GameStop has been making some changes, and others are likely just around the bend for the video game retailer.
COO Goes BYE
One recent difference can be found in the board room. The executive vice president and chief operating officer, Jenna Owens, has left after only seven months on the job. According to Reuters, “The company said in a regulatory filing that it and Owens had reached a ‘separation agreement,’ which is typically negotiated when companies and their executives do not see eye-to-eye.”
Owens will still receive the rest of her signing bonus and six months’ worth of her base pay.
She had been working at Amazon before joining GameStop and was in charge of “overseeing functions that include business intelligence, fulfillment, supply chain, and store operations”. Other executives will take over her roles.
SEC Investigates Meme Stocks
While we’ll never know exactly why Owens left, perhaps her previous experience didn’t vibe with the current meme stock status of GameStop. The big rally of its stock price has been the subject of many news articles and jokes, and even the US government has examined the situation regarding the stock. In mid October, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released a 45 page report about GameStop and other “meme” stocks like AMC.
The report did not come up with any policy recommendations, but it noted the tension between firms like Robinhood and its clearing houses. The SEC didn’t believe that Robinhood and others stopped accepting GameStop stock orders to protect the current stockholders and investment firms, but it did suggest firms monitor fluxing stocks more closely and shorten order time to prevent restrictions.
GameStop and NFTs?
But GameStop may be embracing its status as a favorite of Reddit and “superstonks” memes. Recently, GameStop posted positions on its job site for Web3 and NFT-related positions.
GameStop also has a website teasing NFT integration.
NFT, in case you didn’t know, stands for non-fungible token. Generally, NFTs are a type of cryptocurrency in the form of a piece of digital art or video that only one person can own. Some have sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Verge has a good basic overview, and there are plenty of videos about it as well.
Cryptocurrencies rely on a form of technology called blockchains, which keep records of each transaction.
Blockchains are central to the Web3 standard/goal where the Internet is decentralized — in other words, avoiding Big Tech companies like Amazon and Google.
Web3 is a very recent idea, and it is controversial along with cryptocurrencies and NFTs. One concern is that illegal content and criminal evidence would be harder to track. But other major companies like Amazon and Twitter are already making moves into these markets.
GameStop, based upon the job descriptions and its preview site, could create games with NFTs available to purchase and/or perhaps become a NFT marketplace (think eBay or Amazon but for NFTs).
A Wise Investment or Unnecessary Distraction?
So, uh, they can work on making a whole store and games for digital pictures, but there is still no way for GameStop.com to show what’s available at a local GameStop store?
In case it wasn’t clear, yeah, I’m not a fan of all this NFT hoopla and such. Maybe I’m just not tech-savvy enough to understand, and perhaps I’m also too attached to physical media and products to get the hoopla. But as Reuters pointed out:
“Since becoming chairman in June, [GameStop CEO] Cohen has pushed aggressively to improve customers’ experience but has not offered a detailed plan about how GameStop will achieve its digital transformation.”
A basic filter for what’s in-store seems like an obvious addition, and it’s not the first time I’ve complained about it — or the fact stores may show titles not actually in-stock and hide what they do have. Just kind of wondering if GameStop has talked to people outside of the meme-space on how to improve GameStop. Because you know what else I and other people like? Deals. You know what they don’t have any more? Weekly ads.
About three months before, GameStop stopped their Deal of the Day discount.
GameStop still does sales (and has some good ones, like a buy two get one free on recent hits last weekend), but they’re not easily readable. I find the homepage too busy, and I feel like there is less need to visit GameStop.com frequently without the Deal of the Day sale.
GameStop has been pushing their Pro membership recently, offering $10 to $15 back in rewards immediately along with the rest of the year’s monthly $5 certificates several times over the last couple of months. A bit suspicious in my opinion. I tried signing up, but for some reason, I couldn’t sign up; a gift card, a credit card, and a debit card all gave me payment errors. So I gave up and haven’t tried again.
So while I don’t know if NFTs are the future, there are plenty of things they could be working on right now before chasing after new marketplaces that may not be a hot commodity for long.