Running any business is a daily challenge; running an independent video game retail store in a market dominated by the likes of GameStop and others can sometimes be downright impossible, and at times out-right unfair.
Earlier this week, Microsoft communicated to the various distributors across the country that supply to independent and small chains (such as ourselves) of their biggest game this year, Halo 4, was not to be delivered until afterthe street date of November 6, 2012. On the Wednesday before Halo's release, we contacted multiple distributors and were assured that everything was in order; the following day we were then informed of Microsoft's edict.
Unfair trade practices such as this give corporate retailers an unfair advantage, cost small businesses billions in revenue, and contribute to the massive amount of small to medium size business closures throughout this country. Microsoft and other large developers are effectively eliminating any opportunity for small American business owners to be able to compete with their corporate counterparts, such as Gamestop, Best Buy, Walmart and others.
Retailers, such as ourselves, now have to contact their customers who reserved copies of Halo 4 and explain to them that they will not have their game on the date it was advertised and promised to them. The result is that these customers will then more than likely cancel their current order with the small business and go to their corporate competitor to pick up their copy of the game. (At the last hour, we were lucky enough to find a distributor that is unafraid of Microsoft, but other small retailers have not been as lucky, and the point of this article still stands.)
The reasoning of Microsoft and other developers like them is that these independent small business owners are releasing games earlier than street date. Although Microsoft has reason to be concerned (both by small business and corporate violators) in this respect, the reality is their decision precludes only small businesses, and therefore enlarges an already wide competitive gap between small American businesses and Corporate America. Holding all small businesses accountable for the acts of a few is not the solution. Other, fairer, and more logical protocols can and must be established to weed out the violators, and not punish those who play by the rules. All this policy is doing currently is making an already difficult business environment even harder to flourish in, and punishing consumers by limiting the shopping options available to them.