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This Store Was Killed by Mobile Games, Says Owner

Illustration for article titled This Store Was Killed by Mobile Games, Says Owner
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For the last few years, I have been a frequent customer at a local mom-and-pop video game store here in Japan. Today I walked in to see the shelves with empty spaces and the games majorly discounted. After 21 years of selling games, the store is going out of business.

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Surprised and saddened by this, I asked the elderly owner why the store was closing. She explained that since the beginning, a large portion of her customers have been children. Moreover, in the summers during vacation, kids would practically flood the store every day buying or trading in games. However, this past summer, not a single child entered the store.

When I asked why this change had occurred, her reply was immediate: "Because of mobile phones."

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She went on to explain that these days, every child has a mobile phone. And with companies like Mobage and GREE, there are tons of free games to choose from. And if the games are fun, free, and addictive, why bother to go to a game store?

I asked if she thought downloadable game services like the PSN and Xbox Live were partly to blame as well; but she seemed to think that the online aspect wasn't the problem, but the lack of cost.

Sadly, the closing of this long-established game store is unlikely to be an isolated event. As large gaming companies put more and more money into mobile, freemium game development—which is clearly evidenced by this year's TGS lineup—this is a scene that is likely to be repeated over and over across Japan in the years to come.

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DISCUSSION

Heerrrooo Yui

I have an iPhone an iPad, and til this day, have yet to found a game on them that holds my attention as long as any console game has. Not one. There has not been one compelling mobile game that required more than some finger strokes to get addicted to. Games like final fantasy gets ported to iOS and The World Ends With You gets dumbed (yes I said it, It was dumbed down to fit on iOS) down and people eat it up. That 99cent/free game is the best thing since tetris til you need more gems to continue or finish it.

Im sick of seeing a headline every week, that some mobile/social gaming CEO bragging how they're killing consoles. Consoles are at the end of their cycle and it shows. Almost everyone who wants a ps3 or xbox or wii has one. I wish the Vita stop struggling, cause if it fails, mobile and social gaming CEOs come out the woodwork and claim they were the ones that beat it.

I really dont like this new nickle and diming way the gaming industry is going, I don't mind MMORPGs doing free to play or Freemium (I actually throw up a bit when I say Freemium) because they're arent many mmos on consoles, but when I have a FPS, and I have to go to some in-game menu and pay 20 boomstick coins to get a shotgun, its all downhill from there. Is the age of buying full games you can complete from start to end really coming to an end? Is this drug dealer mentality where the first hit is free and the rest costs you really the future? I know gamestop is evil, but will there come a day I wont be able to turn around and see 3 gamestops clumped on the same block?