Doing its best to turn a liability into an asset, shares of GameStop soared last week after talking up its prospects as an unlikely play in the Pokemon Go frenzy. CEO J. Paul Raines was on CNBC, revealing that sales had doubled at stores that also serve as virtual gyms and PokeStops in the game.
GameStop is talking a good game. It has a page set up to make it easier for Pokemon Go players to see which of its more than 7,000 stores also double as hotspots for virtual items and battle training in the augmented reality game that's sweeping the nation. Nearly 200 of its stores also happen to be designated as PokeStops with more than 30 locations also doubling as Pokemon Gyms.
The chain is also dropping lure modules -- a virtual item that once executed attracts Pokemon to the area for 30 minutes -- at some of its stores, hoping that attracting mobile app players will inspire merchandise purchases in the real world.A hot mobile app would seem to be toxic for a small-box retailer of new and used video games and gear. If you're glued to Pokemon Go you're not going to necessarily be interested in playing console games. There will be billions to be made by the time the Pokemon Gocraze is over, but that money is going to game developer Niantic Labs, Nintendo and the iOS and Android app marketplaces.