This week, controversy arose over rumors that retailer GameStop was in talks to get involved early in game development. Already, GameStop often offers exclusive items or missions for preorders of games. These reports stated that the company might begin offering exclusive gameplay in addition to missions, affecting the development of games at a much earlier point.
GameStop CEO Paul Raines recently responded to the rumors, and he attempted to put to rest concerns over the store's future involvement in game development. In an interview with Time, Raines promised that GameStop would never affect the creative process, leaving it up to the developers. "I think it’s pretty clear to me, and that’s that you won’t see us involved in the creative process," he explained. "That’s not something we do well. We love to play games, and unlike our competitors all we do is gaming. But we will not be involved in the artistic or creative process. That’s not really our domain."
He continued: "I think the day you see us in the creative side is when you can tell me we’ve officially lost our minds."
So what, exactly, is GameStop planning? The reports were well-substantiated and confirmed by several GameStop employees. Raines described GameStop's efforts as geared toward helping the publishers reach more customers. The store will be getting involved earlier in development, just apparently not creatively. "It's very early on, but I do foresee a world where we can help facilitate create great content," Raines explained. "The upside for developers will be much stronger guarantees around distribution and audience with our loyalty program and so forth."
GameStop's goal, Raines stated, is to make GameStop's loyalty programs and consumer base more compatible and more receptive to game releases. "We play a lot of indie games here, trying to find interesting ideas and concepts, and I see some great games that never get published or distributed because of the cost associated with it," he said. "So we kind of feel like it's a little bit of an emancipation of the development community if we can find a way to connect them directly with customers."
Of course, Raines' statements will still incite concerns that GameStop will affect development. The company has yet to detail what, exactly, it will be doing in the future, and how its exclusive content will change. GameStop also recently said that it was moving beyond games and looking at wireless devices to become a bigger part of its business model. Check back on GameSpot as we receive more information about this story.
What do you think of GameStop's increasing role in video game development? Let us know in the comments.