|A Game store, remember this, you might not see them soon.
Look, I did a pun! I should work for the Sun!
It would appear that High Street chain Game / Gamestation are in serious trouble, various websites are reporting their quarterly rent bill is due in two weeks time and it’s unlikely they’ll pay it. The company is up for sale, and administrators are awaiting the call to action. The share prices are reflecting the news with them dropping as low as 0.5p this morning, it’s looking dire indeed. Last week they slashed the prices of their pre-owned consoles and games in an effort to get people through the doors, and get the tills ringing, it doesn’t look like it’s worked.
In the past few weeks Game also were unable to supply people who’d pre-order Mass Effect 3, giving no real reason for it, apologising, and offering £5 credit onto their ‘GAME’ loyalty cards. Rumours were afoot that they couldn’t actually pay the suppliers for the games. This also happened with a few of the Playstation Vita launch titles, Game were missing a few of them at the launch for similar reasons. Not good.
So, what went wrong?
Two things, the internet, and not adapting to it.
In the past it was fairly acceptable for Game to charge punters just a smidge off the RRP, and we’d all happily go into the store, pay and leave. These days though, the internet is here, it’s CHEAP, with fewer overheads Amazon, Play etc, can get you the game you want, at a price that is better. Even with big game launches like Halo or Modern Warfare, you can order the game online and have it popping through your door on launch day. No need to go queue at midnight with idiots dressed up as soldiers, it would be there and sometimes, you might even get it early!
What did Game do to fend off the threat of the Internet?
The square root of fuck all.
It carried on, mindlessly selling expensive games, up-selling ‘bundle deals’ for new consoles, and generally being arrogant. One area they did push into was ‘Pre-Owned’, you could take your old games and consoles in store and get cash or credit. Good idea, the problem is, you didn’t actually get all that much for your games, or consoles, one would go as far as to say they were insulting. What happened with the pre-owned titles? Well they sold them instore, usually for 10% less than a new copy, but still especially with new titles, you could by a new copy online for less! Up until their recent ‘firesale’ of pre-owned titles, Modern Warfare 3 was being sold at £42. Amazon have it brand new of £37.
It probably hasn’t helped having massive disparity between their online and offline stores too, cheap titles online were full price offline, would you walk in a store to get a back catalogue game today when you could have it delivered half price tomorrow? No.
I do occasionally pop into Game for a browse, I like to mooch in ‘real shops’, but I can’t remember when I last bought something in there. It’s just not cost effective. Places like Comet have the right idea, you’ll pay the same price online as you will instore, and you can reserve your item in store too. So just before Christmas, when ASUS but the Transformer TF101 down in price, I could order one online and collect it 30 mins later from the store, at the same price Amazon were charging. Brilliant.
Retailers are learning the hard way you just can’t just carry on like the internet isn’t there, you can’t carry on as you were before, customers are much more savvy now. I really do feel sorry for the 10,000 staff Game have, it’s appalling that so many could be unemployed in a matter of weeks. I fear it won’t be too much longer before HMV are going down a similar path to Game.