What’s in a GAME? We go inside the retailer’s Westfield Stratford store

Matthew Jarvis
What’s in a GAME? We go inside the retailer’s Westfield Stratford store

GAME CEO Martyn Gibbs takes MCV on a tour of the company's flagship Westfield Stratford outlet, and reveals the latest innovations taking place in games retail

BRINGING TOYS TO LIFE

We make three times the margin on accessories in terms of total value than we do on hardware. We spend a lot of time and research on parents and children purchasing toys-to-life.

There's been a lot of work for us on this; we've had to change the fixtures, work out how we use pegs and shelves a lot more than we have in the past, and so on.

If you go into any of our stores, it's hard not to have a ‘wow' factor at the support we're giving toys-to-life.

"It's a pivotal entrance point for young gamers that are just starting out and we want to support their first experience in gaming.”


'IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT THE SALE'

Gameplay experiences are really important for us. We're not very focused on conversion. That's not helpful if you're building communities of gamers, because you're trying to force-sell people every time.

As soon as the store opens, we have customers coming in and constantly playing. The screens are always on; if you go into other retailers you see lots of dead screens, because they don't want people just playing. That's what we want to entice.

The experience screens (pictured) are in about 100 stores. We're not big on turning a box over and trying to navigate through a whole heap of text. We're about utilisation of screens and the GAME app to give you more info.”


OUTSIDE OF THE BOX

We offer experiences for digital games.

Minecraft is predominantly digital, but we do physical and merchandise, as well. If you're really into Minecraft, we want to celebrate and enjoy that with you, so we put all of the Minecraft merchandise together. It's about making sure it's really easy to find and understand.

We're not just focused on FIFA, Call of Duty and all of the big console franchises – it's whatever the people want us to be selling.

"So be it League of Legends currency, Battle.net cards, Runescape currency... we tend just to be ambivalent, it's whatever our customers want.

"Is it a card experience? Do we put it on a code on a receipt? Or do we give them a disc? We'll give it to them in whatever way we can work with the manufacturers to deliver that.”


‘HAVE FUN AND SURPRISE YOUR CUSTOMERS'

What products like these Christmas jumpers show is ultimate passion for gaming. It shows that we believe your your affinity to the brands and products that you like, and we want to work to make sure we've got great things.

We work really closely with our research department to find what else our customers would want. We go out, talk to gaming communities and say: ‘Alright, we need a Fallout christmas jumper'.

It shows we're credible and that we want to have fun with our customers and communities to constantly be bringing them things that they wouldn't expect.”


MAKING PEACE WITH PC

We've not catered for PC gamers very well in the past. We're really well aware of that.

[Our eSports division] Multiplay has helped us understand what PC gamers want from us, so that they think GAME is credible and want to shop here for their PC gaming experience.We have a lot of work to do, and we're still on that journey.

We're seeing our growth on PC accessories go through the roof. This isn't just about a share steal for us – this is about us working to put the products in front of people.

"We have thousands of Steam keys that at the moment we've not worked really hard to bring to customers. Over time, we're going to have more content and do more deals for customers, as we do with PlayStation and Xbox.

"We've got some way to go, but we're taking our first steps towards making PC gamers see that we know what we're doing and have a great range of products.

You will see our steps in PC gaming become bigger and bigger. We took nearly 100m on digital games last year. Because we understand that so well and have done such a good job on console, if we just replicate half of that on PC, we'll be somewhere along that line.”


'EVERY BIG LAUNCH IS AN EVENT'

We're constantly looking at ways to increase the value to a gamer of the experience that they're getting.

We think about the top titles as events. The stores running their own activities is really important to us – we ran 3,200 different occasions in stores last year.”


DIGITAL AND PHYSICAL HARMONY

We're ambivalent about digital or physical. If you want digital, we have a healthy range of digital content, if you want physical, we still sell discs.

We utilise our ability to put the content categories together. If you look at FIFA, we'll have Ultimate Team next to it. If we have LEGO, we're talking about PlayStation Plus. Assassin's Creed has its season pass. We'll always be saying: ‘Here's a great game, the best price for that is if you trade in, but also: what are the other things you will want?'

We've spent a lot of time over the last couple of years trying to make the digital experience for customers as seamless as possible. Then there's lots of digital-only experiences, as well.

We've just put new fixtures into stores – our stores are raving about them, as it gives us the opportunity to put out a lot more capacity. This was after quite a lot of research with customers about how we make them more visible. We've probably trebled or quadrupled the number of games we can put on display. We've done that with Xbox Live and PlayStation Network as well.”

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