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In Depth: GameStop Controls 21 Percent Of U.S. Game Market
In Depth: GameStop Controls 21 Percent Of U.S. Game Market Exclusive
May 1, 2009 | By Matt Matthews

May 1, 2009 | By Matt Matthews
More: Console/PC, Exclusive

GameStop now runs over 6200 stores in 17 countries around the globe. In North America, it covers the United States and Canada. In Europe, the firm has most of its stores in France, Italy, and Germany. In Oceania, it has stores in Australia and New Zealand.

In this, the final part of our overview of GameStop's business, we'll look at how the company's revenues across territories have changed with time. Moreover, we'll focus on the United States and estimate what percentage of the market the company controls by comparing with public data from the NPD Group. Finally, we'll look at the density of stores in the United States, particularly with respect to population.

(The first part of our analysis looked at revenue and gross profits. In the second part, we estimated new and used software sales and analyzed emerging risks to GameStop's business.)

Global Growth

The company we know as GameStop traces its origin to Babbage's, a software retailer based in Dallas, Texas. GameStop achieved much of its current strong market position through mergers and acquisitions with other game retailers like Funco and Electronics Boutique (in the United States) and Micromania (in France).

In its annual 10-K filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), GameStop breaks its revenue out by region. (For an analysis of GameStop's revenue and gross profits irrespective of territory, see part one of this series.)

Traditionally GameStop derives most of its revenue from its stores in the United States. However, its revenue in other territories is growing exceptionally quickly.

For example, U.S. revenue grew a modest 19 percent in the last fiscal year while revenue in Europe grew 67 percent. Much of this European growth, of course, is driven by its acquisitions and subsequent expansion.

Taking a slightly longer view, the company's American revenue in the last fiscal year was 2.4 times the American revenue just three years earlier. Over the same three year period its European revenue has grown by a factor of 7.2 (from $176 million to $1.27 billion).

The company's global revenue in the last fiscal year was divided up among the four territories as shown below.

Approximately 73 percent of the company's revenue comes from its American business. Most of the remaining revenue, 14 percent, comes from GameStop's European divisions. Canada and Australia (the latter of which also includes New Zealand), each have approximately a 6 percent share of GameStop's global revenue.

Over 20% of the U.S. Market

In the last year, GameStop accounted for roughly 21 percent of the new hardware and software market in the United States, according to our estimates. That marketshare defines the power it wields when working with publishers.

GameStop's fiscal year is roughly equivalent to 12 monthly periods tracked by the NPD Group from February 2008 through January 2009. The new hardware and software sales figures recorded by NPD for those periods have been reported in the media.

To obtain comparable revenue figures for GameStop in the United States alone (a figure we do not believe is explicit in the company's 10-K), we applied the rule that approximately 60 percent of GameStop's revenue is derived from new hardware and software sales. That rule of thumb has been quite consistent for several years of GameStop's recent history.

As noted in our graph, however, this estimate does not included two key market segments: accessories (for either consoles or handhelds) and PC software. Because these items are grouped with many other sources of revenue in GameStop's data, they are impossible to extract without resorting to outright guesswork.

Nation Saturation

GameStop has cornered 1/5 of the U.S. videogame market by spreading its stores throughout the country. Comparing with figures from the U.S. Census Bureau (current as of mid-2008), there are approximately 1.4 GameStop stores per 100,000 persons in the United States.

The figure below gives state-by-state averages (as stores per 100,000 people).

Apparently, Delaware is by far the state with the highest density of stores, at almost 2.2 per 100,000 people. The density in Washington D.C. is far lower, with only 2 stores for its total population of just under 600,000.

The states with the most stores overall (as opposed to a population density) are California with 479 stores, Texas with 373 stores, and Florida with 318 stores. California has shown the greatest growth in store numbers, adding 91 storefronts across the state in just three years.

Only a handful of states -- Arkansas, Utah, and New Mexico -- have seen their total number of GameStop stores decline in that same three year period.

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Fiore Iantosca
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Well until some better competition comes along, they'll probably continue their lead.

Ben Versaw
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I'm curious who the other 79% is. Unless I'm missing something 21% of a market is hardly "controlling" the market, especially when the numbers for Best Buy, Wall-Mart, and other game stores are missing.

Matt Ponton
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Last I remember, back when EB Games and GameStop merged Wal-mart was said to have 20% of the market, and the merger of both EB & GS would allow the shared market share to total 24-25%. I don't remember where I got that number but at the time Wal-mart was considered to be the top dog. I also would guess the market share dropped a bit when GS closed many of its stores that were competing with each other in the same mall (and didn't need two stores in the same mall).

Mike Lopez
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I wonder how Amazon's recently added used game sales will affect GS in the future. I'm thinking that a lot of the foot traffic into GS is generated from people looking to trade in old games. With new competition in the used game space perhaps they will not see as much foot traffic and new s/w and h/w sales.

Sekou Murphy
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There's a lot of talk about Amazon, BestBuy and even Toys-R-Us fighting for GameStop's trade-in business.

I don't think Amazon would be a strong competitor because the kinds of people that trade in video games are hardcore gamers, GameStop's customer base. Amazon's customers are likely to be casual games, who probably wouldn't be trading games. Same holds true for BestBuy and Toys-R-Us.

So I don't think they'll be much of a customer shift away from GameStop.

There's a lot that goes into doing trade-ins, including pricing, demand and inventory management. Among the three, I'd rate Amazon as having the best chance, since they have the database of what used games are bought and sold. BestBuy and Toys-R-Us just don't have this expertise. Still, I don't think Amazon crosses customer bases well with GameStop.

Here's a blog about this for more.