Customers nationwide had a shock on the first of February when there were no copies of new releases on the shelves. GAME have since declared the necessity to define new financing strategies, and are testing new terms as we speak.
At the beginning of the month, Japan released three big games to the UK; Soulcalibur V, Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, and of course, Final Fantasy XIII-2. Straight away the latter have stormed into the top two positions on the game charts, with SCV close behind in 5th place. Another release from Japan, Nintendo’s Resident Evil: Revelations, which was due to be shelved and on sale in shops on the 2nd. But this did not happen in many cases.
GAME, and other stores such as HMV have been accused of having stock issues, as Resi Revelations was almost impossible to get hands on, alongside other titles. Supposedly, GAME were having stock and staff problems towards the end of January. Staff claimed to have not been paid, and there was a resounding worry that there were no new releases in stock. These rumours were not helped by the fact that GAME recently had to seek financial aid from its lenders.
“We’re pleased to reach agreement with our lenders, but should be under no illusions about the challenges in our market or the hard work that is required to deliver our strategic plan.”
Ian Shepherd, CEO, GAME Group
GAME have openly admitted this financial problem, and have released many statements saying they’ve found the funding required to continue the business. Some media outlets had suggested that acquisition of new stock was likely to be a long-term problem, and this was mirrored this month by wide-spread confusion at the lack of shelf content, and staff members making quite clear that trade-ins were available once the customer was finished with their game. Fran Mulhern of Recruit 3D suggested that the late media store Zavvi went bust because of the need to pay for stock upfront, and “if GAME hadn’t pursued such an aggressive pre-owned policy, it might have more friends in the industry to help it right now.”
So where does this leave us? Well, more customers than ever are relying on online services such as Steam for their new game releases, which saves queuing outside a shop and finding that the game has sold out at that outlet. I know a lot of people who will quite happily wait for a second-hand copy of the latest release to become available, so that they don’t have to pay full whack for the privilege of ‘playing it new’. Perhaps this is a reason for stores not stocking quite as many, as they considered the demand for new copies to be less?
The newly structured Head Office features job losses anew, in the hope of enabling tighter focus on being “significantly more efficient” in customer/supplier relations. The statement read “We are giving our full help and support to the colleagues who are affected by these proposed changes,” and various shifts in job titles have lead to more charge taken for tasks such as “working closely with the commercial, marketing and supply chain arms”.
GAME have confirmed that all staff who claimed to have been neglected have been paid, and new hopes arise from what seemed to be newly forming ashes of one of the biggest gaming retailers in the UK. If I had money I would probably have already gone out and bought all three aforementioned games, but they may have to wait until I can find a deal price online somewhere. Such extortionate prices certainly reflect upon the hard-work and quality of the game itself, but strike worry into the hearts of all gamers who are expecting brand new consoles in the next few years; if games cost £40 now, what will they cost on an 8th Gen console?
Part of the agreement with its Lenders states that GAME will listen to suggestions made and advice given, and will allow the lenders a say in what happens within the company. Considering the predicted loss of £18million by next February, the Board have happily accepted the lenders’ thrown lifeline, which will hopefully start to show positive outcome in months to come.
I expect of the 46 job losses, at least one is the person who generates pricing models, because selling used games for almost the same price as new is not a good sales pitch, especially when waiting for a second-hand copy in the first place is rewarded by much cheaper copies elsewhere. One thing’s for sure, GAME are in for another stand and will continue to operate so long as their new management schemes hold together.