Over the last few years, supermarkets have received criticism for selling big title games like Call of Duty and FIFA at a loss, knowing that they will end up recouping the money quickly. They did this with the thinking that the average customer will probably spend more in store anyway, so on paper it’s a cunning yet shrewd move.
However, maybe gamers were too frugal and simply brought the game and nothing else, because supermarkets don’t seem to be offering the same tempting deals any more.
There is a new sheriff is in town, though, and he answers to the name GameStop. This tough hombre seems to be adopting a very familiar tactic (I’ll stop this western thing now, shall I?).
Although not hugely popular here in the UK at the moment, GameStop have been around since 1984 and are the world’s largest video-game and entertainment software retailer with 6,500 retail stores worldwide. They seem to be aggressively moving into the UK online market, which can only further affect troubled stores like GAME, who have been closing stores at an alarming rate.
For those of you that have missed out on the recent deals, last week the retailer hit the headlines when it reduced current UK No.1, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, to just £20.97 for a limited period. They followed up with Driver: San Francisco for just £21.97, after tweeting the deal and advising that it would last for one hour.
Online shoppers will be more than aware of this interesting sales strategy, which comes through the medium of social networking sites such as Twitter. They can sell the most popular games at a loss, which will guarantee high levels of traffic to their website and new customer sign-ups, which would most likely be much cheaper and more effective than any big advertising and marketing campaigns.
Make no mistake though; no consumer website is actually your friend and will never operate with only your best interests at heart. It is worth remembering that GameStop also recently admitted to removing coupons from the PC version of Deus Ex: Human Revolution. The coupons would have entitled buyers to sample a free copy of the title on streaming service OnLive, but Gamestop removed them as they are launching their own game streaming service in 2012. It would not be a giant leap of faith to see the importance of gathering customers information to prepare for such an event, and what better way to do this than to offer cheap games?
In under a week they have massively discounted two of the biggest games this year and when asked by Tweeters about the deals, they replied with “There’s more to come!”. I have a feeling that we will be seeing lots more gaming bargains heading our way this year, but at what cost?
As a gamer and a man that appreciates the concept of value, the allure of a gaming bargain often proves too great to resist, but it’s also very important to remember that stores selling games at a loss are doing this to destroy the competition. When your local friendly independent store has gone, you can guarantee that the bargains will no longer exist, so in the long game do you actually save any money?
I am of the belief that gamers are quite a savvy bunch and their favourite pastime prevents them from being played by marketing teams. They play the game well, which is why supermarkets have retreated a little from the price war.
You all know the risks involved. You know that you are being offered games at a steal in the hope of you signing up and becoming a loyal customer, just so they can reap the rewards in the near future. We have all played through enough story arcs to know that misguided loyalty or blind faith will kill you faster than any bullet, but we’re also wise enough to know if you play the game right you can bag yourself a true bargain.
What are your thoughts on this kind of sales strategy? Let us know how you feel about GameStop by commenting below.