We hear a lot these days about how the internet is killing high street stores, and although I do feel a smidgen of nostalgia and sorrow for the passing of chains such as Fopp, every time I find myself in a branch of Game I end up hoping for imminent bankruptcy, because Game is rubbish.
There are many rubbish high street stores, but Game gets my goat because it doesn’t just excel in being rubbish, it shamelessly rips people off as well. Whenever I’m in there, seeing people actually buying things, buying Game’s stupid ‘bundles’ of consoles and undesirable software, buying Game’s criminally-overpriced pre-owned games, or their ‘on sale’ games that are actually priced the same as the RRP, my blood starts boiling, I see red and I find myself holding back a real Howard Beale moment.
First of all, their console bundles. They’re rubbish. Want to buy a new console? Tough. Today, for instance, I decided I was going to finally get around to buying a Wii, and because the price of the console online is the same as the RRP I had nothing to lose — I thought — by buying one in store. Ah, foolish, foolish Paul! Because you can’t just walk into a branch of Game and buy a console! No, you have to buy a fucking bundle! You have to spend an extra £20 and get a copy of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 of all things.
There are other bundles, all raising the price and all involving me ending up with a load of clunky games with no re-sale value. The only reason Game do this is because they want to shift stock; thus, the only games you’re likely to see in a bundle are those you wouldn’t even consider bothering with if they were sold separately, and they get away with this because they rely on people wanting the console so much that they’re willing to pay extra for crap they don’t want in order to get it.
Of course, you can trade in that bundled game straight away, but because it is then — technically — pre-owned, they’ll only offer you a pittance for it — a tenner or so in my experience. So you pay an extra £20 in order to get £10 off the total. Whee.
Let me count the ways
This brings me to their pre-owned range; quite the most astonishing rip-off I’ve ever seen. For instance; take a game off your shelf, one that’s still boxed, it doesn’t matter which. Now, put it on the floor and jump on it. Then jump on it again, and again. Now put Apocalypse Now Redux (running time: 197 minutes), keep jumping, and don’t stop until the film has finished. If you like, you may then wrap the box in some sellotape.
Next, take the game out of the case. If it’s a DVD, smear the underside with some jam and then play air-hockey with it on your dining room table; if it’s a cartridge, wedge a screwdriver in it and draw all over the label with marker pen. Finally, take the instruction manual, and just throw it away.
All done? Congratulations! You have now recreated the average Game pre-owned purchase, which will be sold at the same price Amazon will sell a pristine, untouched, shrink-wrapped copy.
Why do people put up with this? Do they not know any better? Do they not care? Why do they persist in buying pre-owned (by potentially dozens of owners) rubbish that looks as if it’s been used as a punch bag? Why do people actually buy things at the RRP? Where do they get their money from to spend up to £50 a game, and, more importantly, how can I get in on that?
In case you’re wondering, no, I did not end up buying a Wii today, because I refuse to be fleeced by high street stores when I know how much cheaper things are online. If high street stores want my custom, they’re going to have to stop being such ruthless capitalist bastards, because I’ll happily pay a bit extra for a better experience — I’m not, however, going to pay extra in order to be shafted by some pimply twerp in a Burtons’ suit and shiny tie. It is just not my thing.