaper way, and the other ways the normal ones, not the expensive ones, if you know what i mean xD

          • Slashlen

            That’s true, but that’s also what sucks about exclusive games. The cheaper options are cut off, unless you want to go used through Ebay or something. Even that assumes the game doesn’t become rare and expensive.

          • Wait i just saw amazon, and it have the playstation network logo, does it mean it may have digital release? o.0 wait.. it must have digital release, there is psp go, where there is another choice, buy some prepaid psn cards (though i prefer the phisical game) but at least is cheaper

      • Aoshi00

        Definitely agree the cheapest way to get games is thru Amazon, free shipping + no tax (NY is almost 9%) + and a slight discount could make a big difference than buying from retail for a $60 game, or a pricier special edition. Been buying stuffs from Amazon for years now (and the Visa 3% cash back w/ Amazon purchase), next is ebay or buy.com

        Truth is I haven’t bought from a GS for years until recently. Since Amazon ships lightning fast even w/ free shipping anyway, and I get it in the mail instead of driving to the store, not to mention the ability to freely cancel things when you change your mind provided it hasn’t gone into shipping process. The games I bought from GS have exclusives bonuses, like Raiden 4 (the gallery pdf. file was garbage, definitely not worth the extra $5+ if I were to get it on Amazon), Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, & Magna Carta 2 w/ the artbook. I was surprised how friendly and helpful the current staff in my local GS are though, and they call me to let me know when the game is ready, even remember my name when I walk into the store despite not having reserved a game and just called in (there used to be some jerks in Funcoland that I didn’t get along w/).

        I guess what I’m trying to say is I don’t mind buying retail for a premium if there’s some enticing exclusive bonus. Jpn stores do that all the time, different bonuses (mostly telephone cards) for different stores. Also if you put down $5 in advance, GS would not let you down.

        • …How the hell are you getting away with no sales tax in NY?


          Sales tax is basically what makes Amazon irrelevant for anything other than discontinued releases to me, so I’m really curious.

          • Aoshi00

            That’s because I live in Jersey and work in the city, lol. You’re right, no way avoiding sales tax even w/ online purchase shipped to NY. So in gamestop I’m paying 7% sales tax instead of 8.85% or something in NY, I would avoid that 1-2% sales tax if possible (pennypincher), buying stuff in NY GS/Best Buy would be my last resort

  • How many other Gamestop exclusive games have there been? I can only think of Chaos Wars. Speaking of Chaos Wars, I actually saw a copy of that game at a local Gamestop a few days ago. I don’t think anyone will buy it.

    • Chulip for the PS2, I think? I know that was the only place I could find it. Toys R Us had an exclusive game not too long ago too.

      • Steal Princess was an Amazon exclusive, correct?

        • I think that was the initial thought, but looking at the Atlus Newsletter (April) when the game was announced to be delayed there were links to Walmart (online only), Game Crazy (in stores only), Gamefly and Amazon. When Atlus USA finally announced the game was out they said Steal Princess was available at select retailers, which I assume included just those. And there were no links to GameStop like the other newsletters had. Very interesting.

          Spencer had an article up about it back in April when he mentioned that one of tippers noted that GS had cancelled the preorder a few weeks prior. A few thought it was Atlus going back to the niche selling practice.

    • As Matty points out Chulip, which is also a Natsume game. Tenchu DS, strange since Nintendo published it here. I believe the PSP version of 505’s WWII shooting game is too.

    • I think there have been more exclusive _bonus items_ at Gamestop than actual games for the most part. Chulip took forever at my (Eb Games at the time).

  • GameStop controls more of the publisher’s ability to distribute games than one might think. If anyone wants to submit claims of monopolization, GameStop would be at/near the top of my list.

    Despite that, yeah, I generally buy from them since they stock the games I like pretty quick. Amazon can take up to three weeks to ship. Or three days. Ugh.

  • Chow

    I remember Chibi-Robo: Park Patrol was supposed to be exclusive to one store (I forget which, whether it was Wal*Mart or Gamestop). But at least in Canada, it wasn’t exclusive to anything.

    • Yeah Walmart.

      which reminds me, is that recent one Okaeri! Chibi-Robo! Richie Oosouji! actually coming over or not? I didn’t like Park Patrol as much as the GC one but I hope the Walmart only sales didn’t hurt its chances in the US. :(

    • Also Soul Bubbles was a Toys ‘R Us only title for DS. Only time I remember them getting an exclusive.

  • Slashlen

    While I’m not a fan of Gamestop, I’ll admit it’s probably the best place for a niche game in B&M stores. Not a good place, but the best they got in B&M.

    I perfer online myself. Go Amazon(well, when ECA’s working again)!

    • Same here. Ever since I got a credit card I’ve been sticking close to online purchases and avoid GS’s crazy policies. I don’t agree with some of the practices they do, but that’s just me.
      However, I know a lot of kids out there that only have access to these shops and they really do provide a service for the kiddies that no one else is really reaching to them this way.
      And its seems the only reasonable place to sell niche games to the open public on the streets so I’m glad it helps companies like Natsume out.

      What a predicament! Someone should make a game about this.

  • Soma

    It’s really interesting how exclusives work in the gaming industry.
    If a certain store strikes up a deal to make a certain title exclusive to their store, there really is little that other stores can do.
    I suppose they could boycott by not carrying any titles from that specific publisher, but that would make business difficult if it were a big name publisher.

    One of the jobs I work right now is for a big music retailer in Canada, and while the company strives to prevent other store exclusives, it happens. So, their policy is to put a stop on ordering of all product from that particular artist, and pull any of the product from the sales floor.
    Believe it or not, but that system can have some serious impact. Imagine with a distributor that was normally shipping ‘x’ amount of units to stores all over the country sees that they’re suddenly shipping 0 units?

    I’m just wondering what the results may be if the same sort of system were to be applied for game exclusives?

  • M’iau M’iaut

    Although amazon has been catching up with the niche reservers, gamestop still hits those guys who like to chat games, discover some wierd something, or find an oddity in the used rack. Yes, PSP is a shrinking space section, but if you go in to any location and drop that reserve down, you will be taken care of.

    Comfort food of any type will always find an audience and if you are lucky enough to have a strong store to call home it can be hard to change a habit.

  • Jirin

    It’s obvious why. Advertisement for exclusivity. It’s lame, but it is what it is.

  • Aoshi00

    I guess that makes it more rare and in demand I guess? Does anybody remember the Toysrus exclusive XBox game “Sneakers” (Nezumix), that was actually one of the first Xbox games I bought, the ad was like “realistic CG rendered fur that you’ve never seen before” or something… that game was a wreck and might be cute for kids, but then it was too hard for a young kid…

    Now when I see a store exclusive game, it makes me think there’s something inherently wrong w/ the game and they’re afraid to sell it broadly.

  • Blame that near-monopoly of store/company! They are only shipping copies to “definite” sales (ie. pre-orders) and not even going to try to market to gamers since they usually get 1 copy of a non-big budget game outside of their PO’s. If you didn’t know about a game, good luck learning about it at Gamestop.

    On another note, I go in there trying to pre-order half my games (I get bigger titles from Gamefly because they’re cheaper than $60 and plentiful everywhere anyway). Most of the time it’s in vain because they’re not on their list or the store can’t put that SKU down as a pre-order even though it’s in the system. So they actually don’t have all games available for pre-order even if they’re going to carry them. It’s a sad state of affairs but who can blame them? The company makes MOST of it’s profit on people trading in their games/systems/etc. for chump change and turning around selling it to the next person willing to pay a few bucks cheaper than the new price. HUGE profit on their part and this is why they are constantly asking if you’d like to get a used–ahem, “pre-owned” version of whatever.

    I don’t usually enjoy ordering online because lack of bonus items but Amazon has really stepped it up over these past couple years and have tons of bonus stuff. I’ll avoid Gamestop when I can (bonus items/exclusives is the only exception).

    Seriously, is there a way we can overthrow this soon-to-be monopoly that Gamestop is running on the video game world?

  • In my experience my local Gamestop’s are ill-informed and do not advertise their exclusive titles. The stores near me failed to even stock the Wii release of Harvest Moon: Magical Melody and did not know what it was when one asked about it.

    • Unfortunately, it’s only “ill-informed” by our standards. Gamestop considers their employed very well informed on their flagship sellers and in the end that’s all they care about. I have spent more money than most customers at some of my local Gamestops over the years on new titles than you could imagine. I, however, never trade in a game (Strike 1), don’t buy “big” new releases that fill employee quota needs like Madden 20XX or GTAXX (Strike 2), and the only pre-owned purchases I make are usually under $10 for titles that are really hard to come by nowadays instead of $54.99 for a Gears of War 2 that was just traded in for $20 store credit (Strike 3, you’re out!)


      • thebanditking

        I could not agree with you more. I am not exactly a top priority in my local GameStop. In fact they only know me because when I do buy something Im the one guy you dont want to screw out of his pre-order bonus, when Castlevania PoR came out on DS you should have seen the look I gave the guy when he told me they “ran out” of the bonus items. Needless to say he “checked” again and found me one in the back.

        I worked at GameStop and EB (before they merged) when I was 17 and 18 and this may not surprise some of you but most of us on here are not what they would call top customers, despite that during a busy month I could easily spend 200 on new games. We are too well informed, GameStop feeds on the mis informed parents and stupid kids who shop there and unless your buying Madden, GTA, or Halo they hate you, because your not feeding into their bottom line which for the B&M GameStops is big name preorders and used game sales along with discount card/magazine subscriptions.

        Also would it surprise any of you to know that GameStop often gets extra pre-order bonus items for walk ins? So why dont people get them? Well check Ebay a day or 3 after a GameStop bonus item comes out (especially Artbooks, figures or CDs) you will find tons of listings for these bonus items on sale with greatly inflated prices, the employees take them and put them up on Ebay and make an easy $100 from it (for example 3 BlazBlue Artbooks at 29.99 each)A friend of mine was a manager at a Gamestop a while back and this as one of his stores big problems. Its really quite shamefull and is one of the many reasons I buy 90% of my games from Amazon with the other 10% being divided up between Best Buy, Toys R Us and Gamestop.

        • You do speak the truth; especially about the Ebay thing. Thankfully I haven’t seen any local folks do that in a long time. It’s so sad to see people who know nothing about stuff make a killing for free. It may help a bit if they pay their employees more money… I feel bad for all of them anytime I walk in. Unfortunately, it becomes apparent a lot (not all) of them pretty much deserve what they make after a few moments of what could be described as “a train wreck of a social conversation” about anything.

          Who thought dealing in “black market” pre-orders through surreptitious acts could have been such a lucrative fiasco presently 10 years ago? I would have been so angry as a younger lad if I didn’t get my Killer Instinct Killer Cuts Pre-order CD! =3
          Too further compound the dilemma I have no idea why a publisher would release a Gamestop exclusive other than being fooled by GS PR people into the old “We’re the largest Game Store in the World” gimmick. Especially if it’s a pre-order exclusive item. Perhaps, as fans, we should start to complain if we don’t receive the bonus items or that they weren’t available upon release day and therefore caused you to not purchase said game.

          PS: If it’s a newer release, try to spend the extra $5 and get new and support the actual game instead of saving a couple bucks and going pre-owned, in turn supporting Gamestop hierarchy. =P

          • Pre-order exclusive items usually always have a “while supplies last” statement somewhere, so when I miss out I just figure ‘oh, well’.

          • While that is usually the case, nine times out of ten, a company sends enough bonus items for each pre-order in a one to one ration. I don’t know why I’m all that worried as I always get my stuff, yet I see so many others have one pulled over on them since they don’t know the people working. C’est la vie, I suppose. =)

          • Oh, I know what you mean. I’m actually the one that misses out on the bonus items, but I don’t mind (I guess I’m part of the problem and not the solution), but by all means if that’s what was the selling point is then tell them. I admit, sometimes it does feel like a bait and switch.
            I will say the last time I dealt directly with GS was partly due to the bonus that was supposed to come with Moon DS. After not being informed my copy was there a week earlier and that the bonus item wasn’t there (no offense to Renegade Kid, I love their games, but I don’t think more than 5 people had preordered that game at this shop), all that just made me think “these people don’t really give a sh*t”.

        • Oh, I’ve seen the BlazBlue artbooks selling on eBay upwards to $50 for ONE copy.
          It’s sad knowing that these people could have went to the Aksys site about bought the same book for 15 bucks.

          • Aww man I remember you giving us a tip about that and it hasn’t gone up! It really should now in light of this info. :)

          • You know, this is one of the bonus items I actually didn’t get and refused to fork out that kind of cash. I think I’ll check their site tonight to see if it’s still available. =) Thanks matty!

  • xenonism

    Because they get paid. Gamestop paid for this, and all exclusives work this way. Everything else is bullshit.

  • Tbag_of_Doom

    I’m a manager at Gamestop and as of this coming Monday, 10/26, this title will be displayed on the Feature Tower. This fixture is a tall, thin, silver display that holds 16 game cases per side and should be located towards the front of the store. This month it will showcase four Anime/RPG titles on one of the sides including the upcoming Adventures To Go. This is of coarse assuming the manager at your local Gamestop setup this month’s marketing correctly. Good luck with that.

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