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Retail

GAME: "We can't stock absolutely everything"

Wed 22 Feb 2012 1:17pm GMT / 8:17am EST / 5:17am PST
BusinessRetail

Retailer insists recent stocking problems are "the exception, not the rule"

Specialist retailer GAME has said that it's unable to stock all new releases, in part due to shelf space in stores.

Yesterday it was revealed that the retailer would not be stocking any of Ubisoft's PlayStation Vita games at launch, and it also cancelled pre-orders for the Special Edition of Wii game The Last Story days before release.

The company is negotiation releases on a case-by-case basis with games publishers, following a troubled year in which it expects to make an 18 million loss.

But GAME's marketing director Anna-Marie Mason told our sister site Eurogamer.net that "there's no one specific catch-all reason" why the retailer isn't able to offer new releases to customers.

"With regards to the Ubisoft titles, that is one moment in time. It doesn't mean to say we won't have that title or that part of our proposition on an on-going basis.

"We can't stock absolutely everything. That's just not possible."

"The same applies in a rational way to our online business," she added. "There isn't a definitive reason why we haven't been able to stock those two things most recently. But that may well change."

Last week the store did not have copies of Namco's Tekken 3D Prime Edition, meaning it was not available on sale at over 350 UK stores. The game did not chart in the official UK sales charts as a result.

Mason also said that consumers who place pre-orders shouldn't lose faith in the retailer, as recent situations are exceptions and not an indication of forthcoming problems with other titles.

"We know our customers really well. Most of them have a really long history with us, and they know as a business we are absolutely committed to giving the best possible range as much of the time as we possibly can.

"The instances we've had in the last couple of weeks are absolutely the exception, not the rule."

26 Comments

Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters

528 788 1.5
"in part due to shelf space in stores."

Funny, they've got plenty of room to devote three quarters of their stores to pre-owned games, though.

Posted:2 years ago

#1

John Bye Senior Game Designer, Future Games of London

481 453 0.9
Exactly. Our local GAME didn't even have any new copies of Skyrim in stock last time we were there, and that's a game that's been in the top ten constantly for a couple of months now. They had plenty of used copies to foist off on people though, charging only 2 or 3 less than a new copy would have cost from them, if they'd had any (and slightly more than you'd pay for a new copy from some web stores).

If they're not even able to fulfill pre-orders (which I believe they take a deposit for?), then the writing's really on the wall for them.

Posted:2 years ago

#2
Call me bias but all the London Game stores do NOT stock all the latest titles, but there are disproportionate stocks of...guess what "pre owned games" or lots of empty placed boxes (sounds like there is capacity for sure - but its all window dressing)

Posted:2 years ago

#3

Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.

2,270 2,439 1.1
I don't know if GAME does the same thing as GameStop does here in the US but GameStop's tend to have the smallest store footprint of any store in a shopping mall/center. Not only are the games crammed in there but so are people.

And I feel they do this on purpose to reduce new game shelf life in favor of used games. Little space for New titles means that titles even just a few weeks old must be removed from shelves to make space for newer New titles. And with new consoles to add to the shelf space, instead of sacrificing used games, they sacrifice space for new games.

It's also why (rather, one of many reasons) I refuse to shop there.

Posted:2 years ago

#4

Matt Martin Editor, GamesIndustry.biz

173 113 0.7
If the only specialist retailer in the UK can't stock all the new releases, who can? This is a terrible situation and will only speed the decline of the console business in the region.

Posted:2 years ago

#5

Joshua Rose Executive Producer / Lead Designer, Storm Eagle Studios

191 81 0.4
As a previous manager of a GameStop, I can confirm your comment. My store did the most business in my entire District, and we had games shoved EVERYWHERE. It got to the point where we would have to take out 20 preowned copies of a game, shrinkwrap them together into a brick, and put them in the back for storage! And even that was only done to make room for more used games.

Counterspace was almost nonexistant. We'd have the front counter filled with a ton of marketing gimmicks that never really worked, then the area behind the counter was maybe 4 foot wide, then a foot wide space on the back counter, then the massive glass shelves to stock the new releases. Usually the space between the counters was filled with new packages (of which we'd typically recieve about 10 a day), ranging from new release titles, to boxes upon boxes of used games being transfered from one store inventory to another, yet for some reason we never got to send out our overstock of used games that people had stopped caring about two years ago.

And I'm sure we've all had to deal with the "would you like to reserve a game?" or the even more annoying "would you like to get a subscription to Game Informer magazine?" I personally am ashamed for having been one of those people that said that over a hundred times a day... I remember once I got berated by my District Manager for having low sub and reserve numbers. They'd have intra store contests to see who could get the most reserves and subs in a week long period. I undersand the need to get a return customer, but at what point is it okay to lie to a customer about the potential availability of a game on release day unless you put $5 down to reserve a copy? And yes I can confirm that it's an outright lie, because not once in the MANY MANY new release days (Halo 3 comes to mind) were we ever out of stock on anything.

That 5 bucks is a pack of cigarettes or gas money!!! How's that person supposed to come back if they're at home having a huge nic fit, or can't put gas in their car?!?!

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Joshua Rose on 22nd February 2012 2:53pm

Posted:2 years ago

#6
a full shelf of empty boxes with call of duty Elite inlays is space well-used...

Posted:2 years ago

#7

Graham Simpson Tea boy, Collins Stewart

219 7 0.0
It's a strange industry. Some much hate for games developers (such as ATVI) and retailers (Game/Gamestop). Bizarre. You'd think everyone wants the games industry to fail. I'm not sure what this nirvana games industry alternative everyone thinks is out there but the grass is not always greener...

Posted:2 years ago

#8

Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.

2,270 2,439 1.1
Graham, the video game industry makes far more money than say the book industry (yes, that's a sad fact but a topic for another day). So why are book stores so nicely spaced, open and accommodating? No pushy sales clerks, no buy used over new, etc....compared to video game stores?

Do you go a clothing retailer and get pushed by sales associates to buy on brand X? Or are the clothes so densely packed in that you and the other customers are bumping into each other just trying to move around the store?

Look at FRY or other movie/CD retailers. Big stores, open spaces, disc cases laying flat, not spine out.

Why do we have such animosity for specialty games retailers? Just shop for anything else and you'll see the difference.

Posted:2 years ago

#9

Bill Burnell Senior Editor for Albatross Revue

5 0 0.0
Went into my local GAME last week and as far as Xbox 360 space went it was about 70:30 in favour of second-hand. the really telling thing I thought was that the second-hand area was about 50% empty . . .

Posted:2 years ago

#10
You know , London is ripe for the launch of one uber geek store for games and related culture. It could have games from the far east, meets west and all the related merchandise that together lend towards a weird by wonderful heady mix of geekdom games, where old arcade machines serve as bookshelf stops and you get to pose with your latest Fem sheppard or have a multiplayer fest dressed in your favourite cosplay costume...

Normaly, that would just work only in Japan but i reckon, the time is ripe!
As the famous saying goes "show me the money!"

Posted:2 years ago

#11

Peter Caddock Head of New Technologies, Studio Liddell Ltd

7 0 0.0
All this does is push more developers an publishers into the realm of DLC and as more 'App Store' equivalents come online and into the general publics mindset there may come a moment soon when it completely flips and then shops like Game will disappear from the high street.

I have no solution for shops like Game (which I do enjoy shopping in btw) but it does seem inevitable, they must change and adapt or be lost to Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury's etc - quite sad really.

Posted:2 years ago

#12

Iain McNulty Software / Game Developer, Yanxen

34 39 1.1
I am calling this karma. Remember when GAME refused to stock Blur on their shop shelves for weeks, and when they did in the end priced it up higher than RRP? At the time it was a deliberate practically blackmail tactic against the publisher Activision after their dispute with them after they would not buy back copies of Modern Warfare 2 after GAME over-stocked them. Because of that, Blur didn't get anywhere as many sales as it could have.

And now look what is happening, GAME are making lame excuse after lame excuse for their not being able to accomodate the needs of consumers. I seem to remember them saying a few weeks ago that all the big titles of that week would be going on shop shelves and online, even after they took many of the big games off the list both in stores and online.

I guess what makes this hilarious is that one of their staff at the Liverpool Clayton Square store tried to tell me that after Metal Gear Solid HD Collection was withdrawn from going on sale at GAME that it was not going on sale anywhere, using the justification of "we are the UKs biggest games retailer, if we aren't selling it then nowhere else will be, so it has been delayed". Weirdly enough, most other retailers were selling it the next day. Odd, eh?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Iain McNulty on 22nd February 2012 4:56pm

Posted:2 years ago

#13

Terence Gage Freelance writer

1,288 120 0.1
Sounds like a good idea Chee - like your comment a few weeks ago about the 'Forbidden Planet for games'. I think the idea of a small chain of stores (or single store, to begin with) which revel in uber-geekery is a great one, and the sort of place I'd love to check out. It would be especially cool if they did stuff like multiplayer competition events, welcomed cosplay and the like, got quirky and unique memorabilia in stock and generally embraced the non-mainstream side of gaming. I believe enough people would be enthusiastic enough about such a venture that it would tap into a lot of gamers' culture and lifestyle. I would definitely go to a place like that for a midnight launch :)

Posted:2 years ago

#14

Joshua Rose Executive Producer / Lead Designer, Storm Eagle Studios

191 81 0.4
I keep reading stories everywhere saying B&M sales will be overtaken by digital within ten years. It's situations like this that push that date forward. :)

Posted:2 years ago

#15

Real Bergeron Online Sales, DimensionGames.com

1 0 0.0
If retail stores like GAME would bypass destributors and make more that 3$-8$ on brand new games they wouldn't have to concentrate on used games to survive. Imagine how hard it is to stock thousands of dollars worth of games to make a few dollars that only pays for rent.

Posted:2 years ago

#16

Ahmed Sharif Software Development Engineer in Test (R&D), Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

14 6 0.4
GAME since time pass do not stock certain games due to so-called "space constraints", but that isn't always the case.

Being a big fan of Bandai Namco titles and other games originating from eastern development studios, I've always searched retail stores first for purchases. However, and this is often on International/European release, when I inquire about game 'X' I often receive a "we're not stocking game 'X' due to limited space on our shelves." This is not always the case.

GAME will either stock less of or completely ignore certain titles which they think won't be as "big" as others - which is understandable from a business perspective, but to say its due to lack of 'shelf space' is quite far from the truth. And as many others have pointed out, as long as GAME continue to eat-up shelf-space with pre-owned titles, the shelf-excuse doesn't stand up to public perspective.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Ahmed Sharif on 22nd February 2012 7:48pm

Posted:2 years ago

#17

Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.

2,270 2,439 1.1
Ahmed, that sounds to me exactly like a validation of the shelf space issue.

Game X may not be a huge seller. So shelf space versus expected sales = no stock.

Used game X is a bigger profit margin than New game X. So shelf space used versus shelf space new = no stock.

If they had a larger store footprint, this would not an issue to consider at all.

Posted:2 years ago

#18

Adam Campbell Associate Producer, Miniclip Ltd

1,183 975 0.8
The Internet can and there lies the problem...

Posted:2 years ago

#19

Tony Johns

520 12 0.0
I guess that GAME would be the last place I Pre-order from if games in Australia don't come out at GAME when I know of two EB Games shops in my local area as well as a JB HiFi that also sells games.

All of this, is reason why if GAME wants my money, they should stock the pre-ordered games I paid $20 of my cash for and if they said that they suddenly could not get it in all because of higher management, I would swiftly stop pre-ordering new games at GAME, even though I do sometimes check in the store to see if I could find a real gem in the cluster of second hand Games.

Posted:2 years ago

#20

Tony Johns

520 12 0.0
I would also love a otaku based gaming store. Sadly the only stores like that are in Melbourne, a few hours drive away from my home town.

And even then I rarely go to Melbourne to see if they are still around.

I do see some small anime stores with tones of stuff to collect, if I had the money to get them that is.

Posted:2 years ago

#21

g Game Designer

5 0 0.0
I don't know who, but someone is clearly confusing "Stock Space" with in-store shelf space.

Also in the case of shelf space in the stores IMO it's not an issue of "New" vs. "Pre-owned" but having deals with publishers (or something like that) requiring them to have a whole wall filled with only Call of Duty or whatever the latest popular game is. Also maybe pre-orders (game not actually being in STOCK) shouldn't need to have all that shelf space occupied by big empty boxes.

Posted:2 years ago

#22

Ahmed Sharif Software Development Engineer in Test (R&D), Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

14 6 0.4
@Jimmy, I understand your argument. But saying that "we don't stock game X because it won't sell as well versus game Y" is different to "we don't stock game X because there is no shelf space."

True, a games sale potential might directly effect towards not attaining shelving space, but both game X and Y will sell, and in turn make a turnover, just one more than the other. Even if a specific store was physically 'given' more shelf space, they would still dedicate this to the game(s) with higher selling potential.

So I guess what I'm saying is, if Ubisoft's PSVita title possessed similar success levels to Activision's Call of Duty series, then GAME would undoubtedly /make/ shelf space for Ubisoft's title. But to say that there is 'zero' shelving space is not the same and not the case, because even if there was it would likely be dedicated to other titles.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Ahmed Sharif on 23rd February 2012 8:44pm

Posted:2 years ago

#23

Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.

2,270 2,439 1.1
Ahmed, sure, they'd allocate space based on sales potential but with more space overall, that barrier of required sales would be much lower therefore offering more titles on their shelves.

Lets looks at it mathematically.

1,000 sq foot store. 100 copies of CoD + 0 copies of game they won't stock because it doesn't sell like CoD.

5,000 sq foot store. 300 copies of CoD + a few copies of game they can now stock without sacrificing CoD shelf space.

Now they are selling more of both, have better relations with small publishers, ample room for patrons and less negative press over asinine 'we won't stock game X' policies.

Posted:2 years ago

#24
@ Jimmy

They would also have 5 times the rent and commercial rates to be paid (the biggest running cost of retail) Higher staffing costs, higher light and heat costs etc. Add to that the cash required to kit out the larger store and more importantly fill it with stock. Will those extra costs be recouped with the extra sales ?

It's not as simple as you make out.

Posted:2 years ago

#25
I hate game, I normally go to an awesome little shop just of tottenham court road called Game Focus.
One particular encounter with one of the staff at GAME was when I went to buy MGS4, the girl working there asked if I wanted it on the 360.

Posted:2 years ago

#26

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