Washington’s most popular gaming stores are closing after more than two decades, and many are heading to the suburbs or rural areas.
The company that owns the former Gamestop and the two other stores that opened in the D.C. area are closing, as are the five other stores, including a new gaming outpost in Arlington.
In an interview, Robert H. Martin, the company’s president and chief executive officer, said the decision to close was a reflection of the declining gaming market.
“In general, we’ve been very disappointed in the market and in the quality of gaming available,” he said.
“There was just not enough games available.”
Martin said the company was not looking for new space to open another gaming store.
He said he was confident that the new stores would be successful.
Martin did not say how many jobs the company would lose.
He noted that the company had invested $1 billion in the gaming industry.
The move comes after a few years of rapid growth for gaming stores.
The number of stores opened in D.S.C., Arlington and Alexandria jumped more than 30 percent over the last five years, with more than 1,400 across the two cities alone, according to the D.,C.
and M.S.-based gaming industry trade group, the Association of American Gaming Companies.
But Martin said Gamestops are no longer profitable, with fewer than half of them reporting annual sales in the last fiscal year, which ended in March.
While the closures could have a ripple effect for gaming, Martin said they are not the end of the world for the industry.
He said the businesses could survive as long as they continue to provide a high-quality product and service.
The gaming industry, he said, is a small and fast-growing industry.
Gamestops have been a mainstay of the D.-C.
gaming scene, where they are used by a wide range of retailers, including Walgreens and Target.
But the stores have been struggling to keep up with the rapid growth of online gaming, which began in the late 1990s and continues to grow exponentially.
Last year, the industry saw $5.6 billion in revenue and $4.9 billion in spending, according the association, compared to $3.6 and $3 billion in 2014, respectively.
For retailers, the decline in gaming stores is not a big concern, said Tim Korn, executive director of the Association for Retail and Consumer Excellence.
Gamestop was founded in 1994 and grew to more than 20 stores by the end in the 2000s.
Its biggest customers were Target and Walgops, but it also expanded into other markets, including grocery stores and drugstores.
The company’s growth has been driven by the online-only trend.
The average store now is able to sell games for $3 or less per game, while the average retail store costs $15 to $20, Korn said.
Gamemasters are not just gamers who have to wait for the store to open.
Many Gamestoppers, which offer free games on their phones, also help customers with their gaming needs, he added.
Despite the struggles of the gaming community, the business is growing, Martin added.
And while the company has faced some losses in recent years, Martin hopes that the online gaming market will continue to expand.
“I think the future of the industry is going to be very bright,” he added, “and that’s the key.”