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
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?