Games retailers across EMEA regions say they are facing bankruptcy – and it’s all our fault.
Low UK game pricing has caused a sharp rise in importing amongst consumers around the globe, damaging local sales. Foreign indie stores are following suit, and buying stock in bulk from the UK. This in turn is allowing them to undercut larger chains.
Retailers and distributors from Egypt to the Czech Republic say they have seen low-priced UK releases flood their territories.
“A widespread phenomenon in Egypt is that several small business owners now import games from the UK,” said Mohammed El Masry of Egyptian retailer GameSword. “And this is how we work. We have been able to make contact with large UK suppliers offering us good wholesale prices.”
Lukáš Karel at Czech retailer JRC added: “As one of the biggest retail chains in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, we definitely feel impact of low UK prices.
“Not only do some customers order straight from the UK, but many smaller retailers import games from UK, which can result in violating street dates, lower prices than local RRP, or selling products which they shouldn’t.”
Ólafur Þór Jóelsson at Icelandic distributor Sena continued: “We are seeing more and more customers than ever shifting towards buying games from major websites like Amazon.co.uk where we see huge difference in pricing and it costs next to nothing to ship the goods.”
This is having a huge impact on global distributors, who are forced to lower their prices to match UK cost prices.
“I assume that 20 to 30 per cent of business is being lost to grey importing,” said Lalit Vase of United Arab Emirates distributor Red. “And it forces us to drop the price of our stock even when we don’t need to.
Nebojša Jankovi?, director at Slovenian distributor Videotop, said that “UK retailers are decreasing game prices” faster than publishers are in export markets.
In a bid to counter the problem, MCV understands that some global publishers are deliberately reducing the amount of boxed game stock they’re putting into the UK channel in a bid to counteract mass importing across Europe.
“You will see more limited game launches in the UK, as publishers look to prevent price discounting that can have a serious impact on certain European territories,” said a publishing sales boss.