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Finally, GameStop gets serious about UK

Michael French
Finally, GameStop gets serious about UK

GameStop has closed its two UK High Street shops. But the firm says it is now targeting UK gamers more aggressively than ever: through a .co.uk e-store that offers cheaper games, exclusives and – eventually – downloads.

GameStop.co.uk had a soft-launch last week, but was officially announced overnight by the global games specialist which has thousands of outlets around the world.

The e-store has a strong offer out of the gate – as well as the standard range of games, it has Nintendo 3DS for £154.97, PS3/360 Call of Juarez for £21.97, pre-owned games, a special Modern Warfare 3 pre-order competition, plus the exclusive on Assassin’s Creed Revelations: Animus Edition.

GameStop.co.uk will be run by the GameStop team in Dublin, Ireland, headed up by commercial director Mick Finucane.

The company first moved into the UK & Ireland market with the acquisition of Finucane’s Irish chain Gamesworld in 2003. Over the years it slowly grew that business in Ireland from 16 stores to over 50 – including two selective placings in mainland UK, in Birmingham and Cheshire.

However, the two mainland stores have been quietly closed as the firm switches its attention to e-commerce and digital.

“You can say the two events [opening GameStop.co.uk and closing the UK stores] are tied together a little bit,” Mike Mauler, EVP of GameStop International, told MCV this week.

“From a bricks and mortar perspective the UK is saturated more than any other market we have done business in. We can offer a lot more value through our ecommerce and digital offering.”

In the last two years it has acquired casual games firm Kongregate and digital distributors Spawn Labs and Impulse, which offer streaming and downloads respectively. Impulse has already been integrated into the US GameStop site, offering PC games for download.

Mauler added: “Whether it is via Championship Manager by Jolt on Facebook, casual games on Kongregate, or physical games sold through GameStop.co.uk, we can add a lot more to the market, and introduce more profitability than having two random standalone stores in the UK.”

The move certainly puts paid to years of speculation that GameStop would eventually grow its UK High Street footprint to take on the likes of GAME and GameStation. Clearly, the firm is no longer interested in that approach.

However while the e-commerce business in the UK is already competitive, Mauler told MCV GameStop has many ways to stay ahead of the pack.

He said: “The e-commerce market in the UK has scores of competitors from GAME to Play to… well, just about everybody. But we bring some unique value. Being the world’s largest specialist games retailer means we can bring unparalleled value to existing ranges, exclusive products such as the Assassin’s Creed Animus Edition, and introduce value that isn’t there. For instance, our compelling 3DS offer.

“Because we are the largest specialist there are a lot of things we bring to the table that aren’t our there now.

“The goal of the site is to build a strong e-commerce business in the UK. It’s the biggest market in Europe for games, and probably the biggest online market as well. We believe we have a unique value proposition for that market and we will take a lot of market share eventually.”

Mauler also said that in time GameStop will add Impulse digital downloads plus its PowerUp reward card program to the .co.uk offer.

With big exclusives and value offers already, GameStop UK & Ireland commercial director Finucane added that it was clear the more formal plans for all of Britain had been warmly received by publishers.

He told MCV: “The industry has been very welcoming and very supportive. All the publishers are very supportive of this.

“We opened the site due to public demand for a UK site – we were picking up a lot of UK business on our .ie which prompted us to do it. We just want to make it easier for customers to shop with us.”

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Tags: gamestop , gamestop uk , gamestop rewards , mike mauler , mick finucane

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