The games industry was one of the few to emerge from the recent recession unscathed, with just about every other industry showing losses until recently. It looks like the good luck has run out though, for UK gamers anyway, as GAME group, home to GAME and Gamestation is at the lowest point sales-wise in its history.
Their fate was sealed when consumers began receiving emails saying that their preorders of Mass Effect 3 had been cancelled, with more details arriving a few days later. Said to be due to a refinancing and strategic review of the company conflicting with the credit terms from EA, the company would not be stocking any March releases from the publisher after SSX. This includes Mass Effect 3, possibly the most anticipated game of 2012, a decision that is set to cost GAME group upwards of £2.5 million in lost profit.
Though officially this is a temporary problem, and is a stock issue, it’s hard to see this as anything but the final straw for a company that has continually been losing out to both online retailers, such as Amazon and Play, and digital distribution of content. Schemes to keep people in their stores have been hit and miss, with redemption codes sold on cards attempting to get people to the tills despite garnering very little profit for the retailer. The Online Pass debate has made preowned games the much less attractive option, and with online prices for new games sometimes half the price of in store the company has struggled stay relevant.
With stores closing across the country, unconfirmed reports that the directors of GAME group are planning to cut their losses have begun to appear. By the time you read this, it may all be over for Game and Gamestation, two shops in particular that at one time were the main place to go for the latest releases. Even if they do survive March, what happens the next time a major release isn’t stocked? Imagine a game retailer where you couldn’t buy the new Call of Duty for instance. Surely this is the end for a company that has always lived up to its name.