Business News HMV Timeline Retail

Game on the brink

By | Published on Tuesday 13 March 2012


More doom and gloom for entertainment retail now, though this one won’t directly impact on CD sales, and indeed could provide an extra little boost for flagging music etc seller HMV if it results in another competitor departing the high street.

Video games seller Game has admitted it’s desperately trying to find a buyer amidst slumping sales, and with a big rent bill looming later this month. So much so, some now expect the company to soon go into administration. Already the firm’s woes are being added to by key publishers denying it certain big new releases, them fearing product could get caught up in the company’s possible collapse.

Some speculated that US-owned rival GameStop might move to acquire the UK-based Game, but others are saying that is now unlikely, or if it does that it’ll likely wait to buy the firm out of administration on more favourable terms.

The publicly listed Game continues to talk to its suppliers and money lenders – led by the state-controlled Royal Bank Of Scotland (which seems to be propping up the entire high street at the moment, including HMV) – but the company’s board told investors yesterday: “It is uncertain whether any of the solutions currently being explored by the board will be successful or will result in any value being attributed to the shares of the company”.

As with music and movies, specialist gaming retailers on the high street have been facing stiff competition from the supermarkets, online mail order sites and digital distributors, and while the slump in high street sales took a little longer to fully occur than with CDs, the last eighteen months have been especially tricky. HMV too has admitted its gaming sales have been particularly disappointing of late.

It’s interesting that, while the record companies and DVD distributors have rallied around HMV, the games publishers seem to be less interested in ensuring the survival of their high street presence, and indeed they were the one group of suppliers not telling the world how much they loved His Masters Voice as they were renegotiating loan terms with their bankers last year. And the same publishers don’t seem that keen to help Game now either. Presumably they have traditionally been less reliant on the casual consumer who inadvertently buys a release while killing time in a high street store.