I wrote a feature for Kotaku UK on how GAME has cut the rate at which you earn loyalty points by half:
I went in depth, contacting the company for their opinion and trying to see how their loyalty offering holds up when compared to other companies. But in the end, it’s hardly a good deal for customers.
I’ve written about GAME a few times over the past few months: previously I took a look at why the company has so much hate directed towards it and also investigated what the high-street chain is doing to hold out against the rise of digital gaming.
Making cuts to the loyalty card scheme seems like a very regressive step – and it’s unlikely to win the company any new fans. The story I keep being told from current and ex-staff is that there’s a big disconnect between the head office and the people who actually work in the stores and have to implement decisions from higher-ups. No doubt that front-line staff will have been told to push the £36-a-year Elite scheme even harder, with the stick that the free Reward Cards now provide less money off.
GAME has implemented Belong gaming arenas in a few stores in a bid to get punters in – I checked out the one in Soho the other day, and I was pretty impressed. Stuff like this is a great idea, but it needs to be backed up by the core business of selling games, and GAME is constantly undercut by online retailers, and even by its own online store, with prices being sometimes a good deal lower on GAME.co.uk. I’m surprised that GAME hasn’t resorted to deeper discounting in its high-street stores – they could attract customers in with a really low price for a brand-new title, then flog them all the accessories and secondhand games that provide a nice profit margin. And of course, encourage people to play in their gaming arenas. It might mean taking a hit on margins for the new game, but they’d make up the money elsewhere – and perhaps more importantly, it would make for some happy customers.
It’ll be interesting to see how GAME fares over the next year, particularly as it’s just announced it will open concessions in Sports Direct stores. Will the fact that no new gaming hardware is due out this year really hit the company’s bottom line? Will Belong be enough to boost GAME’s fortunes? Only time will tell…
Head over to my portfolio site to see a full list of the features I’ve written for Kotaku UK, Eurogamer, GamesRadar and PCGamesN.