Ex-id Software veteran and creative force behind the Alice games has said what many of us are thinking - that the old model of retail game stores is probably on the way out and that online is the future. From an interview with Industry Gamers
AM: In the (not so?) distant future there wouldn't be much need for a bricks-and-mortar retailer. Why waste resources on a physical location and unreliable employees when the entire experience can be made sharper, cleaner and more entertaining in the virtual representation?
He goes on to mention that retail stores are "nothing more than places to fondle physical goods you're going to buy online anyway".
Certainly in Australia where the price difference between buying online from overseas and buying from a local retail store - where it's not uncommon to see a markup over 100% - this seems to be a common trend. I know it's definitely what I do; I regularly feel guilty for treating physical retailers like a great 3D catalogue when I have no intention to buy from there.
With video games and software there's obviously even more drive to a totally online retail experience. Game retailers are aware of it; some of them are displaying adaptability, as seen by Gamestop's recent announcement
that they're looking to enter the market with a new gaming tablet.