Electronic Arts: An EA Sports Store in an Airport? How Keen!
EA is a very… peculiar little monster. They command an army of near-mindless sports drones that annually slap cash down on the same game with very refined tweaks to its production (familiarity sells, it’s a damn fact), but they’re also the last bastion for genius creativity and financial support to blossoming elements of the schizophrenic gaming industry. Opinions sway and flood varying on your personal tastes and potential brand loyalty, but it’s hard to touch most anything in the gaming industry without crossing paths with a product tied to their gaming empire.
Naturally, what they need is swag. Not the free kind. The MERCH kind! A single store stacked to the freakin’ BRIM with Electronic Arts Merchandise will see the light of–er, will be swallowed whole by the loathsome innards of an airport? Seriously. EA has decided that only the denizens of Charlotte, NC were worthy of having their Airport blessed with a little retail establishment of joy. Namely, EA Sports’ first (and likely only) retail store. In an airport. Of all places.
More after the cut
To clarify, and I needed to double check on this too, this doesn’t (for the moment) branch out into other genres. For instance, Dead Space 2 Necromorph action figures will not be sold at this establishment, nor will a life-size romanceable Tali or Garrus, from Mass Effect 2. This is an EA Sports thang. Because with sports crap being such a fucking rarity these days (only about 10-20 of those per mall in ANY mall), a whole store located exclusively within one city in the nation, nestled in the pointy claws of one airport’s horrible parking, bullying (and mostly ineffective) security and otherwise worst atmosphere for hardcore retail conditions… Yeah, this seems like a grand idea.
People in Airports are held hostage to time and crap weather, not the best selling point for… anything. Well, pornography and alcohol perhaps.
The REAL reason for putting a store like this in an airport? The Airport was probably desperate for business to the point that they offered to PAY Electronic Arts to house it there and the suits saw this as a win-win. If not pay to EA outright, they certainly made housing the store a deal that EA couldn’t refuse. It’ll probably sell EA Sports games (how weird, right?), mugs, keychains, generic airport souvenir crap and possibly branch out into jerseys and hats with EA Sports logos all over them.
Don’t get me wrong, I think the concept of EA opening a store exclusively to cater to sports is an act of genius. If you’ve ever been on the other side of Madden release party, you’ll understand. While I have nothing against sports games, I don’t play them often until they overlap into my territory of playing for FUN. Decent examples would be that I adore SSX, I embrace NFL & NBA Street and of writhe with delight over NBA Jam; my point being, that I don’t jump feet first into a sports game until something batshit weird happens like Mario shows up to play, people leap from icicle to icicle on their snowboards to use a shortcut or basketballs catch on fire in someone’s hands as they dunk so hard the glass board shatters. Their “normal” Sports game followers threaten to blot out the sun with their numbers and fists swollen with cash, so it makes sense to establish a venue to interact directly with their biggest core demographic of consumers… but to start in an airport? That’s dumb.
Airports are bad for crowds. Airports are bad for gatherings. Airports are the second worst retail venue you could consider next to opening the store at the rear of a submarine deep in enemy territory. I don’t suspect a lot of visitors to storm the place, but I’m certain that a lot of younger male airport visitors held hostage by weather and time will frequent the store and not buy anything. So cheers, EA! Congrats on your bewildering retail idea and your curiously stupid intention of putting it in an airport.
Now we just have to wait for Activision to give us news about a store located in the back of a Mexican restaurant’s kitchen. Convenience, thy name is Gaming Industry!
See the Forbes interview that bled into this discussion HERE