Brick-and-mortar kingpin GameStop has taken a decidedly non-brick-and-mortar turn with the purchase of online social gaming mecca Kongregate.

When you think of GameStop, you think of a massive chain of videogame retail stores across North America – the sort of place one would, say, have a midnight launch for a popular game. You don’t think of addictive tower defense Flash games like Don’t Touch My Gems.

And yet: GameStop has announced plans to buy online game hub Kongregate, host of a bajillion tiny timewasters. Kongregate, which allows game creators to publish their games and even monetize them through microtransactions, says that it services 10 million unique users per month.

“Combining Kongregate’s expansive catalogue of games with our well known consumer brand, powerful marketing and strong customer relationships, means that even more gamers will be able to enjoy their games anytime, anywhere and on any device,” said GameStop president Tony Bartel.

It’s an interesting move for the retail giant, which has previously admitted to being worried about the rise of digital distribution. One could see this as GameStop trying to hedge its bets in an increasingly digital age – or, at the very least, to plant the suggestion in the minds of Kongregate users to go pick up a game at an old-fashioned retail outlet every now and then.

GameStop wouldn’t have bought Kongregate if the site weren’t profitable, but how the Flash-game portal will figure into the retailer’s larger plans remains to be seen.


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