The GAME Group have suffered losses of £51.5 million recently, and this figure is before tax deductions. This is no wonder considering the criminal price tags on new releases in the UK for X360 and PS3 games, some reaching £45, for example the highly expected CoD: Modern Warfare 3. The companies who sell games brand new off their shelves are seriously mislead if they think that people will fork out that much nowadays, but why is this? I blame emulators.
I say ‘blame’, but by this I merely consider them to be a single factor for these price wars that are occurring in the high-street; in fact, I think EMUs are fantastic! For those of us who have dabbled in the odd bit of RomBomb in their time, the needless spending on games, especially for portable devices such as the NDS, is futile, when instead you can simply download a new-release for free, then copy and paste it onto your R4. And away you go!
GAME’s apparent desperation to make money this year has led them to start selling music and films, somewhat similarly to the likes of HMV… it’s called “GAME”, not “GAMES, and some other stuff”. The problem with this, as is becoming increasingly obvious with the games business, is that not many people of the digital generation will spend £5 on a DVD, or £7 for a CD, when it can all be downloaded for free in two minutes via ThePirateBay. Perhaps GAME think that this change in their stock will be significant, however I believe that with such a huge loss in sales shown recently, they may be in serious trouble. Ian Shepherd, CEO of The GAME Group, said that the sales of the N3DS were below expectations, showing a drop in hardware (consoles such as X360 and PS3) sales of 13.7%, and software (games and controllers) sales of 16.5%, all in the last year.
…and there’s me sat playing a torrented copy of Croc on my laptop, before turning to a cheapy PS3 Network version of FFVII… whilst my attitude to gaming may be cheap and cheerful, you will find that when linked to the lack of job opportunities in the UK economy, particularly within the student age range, GAME’s sales situation is strongly due to the fact that no-one has spare money to chuck away anymore. The typical age of an avid gamer is between 19 and 25, according to a recent HardForum poll. This means that, being a student myself, with little money as it is and a hefty £50grand debt on my shoulders, I am hardly likely to whap out £40 to get Dark Souls this weekend, because I simply can’t afford it.
GAME are therefore in a rather sticky situation, one could argue. Christmas is coming, and their only true hope at retaining interest in high-end expensive software games is to find a way to make illegal downloads more illegal, and less accessible; which is nigh on impossible.
So will GAME and other members of The GAME Group survive the winter crisis? Only time will tell, and I can assure you that I shan’t be paying full price for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim…