This would suck royally if it's true. I buy almost all of my games from GameStop. My local stores have always been very nice and helpful, and not overly aggressive like some of the horror stories I've heard online. Now, when I worked at GameStop back in 2011 I didn't particularly like the experience, as the quotas for pre-orders were excessively high, almost like the place was intentionally designed to have high turnover for non-management personnel, but my experience as a shopper was never negative. It's nice to go somewhere where the employees actually know and are excited about what they sell. They're actual fellow gamers like me. Plus I've always enjoyed the midnight launch events. If there's a game from a series I really, really like, I've always made a point to preorder it to get it right when it drops. I still remember going there back in Nov. 2004 to wait in line in the cold to get my copy of Halo 2 and talking to friends and other gamers about our experiences playing LANs in Halo CE. 15 years later, and I'm still doing it. I hope to be able to do it as well once next-gen drops next year (I'm likely getting an Xbox 4 along with Halo Infinite).
Shopping at GameStop is not like shopping at Walmart or some other big box where the employee is just dispassionate, could clearly not care less about the product, and is often not available to actually get a game for me. Last time I tried interacting with a Walmart electronics department employee was when my nephew wanted a game and it took forever for them to help me. Big boxes are so impersonal and usually criminally understaffed, with the employees they do have being woefully apathetic and are just there for the paycheck. And I don't like ordering online if I don't have to. Sure, sometimes Amazon has some great deals on games if you're willing to wait a few months, but I don't like having to wait for something to be delivered when I could just take the ten minutes to drive to GameStop. I'm still very much an old-school person when it comes to a great many things (I don't even own a smartphone), and I try to support brick-and-mortar, especially specialty retailers, when I can.
What puzzle me is how GameStop is struggling at all. The ones around here always seem to have healthy business, with consistently strong turnout at major game releases (I'm going to pick up Gears 5 from there tonight). And their financials have shown that, aside from a single-quarter hiccup recently, they've consistently been in the black. Investors being bearish towards them (shareholders for any company always being a very skittish lot).
And honestly, I can say that there have been more times where I wish the internet came into being than times where I've appreciated its existence. Its impact on retail has been one of the many things that make me resent its existence. If GameStop disappears, I fear what this could do for the future of physical media. It's not necessarily an inevitability that physical games as a share of all console software must inevitably trend towards zero (or at least an extremely low percentage) like music or PC games have. It didn't happen to books at all, and hasn't happened to home video (at least not yet). But with GameStop gone, how many gamers will simply give up on physical because they feel the changing retail landscape has made buying it a hassle? I mean, I certainly won't because I actually like owning what I spend money on, and while I won't like it I will suck it up and move to Best Buy (as long as they're around). If console gaming ever abandons physical media, that's the day I abandon the gaming industry. I'll still have at least nine generations and nearly half a century worth of games to go back and play, and that would be enough to last me the rest of my life. I'm almost 40, so I'll likely be well past the halfway point of life if and when console gaming reaches that point, and my old ass will have plenty to keep me busy.
Gamestop employees are nice to me as well; but the problem is how historically greedy and shady they have been as a company.
For example, when I bought Nier: Automata from my local Gamestop, it turned out to be their very last copy, which means that they sell me their display case that was already opened up with the disc taken out. But in this particular case, they couldn't find their case for the game, so they had the nerve to sell me a copy of Nier: Automata, "new", at full price, in a generic Gamestop box.
Another example, and keep in mind both of these things happened to me; they aren't stories I heard, but personal experience that I had. Everytime I buy a game, I get asked whether or not I want to buy their insurance in case my game gets scratched or damaged. I always say no. They still always ask. Except one time last year where they didn't ask... they just automatically added it to my receipt and since I'm not always paying attention, I almost walked out of the store having been charged for something I didn't ask for. While getting that situation fixed, I asked the employee why that happened, and he said that from now they are automatically charging customers for the additional warrantee unless they specifically ask us not to. I buy games from that store quite often, and it hasn't happened to me since, so I'm not sure if he was lying or if they got a lot of backlash and had to stop doing it.
And I just remember one more thing. I was renewing my membership while purchasing a game one day and since I almost never check my rewards points, I decided to ask the employee if I had enough points to get any discounts on the game I was buying. The employee said that I actually have a $5 credit on my account, but he was unable to utilize it for the current purchase because his system has no way of redeeming the $5. In my mind, it was "oh well, it's only $5. I'll print out the coupon and use it next time". But then another employee who must have been listening in on the conversation walked over and claimed that their system *is* able to credit that $5 against my current purchase. I saw the employees exchange glances, and given the shady business practices I've personally experienced up to this point, I can only assume they were communicating in code, saying something like "You nitwit! I was about to make a full sale and you ruined it!"
I would personally love to see Gamestop go under.
And to comment on one more thing you mentioned in your post, is it really true that books weren't impacted by the transition to digital? I remember bookstores closing (I think it was called Borders). I'd be surprised if book sales haven't declined tremendously.