GAME comes to an end

277 UK GAME and GameStation stores close. 2,104 employees to lose their jobs

The long, drawn-out demise of a UK high street games retail monolith has come to a close with the news today that GAME has officially entered administration, according to MCV. A week of desperate attempts to secure buyers, additional funding or some other means to save the stricken chain was unsuccessful, and reports are trickling in of GAME and GameStation outlets across the country closing their doors for the last time. CEO Ian Shepard has officially resigned from his position as head of the company and left Mike Jervis and Stuart Maddison of administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to take charge of what remains of the business. High fixed costs and an “ambitious international” expansion are some of the reasons PwC have given for what we’re seeing today.

As final as this all seems it’ll be a while, if at all, before GAME completely disappears from UK high streets and shopping precincts. The company’s remaining 333 stores, including GAME’s Oxford Street branch, will remain open while PwC continue the search for a potential buyer for the business. “Despite these challenges,” said joint-administrator Mike Jervis, “we believe that there is room for a specialist game retailer in the territories in which it operates, including its biggest one, the UK. As a result we are hopeful that a going concern sale of the business is achievable.” Words that will be of little comfort to the 2,104 staff that will be made redundant this week.

So what will become of the UK’s dedicated retail games industry now it’s biggest chain – some might say “monopoly” – has all but gone? One thing we can probably expect is a flurry of asset buying from foreign and domestic games retail chains. With GAME’s dominance well and truly broken there’s a vacuum to be filled and we all know how the market feels feels about one of those. The biggest supplier might be gone yet the demand is still there and others will move very quickly to meet that demand. Online shopping and digital downloads might have their conveniences but plenty of people still like to walk or drive to a brick and mortar outlet and buy their games in person.

I anticipate we’ll soon some big chains will soon begin tussling over the biggest, juiciest portions of GAME’s corpse. Foreign companies will see this as a means to finally establish a foothold in one of the most competitive and lucrative retail environments in the world, while what little other domestic competition we have left will sieze the opportunity to expand. While all that’s going on we could see a resurgence of the much-missed independent gaming stores that GAME trampled into dust in their rise to the top, albeit in a different form to what we remember. Venues like Australia’s Mana Bar and Loading in Cornwall have proved dedicated social venues for gamers can be successful, and any ambitious indie store that doesn’t want to fall flat on its face after 6 months will want to bear that in mind.

My sympathies and best wishes go out to  all GAME and GameStation staff affected by this news.

Source: MCV

Matt McDermott

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