Earlier this week, CEO Ian Shepherd told senior staff that the retail group that owns GAME and GameStation, has just two weeks to save itself
GAME have been denying that anything is wrong, although with limited stock and employees rumoured to have received late wages, it’s looking like the end is looming for the UK entertainment giants. The chain recently announced 35 store closures and that it is going to shut sister website gameplay.co.uk.
GAME had apparently received lender support to alleviate financial troubles following concern by publisher EA, but earlier this week it was also speculated that a significant investor had pulled out of the company. The high street retailer’s shares plummeted by 90% in 2011, despite £1 billion in annual turnover.
With the launch of the PS Vita at the end of February, this should have seen massive sales for the stores, but unless you had pre-order it, you were unlikely to be able to walk in and buy one. Some customers had claimed that stores had also stopped taking pre-orders for game releases and that, when the shops re-stocked, it was so limited that there were none left on the day of release.
One of GAME’s major attractions has been it’s large stock of pre-owned titles, which in some stores actually out-size the number of new and chart title games. Naturally there is great convenience in trading-in for store credit towards other games and consoles, or being able to put the money on GAME’s in-store credit card for later use. However, if GAME were to suddenly cease trading, would customers who use this store credit service lose all their savings? Would our gift cards become useless? GAME also offer an insurance service for consoles purchases as well.
Supposedly the company has massive debts to publishers such as Nintendo, but an announcement by GAME last week explained that they’d made an agreement with their lenders that would hopefully see them lasting until the end of the year.
Game CEO Ian Shephard has expressed his concerns that the consumer economy probably wouldn’t turn around soon, however he has made it clear that there is a clear vision for the company that seems to have the support of its investors.
And what will happen to GameStation, which is another one of the bigger alternative entertainment stores on the UK high street, as they were bought out by GAME in 2007? Perhaps we should expect a rise in the independant and smaller game shops, and in the mean time make the best use of any “fire-sale” discounts that the chain announces…