The End of an Era?



It shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone, well it didn’t to me, that UK games retailer GAME (points for originality…) are facing some difficult times at the moment. As a lifelong UK resident, I figured it was as good a time as any to talk about it. In the UK, GAME are the powerhouse of game retail, they even own their biggest rival so the competition is pretty non-existent.

Their troubles recently came to light with the news that they would not be stocking Mass Effect 3 due to EA being unwilling to enter into a credit agreement with them. You see how most game stores work is that they don’t outright buy 100 copies of any game for each store. The retailer and the publisher will enter into an agreement whereby the publisher gives the retailer the games and are paid later from the proceeds of the sales. It’s a business model that is pretty well established. However, EA refused to front GAME the stock and so they had nothing to sell, which resulted in them missing out on what is arguably one of the biggest games of the year.

GAME have been a presence throughout my entire life really, one of my earliest memories is going in there at about age five or six to get new Game Boy games with my mum (yep, it’s all her fault I’m into games). A prominent memory is the implementation of the second hand market, which I still think is a brilliant business idea because it is essentially free money for GAME. I may not agree with it now because I prefer my money to go to the developers but when I was younger and constrained by my tiny pocket-money budget, then it was great.

Oooh shiny!

Another slightly less than awesome memory was trying to get them to sell me the Half-Life 2 collector’s edition when I was very clearly under 15, I had to call my Dad and get him to come buy it. Looking back however, I think that galvanised me because now I very rarely get embarrassed at all, no really just try it.

Back when I was sixteen, I got my first job working at a Gamestation store (the competition I said they owned) and I got to see how they operated. It’s possibly the best job I’ve had but more for the people than the fact it was a game shop. Trust me, working there is just like any other retail job, a lot of game stores seem to get stick for having bad staff. At the end of the day it’s just another retail shop. I was probably being short with you because it was 9:30 AM on a Sunday and you were asking me about the Wii stock for the eighth time already that day. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have felt the same way if it was a clothes shop and you were bugging me about a shirt or something.

Mmm violence.

Late last year however, we saw GAME rear its ugly side. I still can’t find any concrete information on this but here goes. Last year I was pretty hyped for the Space Marine game. I can run around as a man-tank chainsawing Orks in twain? Sure, sign me all the way up! I figured I’d buy it on PC as that is my primary gaming platform, all ready to jump on to Steam and… ‘This game is not available in your region’. What? So I did some research and the general rumour seems to have been that GAME had said to THQ they would refuse to stock the game if it went up on Steam.

So I guess I’m going to wrap this up before it becomes a fond farewell because they aren’t dead yet. Just in case you didn’t pick up on the sentiment though, unlike a lot of other writers, I don’t think GAME going out of business will be good. It won’t really affect me because I am a fervent Steam user but it will affect a great deal of other people. What are your thoughts on this, any fond memories or horror stories? Will you miss the high street stalwart? My local GAME is now a Gregg’s, mm pie.



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