The High Price Game Will Pay For Mass Effect 3 Stock

I decided to wander into my local Game store today, just to see what was left on the shelves amid the rumours of empty displays and desperate staff. What I found wasn’t far from that, sadly. The majority of ‘stock’ in-store was either pre-owned or pre-paid code cards to download content.

What was even more surprising was the comment from a staff member, stating that if I was to pick up Mass Effect 3 in another store, that Game would offer me £35 trade credit for the game.

Which got me thinking.

See, I work in another high street retailer, and we will be selling Mass Effect 3. In fact, with staff discount on many new release titles retailing at £39.99 being £6, I could feasibly (and I say this not knowing if staff discount will be restricted on Mass Effect 3, some titles are bought with a very narrow profit margin, and as such the company won’t commit financial suicide just to save it’s staff a few pennies, rightly so) buy a copy and make a £1 ‘profit’.

But what does Game gain?

The short, and obvious answer is stock of one of the biggest games of the quarter.

But at what cost?

Obviously having stock of a game as big as Mass Effect 3 is essential, but if they have to sell the game for £40 to guarantee a bit of money back, they will be up against other retailers who are likely to be selling it new at that price point. Then factor in the inevitable ‘First Owner’ code in the box – this is EA after all – and you have a product that is neither competitively priced, or complete, but then if someone goes into their local store looking to buy the game then they can get something, rather than walk away grumbling. There are still plenty of saps who aren’t aware of the existence of ‘First Owner’ codes, and as such will think that they got a good deal. Ultimately I fear that Game will end up with only a couple of copies of the game early enough for it to have any real impact.

Going back to my original post I noted the higher than usual prices on a lot of older pre-owned games. Given that over 50% of the in-store space was dedicated to second hand games I was surprised that the prices weren’t as competitive as they could have been, in fact some prices were more costly than the same title on the Game website. This would suggest one of two possiblities:

1) The company is raising prices on bigger games to generate higher revenue on existing stock

or

2) The company is unable to drop the prices any lower, in an effort to hit revenue targets.

This, when coupled with the price point on Mass Effect 3 would suggest that Game might push for the often usual £42.99 pre-owned price point.

Of course this is mere speculation, but I will be interested to see how many people will be buying the game from Game, when the only product on offer is that random traded-in copy. Will the company get trade in copies early on in the release window in the first place? Time will tell.

With the news now breaking that Asura’s Wrath and Street Fighter X Tekken (Both Capcom titles) not being stocked as ‘New Retail’, no doubt there will be similar high buy-back prices in place on these titles, it could be that Game could move to be trade only. But could it ever survive on our old games? Should it?

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4 thoughts on “The High Price Game Will Pay For Mass Effect 3 Stock

  1. Also, if this slippery slide is going to get worse for GAME as it has in the last week with Mario Party 9 and others cancelled that “trade credit” is diminished.

    I’m sceptical about pre-owned. In GAME’s last annual report pre-owned made up 20% of their income. I’ve never found a decent game in GAME’s preowned section. I have a list of stuff on my all time to buy list and in three or four years of looking none of the critically acclaimed games have been stocked.

    Go down the road to CEX though and the choice (in my area) is amazing. It’s the nearest to a comprehensive game shop and you can even pick up (shock, horror) gamecube games. Its probably because only dicks trade their games into GAME to get store credit to play the next new game for a week before trading it in. Hence why you rarely get good games. With CEX people are pawning their lives away so the choice is a bit better.

    Gay kisses x x x x x

    1. Sadly I agree. The best place in the large town near me is Cash Converters, for similar reasons. Previous years saw Gamestation provide a bountiful supply of retro games and consoles, I once bought about fifty Speccy games in my local one for a fiver, but company policy saw all stores ship their retro stock to one or two key focal stores. This led to all traded items being processed and sent off immediately, cutting into the rather delicious world of the Gamestation Window display.

      With Game, as you say, most people are interested in the quick turn around trade, tempted further by Game’s persistent ‘Play for a Fiver’ buy-back promises, but all this achieves is stock of games that are easy to source, and as you say, those games are the ones you don’t go into a specialist retailer to purchase.

      The only time I ever bought ‘quality’ at Game was Ico for 99p in a clearance a couple of years ago. Other than that I tended to stick with Gamestation until they lost the soul somewhat. Now I shop at Blockbuster – the UK’s most ignored game retailer – and my two local indie stores, who do occasionally have the odd curio in stock – recently I picked up the Gameboy add-on for the Gamecube and a bunch of games for £15.

      Pre-owned works best for the customer when the price is VERY low, but this in turn pushes down that buy back price, and I can’t think of any right minded fool who would trade in a great game for a couple of quid, perhaps the future is in stores like CEX. Let’s just hope that the recession continues and energy bills keep rising. After all, I still don’t own Panzer Dragoon Saga, and I don’t mind some poor sap pawning his life away to buy more supermarket brand cider if that gap in my collection can be filled.

      Also, welcome to the site, thanks for the comment!

  2. Even as an industry outsider as I would consider myself and just looking at the company’s actions. It looks to me as though Game are clawing just as a fatally wounded animal would, trying to cling on to anything it can.
    Please somebody putt it out of its misery !!
    Game, you have had your time. If you can’t keep up then I think you should get out.

    1. Tis true Eddy, the thing is I don’t *want* Game to go under, but it’s behaviour as a retailer for the last decade has earned it some Karmic payback. Hostile tactics and reliance on exclusives only works when the money is there. Were there no recession Game would be riding high, but as things stand their core values are detrimental to their financial successes. People tire of being pressed at the counter for further pre-sales, add-ins and extras, especially when money is tight. What they should have done was explored an avenue to make their company open to the situation. Dropping their average retail price to £37.99 on all new releases (bar the obvious premium titles with £55 RRP price points) would have done a huge amount to change their fortunes.

      I’d be interested to see what would happen if GameStop did buy them out, given their failures in larger stores.

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