Some will say that the image with this OpEd – which also adorns our cover this week – is too much, too soon.
But even after a dramatic Wednesday that saw a buyer officially enter the frame and rumours mount that another US firm is sniffing around… I think we all know that by this point the GAME we knew is pretty much on the way out.
The stores may remain in some way post-acquisition, the brand might even survive administration, but the retail power is fading.
It’s not able to offer the range of new games it once was. Each time a publisher confirms that its next upcoming game won’t be at GAME, it’s another nail in the coffin. Not a coffin containing GAME’s corpse, but one containing its drive.
So yes, GAME the power-house has all but gone. While this story has continued to twist and contort in front of our eyes on MCVuk.com, it’s sometimes been hard not to write about GAME in the past tense.
Many have asked me: could its problems have been avoided?
And others have said to me that, yes, they could have.
If only GAME stocked more variety and more PC games (debatable).
If only GAME hadn’t demanded games be held from Steam (never confirmed that it did).
If only GAME hadn’t played so hard on margins (a relative topic, if ever there was one).
"If only GAME had listened to us!"
But hindsight’s no good here. Schadenfreude is just vicious.
Why didn’t those ‘wise’ voices push harder to warn the firm? And, by all means, please hurry to share your astounding insight with the other firms currently at the top of their game and primed to fall far should circumstances turn against them.
We all know the problem with GAME’s business was the financials. Nine months of debt balanced out by three months of profit every year is not sustainable as the big hits grew while the rest just fell away.
Word is that the Government made it very clear to RBS (GAME’s bank, and owned by HM Treasury, remember) that this retailer must be given as much flexibility as possible. Because the last thing this country needs is another growing void in the High Street and another suffocating vacuum in the trade landscape.
Even such lofty wishes haven’t helped here.
The good news is, many retailers and publishers (as you can see in our special selection of stories this morning – full list below) are either prepared for the worst or willing to welcome a more specialised specialist. I bet they’ll even welcome a new GAME, once it is reborn through new owners.
Challenging times. But at least the industry overall is living to fight another day.
From its strategy-update in February 2011 to today’s issues
Independent retailers report their best ever week
Codemasters, 1C and Konami discuss the situation at GAME
But competitors are fearful for the future of games retail