Next Generation has been producing some excellent articles since returning last week. This piece brings a look at just how video games go from being completed at a development studio to the shelf at your local store. Using a hypothetical game, Chortle Wombat, the processes of approval, manufacturing, and distribution are outlined.
Specialist retailers such as GameStop (and formerly EB) either pay for their own overnight shipments direct to the stores, or even at times pick up the goods in their own trucks for redistribution to the store level. The key here is that their consumer absolutely must have the game the first day it is available anywhere, and they don't want to lose those critical early adopter sales. Blockbuster, similarly, takes shipment early on many games, but it often takes shipment on spools (unpackaged goods) so that they can repack them into their tamper-resistant shelf boxes.
There are many articles floating around out there that describe how video games are created, but it's not often that someone takes a look at "the boring part" of the process. With all of the potential pitfalls in the distribution process, I think it's amazing that more games aren't delayed.