Upper-management at UK retailer GAME will be enjoying Christmas about as much as Louis Van Gaal, as the company's share prices have plummeted by a disastrous 34 per cent today. The decline comes after the chain announced that its UK revenue was down 11.4 per cent compared to the same 21 week period leading up to 19th December in 2014 – a not insignificant amount.
With the PlayStation 4 smashing sales records and the Xbox One performing positively in Britain, it's quite a surprise, but GAME is blaming lower than expected sales of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, as well as slow adoption of new-gen software. "The switch over from the older gaming formats to PS4 and Xbox One software has impacted profitability across the UK market," said gaffer Martyn Gibbs.
GAME also cited a drop in high street footfall throughout December as another reason for the decline. This, however, comes off the back of what was, apparently, the biggest ever Black Friday for the gaming industry in the UK. As such, while the retailer's reasoning seems sound on paper, we reckon that there's probably a bigger story at play here.
For starters, more and more people are opting for the convenience of web-based shopping, and while GAME does have an online presence, its prices rarely compete with those available on Amazon. And in terms of physical stores, supermarkets regularly undercut specialist retailers these days – especially when it comes to the biggest and most popular games.
There's a danger in that, of course: Tesco may be all too happy to lend shelf space to Call of Duty: Black Ops III, but it's not going to actively promote titles like Dragon Quest Heroes. But with all of these games now available on-demand from the PlayStation Store, it's certainly easy to see how GAME's bottom line could be impacted – even if Sony's digital prices aren't great.
This all comes at an awkward time really, as the PlayStation maker will be relying on specialist retailers like GAME to push virtual reality next year. With the company having only just emerged from administration, it looks like it has a second storm to weather. The question is: would you miss the UK chain if it snuffed it for good this time?