Headline With a ? – The Last Days Of Game?

By Alec Meer on March 12th, 2012 at 10:13 am.

Even the ghosts are leaving

The writing appears to be on the wall for increasingly troubled UK videogame retailer GAME and its subsidiary Gamestation. Its share value has fallen dramatically to less than 1 penny, and allegedly it put itself up for sale over the weekend.

The other story circling is that it needs to pay rent for its various premises in two weeks, and right now that’s looking unlikely. Claims MCV, if that happens, administration is a distinct possibility. Financial advisory group Rothschild has reportedly been brought in to find a buyer for the debt-ridden chain.

Doesn’t sound as though Mass Effect 3 will be the only big game it doesn’t stock either, with an official statement today claiming that GAME “remains in discussions with its suppliers and lenders in relation to terms of trade that allow the business to operate within the facility provided by its banking syndicate… While these discussions are on-going, it has not been possible to source new products from a number of suppliers.”

The company’s also seeking “alternative sources of funding and reviewing the position of all of its assets in the UK and international territories. It is uncertain whether any of the solutions currently being explored by the Board will be successful or will result in any value being attributed to the shares of the Company.”

Eurogamer has the full story and statement. Obviously the potential loss of GAME won’t have a direct impact on PC games in the UK, as the chain long ago elected to essentially abandon PC – one of many what could be called mistakes over the last few years – so in terms of RPS’ Britisher readership, there may be no effects whatsoever. But it is a very big deal for games publishers, as GAME has been by far the biggest source of their UK revenue. The loss of it could affect how much stock they bring over here, and knock-on stuff like how much they advertise, which is a source of worry for games websites and magazines.

Without GAME, supermarkets will perhaps become the de facto leading games retailers – and thus far they have seem uninterested in stocking anything except the most surefire of hits. Sure, GAME was an increasingly disappointing source of lesser-known titles already, but Tescos, Asdas et al are unlikely to stock anything much smaller than a Call of Duty or Mass Effect. Again, not really an issue for PC gaming in 2012, but I worry about the knock-on effects. The console industry is taking its sweet time to move fully online, and whether it warrants it or not the console industry does tend to dictate what the mainstream games industry as a whole does – specifically, where it spends its money.

The question is whether other retailers such as HMV – which is in wobbly shape itself – can step into the breach, whether GAME’s customer base switches its attention to online retailers, or whether someone else buys up GAME. There is reportedly interest from US retail king/despot Gamestop, but so far they mostly seem interested in the Spanish and Portugese offshoot of GAME.

One way or another, GAME’s fate looks to be decided this week. It could be said to have brought it upon itself, with its unpleasantly homogeneous stores and its deep reliance on trade-ins and pre-orders, and certainly there are many who will not mourn its potential loss. It’s just that we don’t know what happens then. It could be disastrous for the UK games industry, or it could be an important tipping point in the inevitable but slow move to online sales and distribution.

Oh, and if you’re in need of any console-toy equipment or games, GAME/Gamestation are having something of a firesale this week, so you might be able to pick up a bargain if you pop your head into one of their branches. Wish they sold graphics cards!

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122 Comments »

  1. marlin says:

    Game over then?

  2. Sfitz says:

    GAME’s customer base already switched its attention to online retailers, that’s why they’re in this situation.

    • HexagonalBolts says:

      Yeah, Amazon will still be there, which has surely taken up all the slack of Game? Amazon’s prices are less than half of Game’s which is probably the core reason I have switched over. The only room I have for highstreet retailers anymore is if they offer a discerning choice of products. Fopp is a perfect example of this, they offer an excellent range of extremely high quality music and cinema that no other high street retailer stocks. Game offers overpriced tat or mainstream fare that was readily available at my much-closer Sainsburys for the same price.

      • aldo_14 says:

        Except that Fopp went into administration (after buying up too many of Music Zone’s old shops or something – another cheaply priced music and DVD source) and the surviving stores are owned by HMV. I don’t know about you, but I’ve noticed a corresponding price rise since then.

    • sneetch says:

      I’m sure their policy of situating multiple shops within spitting distance of one another might have something to do with it too.

  3. Meat Circus says:

    Let’s be honest, any company, anywhere, whose business strategy consists solely of selling shiny plastic discs from shops is utterly, irreversibly doomed.

    All we can do is pity them and try to lessen their suffering until the inevitable happens.

    The death throes of HMV surely cannot be long behind.

    • smokingkipper says:

      “Let’s be honest, any company, anywhere, whose business strategy consists solely of selling SECOND HAND shiny plastic discs from shops is utterly, irreversibly doomed.”

    • KikiJiki says:

      Call me a dinosaur, but I like owning physical copies of my music so I hope that HMV sticks around for a while yet. Maybe they can step into the vacuum and soak up some of the customers from GAME.

      • somini says:

        Amazon.co.uk?

        • SanguineAngel says:

          I know that all shopping centres are still ludicrously busy on Saturdays and so I presume that physical shopping is still a reasonably popular activity. I also know that I can hardly move for people when I go into HMV on those evil days when I ALSO have to go shopping on a Saturday afternoon.

          There must also be a large number of people, like myself, who frequently look for games, music, movies, books, kitchen utensils, electronics and anything else Amazon.co.uk also sells, at least when I am already there, on the chance that they may be on offer, or a decent price. Heck there is always the good old impulse buy too. And let us not forget that desire for luxury goods, like games,means that people often want them immediately.

          The recessions has undoubtedly had an impact, as has digital distribution and also the ease, saving and convenience of shopping online. Knowing many employees of Game and Gamestation, at several levels though, it sounds like Game groups biggest problem for the past few years has been horrendous miss-management.

          • aldo_14 says:

            I don’t know about other people, but every time I’m remotely tempted by GAME I find there is either nothing on PC, or nothing cheaper than online/Steam sale prices. I’m curious whether the number of people going into the store has decreased, or the number of people leaving with games.

          • HexagonalBolts says:

            On offer? Usually the stuff on offer in there is more expensive than the normal prices of online stores…

          • SanguineAngel says:

            aldo – I think you’re right but I reckon those are largely examples of the poor management. I know that GAME face challenges with pricing and stock (the two being interlinked) but ultimately, that’s going to be because of the way the do business out front and behind the scenes. But the fact that there are always people in there? That means that the customer base still exists. People still want to buy! Even YOU want to if you’re going in there. But they’re not providing you with the appropriate buying opportunity.

            HaxagonalBolts – “usually”? that’s enough to warrant at least looking isn’t it? Sometimes you can find an excellent offer. But as I may have mentioned in the post above, there are several reasons, not just offers, that brick and mortar stores should still be doing business.

          • aldo_14 says:

            But the fact that there are always people in there? That means that the customer base still exists. People still want to buy! Even YOU want to if you’re going in there. But they’re not providing you with the appropriate buying opportunity.

            Well, yeah, that’s sort of what I mean… I’m wondering how much they have lost ‘trust’ in their prices from passing shoppers. I go in – very rarely now – in the expectation of not seeing anything worth buying. It’s almost a sort of car crash logic, so I can vindicate my decision to shop elsewhere.

          • SanguineAngel says:

            I see your point but what if you go in there and find you are presented with a range of quality products at competitive prices, out of the blue? You’d consider buying, right? Just the mere fact that you and many many others are still in there presents the company with an opportunity to sell to you. If only they took it.

            It is probably too late now for Game though.

        • pixelprime says:

          As mentioned below, I simply do not believe that GAME could price up their stock competitively enough to cover their running costs as a store. Especially since online retailers like Amazon and Play frequently offer great offers and benefits to shoppers.

          GAME seem hamstrung by their need to maintain a good baseline to keep their operations running to be able to provide a good range of offers in store.

          On a side note: my brother went into GAME yesterday to reclaim his Mass Effect 3 deposit and get his points thing sorted. Whilst there, he noticed that a large number of the preowned game prices had been slashed to under £3.

          That is the call of a wounded, dying animal.

    • kwyjibo says:

      There is still money to be made though, by selling shiny disks for the next several years though. A smart business could still do this and manage the decline.

      Gamestop have invested in Kongregate, Impulse and Spawn Labs as a bet on the future. HMV are attempting a jump to tech and gadgets (although this may be too late)

      I think there is space for a dedicated games retailer on the high street – there just isn’t space for 3 of them belonging to the same fucking company there.

  4. KikiJiki says:

    Glad to see an awful company go, sad to see that people may lose jobs in a harsh economy.

    Hope somebody buys them but not Gamestop or else it’ll be same shit, different colour. Whoever does buy them is going to have to sell off a lot of stores anyway to keep costs down.

    I think that most people will switch to online retailers (they were always cheaper anyway), or maybe the supermarkets will snatch up the opportunity to stock a little beyond the Top N and some budget games.

  5. MuscleHorse says:

    From what I’ve read, the management didn’t understand games/gaming culture whatsoever and repeatedly went after the fast-buck, frustrating those in the company who actually knew their stuff. Of course, you don’t need to know the difference between your Dooms and your Call of Dutys to run a successful business but there’s plenty accounts of the management’s wilful arrogance online.

    Was it ever cleared up whether it was Game behind having certain releases blocked from UK Steam release last year?

    • jezcentral says:

      To me, it’s the Steam blocks I am most interested in hearing about. I thought it was a bit curious that NO-ONE broke ranks to let it slip who was the cause.

  6. smokingkipper says:

    I am struggling to think of a best case scenario. Lets say the other stores wake up and start to sell PC games. Who would buy from them when the online experience is so much better? Stores need to find a way to entice me into the building.

    This feels very much like the way the record shops are sluggishly trying to addapt to post Napster conditions.

  7. Amun says:

    Weren’t they the company behind the mysterious delays of THQ games on Steam in the UK? Or am I thinking of another company?

  8. Seniath says:

    Wish they sold graphics cards!

    I remember picking up my first GeForce from GAME back in, oh I want to say 2001? Ahh, such halcyon days.

    • Navagon says:

      I remember picking up a Voodoo5 5500 from EB (which then was taken over and rebranded Game). Hell yeah! Now that was one uncompromising card. I know that on paper every card I have had since that one has technically been better. But that one, in context of when it was bought, was the one closest to the bleeding edge.

    • jonfitt says:

      I bought my first 3Dfx Voodoo1 from what was probably then an EB, and had previously been an independent game shop, and is now a GAME.
      All told the main GAME in Colchester has been a computer game shop since I was buying Atari ST games. It has been there since computer game shops became a separate thing from toy shops and computer hardware shops.
      I won’t miss “GAME” but it will be sad to see the last dedicated computer game shop die. End of an era and all that.

  9. Milky1985 says:

    I mourn its loss because I believe that this will basically ruin game sales for the UK :(

    Sales are already dropping like a stone, the fact that the charting organisations like chart track have stopped releasing actual numbers on the sales is i think an indication of that. Estimate sites such as vgchartz put numbers at low numbers, for example the last week number 1 was ssx with a estimed 80k in the uk. This is NOTHING compared to what it used to be. Yes lots will have gone online, but i think for pc that is case not as much for consoles, and lets face it most of the sales in teh figures out there are console sales.

    Now with game and gamestation gone it wil be left to hmv (who btw had 40 copies of ssx delievered last week to one of there massive stores in westfields shopping center, 40 copies for a huge store with massive footfall :/ if this is EA being stupid or hmv just not caring don’t know ) to be the retailer to actually stock fringe games, and lets be honest they will not do it, its hard enough to find games in there at times. Instead it will go to supermarkets who as mention wills tock your mass effects and your fifas and your cods but not much else. Oh and PC games? No chance.

    And as much as you hate games business practices with reguards to money given to publishers have you ever seen the markets the supermarkets work in? With the food prices and the pressure and power they have over buying? How many times they have been haukled in front of the competition commision over cartels and price fixing?

    That said publishers themselves may have been part of heh issue, the margin on new games is low, so anyone delealing in games needs another revenue source, hmv has dvds, indy stores have multiple things (and normally dvds as well) game went for pre-owned. I still think the pre-owned thing they get all the ahte for is chicken and egg, if they got enough from first hand to stay afloat they wouldn’t need pre-owned. I suspect that if you looked at the finances, without pre-owned they would have failed long long ago.

    You can say people will go online and they will, but this WILL harm both impulse buys and day 1 buys, for the simple reason that royal mail suck. At the moment people say online costs less but if you want the game on release the only way to make sure of this is to get next day delivery, which pushs prices above retail in general. There is also the actions of the retailers such as play of locking pre-orders as processing a couple of weeks before its out to stop you switching, so even if its clear you will not get it on release you can’t cancel and switch to next day delivery with someone else. If games were released on tuesday like in the US it might solve this, give time to get the games to people for the weekend when they can play them.

    tl;dr version

    You might hate game but the loss of the big retailer will hurt gaming due to supermarkets giving even less of a crap.

    As they say, its better to have the devil you know.

    • KikiJiki says:

      Yeah but it’s all because of piracy anyway, innit?

    • Caddrel says:

      The UK is one of the best markets in Europe for online trade, though apparently a lot of people are still wary of online banking.

      I wouldn’t use SSX as a benchmark. I can’t imagine there’s a huge market in the UK for snowboarding games.

      • Milky1985 says:

        Number 1 in sales on launch week, number 2 in sales this week according to the charts, with those sort of numbers.

        Highly advertise game based on a known franchise (one known for snowboarding games).

        Even if you ignore ssx saying theres no demand it doesn’t boad well for the rest of the games under it in the charts.

    • Delusibeta says:

      The problem is that argument is that a) GAME’s troubles is a symptom of the fall in games sales, not the source of the problem and b) Plenty of games recently have charted without GAME’s help.

      Honestly, I expect it’s a combination of expectations being inflated by the Wii/DS and people getting bored of this generation of consoles and buying an iPad.

      • Milky1985 says:

        I never said GAMES troubles were not symptomatic of the decline in sales total, but it still doesn’t change my belief that the slack will be taken up by supermarkets etc who will not do a good job with the market, and only go for the big releases (and put more pressure on publishers than game ever did)

        I don’t think gamers are moving to the ipad, i think the casual games are moving, but consoles and pc still has a place. The Ipad gaming scene imo is just as much of a bubble as anything else, and apples rather lax attitude to copyright infringement (Mole kart, the pokemon game) on the store and the ammount of clones will start a slow demise their unfortuantly for the good developers)

    • Navagon says:

      When people talk about game sales they’re talking about boxed copies. Not downloads. They only bother looking at downloads when they’re the illegal kind.

      Therefore, with so much of the industry shifting towards digital distribution it’s going to appear to be a drop in sales. I don’t think that’s an accurate picture for one moment; and with Steam withholding sales stats, I don’t think that’s about to change.

  10. RogB says:

    went to see their ‘spring clean’ firesale at the weekend – and in general it still wasnt competetive with online prices.

    buh-byeeee!

  11. Jon says:

    I can’t remember the last time I went into a shop to buy a game, I buy practically all my games via digital distribution. The last time I bought a physical copy was Starcraft 2 from Amazon as Blizz charge silly amounts for digital copies.

    • jezcentral says:

      Same here. The only thing I from bought from GAME since Starcraft 2 was Brink, which was a Steamworks games that had been massively marked down.

  12. Funso Banjo says:

    While Game and GameStation were not the best places to go to, and their staff were often annoying , it is still sad to see a company go under when it is a serious employer of the unskilled. Each store is no doubt going to be making 4-5 people unemployed who have no skills (judging from the fact they work in a videogame retailer) and little prospect of finding other work any time soon thanks to our collapsing economy.

    Not being a teenager, this whole thing is worrying. And if I WAS a teenager, I would be kacking myself for when I leave school/college/university and have to go and find a job.

    • athlondi says:

      How amazingly patronising, Funso. Working in my Gamestation were a mortgage specialist who quit to avoid the soul-destroying nature of that job (ha!), a professional chippy who did the odd shift because he liked games, 1 MSc, 2 BAs who were students when they started but stuck around for the atmosphere and because, y’know, games and precisely 1 permenant member of staff without higher education. Who loved games and would probably have ended up store manager, were it not for this palava.
      Having done interviews for my store for a number of years, the talentless and skilless do not make it through, except slightly at Christmas where we have to take the odd punt. Everyone was at least passionate about games and capable of carrying a conversation. The problem being when GAME Group decided that everyone should be managed rigidly on a few very minor (to my mind) performance metrics.

  13. povu says:

    It’s a shame for all the people that lose their jobs because of this, but other than that… GOOD RIDDANCE. Game and other stores that try to sell you second hand copies so aggressively only harm gaming.

  14. Triangulon says:

    I never buy PC Games from brick and mortar stores (Steam ftw) but I have to admit that Game has been excellent for the purchasing of pre-owned games for my pre-owned console box.

  15. Drake Sigar says:

    A lot of us Albions have a friend working in GAME/Gamestation, and their job security is the only thing we care about in this whole mess.

  16. Gap Gen says:

    Any idea what’s happening to US and European retailers? I live in France at the moment, and European game prices seem to be way higher than UK prices, yet I don’t see retail stores collapsing like the UK (perhaps the two are linked…). Or maybe their margins are just as low, but they didn’t have the chain of collapses that UK retail has had for different reasons. Certainly UK high-street “information” stores (print, music, games, film, etc) seem to be doing really badly since 2007.

    It’s also possible that the French media market is just different. Certainly comics are more widely consumed, and they’re not massively skewed towards superhero comics as in the English-language market (that said, I don’t see a huge French-language games industry separate from the English-language one). It’s possible that enough people buy games on the high street to make it viable.

    • mickygor says:

      I can’t speculate on the French games market too heavily, because I’m rarely ever in France, but I’d say it’s not so much an issue of consumer taste so much as it is business management. Game Group seem to have 3 stores within a quarter of a mile of each other in every city and town in Britain. They flood the market with premises, employ half a dozen people, and then wonder why they can’t afford to run them all when one store would be good enough to serve a city given the dimensions of their most popular products.

      Whereas whenever I go to France, I actually struggle to find any games stores.

  17. ZephyrSB says:

    So this means I might be saying goodbye to my super-cheap Diablo III pre-order made yonks ago? Shame.

    Enjoying those console-toys from time-to-time, this can’t be good for those. The niche titles that interest me most already take long enough to arrive on our shores, assuming they do at all (never getting beyond the first Etrian Odyssey, and don’t get me started on SMT). I can only see GAME dissappearing making the main publishers less likely to release risky titles like that here, and with the various manufacturers convinced that importing is just as bad, if not worse, than piracy, I’m not sure where I’ll be getting my obscure gaming fix.

    On the other hand, smaller publishers like Ghostlight and RSG have been gaining momentum recently, maybe this could have an interesing effect afterall…

  18. Gravious says:

    Am i going to be the only one to say this is probably an amazing opportunity for the industry?

    I mean, its sad those people will lose their jobs, but think about it.. If the single largest proponant and offender of second-hand games reselling goes to the wall, there should be a significant drop in pre-owned software availible. Especially as most of the time they try so hard to make you buy the pre-owned over a new copy with some real underhanded tactics, its sometimes hard to find a new copy of a game.

    With the whole piracy vs pre-owned argument, it would be facinating to see if sales figures reflected the loss of Game.

    Although the industry has been making more noise about it in recent times, i still think they’re not doing themselves a justice by going after piracy as heavily while seemingly capitulating to the high-street sellers who lets face it, wouldn’t survive any real pressure brought down on them from publishers

  19. cyberjacob says:

    where did you get that photo from? looks just like the store near where I live!

  20. westyfield says:

    Strangely, this post reminds me that I need to cancel my PC Gamer subscription.

  21. Jimbo says:

    I kinda don’t care. Somebody else will temporarily fill in the gap in the high street market -what’s left of it- until eventually there’s no high street market left at all. GameStation cherry-picking what they want from GAME for next to nothing seems quite likely to me.

    GAME hasn’t failed because there’s no game trade left to be done on the high street. They’ve failed because there’s less than there was (due to supermarkets, online retailers and digital distribution taking more and more of it) and they’ve just completely failed to adapt to it.

    Basically the high street is finished, it’s just a case of managing the decline for those that are left.

  22. ratinox says:

    I don’t buy PC games from them, but they’ve been a good source of cheap preowned console games for the kids. It’ll be a shame to see the preowned market diminish…but haven’t EA been bleating on about wanting a slice of that pie for a while now?

  23. ReV_VAdAUL says:

    “There is reportedly interest from US retail king/despot Gamestop, but so far they mostly seem interested in the Spanish and Portugese offshoot of GAME.”

    Mother of God, if Spain and Portugal are more attractive retail prospects than the UK then we really must be up shit creek.

    • marach says:

      Rumor is that Game group rejected an offer of 20p a share from Gamestop and turned their back on all further offers from them. Gamestop will probably pick up the remains for a few thousand once it’s in administration…

    • Dextro says:

      That was an awkward bit since gamestop just last month closed down all their stores in Portugal and Ireland…

  24. Eraysor says:

    Business hours are over, baby!

  25. The Sombrero Kid says:

    Sometimes something that seems like a good thing actually is a good thing, Game going down the toilet seems like it will be good for everyone because it will be good for everyone.

    • Llewyn says:

      Yeah, there’s nothing that boosts the economy quite like several thousand redundancies, eh?

      • The Sombrero Kid says:

        Jobs aren’t commodities, it’s right wing propaganda to suggest they are.

        • Llewyn says:

          Ah, I misunderstood your original garbage as being right-wing propoganda. I now see it was neo-communist dogma, so I’ll approach it from the other side:

          Yeah, there’s nothing that improves people’s lives so much as not being able to pay their rent, eh?

        • Harlander says:

          Jobs aren’t commodities

          What does that even mean?

          Also too, what’s the upside in all this for the people employed at GAME who will apparently soon become not-employed?

  26. eZ` says:

    Is this not partly the publishers’ fault? If they sold their games for less, would this have happened? I don’t know how much the likes of GAME pay for their games when broken down to a per-unit equivalent, but I do know that Indie stores were complaining for the last couple of years that they were having to buy their games for a heap more than most places were selling for at retail (£37+ for new releases if I remember correctly?)

    Maybe the publishers have become too greedy and aren’t leaving retailers with enough profit margin? The best prices generally come from supermarkets who sell at a loss when they stock launch titles simply because they can as it’s not their sole source of income. Specialist retailers like GAME don’t have this luxury. This is why pre-owned is pushed so hard by them as the profit they make on those sales compared to new games is night and day.

    When you hear about every COD release breaking the previous record for the highest grossing entertainment launch ever, yet still the GAME group is dying, you have to wonder about where all that money’s going. 70%+ to the publisher wouldn’t surprise me.

    • RogB says:

      >>This is why pre-owned is pushed so hard by them as the profit they make on those sales compared to new games is night and day.

      oh come on, of course it is. probably 80-90% pure profit by buying back cheap and selling on at a couple of quid less than RRP, and possibly doing that 4-5 times on the same title if its popular?
      thats just sheer greed and being able to exploit it, not desperation because they dont do that well off selling new. I have no sympathy, but I would say that as I work for a developer/publisher.

      • Llewyn says:

        Pure profit? You clearly have no concept of the costs incurred by businesses. Look at it in a very simple way: just how profitable do you think they must be to be in their current position?

        I’ve said for a long time that the major publishers should take ownership of the used games market, rather than try to stamp it out. Because, like it or not, almost every publisher selling console games retail in the US and UK is dependent on trade-ins, rather than being killed by them.

        • jezcentral says:

          It looks like the over-concentration of games shops was one of the main problems. I’m mystified why they didn’t close down a load of shops when they were clearly cannibalising each others’ sales. That would have cut the overheads?

          I’m sure there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for this, and I’d love to hear it.

          • Soon says:

            Apparently, the actual cause was a banking error (at the bank’s end, not Game’s) leaving them unable to pay everybody for a few hours. Panic and rumours ensued. At least, this is the managerial hearsay.

      • athlondi says:

        Rubbish. If you decided that you want to calculate margins based on instantaneous trade/sell rates, you certainly could come up with a number in the region of 80% on some old garbage, or perhaps 20% on a new release, but that would assume that stock levels are 0% and a copy that is traded is sold on the same day. Utter bollocks. Having previously been privy to GAME group P&Ls, used margins on particular titles vary depending on how on the ball the used team at head office have been, and how competition is affecting prices etc. An overall used software margin is somewhere in the region of 30%. Hardware is far more complex, and store-level P&L cannot reflect true margins. 30% at a store level is also reasonable though.
        New margin varies, but the fact is that it was often the case that buying off the shelf from supermarkets undercut GAME suppliers by a significant distance. This is not neccessarily the publishers fault per se, since the supermarkets were probably loss leading anyway. High demand hardware margin was often negative [DS, Wii mania], and hardware usually hovered around the 5-10% mark. New software across the range was typically 25%, but high profile new releases often went negative as well.

        All in all, you cannot say that publishers charged too much. They sell into a competitive environment, and it is that competition that determines end sale prices, not the publishers. If they had their way, im sure publishers would love to see every new release at £50, and the market buying power remaining spread out, rather than concentrated at Tesco, but they cant affect that other than by giving GAME a free ride for no immediate benefit to themselves.

  27. Flint says:

    And now game.co.uk seems to be ‘down for maintenance’.

    • Stormtamer says:

      Apparently it was the start of a new sale that was going ahead anyway, though it is kinda odd both sites go off an hour after RPS and BBC talk about this stuff.

    • Navagon says:

      I think I’d be very cautious about buying online from anywhere I knew was on the verge of administration. That said, Game have always been very fast and reliable as far as online transactions are concerned. But even so. With the last few grains of sand trickling through the hourglass it would have to be one hell of a bargain.

      • Milky1985 says:

        Don’t buy with a debit card, buy with a credit card and you should be fine, if they fold and don’t send out the goods you can claim it back via the card i think.

        • KikiJiki says:

          Only works on fraudulent transactions AFAIK.

          If you buy from someone and they go under you have to join the queue like everyone else to get your money back. I believe there was a similar situation with gift cards/vouchers at another retailer recently.

          If in doubt, best to keep your money to yourself.

        • Navagon says:

          So I suppose the only real safe option is to get Steam keys via their download service, if anything takes your fancy.

  28. Navagon says:

    Sucks to see so many people on the verge of being out of work. Especially given the job market out there at the moment. But Game lost their competitive edge a long time ago and abandoning the PC clearly hasn’t endeared them to anyone commenting here. If you want a long lasting business then it’s probably not wise to bet against the platform that will outlast all others.

  29. adonf says:

    Does anyone know if this supply problem also affects franchised shops? I don’t know much about the retail distribution chain, and I’m wondering if franchised shops need to go through the franchise owner for their purchases or if they can buy directly from EA. I suspect the latter because because I’ve seen ads for ME3 in the window of a Game shop, although that was not in the UK.

    Also, if the Game company goes into bankruptcy it doesn’t mean that all the franchised shops will close.

  30. Stormtamer says:

    Kind of odd to see it go, but I already use the Game website to buy more than i do in stores (PC or Console games) and Game.co.uk is the least used of the sites i buy games from.

    Only thing PC wise i ever got from Game were collector’s editions when they went cheap.
    Got SW:TOR and Fallout New Vegas cheap about a month after launch, but by then every store, online or otherwise, was about the same, and the launch prices were always £5-10 more than anywere else.
    So for me Game only became a place for 2-3 cheap games a year, and yet another source of used concole games i never bought.

    One thing i just realised and might need to go into a story later in the week, is about reward points.

    I doubt administartors would give you the cash value of your Game/Gamestation reward cards, so i suggest maybe spending them before this all goes south.

  31. Bursar says:

    The interesting fact for me from that article was Game’s market cap at £2.93 million. Is that a misprint?! I don’t know how many stores they own vs rent, but just for the physical assets themselves that seems low.

    That’s essentially the value of a nice 4 bedroom apartment in Chelsea… not hyperbole… i checked
    http://www.foxtons.co.uk/search?location_ids=46&property_id=787904&search_form=map&search_type=SS&sold=1&submit_type=search

    • pixelprime says:

      if a nationwide chain of stores has a market value of £2.9 million, then it’s time to close up shop and shut down.

      I can’t imagine what the conbined rental outlay is for all of their stores, not to mention the combined salary payments must add up to.

      I don’t pretend to know how much an average game employee makes, but think of how many games (new, preowned) or consoles must they have to sell PER DAY to cover their salary and rental costs alone? My guess is – too many for them to survive in this modern market.

      I see game stores in general become a rarity, and supermarkets taking over the distribution of major titles entirely.

    • Nathan says:

      It’s massively insane. Their book value is probably still the best part of 100 times that (Game Group takes ~1.4B in revenue / year.)

  32. pixelprime says:

    One of the biggest recent mistakes I thought they’d made was the atrocious, steaming turd that was GAMEFest. Being aware of experiences like PAX and Eurogamer, I had hoped that GAME were savvy enough to appreciate what would make a games expo great. But they failed with stupendous magnitude.

    It was an absolute waste of money and time. We drove up to Birmingham from Kent, and we ended up leaving at around 2pm. It took only an hour to walk around and see the entirety of the show floor, and every half-decent booth was walled-up and hidden behind insanely long queues (at the time, this was for Battlefield 3 and the new CoD.

    Perhaps I’m wrong, but I can imagine that this event cost them a whole lot of money – and perhaps they were expecting to get a huge return in investment, not just from rekindled store interest, but also from publishers hoping to return the following year for a similar event.

    I’m constantly disappointed when I look in GAME. As rightly mentioned in the article, they gave up on PC titles long ago – and it’s been reduced to a shelf of titles that still include things like Theme Hospital and Oil Rig Simulator.

    I won’t shed a tear if this store goes under. Between great online prices and distribution through Steam, I have everything I need right here.

  33. RandomHero says:

    It’s funny* that most of the information I receive on whether or not I may or may not be losing my job comes from the gaming press. Any attempt to glean information from the higher ups generally results in a ‘don’t worry about it!’

    *Tragic.

  34. Deano2099 says:

    The lack of somewhere for people to buy games on the high-street is a downer. The lack of somewhere for them to sell them is a major issue, especially for younger people who can’t use the likes of Ebay. Whatever you think of the second-hand market, there are plenty of people who always trade in an old game against a new one. It’s hugely important, because a £40 that I know I can trade in for £20 later on makes that a £20 for all intents and purposes. There’s a big risk here of a lot of younger people ending up priced out of the market.

    • Delusibeta says:

      I disagree: I expect HMV, Granger Games and CEX to be picking up the slack.

      • Milky1985 says:

        Grainger games is only in the north, HMV is a store that has games but focuses on music/dvds (best of the 3) and CEX deal in second hand goods (odd that gamers like this store but hate game dealing with pre-own :P )

        Its up to grainger to move south, or a new indy to take over if the stores shut really, HMV will take up the slack but there selection can be poor at times (good luck getting a fringe game there, tried pre-ordering tales of the abyss, was priced at £50 (assuming as a “sod off we don’t want your pre-order” move)

  35. Lemming says:

    I didn’t realise GAME and Gamestation were under the same umbrella. Shit. :(

    Can’t they just can Game and leave Gamestation alone for now? Surely having TWO brands of game store wasn’t doing them any favours in the first place?

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      It’s just like Pequods and Queequegs. If the same company own both, customers get an illusion of choice, and the company gets all the profit from the market.

      Game Group’s mistake was failing to realise that—unlike coffee shops—the high street game retail sector could have significant competition from online retail.

      • kwyjibo says:

        It’s not just that though. Coffee is a service, you’re paying for an experience, for the brand. You can enlarge your market by offering different experiences even if your product is the same.

        You cannot do that with games.

  36. benjamin says:

    Ah well, I always liked to pre-order games from Game, they always arrived a day early :)

    This happened with Skyrim, I installed it then Steam told me I couldn’t play. I was fury. Usually it works.

  37. torchedEARTH says:

    I always enjoyed wandering around these stores at lunchtime, but I think except for then and weekends they tend to be empty.

    I won’t miss Gamestation, but I always found the staff in Game to be helpful, friendly and they didn’t go out of their way to act in an arrogant apathetic manner towards the needs of their customers.

  38. Brun says:

    But it is a very big deal for games publishers, as GAME has been by far the biggest source of their UK revenue.

    Really? If this were the case, would publishers like EA have abandoned them so willingly? It might have been true in the past, but if they were the biggest source of revenue for publishers in the UK they weren’t likely to have ended up in the position they’re finding themselves in now.

    • Delusibeta says:

      Compare and contrast with HMV, which has received the vocal backing of pretty much the entire music industry (except perhaps Apple Computers).

      • Brun says:

        I’m unfamiliar with HMV as I’m not from Britain (I’m assuming that’s a British retailer). I was simply evaluating GAME’s case from a (admittedly, highly simplified) business perspective. If GAME really is the top dog on the Isles in terms of publisher revenue, then the publishers wouldn’t have abandoned them so readily.

        I suppose that one possibility is that that GAME was making some bad business decisions and ended up losing a ton of money despite bringing in all that revenue for the publisher.

    • trjp says:

      I suspect as pretty much the exclusive UK-wide retailer, GAME have been screwing distributors hard for good deals for some time now.

      Their woes now are probably a bit of revenge for that – end of the day, distributors probably don’t want to be stuck with supermarkets as their only retail outlet (they’d lose ALL control that way) but they probably also think that GAME, as is, needs taking down a few pegs.

      I’m reckoning this will go to pre-pack now with someone like GameStop (or a management group) taking over in some capacity.

      In fact I’d not be surprised if that’s actually the plan – write-down it’s value (by selling-off loads of stock and damaging it’s credit) and then step-in and skim the cream of the business for yourself…

    • Archonsod says:

      Revenge for the second hand market shenanigans? EA have more than enough marketing clout to get the same revenue no matter who’s the end retailer for their products.

  39. Nallen says:

    WHO TOOK THIS PICTURE OF GAME IN BISHOPS STORTFORD?!

    I demand to know, I kill ten minutes of every lunchtime in there :)

  40. matthewsworld says:

    This is sad news. I had just read at http://www.talktechnews.co.uk/2012/03/05/is-it-game-over-for-game/ that they were in trouble and today I find out that they are for sale. I do hope that Gamestop buys them.

  41. Initialised says:

    Granger Games > Game

  42. buzzmong says:

    Not unsuprising.

    I normally use Game for my budget buying needs as their new titles are in the region of £5 to £10 more for a physical copy than I can get elsewhere, but even their budget section hasn’t been refreshed in a good two or three years, so I’ve not bought much.

    In fact, the only times I spend money now in there is to buy the odd pre-owned game for my 360.

    Still, doesn’t help that in my home town there’s a Game and a Gamestation within 30 seconds of each other.

  43. PC-GAMER-4LIFE says:

    It will affect UK PC Gamers like me as now instead of being able to pre-order PC games for up to 25% off RRP (GAME used to do this all the time you could save a fortune by pre-ordering then waiting for the mailman to deliver it) we have less choice & no-one else offers large discounts on pre-orders so it means less chance in future of PC gamers getting a decent price.

    Forget digital prices on new PC games they are beyond ridiculous.
    Look at Batman Arkham City for example today.

    Steam £39.99
    Origin Sale £12.49
    GMG £23.79

    See what the problem is here regarding Steam UK pricing!!!! & this game is almost 4 months old……..Countless other examples where the retail or other digital outlets sell way below Steam UK pricing!

    • Llewyn says:

      Amazon and Play are your friends here, along with others (some of my friends speak highly of shopto.net). They’re routinely cheaper than GAME’s discounted prices.

      • Milky1985 says:

        Until you factor in the cost of delivery if you want to get a game on release, as you can’t always rely on the free delivery to get there in time.

    • Delusibeta says:

      *facepalm*

      1) GAME has not done pre-order discounts for anyone for a while now. Hell, they’ve started requiring deposits.
      2) You’re comparing a sale with regular pricing.
      3) You haven’t shopped around: the box copy of Arkham City is available for £20 on ShopTo.

      In short, you’re wrong in all counts.

  44. Soon says:

    Gamestop have been trying to buy them years but were always turned down. They’ll almost certainly buy them up now.

  45. Rikard Peterson says:

    Not being British, my only connection with them is that they sponsored the BAFTA, which were fun to watch. (Dara Ó Briain is good.) I hope coming awards will still be made available online.

  46. StormTec says:

    I know people are on about supermarket-this and online-that… but has anyone given a thought to the presence of places like Grainger Games (a specialist games chain that’s been growing further south from it’s Northern origins, it seems) and CEX (well, for the trade-in side at least)?

    I believe Eurogamer’s earlier speculation largely ignored those two names…

  47. liamster97 says:

    I really dislike the fact that game is going down faster than the titanic since it means that the town center downtown will have lost almost all appeal to me and this forces me to wait for things to be shipped online but worst of all it marks the end of the days when someone could simply go to a game shop nearby and take a game away that they no nothing about and have a good time with it.

    • Archonsod says:

      Those days ended years ago when Game stopped stocking anything without “Sims” or “Warcraft” in the title.

      On the plus side, it was replaced by simply going to a developers home page and coming away with a game you know nothing about to have a good time with it, with the added bonus that it doesn’t involve freezing your tits off in the rain to get to the store and back. And the selection is several hundred times what Game stocked at it’s peak.

  48. wodin says:

    I remember buying Close Combat Bridge to Far from there, then eagerly waiting for release of Cross of Iron. I also bought the first two Combat Mission games and IL2. I can remember standing in awe watching the Medal of Honour trailer as they hit the beach aswell. In the late nineties I fancied working for them.

    Bye bye Game, you should never have abandoned the PC, infact if you’d concentrated on PC and stocked all manner of games not just the mainstream ones you may still be around.

  49. athlondi says:

    My 2c on the GAME / PC issues…

    6 years ago, prior to mass-scale digital distribution, GAME’s PC section was not huge, but did at least hold its own. People seem to think that GAME/Gamestation decided to abandon PC because they plain did not like it. Not true.
    Per unit of space, even 6 years ago, PC was incredibly unprofitable. Even new releases of huge games did smaller numbers, at smaller revenue.game and smaller margins than PS2/G3/XBOX. The costs associated with customer service issues were likewise huge- as a result of the return policy, and indeed UK consumer law, a significant proportion of games were returned used after a couple of days, having been installed and cracked. When people bought a game that ran like treacle on their machines- just return it, claim a spurious fault and get their money back, but often they were not returnable to the publishers.
    Having witnessed the slow decline of the PC section, management always left it in place far beyond what was logically and ruthlessly sensible to cut it down in terms of shop floor presence. And when it all ends up as Sims/WoW, there is a good reason, they are the only profitable ventures on PC.

    All in all, margins were too low, pre-owned was hamstrung by DRM, returns and fraud too commonplace, and PC Gamers too price-savvy for the PC section in Game to have the slightest chance after the rise of online retail, digital distribution and DRM. I suppose Game could have lost money intentionally to keep us happy, but methinks they would not have got this far, if they had!

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