Thursday, 1 March 2012

Why I Think GAME Is Vital to the Games Industry

So many will have heard about the recent woes with GAME, the largest specialised games retailer in the UK. In simplified terms, GAME won't be stocking many new releases in the near future. The big story is how they won't be stocking any EA games throughout march.

General consensus on the internet is that GAME are not a good company, many see GAME as money grabbing bastards who overcharge for their games, give little trade in value and have terrible customer service. As much as I can understand this frustration, I for one could not disagree any more. I actually think that GAME is essential to the industry, and if they should go into administration, it would probably be one of the worst days in the UK games industry.

At the moment, there is literally no other shop like GAME or Gamestation. There is no other shop that is so dedicated to video games in particular, where you can ask a staff member a question regarding games and 9/10 get a reasonable and intelligent answer. You wouldn't expect any similar knowledge of someone who worked at HMV or Primark or any major store, GAME is the only company that tries to hire experts and not just sales assistants.

That experience is not what i meant when I said GAME is essential to our industry either. The core of what makes a specialised games retailer so important is the browsing factor. This is true of any shop really, but GAME and Gamestation are the only shop that will stock cheap and unknown games on the highstreet. You would never expect Asda or HMV to stock the likes of Cave Story on 3DS, Catherine or Crush 3D but all of these were in good supply at GAME when they came out. The fact that GAME is a major store on the high street, allows anyone to just look through all the games on display, be they big or small and that's something you just can't get on a website. When you visit amazon, you pretty much know what you want, you can't flick through games and be surprised by something interesting. When you walk into a shop, sometimes you don't want to look for anything in particular, you just want to see whats available and want to be surprised, you just can't do that with a website.

Finally, there's launch events. Yes they're big and obnoxious most of the time, and you could get all your games on time by just ordering online. However, nothing can beat the thrill of waiting in the cold till midnight, anticipating that one game or new piece of hardware that you have been wanting for months or even years. Waiting in line with others, and the excitement that you can share, where the hell can you get that with a website? and if GAME aren't going to do launch events, then who will? No self respecting supermarket would spend the money on a launch event,GAME are the only company that would be willing to do that and would still make a huge profit from it. Without launch events, the industry just becomes boring.

So yes, those who complain about GAME have valid reasons. Depending on store, staff can be pretty bad and prices are always going to be a bit worse than what Sainsbury's or ASDA are will to sell for. However, GAME is so unique, and they are the last of what they represent, a store which is dedicated to games. It's important to note that I probably wouldn't even be writing this if there were a rival specialist out there, it is not GAME in particular I want to live on but the idea of a specialist games retailer. That is something that you can't get anywhere else and I think it's terrible that GAME is in the situation it's in. I really really hope that GAME manages to stay on, be it through a takeover or drastic closures or job losses, because I don't want a world where something like GAME no longer exists.

Disclaimer: I am an employee of GAME so it is possible that I hold a lot of bias on this matter. I tried to keep this as balanced as I could but it is possible I come off as only seeing it from one point of view without realising it, sorry if I do.

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