MCV’s Mystery Shopper

GAME – 8/10

The most immediately striking thing about entering GAME is the enormous Bioshock statue that greets every customer – one of the most elaborate (and indeed effective) pieces of POS MCV has ever seen. After marvelling at Big Daddy for a few moments, it isn’t long before a store assistant notices our gormless stares at the shelving and asks if we needed help.

When questioned about what console might be right for us, he at once admits that he has always been a Sony fan – and as such backs the PS3 and PSP as the systems to own.

PS3 will win in the long term”, he says, but if you’re in need of a quick fix, 360 might be better for the short term thanks to the number of games it has already.” Mentioning the old ‘red ring of death’ problem, he adds that the new three-year warranty should calm any fears of breakdowns. Overall, a very decent and informative chat – although it seems Nintendo isn’t high on the store’s priorities.

Virgin Megastores – 9/10

Another striking entrance, but this time in the form of a huge More Brain Training ad in the front window (pictured above, inset). And it’s a perfect indication of the DS loving we are to encounter inside. Our sales assistant falls over himself to recommend a DS bundle which includes Sonic Rush, Cooking Mama and Brain Training.

And he doesn’t stop there: enthusiastically telling us just how well it is selling with all types of gamer at the moment. Both Wii and PSP are out of stock, but that doesn’t stop our man; he carries on to give us the hard sell for the PS3 (but it really is much better value now that the pads and games value pack has been introduced by Sony”), and mentions a two game 360 bundle too – but this is not sold with quite as much zeal.

PlayStation 3 is the best system for me to buy by a long way, he says, conveniently skirting around the issue of price. Quite a salesman – and knowledgeable too.

HMV – 7/10

Another decent piece of promotion for More Brain Training at HMV too (pictured above, inset) – not quite as striking as the huge posters at Virgin, but still significant enough to kick music and DVD away from the entrance of the store.

After venturing inside, our assistant recommends PSP straight away, which is fine – except for the fact that HMV hasn’t had any in stock for four to five weeks. Presuming that MCV doesn’t want a pink one (we didn’t), he goes onto explain that after Sony’s price drop, all the black consoles had been allocated to the rest of Europe.

The DS is termed a bit kiddie” and not for us, and Wii is out of stock and very hard to get hold of”. 360 and PS3 are the consoles most highly recommended if you’re serious about games”, but the price of PS3 is mentioned as a drawback.

Despite a decent chunk of HMV’s shelf space being dedicated to PS2 games, the console is not mentioned at all – despite some tempting looking bundles. – 5/10

Despite using our best ‘I’ve got money than sense’ facial expression, MCV elicits no response from the plentiful shop staff in – perhaps they are too busy grooving to the pounding hip-hop being pumped out in the store. When approached, the friendly store assistant mutters games aren’t really our thing” before leading us over to the rather neglected games section.

360 is dismissed straight away, due to its controller being ‘horrible’, and once more PSP is highly recommended – largely for its multimedia functionality. Wii is described as more of a gimmick” and doesn’t have anything else to offer other than the tennis game”, whilst DS is largely for kiddy and mind games”.

There is no doubting the store assistant’s favourite: PS3 is described as the daddy”, but stock is only coming in drips and drabs”. There is also a noticeably strange selection of games on the shelves – a variety of ancient PS2 games, with a smattering of new releases.

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