The problem with Game

Gamestation shop in GlasgowThis week, we have started to see the demise of Game, the UK computer game shop company. They own Game shops and Gamestation shops, as well as a bunch of websites. They were massive at one point. Everyone would buy from them. I’ve spent countless hours in those shops over the years pouring over the stuff they had in stock to see if I could get a bargain. But I never could. Well, that’s a lie, I could. But it was never great.

We have found out that Game are looking for a buyer as they are in serious financial trouble. So much so that EA and a number of other game’s companies have refused to supply them, the biggest title being Mass Effect 3. Game had none of this title in stock from launch till now. Today, after they said that they were in serious trouble, their stock price dropped 50% and is (as of market closing 12th March) sitting at £1.16. It dropped to a low of 85p today.

Some of us have expected this for a while. And when you go into the shops you can clearly see how they got into this mess. I saw a copy of Little Big Planet today, second-hand, not in original packaging, for £15. This is a game that is about 4 years old, and you can buy new on Amazon for less than £10.

So, this is clearly 1 of the reasons that they have gone down the pan. But it’s not the only one. This is specific to this one company, but there are reasons that I believe that the industry of physical game shops (with the exception of 1 chain) is on the way out. It may take a few years, Gamestop in America still has a lot of clout, but it’ll happen eventually.

I want a game. What shall I do? I have 4 choices:

  1. Buy it from Amazon
  2. Buy it from PS store/XBL/Steam
  3. Buy it from a physical shop
  4. Get it second-hand

Now let’s look at the pros and cons of each:

Pros: Easy to buy, you don’t have to take the time to go to a physical shop, they don’t have to pay for high street buildings, so generally cheaper.

Cons: Don’t get to see the item in real life, have to get it delivered.

Pros: Easy to buy, you don’t have to take the time to go to a physical shop, they don’t have to pay for high street buildings, so generally cheaper.

Cons: Not always cheaper than Amazon, no physical media, no ability to resell.

Pros: Get to see it physically before you buy it, the community aspect.

Cons: Normally more expensive, time-consuming to get to and generally quite annoying.

Pros: The price.

Cons: Well, its second-hand. Sometimes the DLC bundled with it is 1 time only.


Basically, what does a physical shop give you (apart from second-hand) that online and download-only can’t? The community aspect. But then, we are gamers. We don’t really like talking to people in real life. If we want to talk, we’ll do it on our respective social networks or gaming multiplayer networks.

CEX shop in Glasgow

For all intents and purposes, downloading games is the future. It isn’t the present, as it’s still annoying as we can’t resell them, they are sometimes more expensive than Amazon and we sometimes have rubbish internet connections. However, it is the future. And for that, physical shops don’t matter. Other than that, if you know what you want to buy, you know what you want to buy. Why would I want to see the case for a game I want to buy in real life before I buy it? I won’t, I’ll buy it off Amazon.

Now, we come to the type of physical shop that will survive for a while. Second hand game shops. I was in CEX today, and it was full of people. The prices were much lower than Game and Gamestation (even with their apparent fire sale) and there was just a great feeling in there. People love a bargain, and they love waiting a month and getting a second-hand game for £25 instead of £40 or £10 instead of £20, or whatever. It’s just a great feeling.

Basically…the reason Game is going to disappear (even if it gets bought over, it’ll disappear soon enough) is because there is no need for them anymore. The internet and dedication second-hand shops have replaced it, and the industry is just going to have to get used to it.