Wednesday, February 22, 2012

An open letter to GAME.

Dear GAME,

How did that PS Vita launch go, then? Good? Did you sell as many as you hoped to? Never mind the console, though, how about the games themselves? After all, they are your true stock in trade. I hope that everyone queueing at midnight managed to get their hands on whatever they wanted. Like, for example, Lumines.

Owait. They couldn't get Lumines, could they? Why was this again? Ah, I remember. Because you weren't stocking it. Along with every other Ubisoft title, for the reason that you can no longer get credit insurance.

Now, forgive me for thinking it, but doesn't that kind of thing normally mean that you owe money already? Ubisoft are clearly worried that they won't be able to get their money back for the stock, and are therefore looking after their own interests. Which is a wise move, to be honest. And, the lack of The Last Story, on top of the lack of Tekken 3D last week ... it's not looking good, is it?

But, it doesn't have to be this way.


Who am I? Well, from your point of view I'm just a gamer. Admittedly, I don't have any business degree, or any marketing qualifications, or any of that stuff that all your executives have. Well, what good have they done for you, in all honesty? They've gotten you into a boatload of trouble.

Who else am I? This is the part that you should listen to. I am an EX-customer. There once was a time when I would go shopping and smile the second I noticed a GAME store. I would head straight to it. These days? I rarely even bother, and when I do it is just to check out if there are any bargains on the shelves.

In 2011, I spent well over £1000 pounds on videogames. I would say that no more than £50 of that was at GAME. What the hell have you done so wrong?

1.) Price. You are too expensive. By a long shot. When I can walk less than 2 minutes from your store to a nearby competitor and pay £34.99 for Mario Kart 7 that you are selling at £37.99, you are CLEARLY doing it wrong. When I can then go and get it from a non-specialist for £32.99, you are massively out of touch. And when I can order the damn thing online for £29.99, your price no longer looks uncompetitive. It just looks like you are trying to rip me off.

2.) Pre-owned. Just STOP, already! I get that you make most of your profit this way, and I totally understand that if you don't ask then you won't get. But, instead of pushing staff to remind me at every sodding opportunity that I can sell my games back to you, just allow them to use some common sense? When I walk in purely to buy a DS stylus, and that is literally all I go to the counter with, the guy who then asks me "And do you have any games to trade in today?" is doing nothing to create additional value, and is instead just pissing me off.

Further to this, the prices are RIDICULOUS. You charge too much, along with not offering enough. When I am offered £21 for three titles that are on your shelves at £62, I would have to be an idiot to accept that. And I'm not an idiot.


3.) Pre-owned. Yes, I know this looks like point 2, but this is another aspect of the obsession with pre-owned. And that is WHY THE HELL is two-thirds of the store devoted to games that I, as an obsessive gamer, will have bought already if I was even remotely interested in them? We don't need those boxes littering the store, this is 2012. Some form of electronic catalogue thingy like those wonderful ones at Argos would be more than adequate. In fact, we don't need any boxes at all showing on the shelves, if you think about it. All that space could be put to much better use, by using it to make my shopping experience enjoyable, instead of having to squeeze past people in the vague hopes of avoiding the third staff member to ask me "Can I help you today?"

4.) Stock. You never bloody have any! Sure, if I want to buy FIFA 09 I have no problems finding it. But when I wanted Dead Island? Apparently the shortage (that only affected specialist videogame retailers, by the way) meant that you felt that you could justify putting the sticker price up by £8.

Let's look at those three points again. GAME, you want me to pay £8 more for a title than I need to. I am highly unlikely to do that. However, I might well pay £5 more if that meant getting it NOW, and was able to walk into your shop without being molested. And, being able to talk to the staff in some meaningful way about games would also be nice. I still shudder at the memory of walking into a store many years ago, when you were actually still respectable, to try and buy the Shadows of Luclin expansion for EverQuest. The staff in there had not only no idea when it was released (which was, that very day), but they had not even heard of EverQuest itself. EVERQUEST! At the time, it was far and away the most successful MMO. Things have not improved much at all over the years. The manager at my local Gamestation is a really top bloke, he KNOWS HIS SHIT wehn it comes to games. To this day, I have NEVER had a conversation with anyone in a GAME that seems to have the first clue about anything other than whatever they are being asked to shove down our throats this week.

You have the power to save yourself in your hands. First of all, don't fear technology. Embrace it. We are people who play games, we already know everything about the internet. Telling me when I am actually in the queue for GTA IV that without the text message you sent me, which was on the phone I lost 2 days earlier, you had no other way of finding out if I had pre-ordered DESPITE this information apparently being connected to my loyalty card makes zero sense. "We can call head office in the morning." Yeah, what use is THAT to me who was only there at midnight because I would be at work when you open in the morning? Also, losing that sale by not just letting me in anyway was a stupid move, because all I did was drive off to Tesco where I paid £2 less.

It's this arrogance that we hate, GAME. We, the people who buy the games and MADE YOU THE MARKET LEADERS before you decided to shower us with such utter contempt. Why don't you match online prices in-store? What possible gain does this give you? Somebody sees a game on the website at £29.99, walks into the store and is asked to pay £39.99 will walk away with one thought in mind. "I'll not bother going in there again." Staff are being told to tell customers to not shop there. INSANITY!

Of course, you don't need to listen to me. After all, you can just keep on blindly ignoring this free advice from the people who actually spend money on this hobby. Keep on targeting those like my sister, who spent less than £100 total last year. Or, my in-laws, who were actually ready to pay £25 for a DS game pre-owned that I then found online for half that price brand-new. That £125 is, apparently, a more worthy amount than my £1300.

Look, the ball is now in your court. I know I am not the only one who has told you this stuff. Some of your shop staff do actually listen to the customers, and hate the decisions that they have been forced to carry out. Some of them don't want to put the pre-owned copies in amongst the brand-new ones. Some of them recognised that GAME was heading for this trouble a long time ago.

GAME, it's over to you.



1 comment:

  1. And bizzarely the Gamestation in town has just closed, leaving only GAME remaining.