The high street has been suffering recently and the recession has only sped up what had been already happening. Dixons and to a lesser degree Jessops highlight the problem well. Canny consumers have used their stores to test out potential purchases and then hopped on to a computer and bought the products online for a massive discount.
This has hit gaming stores too. Why pay £40 for a new release in GAME or HMV (a store which is still selling Marvel vs Capcom 3 for £42.99) when you can pre-order it online, and often get it the day before release for a tenner less? And with some stores passing off second hand releases as new, you’re often safer buying online.
Virgin/Zavvi’s exit from the high street a few years ago was a real watershed. Ignoring independents, there are now only a handful of retailers on the streets, and everyone forgets that Blockbusters sells games anyway.
So what’s the future? GAME certainly seem to have decided that the future will involve stocking mostly 2nd hand games and the chart/new releases. Their trade ins have always been parlous but the increasing use of “pay a fiver if you trade in another brand new release” offers has meant their pube encrusted stock of second hand games contains a lot of newer titles. And lets not beat about the bush, the best margin is in second hand titles. The newer titles are sold for a couple of quid less than new copies, and the typical purchase price to GAME is massively below the wholesale price of a new title.
It’s obviously a good idea, as HMV recently launched their Replay trade in scheme and Blockbusters currently have “WE BUY GAMES FOR CASH” emblazoned across their window.