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Thread: How does video game shelf space work?

  1. #1

    Default How does video game shelf space work?

    So I was always curious on how video game shelf space worked in retail stores. What led me to ask this is that there are many games that come out a year but most retailers have limited shelf space to put games.

    For example when the DS was around there were about 300 games released per year but most retailers only have like 100-150 spaces to stock games for a particular system. How do retailers keep up with all of the games coming out without the market becoming too oversaturated? I mean when Atari was around there were less games but the market still became flooded.

    My theory is that many retailers will leave some spaces dedicated for more popular games and they stay on shelves longer while the rest are dedicated to less popular games particularly shovelware and most of those games get phased out within a few months at max. At that rate, most DS games would stay on shelves for like 3 months before being taken off shelves. Another theory is that some games would only be shipped to some retailers. Though with the 3DS there's only like 40-50 retail games per year so games would stay on shelves longer.

    I'd be interested to know how it all works.
    Last edited by TheJLeeTeam; 14th April 2016 at 10:57 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2005


    I worked at an EB Games a while ago so I can at least explain part of their method.

    Brand new games, (unopened, still sealed) stay behind the counter. These are games that were usually released within the past month or two and are in high demand. To the side there are cupboards with more backups of these in stock in case the display behind the counter runs low. Can't have the front display looking barren.

    New games on the shelves are "gutted" which means they've already been opened and they have no discs inside. What you see on the shelf is just the game case, so no one can just open it and steal the disc. The game disc is behind the counter in organized drawers in CD sleeves. Depending on how new the game is it can have a whole row of game cases on a shelf (if it's something popular like the current Assassin's Creed of Call of Duty) or just one case (for something that's like a year old). I don't know how orders work but I'd imagine that they don't order more new games until they've almost run out and the game is still in demand.

    Used games are similar to new games but the gutted copies are placed in the back storage room in individual cases. Piles of used copies of GTA IV. Lots of unsold leftover Wii shovelware.

    I don't know all the details but your theory seems mostly correct, that retailers phase out less popular games for the new stuff. Eventually in the shelf life cycle new games sell themselves out until there's only a few new copies left and then eventually all they have on shelves are used versions.

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