It was announced yesterday that Game have been bought, the remaining stores should now stay open and the jobs that there are should be safe. The CEO gave a statement saying that it should give the company some breathing space and the time that they need to rethink their strategy. But is there really much hope for them?
Whatever your opinion of Game it is hard to argue that they don't do most things right. They stock a good selection of games and cover the mainstream well. They are priced incredibly competitively and this is added to by a fantastic reward card scheme that doesn't cost the customer any money, unlike other such schemes at stores such as HMV. So here it seems there is little that can change and we can expect that side of the store to stay largely the same. So what about other areas?
A large part of the problem comes from gaming's gradual but noticeable transition away from physical media and into digital media. Xbox Live Arcade and the PS store are growing in popularity and ever more games are being released on them. They don't just offer smaller scale games they also offer full retail games and it is hard for a shop like Game to gain ground here. Although Game stock cards with codes on them to download these games and buy points for them who really uses this? It just creates an unnecessary middle man, it would be easier to just buy the game from the console rather than go into a shop, buy a card, then go back home and put a code into your console.
The same problem exists with smartphone and tablet based gaming. Although Game stock app store gift cards there is little sense in buying them as anything other than presents. It is easiest to just spend the money on the app store than it is to go and buy the card from Game.
Another issue some people have is that they only stock mainstream games but this is a no brainer. If they stocked lesser known games they wouldn't sell them as easily and would lose money, it makes more sense to stock a game like Modern Warfare 3 than it does to stock something like Tales of the Abyss.
On top of this there is just about every effort being made by developers to crush the used game market. The rise of the online pass has seen pre-owned games sales plummet and if the rumours surrounding the next Xbox and PlayStation are true then things will only get worse and Game will find themselves losing a large chunk of their sales.
I am pleased that Game are, for the meantime, in a safe place because I love the store and fully intend on going back to them now that they are staying open but it seems hard to imagine that their being bought will result in anything other than a prolonged and frankly agonising death.