OPINION: End of the GAME drama renews the market

Michael French
OPINION: End of the GAME drama renews the market

The problem posed by a large operation like GAME Group was the shadow it cast over everyone else.

GAME was a hefty beast. With two major High Street brands, over 600 UK stores, almost 6,000 employees-cum-hardcore gamers, no wonder it was looked at with both awe and scorn.

It used to be easy to think GAME was the be all and end all for the specialist market. Given the scope of its influence, at times it was.

So the new post-administration outfit – leaner, stable, and likely hungrier under new CEO Martyn Gibbs – has the potential to contribute to a healthier market.

We’ve already seen, in the moments when GAME was out for the count, how Tesco, Blockbuster and others looked to fill the void.

For them, a rival’s moment of weakness offered a brief opportunity. No wonder they went for it.

I imagine more opportunities will be present as the new GAME finds its feet and comes to terms with its focused scope. Tesco, for one, is very keen to establish better ways of working with publishers.

There are things a dedicated retail High Street specialist can do that others cannot, whether that’s pre-owned, in-store knowledge or rewards and bundles. Things like that, plus renewed relations with suppliers, might always give GAME an edge. But maybe not the scale to keep its rivals in the shade all the time.

RETURNING GIBBS IS THE SECRET WEAPON

The new-look version of GAME has already hit the ground running with a smart decision: hiring Martyn Gibbs as CEO.

At a time when his contemporaries have come to this world from elsewhere, Gibbs is one of our own. 

Anyone that has met or spoken to him appreciates his understanding of not just the market and the business generally, but also his stores and staff. He bleeds games retail. He isn’t short of ideas. Opportunities like GAMEfest came from him.

But the biggest statement of intent here is that Martyn is best known as having run Gamestation back when Gamestation was known as the ultimate specialist.

Throughout the GAME saga we’ve regularly said that games publishers relish the chance to get a more specialised specialist.

If Martyn’s appointment is a sign of things to come, looks like publishers are getting their wish.

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Tags: GAME , martyn gibbs , group , Drama

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