A story emerged today that Game has approached Deloitte, the administrators, to enquire about buying up to 45 of HMV’s stores. Game stores are usually quite compact. HMV stores are often quite spacious. So why would the recently troubled videogame specialist now be interested in the currently-troubled entertainment retailer’s unwanted shop units?
We should consider, at least, the possibility that Game’s interest is in the smallest of HMV’s retail units. That wouldn’t represent too much of a floor-space increase over the larger Game stores and it’s conceivable that they’d just cram in an extra row of shelves here and there and stack FIFA and Call of Duty boxes that little bit more spaciously.
Now that we’ve got the sensible option out of the way, let’s consider the radical things Game could do with some of HMV’s more typical, larger shop floors.[drop]It’s been suggested that another rapid expansion for Game, so soon after their own period of administration and eventual rescue package, is a tragic misjudgement. I’m more inclined to think that it hints at the kind of radical thinking needed from the videogame specialist. Sure, it’s a risk. But with the economy as it is and the videogames market in substantial decline, perhaps a risk is what’s needed. It’s also probably a good time to do something exciting for a videogame retailer.
The last year has been difficult, with customers spending less and the digital side of the market encroaching more and more. This is not entirely unexpected, as the entire industry prepares for a new generation of consoles. For Game, that new generation of consoles might just be worth banking on. The hope is that a new generation will bring with it a rush of enthusiasm, breathing new life into game retail. Game’s bosses might see potential expansion – and into larger stores – as an opportunity to place themselves in a strong position to capitalise on the newly invigorated market.
It’s often said that high street retailers in the UK should be looking to modernise their businesses by offering an experience that you simply can’t get from cheaper online stores. With more floorspace, Game could offer new and exciting services that attract people to its stores. Game is in a perfect position to not only build a new loyal customer base but to build a new community around its stores.[drop2]Imagine a large Game store with a seating area, free wi-fi and refreshments on sale. Imagine chiller cabinets packed with Mountain Dew and racks filled with Doritos. Imagine charging stations for your handheld consoles, iPods, tablets and smartphones.
Imagine banks of connected consoles running Black Ops II playlists and FIFA friendlies. Imagine being able to buy a PSN card and then sit with a cup of coffee, reading a Game-branded magazine while your Vita downloads the latest PSN Store delights for you to play on the bus home.
Larger stores could offer Game the chance to have larger plans. They could host tournaments, demonstrations and celebrations of gaming. They could hold midnight launch parties that are more than just a line of cold, tired, grumpy gamers with a free mini bag of Haribo. They could host Wii Fit exercise classes on a Tuesday evening and a Sunday league for FIFA fans with oranges at half time.
Game could offer a unique and enticing service to their new community that could put them at the centre of games culture in the UK. They could finally offer something really interesting that it’s simply impossible for online retailers to do.
Sometimes it’s worth taking a big risk to do something special.