To understand what retailers are going through, Bloomberg’s created a video game that simulates what it’s like to run a mall in America today; it can be summarized in two words: game over.
To get you in the right mindset, the game begins with an introductory note: “These are dire times for American malls,” it reads, before eventually offering a glimmer of hope and the impetus for your efforts. “But malls die slowly.”
Next, you get to choose your player: the options are Colton, the millionaire, Maximillian, the angel investor, Barbara, the wealthy one-time pop star who now is investing in a mall, or Linda, the business magnate. Next, you choose your strategy; modernize, develop an “alt mall” where “anything” is possible, or cut costs.
Once the game begins, a broker sporting dark sunglasses sends you a stream of ideas and possible deals, many of which fall through as your tenants tell you how sick their sinking revenues make them and ask for breaks on rent. Spoiler alert: when you lose, the game ends with what appears to be a caricature of Jeff Bezos decked out in an Amazon vest laughing.
“We thought, let’s just really push it hard and come up with zany and funny ideas,” said Thomas Houston, Bloomberg’s deputy editor, who explained to Adweek how their team developed the game noting most game scenarios are a pared-back version of what they were originally envisioned as because “the tone was a little bit off.”
The interactive spoof doesn’t seem to introduce what Bloomberg itself reports as the underlying cause of retail’s deep-rooted crisis — debt — until the end when players are prompted to read several articles. [Bloomberg] — Erin Hudson