Oof. High-street retailer GAME's troubles are deepening, with reports that Electronic Arts will not be supplying them with games, including Mass Effect 3. Pre-orders the store has already taken for the title will only be refunded in store credit. While both EA and GAME have yet to confirm, the official Mass Effect 3 website has updated informing anyone that has pre-ordered ME3 to reorder the game from Amazon.co.uk, Play.com, Zavvi.com and ShopTo.net.
It's not looking good.
According to reports, both GAME and Gamestation will not be stocking new games from EA until further notice, with snow-boarding title SSX being the last until whatever problems have arisen are sorted out. GAME's financial difficulties have led to them having to shutter shops and allegedly being unable to stock new titles from Ubisoft for the Sony VITA launch. But EA are in a different league, and losing their titles is significant and hugely damaging.
What could happen if the chain goes under? Eurogamer's take is rather terrifying: gaming needs GAME.
The first thing to consider is where the 2.5 million people that walk into GAME and Gamestation shops every week go. To supermarkets? Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury's and Tesco are regulars on Eurogamer's many price roundup articles. They're the obvious alternative. And they may "smell blood", warns Don McCabe, joint managing director of indie video game chain Chips. "They're like bloody sharks anyway. They spot HMV and GAME in trouble - if they smell blood and really go for it, they could wipe them out the market and they'll share the market between themselves and online."
I'll update with confirmation/denials from either side if and when they arrive, but if you have pre-ordered Mass Effect 3 you might want to pop into where you bought it and find out what you need to do.
EDIT: Eurogamer have been sent what's purportedly an internal memo sent to GAME store staff. According to the memo: "We committed to only stocking products on which we could get the right credit terms, regardless of the title or the supplier. We will not stock products if terms or conditions are not right for our business - we will not sacrifice long-term credit requirements for short term sales opportunities. As a result of us taking this position - a position we believe is critical to our long term health as a business - we have taken the very difficult decision to not stock EA's March releases, including Mass Effect 3".
It also points out that there will be no pre-orders taken for Fifa Street 3, Tiger Woods 13, or Sims 3 Showtime, and that people affected should be offered £5 in-store points.