WAL-MART DOESN’T HAVE TO SELL WHAT IT DOESN’T WANT TO SELL.
Hey you. Yeah, you. C’mere. Let’s you and me have a little chat about the retail industry. No, no, come on. It’ll be fun. I’ll use charts and graphs, and who knows what kind of trouble we’ll get in! The ins and outs of finance, the subtleties of gross profit, the equations you need to follow to keep your shelves stocked—and let’s not forget corporate policy and running each store front! It’s a crazy fun subject, sure to be better than taking any narcotic.
Don’t believe me? Good. Because trying to follow market flow, looking to see why certain stores stock certain things and wondering why they do what they do is like taking sleeping pills and watching Ultraviolet. You CAN do it if you want to, but why the hell would you?
What brings us together this month is Wal-Mart. Wally World. The biggest retailer this side of the planet. It doesn’t stock all video games that are made—not even half of them. It’s been coming up as of late. Namely “Wal-Mart doesn’t stock these games, and in not stocking them it is causing them to A) fail or B) get censored.” Looking at Wal-Mart’s game policy, it basically says that it won’t sell anything that is for adults. No hyper violence, no increased sex, no cussing that would make your ears bleed. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; I enjoy some sexy violent cussing. It can make for a fun experience if fashioned right.
But Wal-Mart doesn’t sell them at all. Period. A new hot game comes out—let’s say a new shooter. When you shoot some dude it gushes blood for like five minutes, and then he explodes and strippers fall out and give you more bullets. It’s rated AO (Adults Only) ’cause the strippers are all nekkid. And it’s selling amazingly well. Every gamer over 21 wants Exploding Psycho Strippers from Beyond Pluto. So what do most stores do? They stock as much as they can. They hype it up, they sell it at an increased price and they release sequel after sequel. Yay for capitalism.
But there is one store not cashing in on this torrent of green: Wal-Mart. It says if a game has nips and blood geysers, Wal-Mart’s not selling it. Being the largest retailer in the world, it has the most customers. It has the most people trying to buy crap in its huge stores, and its knows that. This causes the game not to reach a large section of the population.
Now the game’s developer, “Backwater Entertainment,” cries foul. It want its game to be everywhere, and Wal-Mart owns the rights to everywhere. It cries, it yells, it sues—but it’s not going anywhere with it. Why is that? Wal-Mart doesn’t have to sell what it doesn’t want to sell. And that’s OK.
We live in a capitalistic society. The market determines what we can buy, where we can buy it, and in some cases why we buy it. Wal-Mart is successful because of how it does its business. Low prices, good locations and no frills to jump anything up. Barebones selling. Yes, there are some things that I don’t like about Wal-Mart: It forces pricing down and cuts the profit off from the manufacturers. Its hiring practices leave much to be desired, and the fact that it’s in the middle of a media blitz to change its public images is… it makes me feel dirty seeing it. But the one thing it will never have to do is sell what it doesn’t want to. Not selling stuff doesn’t constitute censorship. It’s not killing the supply, it’s just not delivering it to you in an orderly fashion.
If you really care about it—organize. Write to Wal-Mart saying that gamers around the world want it to carry the games they desire. Show it the money it’s losing. Or don’t. That’s the nature of a free society.