UK games retailer GAME – the only dedicated store of its kind on British high streets these days and certainly the only store prepared to accept socks as payment – has said that it "intends to close" 40 stores in what it is branding a "rationalisation programme".
The chain – which has weathered quite a few bumpy periods over the past decade and is now owned by Sports Direct, along with its Belong sub-chain – has already served notice on 27 stores, including shops in Mansfield, Canterbury, Watford, Glasgow Fort, Leicester, Derby, Norwich Chapelfield, Lakeside, Bexleyheath and Carmarthen (it's worth noting that in some cases, like Leicester, GAME is shutting one of two stores already in that location). The retailer has said that it will serve notice on "additional sites" in the near future.
Confusingly, a statement issued yesterday alongside the notice appears to suggest that some of the stores could be saved from the axe:
We are working closely with landlords throughout the UK to ensure that we do not have to vacate the 40 locations which could lead to a number of job losses. However, we are facing a challenging retail market and GAME with its extensive retail footprint, needs to restructure and landlords need to work with us in setting realistic, fair rents.
Back in July of last year, GAME's parent company Sports Direct expressed deep concern about the business' ability to survive the next few years in games retail (thanks, Eurogamer):
To get the GAME retail and Belong concepts right will also require a higher degree of flexibility than has proven possible under the current collaboration agreement. In a challenged market, the collaboration agreement simply does not go far enough to address the issues GAME faces as a standalone business.
The structural and escalating shift to digital gaming and game streaming will have a significant impact on physical games retailers. The retail market is littered with examples of businesses that failed to adapt quickly enough to changing consumer demands. Sports Direct believes that GAME needs to diversify and future-proof its product mix if it is to keep up with technological developments and ensure that it does not become irrelevant to customers.
GAME went into administration back in 2012, with OpCapita buying the company out of administration in the same year. The company rallied over the next few years, with Sports Direct eventually becoming the owner of the firm with a £52 million takeover in June 2019.
GAME's action follows the news that GameStop subsidiary EG Games is closing 19 stores in Australia.