GAME Group’s plan

In a wash of frowning newsreaders, red arrows and general gloom, GAME was a shining light, beating expectations for the retail market and being one of the few chains to turn a profit.

Sure, it is benefitting from the potency of the games industry and is very much the first point of contact for a large chunk of the cash flooding into the market. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they see it as an easy job or are getting complacent, hence COO Terry Scicluna’s talk this week of his ‘compelling vision’ for the firm’s GAME and Gamestation chains.

While this week’s glimpse into that vision on the cover (we’ll be going in-depth on it all next week) might include reference to that controversial own brand publishing, this is not something – as we said last summer – which should raise fears.

Instead, view it as another sign of the efforts a leading retailer will go to in order to secure its position and keep driving customer interest.

At a time when there are pressures from supermarkets, online, and even consumer apathy – and customers are being really savvy about how they are spending their money – it’s the kind of ambition you can only admire.

A few weeks ago when discussing the DS, I said that Nintendo was bucking conventional wisdom of ‘the only way is down’ on hardware pricing by introducing the more expensive DSi model.

Today those words seem a little ridiculous given the ire raised by the hike in the Wii’s trade price – same console, more money.

But the issue here isn’t really isolated to Nintendo. It’s just that as one of the most cost-conscious companies in the games industry (remember it doesn’t do anything if it will generate a loss, unlike the ‘invest now, maybe profit later’ approaches taken by everyone else), so is arguably just the first mover on this issue.

In our discussion with GAME’s Terry Scicluna he said that these price rises are ‘inevitable’; a view you can’t really disagree with when you’re calculating the cost of goods in Euro terms and the pricing can swing up 30 per cent in an instant.

So right now, retail shouldn’t be focusing its anger on Nintendo – it should isnstead be working out ways to put together bundles and offers that can offset what will hopefully be a temporary issue.

If the economy really can ‘talk itself out of the recession’ by finding ways to encourage consumer spending, as one format holder boss suggested to me a few weeks ago, this certainly would be one way to do it.

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