With the news that GAME Group is in administration and closing hundreds of its GAME and Gamestation stores, we debate whether we should mourn the loss of this high street giant or forget all about it and buy things cheaper elsewhere?
[FHM’s sympathies go out to staff and customers of GAME affected by the administration. The viewpoints below are for the purposes of entertainment and debate only.]
While you read, listen to this:
LONG LIVE THE HIGH STREET
By Grant Howitt, @gshowitt
I can't remember the name of my childhood gaming store – it probably had the word “zone” in there, as all gaming shops had to in the late nineties by law – but it was pretty special. It was where I got Goldeneye 007 for my 12th birthday. It was where I discovered Gunstar Heroes, Zombies Ate My Neighbours!, and Earthworm Jim.
How many of you have fond memories of unearthing a hidden gem on Amazon? Or joyfully flicking through the screens of Play.com and carefully choosing, after much consideration, which publisher deserves your hard-earned cash? Not many, I'd bet.
Visiting GAME (or Gamestation), back before all the closures, brought back memories. The staff were not only knowledgeable and passionate about their product, but willing - and able! - to talk about it at length.
You can argue that the download/streaming business model is making shops increasingly obsolete, and that ordering games online – even physical copies – is more convenient than popping down to the town centre. And true, high street sales dropped 0.8% in the last month alone. And more and more high street shops are staying empty. GAME was forced to shut because it engaged a tech-savvy consumer base with a defunct business model.
But I hope that in the wake of the closures, we can see a return to smaller shops selling older titles and more esoteric gaming-related goods. There's a reason that tea-rooms still exist when we all own a kettle.
EVOLVE OR DIE
By Rob McGarr, @robmcgarr
Yes, it's sad. The only people who see a shop struggling and think "Good. Fuck you, with your perfectly adequate customer service and entirely reasonable returns policy" are the kind of morons who delight in seeing a dead badger at the side of the road.
But it was inevitable.
Most customers can't afford to pay an extra £10 to buy something in store "just because it's nicer". If you buy a game every fortnight, and get them online for £30 instead of £40 in store, you'll be able to buy nearly nine extra games a year, all of which will be delivered to your home on or before the day of release.
For many gamers, rushing into the shop straight after school, savings in hand, nervously scanning the shelves for the game you want is as much a part of gaming as games on cassettes and controller cables. These shops evoke strong memories, but that alone isn’t enough to justify their existence. I can remember tripping over cables and dragging consoles to their floory doom, but I prefer the airy freedom of wireless pads, just like I can recall ringing 118118 or flicking through a Yellow Pages I could barely lift whenever I needed to get a telephone number, but it doesn’t stop me using Google.
Simple economics dictate that online retailers – with their immediate dispatch, endless stock, 24-hour service and lack of need for costly retail space – will beat shops every day of the week (including Sundays).
Read the FHM Debate on Illegal Downloading.