It looks like game retailer Gamestop's interest in social gaming no longer begins and ends with its promotion of subsidiary Jolt Online. That's because the retail giant has announced plans to purchase web-based casual gaming hub Kongregate.
While most of Kongregate's thousands of free-to-play Flash games are single-player experiences, the site has many elements familiar to more traditional social games, like chat rooms, achievements, friends lists and a site-wide leveling system. The site also has its own virtual currency, Kreds, which players can use to purchase in-game items and levels in some of the more popular Kongregate games. These social and community features have helped the site attract 10 million registered players who spend 23 million hours on the site every month.
The acquisition seems like a logical move for Gamestop, which must be worried sick about the effect downloadable titles and web-based social games could have on their bottom line. Every credit card dollar spent directly in an online game is one fewer dollar available for Gamestop's bread-and-butter $60 game discs, and selling a handful of in-game cash cards in stores won't stop the bleeding. By investing in companies like Kongregate and Jolt Online, Gamestop guarantees they'll at least have a foothold in the new gaming ecosystem if and when brick-and-mortar video game stores become as quaint and outdated as record stores and malt shops.