One of the world’s biggest video game retailers just announced its worst annual performance in decades, raising renewed questions about the health of the physical video game market as downloadable games continue their ascent. Net sales for GameStop were down 3 percent for the 52-week period ending February 2, a slide that helped flip last year’s modest $34.7 million profit to a sizable $673 million operating loss. On top of that, the company expects sales to decline another 5 to 10 percent in the next fiscal year.
GameStop’s massive loss is the largest ever reported by the company, and only the third annual loss since it grew out of the corporate remains of FuncoLand in 2000. GameStop last posted a loss in 2012, when it lost nearly $270 million thanks in part to weak holiday sales near the end of that era’s console generation.
But more than the amount, the reason behind the new loss could be cause for long-term concern at the retailer’s thousands of worldwide storefronts. While hardware sales were roughly flat and new software sales fell about 4 percent year over year, pre-owned software sales cratered nearly 12 percent for the year, continuing a years-long slide.