OpCapita picks up pre-owned Game

UPDATE 2: Comet parent stepping in to buy what's left of the troubled specialist games retailer; 333 shops to be relaunched under one name, 3,100 jobs safeguarded for now.

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OpCapita, the investment firm that recently bought electrical goods retailer Comet, is effectively stepping in to buy what is left of Game Group, through a firm called Baker Acquisitions. Speaking when the deal was officially announced, OpCapta managing partner Henry Jackson said, "There is a huge amount to do but we look forward to the challenge."

This follows the harsh cuts imposed by the administrators last week. Jackson says OpCapita has "assembled a strong team of experienced industry operators to implement the programme of operational change that is needed." More details on the structure of the new group and OpCapita's plans for the chain will be released in the coming days, along with details of the new management team that will be put in place.

EA may not have delivered the knockout blow to Game, but the decision to keep Mass Effect 3 away from the firm's stores was very damaging.

The firm is taking control of 333 stores across the Game and Gamestation brands, but GameSpot understands that following a relaunch, all the stores will begin operating under the same name--but no decision has yet been made as to what that name is. The move will safeguard 3,100 jobs for the time being; 277 stores closed last week, and in excess of 2,100 jobs were lost as a result. OpCapita had been in talks to buy all of the group's UK operations before the firm entered administration, but failed to reach a deal with the banks that were propping the group up. A source close to the matter but not authorised to speak about it told GameSpot that "OpCapita should have completed the deal before Game went into administration but didn't, due to the banks and their lack of leadership."

Game Group--which ran both Game and Gamestation stores in the UK and mainland Europe--employed around 10,000 people globally before going into administration last week. The firm had a turnover of £1.6 billion ($2.6 billion) in the 12 months to January 2012, but had struggled with cash flow. Several high-profile disputes with suppliers had laid the firm's troubles bare, and EA's decision to stop supplying the group with new stock shortly before the release of Mass Effect 3 was widely seen as the death knell.

Richard Wilson, chief executive of UK development trade body TIGA, was pleased by the news and its implications for the UK games industry. "This is good news for GAME and for UK consumers," Wilson said, before offering some advice to the new owners. "Given the rapid transition to digital gaming with consumers spending money on platforms such as Steam, Origin, the App Store, PSN, XBLA, and Android market, Game will have to develop a digital strategy--fast," he said.

UPDATE 01/04/12: This story was updated at 1610 and 1730 to reflect the deal being officially announced and further details emerging.

Discussion

90 comments
nomadski69
nomadski69

GAME's online service was fantastic, gotta say. Every thing I ordered from them arrived 1 day before the release date. Their rewards system was also leagues ahead of similar cards (like Nectar where you have to buy a tanker amount of fuel to get a free potato). Their second hand games business, however, stunk like rotten cabbages. £5 - £10 less than what they were selling the same game brand new, with newer titles requiring online passes simply isnt competitive with the likes of CEX, who also offered better prices for buying off you. Hope they come out of this better for the staff, for the business, and for the consumer.

SadPSPAddict
SadPSPAddict

Relaunch it as something like "Game Marketplace" or "Game Supermarket" and if they are re-branding I am sure all remaining store will be re-branded the same!! Glad they aren't going to disappear and hopefully they will become competitive!

Carpetfluff
Carpetfluff

@Doric6 Sorry, it was poorly worded on my part, I wasn't trying to imply you didn't know. I think they may well keep the two separate brands running, because as you say, they have different street appeal - although you might find that they change and standardise that across the board now; it depends on how sensitive to the differences they are. There are good and bad stores in terms of staff in both set-ups though so it's not that one was universally better than the other.

Doric6
Doric6

@Carpetfluff Im aware of who my employer was, its just the Game's approach to the business and customer is very different to Gamestation's approach.

TxtBin
TxtBin

I'm kinda not surprised cause GAME have been ripping customers off for many years - it's surprising why anyone in their right mind would go there to get a game when it's available for so much cheaper elsewhere. But, there are many jobs at stake and I consider GAME to be a rather friendly retailer who offer loads of promos and in-store set ups... so I guess, in a way, it's a good thing that the GAME stores have been (temporarily?) saved.

DitchyJ
DitchyJ

I like how jobs have been saved, and hopefully..game can be brought into line with online companies and still have that appeal of walking into a store, having a good old browser and chatting to the clerks about game related stuff...unless for one instance its a girl whos really pretty but only knows that a console is powered by electricity.

MooncalfReviews
MooncalfReviews

If greedy publishers are holding back stock from stores that sell pre-owned games (which, if they hate, they should fight to get the law changed), then a chain of purely pre-owned game shops is the best solution to fill the gap in the market that's being created by this move. EA can't hold back pre-owned copies of its games from a store that doesn't give a crap about brand new stock.

Jamo12
Jamo12

I don't think it's that surprising they went under, GAME sold new releases at £5 over their RRP, whereas online companies sell them for £10 under. It was only a matter of time really.

Carpetfluff
Carpetfluff

@PlatinumPaladin You're right that most were, but a percentage were already closing that month and had known it was coming for a year or so. I've had a re-think now though, I think they'll keep both brands and I think I had my RBS hat on backwards. I think it had likely been agreed to do a 'pre-pack' with OpCapita, whereby the company went into admin for as long as it took to trim the fat and could then bought out at the size they wanted. Also, as the deal is being done through Baker; they'll act as a buffer and it if fails it won't reflect on OpCaptia's business directly.

PlatinumPaladin
PlatinumPaladin

@Carpetfluff 270-odd stores closing simultaneously: quite certain that it'll be because of the whole administration thing. Even if 5% of those stores had leases coming to an end it's unlikey they'd all run out at the same time. As for the singular branding, I agree it'd be cheaper to keep one brand over the other but I think both names have been damaged by this situation, GAME more so than Gamestation. I'd say a complete rebrand is needed.

Carpetfluff
Carpetfluff

@nomadski69 I know what you're saying about the multiple stores, but in most cases it was a question of rent and leases. The towns that had multiple shops after the companies merged was mostly down to remaining lease times and favourable rent deals. Some of the stores that were closed the other week were not because of going into admin, they had been agreed closures from a year ago and based on leases running out etc.

Carpetfluff
Carpetfluff

@Doric6 If you're a Gamestation employee then you've already been working for the Game group for a while now; but it will be interesting to see if they choose one of the two existing names or come up with something new. I suspect they'll stick with Game to keep refitting costs down.

Carpetfluff
Carpetfluff

I'm glad the deal is finally done, but I still think it's a little suspect that RBS blocked OpCapita's original plan and then announced they were thinking of buying the company themselves. If that was a delaying tactic to weigh their own options then more jobs were possibly lost than needed be.

PlatinumPaladin
PlatinumPaladin

They might be able to manage the group better but I can't imagine there's much they can do to bring in the punters, even if they do rebrand in order to shake the negative publicity and loss of faith of customers.

Doric6
Doric6

@sebFlyte Ah okay, thanks for that

nomadski69
nomadski69

Here is my first tip to the new owners. Don't have 2 GAME stores and 1 Gamestation store on the same street. Stay tuned for more Stay Out Of Administration ProTips!

finallyalex
finallyalex moderator

@Doric6 You are interpreting it correctly. But as I said, the unified brand was yet to be decided (as of earlier today, at least!).

Doric6
Doric6

Im finding this article a bit misleading/added information. MCV, who have reported on the game group situation for months and been the first to break news, have made no mention as far as I am aware of stores being merged under one name. Does this mean I should throw out my Gamestation polo and shine my shoes ready for a GAME takeover?

Marky360
Marky360

@sebFlyte Hey no problem we all make mistakes it's just apart of life.

AuronAXE
AuronAXE

GAME was nearly shut down for a reason. I hope they can fix the mistakes and turn the company around, or you'll have OpCapita in total crap.

it009x9281
it009x9281

@Paradosis I dont think it is an april fools cos i have seen it listed on other news sites and to joke about 1000s of job looses would be in very bad taste.

finallyalex
finallyalex moderator

@retroworld3000 1) Probably. 2) No stores that shut down will be re-opened as part of this deal. The remaining 300-odd are a mix of Game and Gamestation stores, though -- some of both were lost last week.

Paradosis
Paradosis

This is obviously an April Fools joke. Gamespot never updates their site on weekends.

Fayt1986
Fayt1986

@retroworld3000 im sure they will since the website has stated reward cards are valid again. if it was closed it will not be open again since they said it will only be the 333 stores that are still open. even then they say it will be under one name so they will al be game.

retroworld3000
retroworld3000

Nice to hear GAME is saved by OpCapita. Here are my questions: 1. Will GAME still do Reward Cards and new releases? 2. GameStation stores are shut down. Will they be reopened?

kkee
kkee

There's still a long way to go before GAME will have fully recovered, but at least a lot of people will be keeping their jobs.

PcGamingRig
PcGamingRig

i think retail will die out more & more in the future because of DD.

blue_francis14
blue_francis14

@DanteDelacoix Huh... 1 minute walk. Why would they put so many stores in a single area? Yeah, that is bad management. I wonder what were they thinking when they did that?

finallyalex
finallyalex moderator

@Marky360 Because the statement wasn't transcribed properly. It's been fixed now! Thanks.

pszone
pszone

BibiMagho@' Well see who be right if comet going down or not at least should said it in nice way not hobble way sound not nice person . pp have differnet options not saying there trash or not. i was saying my option and free world pp to say lot options but said it mean way. I only said that about comet not fit enough because they still own bank money and thats reason why sell comet for £2. Game Group should half digital and discs games cheap ill give them a change to bring cheaper games to company what pp want cheaper prices on games.

Marky360
Marky360

why in the first paragraph third sentence where it says "There is a huge amount to do butwe look forward to the challenge." Butwe isn't spaced and instead is made to look like 1 word. That looked really awkward to me when I first read it.

MooncalfReviews
MooncalfReviews

It might be a change of ownership but, war ... war never changes.

Llama345
Llama345

If you have a local video game store shop there instead. BUT if Game is all you have shop there instead of digital download.

diabolik_023
diabolik_023

the company that bought GAME will sell it piece by piece and make a fortune ;)

finallyalex
finallyalex moderator

@MajinSquall Unfortunately, the deal only covers the stores that remained open during administration. The other ones are gone; the only people getting jobs back will be a few at head office.

MajinSquall
MajinSquall

what about the stores that have already closed we only had 1 game in my town and it's shut and that was the only video game retailer in the town

DanteDelacoix
DanteDelacoix

@blue_francis14 Exactly, in the local shopping centre they had 2 games and 1 gamestation all within 1 minutes walk of each other, such a waste of money. What makes it worse is they just revamped the largest Game store a few months ago, now that has been shut down along with the other Game store and the smallest of the 3, Gamestation has been left open. Sure it might mean a smaller rent bill leaving this small one open but youd think youd close these two and leave the larger revamped store open. There's no sense in it

anirin
anirin

As sad as it is to see job losses there is now a much more sensible number of Game/Gamestation stores open. Hopefully under new ownership they'll be better managed. Great news for high street retail anyway.

1592364780
1592364780

I'll probably have to transfer to HMV for now, but if Game can get back into the industry successfully, i'll return to them.

fabz_95
fabz_95

Game is my Game store so thats great news.

digi-demon
digi-demon

I hope they use their 'extra life' wisely - dont rip us gamers off ok. @packtop Yes unfortunately you may be right

jtthegame316
jtthegame316

Glad they are going to get through it. the more choice of places for the customer has to look round for better deals the better it will be for the customer

tom_cat_01
tom_cat_01

I wish people would stop complaining about GAMEs prices: they're fixed by the wholesalers, and GAME priced their stock at mere pence above cost - barely enough to make a profit at all: what else could they have done? sell below cost like the supermarkets do? - nope, because GAME have no other enormous revenue stream like groceries to make up the deficit.

vault-boy
vault-boy

With luck Gamestop will be next.

The_Gaming_Baby
The_Gaming_Baby

There were far too many GAME shops. Literally are two within 100m of each other not too far from me.

qweasd54
qweasd54

its sad to see people defending a greedy corporation that encouraged a monopoly on the gaming store market in the U.K. they bought out their only major competition and now they are paying for it. research people ..research. they deserved this 10 fold.

The-Neon-Seal
The-Neon-Seal

Huzzah! Gamestation is safe! (don't care for game). But the result came too late to save my local gamestation or the jobs of the people who worked there. :( Shame, I really like that store and the staff there were nice and friendly. Stupid EA... I hope YOU collapse soon.

blue_francis14
blue_francis14

@DanteDelacoix Do you mean that they had too many stores in the UK and are close to each other? Like starbucks?