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I miss stores. I miss malls. I’m only just now getting to a point in my life where I’m successful enough to have enjoyed them the way I imagined I would eventually. Now I can potentially go into a store and buy a thing if I see a thing I like, but now there are no stores for that. I know some larger places still have media store, or bookstores, but out here it’s just walmart or dollar stores, and the occasional Gamestop. It’s not that I don’t like the convenience of Amazon, or online retail in general. It was just fun to go out and forage. Most places have very limited selections of media if they have any at all. Having been burned by the move to digital media I am wary of letting physical slip away.
In 20 years the video game nostalgia documentaries on whatever replaces youtube will struggle to explain exactly what gaming was like since so much of it took place online in places that simply do not exist. I played Splatoon for quite some time and that era of the game is over. The online landscape is this weird mess of cheaters and die hard players. Plus it’s not the kind of game you can just port to a new system. It has features tied to a console specific controller. That time of the game being new and upkept is just over. Probably forever. The single player mode is just barely a full game. It’s meant to mostly be played online, and that’s true of so many defining games of this current era.
Things change. They end. That’s always been a theme of the comic. This linear progression to whatever end awaits everyone and everything. I wonder sometimes if I want to see what the world will look like in two more decades or more. I may not even get a chance. Nobody knows. Tomorrow’s not promised to anyone…
I live in a suburb near Seattle, and I have visited an Amazon “4-Star” store. The basic concept is that they pick a bunch of popular items and put them on display in a store. You can look at them! You can buy them! You can also take note of them and order them for delivery to your house by Amazon; they don’t mind that at all.
I think these stores are reasonably popular and will spread.
We also shop at Costco, and I think Costco will be around forever. What I like about Costco is that they have pretty good stuff and do not have a wide variety. If you need a garage door opener, you can go there and get one, and you can be pretty sure it will be a quality product that will work well; you won’t be paralyzed with indecision over the choices, because they will only have one. Sometimes I don’t want to sweat the details.
Does it even count as a “media” store if they devote more shelf space to Funko Pops and novelty cereal than music and movies?
(Nods in Harley-Davidson, whose dealers are fast becoming places to sell merch, and some motorcycles.)
I’ve heard someone refer to the Harley-Davidson store as a place to buy biker cosplay, and I haven’t been able to get that out of my head since.
Oh, that made me laugh. That’s a keeper for sure.
I don’t care quite enough to look it up, but it would be interesting to see how much Harley makes off of licensing vs. selling motorcycles. It’s not like they’ve ever been shy about slapping a bar and shield on everything in sight.
I never do online play, but I do think it’s odd how the world has changed. Continuing a point from a few comics ago, in the comments section, we really should be able to OWN digital games; I don’t care much for this leasing aspect. But even if we had that, it’s still odd how games get lost; so many classic games from the SNES era are unobtainable without an emulator and ROM, and that’s technically illegal. Maybe this will stop being a problem as we sort of plateau in technology and everything is eventually ported to PC, at some future date, but it’s still odd to think that if some of my old Playstation discs die, my game is lost and basically can’t be replaced (in fact, I had this happen recently with Suikoden 5). I guess this is the same with movies, in a way, but we’ve only really had VHS, DVD, and Blu Ray (not a whole lot of HD-DVD or betamax exclusives out there), and DVD is still playable–very different from the console wars. Which is part of the reason I wish consoles would die; I legit did not think we’d reach PS5, since at this point, consoles are just glorified, limited PCs. If we’d all move to PC and mobile gaming only, we could at least pool all games into 2, widely utilized formats.
Honestly, it would help if more games had gamepad support. I’ve been using a gamepad for decades. Trying to switch to a keyboard and mouse isn’t easy. Worse, where do I put it all in my living room? Lean the keyboard against my favorite chair?
There is actually a lot of discussion about this in academic circles because there is no centralized place for archiving video games, and there needs to be. There is already so much stuff from the 80’s and 90’s that is kinda…gone. Especially experiencing a game as it was originally released is important for considering it from an art history perspective, so that means consoles and equipment, old PCs and peripherals, and maintaining all of that. Its an interesting problem.
I figure a digital repository that will buy a copy of a game they don’t currently have for a good chunk of money, that they then port to digital format, has licenses for “official” emulators of all the old stuff, and sells PC compatible versions of the old controllers (both USB and bluetooth depending on if you feel the cords are an important part of the experience) would be fairly ideal. The issue is getting the major game companies on board, since they like to pretend they will make the old stuff available on new consoles and probably think they would be losing money or some such idiocy by signing on with such a project.
They’d probably have to do something like $10 for the emulator software, $30 for the controller (since that’s a physical thing), and like $1-3 per game, ideally as one time fees like with steam, and then whichever company owns the IP gets like 20% or something. I feel that doing it that way would largely solve a lot of the issues, the only real barrier is getting the various companies on board, but good luck getting their heads out of their asses long enough for them to see this would only be a net gain for them overall over their current strategy of “clutch all the old stuff we aren’t using in our greedy little mitts for as long as possible because if we let someone else play with our toys we lose out potential money we will never see because we will never actually use this stuff in a meaningful, commercially viable fashion ever again.” They see it as an untapped cash cow but aren’t willing to put in the effort to tap it in a way that will actually bear milk, and also aren’t willing to let someone else do it on their behalf because then they are only getting a percentage instead of the whole barrel of milk. Companies really need to be more willing to work with each other for mutual gain, and not just in the video game industry, just overall. Like, if someone wants to do all the work you aren’t willing to so that you both make money, why not let them? As things stand nobody is profiting off that stuff, meaning not letting someone use it is pointless.
The other thing with movies is that they don’t really ever go out of print, unless the owning company wants to generate scarcity (see Disney vault). And everytime a new playback medium is brought out, everything suddenly rereleases on the new format too, so movies I watched on VHS as a kid are available on DVD and then again on bluray now. Meanwhile any gamecube game I couldn’t get my parents to buy or wasn’t yet interested in is lost to the second hand market which is kinda disgusting right now
The death of Family Video still stings. It’s been a year but seeing that big empty storefront as I drive past is a dagger in my heart. It’s now virtually impossible to find a video store.
Honestly, it shouldn’t be; there are so many titles out there that aren’t available on streaming services for one reason or another. But then people only have so much time, too; missing those titles is easier when you have so many others to pick from.
There is a town in west Texas where the Video Gallery still stands, empty and untouched, since it closed. The signs are even still in the windows.
Honestly, the government needs to crack down on digital distribution exclusivity like they did with the film studio/movie theatre monopoly problem back in the ’30s. As things stand the only viable ways to watch all the stuff you want to watch are either be rich or be a pirate, and honestly even if I could afford to pay for all of the streaming services available, I’d still rather use the pirate site I use now because then I only need to check one site for stuff instead of over a dozen. If streaming services couldn’t have exclusive rights to a given show, then the one with the superior interface would be the one that survived and the rest would probably go out of business, which I’m fine with because the vast majority of them only exist because studios realized they didn’t have to deal with netflix, hulu, and amazon prime if they can have their own service, no matter how crappy, and hold their media hostage, but if we prevent them from holding their media hostage then it will go back to how it was when you could reliably watch pretty much anything on netflix, which was preferable.
I still don’t understand the difference between checking out a movie for a few days from the local library, and downloading it from the interwebz then deleting it after watching. You’ve “borrowed” a copy. What’s the big diff who you borrowed it from?
And physical media? Oh, absolutely.
I suspect that’s a big part of why piracy is still a thing. So you actually have a copy that isn’t impacted by internet outages or media company capriciousness.
I still prefer physical media for anything I’m going to look at more than once. Fiction usually goes on the Kindle unless it is something I really like. For technical/reference books, car manuals, good art books (including the odd graphic novel) I much prefer hard copies. The closest city used to have four or five decent used book stores. Now they are down to just one. They usually go away when the owner retires or dies. There is at least still a Books-a-Million.
I use epub instead of kindle — the advantage is that I’m not locked into one manufacturer of epub readers.
But there are still books that are better in paper form:
* art books
* mathematics books
Why math? Math books are usually pdf’s, and most pdf readers don’t deal gracefully with the phrase “Recall equation 6-15”. By the time you’ve found equation 6-15 you’ve lost your place. With a paper book, you can hold your left thumb at that place while paging around to find equation 6-15.
Some math pdf’s have internal links, and some pdf readers can follow them, but the pdf readers that can usually do not have back buttons.
I worked in a small family owned video/gamestore for a while I cant count how many people when they found us came to us instead if red box just to browse its really a lost art
We are Hunter/gatherers at heart.
I miss Hastings. When it was closing down, I knew I’d miss it. Miss malls too. Have one an hour a way though, but it’s not as good as it used to be.
I never went to malls when I was a teen, and also I think I might be on the youngisher end of the demographic here. Did malls use to have more options? Seems every one I go to is like 80% clothing stores, and the ones that aren’t are the same franchises you can find in their own standalone forms like eb games and chapters.
malls were mainly clothing yeah, but they used to be more diverse. mine had a bunch of physical game stores, restaurants, a food court and arcade in the basement level and a large bookstore (Its more a bookstore in name as they sold laptops, PC attachments, phones and other technology pieces too with board games and stationary). I haven’t been to that mall in years due to being abroad the last few years, one of the game store I used to go to closed up shop a while before I left, was pretty sad about it cause the owner was a good guy and he had a great selection. another victim of creative destruction and market disruption.
Clothing. Electronics. Movies. Never seen a Hot Topic (for instance) outside of a mall. Arcade. Food courts (not all the places in these had on the street versions). Bookstores. Music stores. Specialty stores. Toy stores.
I’d often go to clothes stores that I couldn’t find outside of the mall for clothes I couldn’t find elsewhere.
Oh, absolutely yes. Malls used to have a whole array of things to see. Pinkk summed up most of the brass tacks, but it was entirely possible to spend several hours within a mall’s confines. There were even artistic installations and shows. Foll concerts, even.
Most of that migrated to the internet these days.
“I’m sure there will always be stores of some kind”.
For those who want a bit of a dive into where we’ve been, try Susan Strasser’s great book on changes in stores and growth of brands during the Industrial Revolution.
I’m already thinking Alex has read it.
Used to be a software engineer, back when we were called “programmers”. I saw all this coming with Microsoft’s introduction of the .NET protocol in the early 90’s. I couldn’t be a part of disenfranchising the end user, so chose to get out of the industry.
Ended up in a career flipping burgers. But at least I still own my soul, and that’s much more valuable than mere money.
Where I live, we have the grocery store,DG,the pharmacy, and the vet. You don’t have to specify which one.
Yeh as convenient as a Kindle is (especially when on holiday) there is something tactile about a real book. I can sadly see them returning to the status of ‘luxury item’
Up until the rise of the medieval middle class, they were an expensive luxury. Hand lettered, hand illuminated, hand bound. Libraries would chain them to the shelves, because; theft prevention!
Real books are great, though there’s a lot to be said for being able to carry a library in the palm of your hand.
I’m generally torn on physical media when it comes to gaming: on one hand, I do miss the feel of owning the physical copy, having a shelf of games on display, amd borrowing games from friends. On the other hand, you were very much at the mercy of what the local stores had (a problem growing up in a rural area) so I missed out on games that I simply couldn’t find copies of. This was early internet days too, and I was young, so between dial-up and no way to pay, was out too. Plus, going back to the SNES era, certain games requiring a bit of extra hardware on the cart would be more expensive and probably not common, so they didn’t get cheaper. I remember being younger, seeing a new copy of Mario RPG being well out of my budget, and thinking “well, the SNES is on its way out, surely this will be cheaper one day”. Oh, young, foolish me…
I still have most of my music CDs though, and I’ve recently gotten into vinyl. So I haven’t completely abandoned the notion of physical media.
I feel this. For the longest time I’ve wanted to get where I am financially in part so that I could join the gaming community I’ve missed out on being unable to afford consoles. But now all the best games are for former consoles and newer stuff just kind of is blah.
There is a retro gaming store in my city that I’m going to start going to in order to make friends.