Update: Walmart reached out to IGN to clarify their comments regarding this policy. Allegedly the statement from LeMia Jenkins was in regards to the signage policy, despite IGN repeatedly asking about the halt of sales altogether. After their initial report was posted, Walmart reversed the stance given in the original statement. IGN updated:
We have since clarified with the aforementioned Walmart representative that the company has “not given any directive to remove video games from the shelves.”
This still doesn’t address Erik Tyler Louden’s tweet claiming that his Walmart is no longer selling video games. It may be a decision being made on a store level to remove games from display entirely, in accordance with the previously reported signage policy.
We apologize for any confusion that may have come from this.
Original: Earlier today, we reported that Walmart was removing signage and demos that highlighted violent video games from its stores. The removal was in response to a mass shooting that took place at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas earlier this month. That policy now appears to be sweeping up the sale of games themselves, despite the original in-store memo only specifying displays and advertisements. A Twitter user noted that their local Walmart had removed almost all video games from the display case and was not even selling games anymore.
Mine is not even selling the games anymore (temporarily) and I’m seriously upset. Like where am I supposed to buy a physical copy now? The nearest GameStop is way too far away from me. pic.twitter.com/PRGSgMpEPL
— Erik Tyler Louden (@TylerMayCry) August 9, 2019
The photo from Erik Tyler Louden shows the barren case where games usually are, with only a few games remaining on display. From the looks of the picture, a few sports games, Just Dance, Paw Patrol, and Mario Kart weren’t caught up in the book burning as the rest of the physical game cases were removed from public eye. It’s unclear if the company is still allowing the sales of the games left on display.
IGN independently confirmed this report, obtaining a statement from LeMia Jenkins, director of national media relations:
We’ve taken this action out of respect for the incidents of the past week, and it does not reflect a long-term change in our video game assortment. We are focused on assisting our associates and their families, as well as supporting the community, as we continue a thoughtful and thorough review of our policies.
Our statement stands company wide.
It’s important to note that this is a temporary halt of video game sales and “does not reflect a long-term change.” Jenkins says that the company is doing a “thoughtful and thorough review of [Walmart’s] policies.” What that means for the future of video games sales through Walmart is unknown.
At this time, IGN reports that Walmart is still selling games online and that you can still opt for in-store pickup for online game orders. Despite the pleas from many to stop using games as a scapegoat for violent behavior, and with no scientific or psychological evidence connecting the two, Walmart seems to be latching onto the narrative that video games are at the root of mass gun violence in America. Walmart is still actively displaying and selling guns.
This follows statements from Donald Trump, Kevin McCarthy, and other Republican lawmakers putting the blame on video games following the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio earlier this month.
Some who have worked with video game publishers note that this just feels like a convenient excuse for Walmart to change up its video game sections in the face of declining sell-through.
Knowing the actual sales decline of video games at Walmart over the past 5 years, this play is less about violent video games, and more about optimizing retail footprint toward products that are actually selling. Timing is just an excuse to do it. https://t.co/RMFGARGAhu
— WillPowers™ (@WillJPowers) August 9, 2019
There have been some other reports that this halt is not a mandate at a nationwide level (despite the quote from Jenkins indicating otherwise), but a decision made at a per-store level. Some also report that while the games are no longer on display, that customers can still purchase them from the store.
Have you been to your local Walmart today? Are they still selling games, or have they pulled their inventory yet? Let us know your experience in the comments below.