Rental giants like Blockbuster were a staple to everyone who grew up before the new millennium. Before digital content delivery systems like Steam, Origin and Netflix came to the scene, rental stores were the spots where families and gamers would go to find and rent games and movies on home video for weekend get-togethers and as a much more affordable way to try out games.
Once it became both cheaper and easier to get content delivered digitally however, rental stores had no real advantage over their competition and began to report huge profit loses. A similar situation ocurred a few years ago, when the newspaper and magazine industry started losing subscriptions after most people realized online websites (like Game Rant!) could provide content much faster and without cost (we’re sorry, New York Times.)
As of this week, the former giant of the rental industry will be closing its franchise doors for good in the United Kingdom, prompting the end of a long and struggling era. The European Blockbuster stores have been having a horrid financial year, with the entire organization being put into administration this January. To stem the hemorrhaging of money, the administrators closed 324 outlets in January, 72 in November, and 62 more in the last week. With only 91 stores remaining, it was finally announced this week that the last of the surviving outlets were to be closed, resulting in 808 employees losing their jobs. Mass layoffs are always a tragic event, and we wish those employees the best of luck in finding new employment.
Blockbuster tried the online market, but failed to make a name for itself among the competition.
In an interview with BBC News, Simon Thomas and Nick O’Reilly – members of the administration in charge of trying to save the company- said their decision to shut down the stores wasn’t an easy on to make, but having failed to find a buyer for the franchise, they were left with no real alternatives:
“It is with regret that we have to make today’s announcement, we appreciate this is a difficult time for all concerned and would like to thank staff for their professionalism and support over the past month. Unfortunately, we were unable to secure a buyer for the group as a going concern and as a result had to take the regrettable action to close the remaining stores.”
Blockbuster attempted to bring games to their online rental service in early 2000 but were too late to the game to win back the exponentially growing Netflix crowd. The company’s inability to look ahead and/or adapt quickly was their downfall.
The brick-and-mortar shopping experience is entering a new generation of competition, with a global market of providers like Amazon and eBay threatening places like traditional book stores and movie entertainment providers. Stores like GameStop survive on an emphasis of trade-in profits and exclusive promotions, whilst places like Best Buy sell of other products, namely electronics. Only time will tell if digital delivery will prove to be their Grim Reaper, but it ultimately results in an easier and more affordable experience for the consumer.
What do you think, Ranters? Are you sad to see Blockbuster go, or has that store been off your mind for quite some time?
Follow John Jacques on Twitter @Makelevi.