When it came out, GameStop’s PowerPass sounded too good to be true: All the used games you could play for six months, plus a free used game at the end, for $60. And, it turns out, it sort of was, at least in the sense that GameStop couldn’t handle it.
Kotaku is reporting that GameStop is “temporarily pausing” the PowerPass program. Why? Because they simply don’t have the computing power to track such a complex process:
The retail chain told employees yesterday to pull down all signage involving the program and store it in their backrooms, according to two GameStop staff. It’s not clear why GameStop is freezing the program, but employees have speculated to Kotaku that some of the company’s antiquated computers weren’t equipped to handle it.
That’s not a minor problem; outdated computer systems cost businesses a surprising amount of money every year and upgrading a huge retail operation is a giant pain in the neck. There’s no point in rolling out a massive game rental service if people can swipe the games willy-nilly. But that also creates a big problem for GameStop.
Next week, the Christmas shopping season begins, and it appears that PowerPass was at least a part of that, if not the central part. Considering that the Christmas season is particularly important for moving boxed copies of video games, it raises the stakes for an already tough section of the industry. But it appears, at the very least, that GameStop isn’t giving up on its program just yet.