These are dark economic times. We are all aware of this. Pennies are pinched, bargains are raided and the high street is dying. For us gamers, that last bit is quite relevant. Right now we’re seeing the slow desolation of HMV, that despite it’s own saving by Hilco, is still falling apart with closing stores. Why, in the small commuter town where I live, the store is advertising the fact it is closing down. Prices are slashed, stock is limited. Even in a second life, it is dying.
But we’ve been through this before, and seen the other side. Game went close to the wire, with a brief period where the top gaming high street store was literally no more. But again, a saviour swooped in (OpCapita) and Game lived to fight another day! Thankfully, video gaming would be readily accessible to purchase in a store that didn’t horrify us with every day groceries.
With that said though, Game’s second dawn has been a dim one. If you’ve been into a Game store recently you’ll notice little change. The purple branding is still ever present, all your favourite games are still on display. Heck, even your reward card is accepted again. Brighter days, surely?
Take a closer look. No not at female video game character boobies! Cretin… look at the corners, where the numbers lie. That’s right, the prices. Despite flirting with financial death and criticisms of vast over-charging before they went under, Game haven’t learnt much of a lesson. In fact, there is now a regression.
Over the last few weeks, at the height of the Spring Season of gaming, I’ve popped my head in to have a look and tempt myself with the likes of Aliens: Colonial Marines (before the massive lashing it got), Crysis 3 & Assassin’s Creed III. All games I wouldn’t mind dabbling in, and all games that most gamers were waiting for. However they are blighted by a common problem in Game: the fact they are all priced at £45.
“Oli,” you’ll say to me, “that’s only a £5 hike from before! What’s the problem?”
How many of you have complained about spending £40 on a video game these days? How many of you can take that sort of chunk out of your bank balance for a Day 1 Purchase? And how many of you naturally wait for some sort of lowering of price before swooping in?
I thought so.
The truth is, before they went into administration, Game had to charge more to compete with online stores. So the steadfast pricing of £40, or even £43 in some cases was a sad shrug. However, now they’ve bounced back they’ve raised prices instead of attempting to compete with online sales. Naturally, there are reasons why, the likes of taxation and rising price of the industry being primary. But it still seems like a backwards step.
Even the so-called “bargains” and “offers” are shockingly stodgy. Instead of a half-price cut, you’re now seeing a fiver or tenner knocked off a game and presented to us as “cheap”. The issue with this is that a quick glance online will still find you the same game cheaper. Not only that, but some “sales” have been laughable.
So what’s the answer? Shop online would be the quick one, but that doesn’t help the likes of Game. I don’t work in marketing, so I couldn’t tell you anything about business plans or the somewhat. However I do “sell”, as it were, and my philosophy is to look at the long-term plan rather than the short-term. Yes, sell a game at a lower price may not make instant profits, but over time the prices will add up.
I don’t want to see Game die again, no-one does. But this sort of sales plan doesn’t make me want to buy from them either. £45 is too much in times when some people can barely afford to eat, and dare I say it, but it may mean that gaming is no longer a priority.
And what a dark world that would be.