Reflecting the impact of the casual gamer demographic on the overall videogaming market, GameStop is making changes in its stores to accommodate the less-than-hardcore over the coming holiday season.

Speaking in an interview with the New York Times last week, GameStop vice-chairman and COO Daniel A. DeMatteo said the company will be setting up two new store sections for the holidays aimed squarely at casual gamers and gift-givers. The first will focus on music games such as Guitar Hero III, Rock Band and High School Musical, while the second will feature children’s and family-oriented games, described by GameStop senior VP of merchandising Bob McKenzie as “anything from Mario Kart to Zoo Tycoon to Nintendogs.”

“There is a real breadth of properties now appealing to a much broader audience than we’ve seen before,” DeMatteo said. “Honestly, we are having to retool the way we think of things in our stores in terms of merchandising, layout and also customer service because it is no longer only the hardcore gamer walking in who knows exactly what he wants.”

Marketing to casual gamers was also a topic for discussion at the company’s annual Las Vegas gathering with game publishers and console manufacturers, during which strategies for marketing and promotion over the vital holiday season are discussed and negotiated. Publishers and retailers can generate up to half their annual revenues during the so-called “golden quarter” between October and December.


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