Weekly Discussion: GAME and GameStation

Today I want to talk about the retail experience for gamers. See, whilst more and more game sales are shifting online, there are still those who chose to pick up their games in an actual store; they have people in and everything. Although there are two chains that dominate game sales on the high street, GAME and GameStation, they’re both owned by Game Group Plc. With that in mind you wouldn’t necessarily expect a radical difference between the two but, in my opinion, they’re fairly different outlets.

GAME seems to be geared towards the general public, people who only pick up a few games a year or are picking something up as a gift for someone else. Staff are dressed so they look approachable, and the stores seem to be bright and airy. Unfortunately, whilst they do present an air of helpfulness the knowledge base seems to be somewhat lacking.

[drop]For anyone who follows gaming news with any regularity it quickly becomes clear that GAME’s staff are more interested in selling than providing useful information to their customers. It would be unfair to accuse them of flat-out lying to customers, particularly without any evidence. However, if you happen to catch a conversation with another customer you do sometimes feel that staff aren’t quite clued up enough on the products they’re selling.


In contrast, GameStation is aiming at a completely different chunk of the market. They’re targeting those customers who buy games regularly, those who you could call “gamers” if you were so inclined (although I’m starting to dislike the word). The staff are still relatively friendly, it’s rare to find retail staff who are actively hostile. However, the stores are never as brightly lit, and I certainly wouldn’t call the general ambiance as airy or friendly as it is in GAME.

The big difference sits with the staff though. They seem, in general, to be drawn from the same demographics as the chain’s target market. Ideally, this is what you expect in any store. If you shop in a music store you want staff who are music fans, if you’re buying clothes you want someone who knows at least a little about fashion serving you. Why should it be any different for a game store?

Of course, my perception of the two retailers is based pretty much on my own experience, although a quick poll on Twitter seemed to back up my opinion in the general case. To be fair, my clear preference towards GameStation may be influenced by the fact my brother works there. However, I’ve been in a few stores scattered throughout the country and my experience has been fairly consistent.

There is, obviously, the fact that this whole discussion may be becoming redundant. With the significant growth of online retail and downloadable titles it seems probable that the GAME Group may further scale back their stores or even merge the two chains. Perhaps you’ll only be able to pick up games in supermarkets and HMV soon. Who knows?

Is your experience of retail game stores consistent with mine? Do you have a preference for where you shop? Do you even buy games in a store any more, or do they all come in the post? Of course, I’ve barely touched on the supermarket issue, so I’d be interested to see if you have any thoughts on that.



  1. I used to buy religiously at GAME about 8 years ago, getting my points on my loyalty card and being happy about it. Since then, the prices are way over priced, pre-owned is being pushed with high prices and the points are too little for what you get.
    Nowadays i shop online since they offer many game now for £15 or less after a month, or every now and again a rare low priced pre-owned game in GAME or a supermarket deal.

    • Same here with the loyalty card but i haven’t bought anything there for a few years now.
      Here in Ireland the supermarket chains don’t seem to have gotten as involved. In fact all i’ve see is a small selection of Wii and DS games.
      Also we don’t have GameStation but we have GameStop and the staff there seem knowledgeable and enthusiastic for the most part. The question that accompanies every purchase – “would you like to insure your disk against damage?” – is a little bit annoying but now i just chuckle genially and reply ” No thanks – it’s a Bluray disk.” :)
      I split my purchases between GameStop for their trade-in deals and HMV as they can be up to €10 cheaper in some cases (GT5 for example).

      • I’m well located in work so I can check Game, Gamestop, HMV, Xtravision and Smiths for the prices, so I shop around!

        I like to use game if I can for the loyalty card. I used to thin Gamestop where more knowledgable untill I asked them when LBP2 was out (I wasnt sure if it was thursday or friday that week) and they told me it was delayed by two months!

      • It was though… heh-heh

    • I buy online too. But I don’t think Game are more expensive than they used to be, just the competition are bringing their prices down.
      Family still buy me GAME vouchers for Christmas, but I mainly spend them on PSN cards (even though these can be purchased cheaper online).

  2. GAME is bright and happy and for parents who don’t know any better. Gamestation is more geared towards actual gamers (I hate that word as well) but generally has a dungeon type feel and stinks of farts and sweat. I buy from wherever is cheapest, which is online Amazon etc, though I do on rare occasions buy from store, Blockbusters have the odd bargain also. I loved Gamestation when it had all the retro stuff, shame its all but gone now, but I may still use them for trading purposes.

  3. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying I’ll buy my games wherever’s cheapest. I always know what I’m looking for when I shop, so I’m not in the slightest bit worried about how knowledgable the staff are, although I can see it would help someone buying christmas pressys or what-have-you.

  4. We dont have Gamestation in NI but we do have Gamestop and that’s where I prefer. I’ve had to correct GAME staff about 10 times, twice in the last few weeks. A manager also told me how much he enjoyed playing Fallout 3 co-op with his friends in America. I’ve helped out peope who didn’t know better in supermarkets too, and been personally told only certain models of ps3 (250GB slim up, don’t buy the others even though we have them on sale) have 3d by an electronics retailer. That last one caused a bit of an argument lmao

    • Game have no expertise on store layout, fed up having to waste my time looking for the new location of PSP, PS3 and pc games. Gamestop hasn’t changed much since it opened its doors.

  5. I tend to go in both to see whose got the best price when im looking to buy from the highstreet. Im fortunate that the staff in my local Game know what they’re talking about (although they do have a tendancy to fib if you put them on the spot, I went in about my missing Killzone 3 code and the bloke claimed to have not played it, which is odd as when i bought the game he was boasting he’d bought a 3D tv especially for it), but other than that theres not a lot of difference between the two in my town.

    First post, long time reader by the way.


  6. The only physical shop i’ve bought a new game in since about 2007 was in sainsbury’s to get CoD for a friend’s birthday. I used to find gamestation good for getting pre-owned games, but that whole market’s been taken over by cex for me. They usually offer lower prices and do great deals on dvd’s and bluray’s too, just way better

    • Have to agree with you on that. CEX completely own the pre-owned market. Game and gamestation to me are both the exact same shop (except in appearance)the prices are exactly the same for everything. Trust me I went to 2 GAME’s and gamestation today. Also, the staff in gamestation aren’t must better than GAME, the guy today wanted to sell me everything under the sun. Especially the loyalty card! GRRR! *End rant*

    • CEX is brilliant, I got Soul Reaver and Supreme Commander for around £3. BUT.. thats way over in Lisburn!!

  7. ive never bought anything from gamestation because it always seems ridiculously expensive. i usually just shop around online now though – so much easier.

  8. Loyalty doesn’t come into consideration for me here, I’m afraid. I tend to go wherever I can get the best deal. It’s often CEX because I have vouchers/credit and second hand games are good value. I realise this isn’t great for developers… However, on the occasion I choose to pre-order, or a game has a similar price everywhere I tend to go to HMV as my bro has 30% discount.

    If it came down to choosing between GAME and Gamestation it would purely depend on price.

  9. I buy quite a few games, love to get them on/around launch, and agree with Zephyre that I’ll purchase the game where it’s cheapest.

    I *can* be persuaded by midnight launches, or exclusive content (or both), but my game playing routine tends to be:
    Pre-order a game online for the cheapest price.
    Play through the game when I get it.
    Keep the game if I like it (or haven’t completed).
    Sell the game on eBay ASAP to get maximum value.

    For some reason, multi player just hasn’t clicked with me yet, so most games are done once I’ve played through the single player.

    I know why GAME and others charge around £5 more than the average online price, but it’s so easy to save the money these days (and that’s before using vouchers and Quidco)

  10. I generally like to shop in Gamestation. I don’t buy as many games as I used to so I don’t mind paying a little but more sometimes and if you just feel like buying on a whim it’s better, plus you can always have a decent chat with the staff in GS as, as is mentioned above, they tend to know what they are going on about and have fair prices. I used to shop in GAME but since my local gamestation opened up I defected and now I go there always. GAME for me these days is just too much. My local game, for some reason constantly pushes the 360 above everything else, sometimes going as far as saying ludicrous things to put people off the PS3, I remember overhearing one guy telling a customer about the PS3’s poor performance and… get this, high failure rate compared to the 360. I had to step in. They push preowned like no ones business too. If I’d have wanted a preowned copy of a game or console I would have picked the box up that said pre-owned on it. If I didn’t don’t waste my time for 5 minutes extra at the till and try and riducule me for turning down the deal of the century!

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