GAME, oft-mentioned towering retail behemoth, have got rather large feet. And with large feet, comes large responsibility. For example, the responsibility not to go around treading on everyone’s toes and knocking over tall-standing lamps. But, as per, the retail chain has stumbled awkwardly into a glass cabinet, knocked over several proceeding shelves and, in an attempt to save face, somehow set the building on fire. How? Why, with Gamefest, of course.
Every year, GAME store managers collate in a large building and have their own gaming show. Think E3, but not for the public, and attended by a load of hung-over, guffawing clots. Okay just think E3. Probably. There’s lots of publisher and developer booths, sessions with key spokespeople from a range of companies, tons of pre-release, preview code for the store managers to have a dwindle at, and best of all, an open bar. Good eh? This year, GAME have spied an opportunity for a touch more of that salacious income. They’re already putting on a show for their managers, why not extend that for a few days, open it up to Joe and his family of Bloggs and make a killing!
Or if not a killing, certainly an irritable scratch, one that’s causing a number of publishers some mild discomfort. The problem has arisen through GAME’s careful and sublimely haphazard timing. Gamefest, occurring right after the company’s manager’s conference is set to open to the public September 14th to 18th. This just a week before the established, core attended Eurogamer Expo begins its fourth iteration on September 22nd. The plot thickens.
Naturally, this leaves publishers in the stickiest situation since President Berlusconi ordered a hotel room and 14 cases of chocolate spread. Awkward sexual-political references aside, publishers are left caught between a rock and a slab of painted concrete. Wanting to support the ground-up explosion that is the incredibly successful Eurogamer, whilst needing to support the retail market leader. That’s if they actually fancy selling a game or two anyway. To do both is expensive and potentially a struggle to haul the booth between two arenas.
As mentioned, the GAME manager’s conference is also a great opportunity for publishers to show off half-finished code, the kind of pre-alpha stuff they wouldn’t dream of putting in front of the public. Store managers aren’t bothered if they get glued to a piece of scenery thirty seconds in. Chiefly because they’re told to shut up and be grateful they’re not spit shining the NEC floor. So there’s the extra hassle of what content to show at Gamesfest considering the audience it would rake in too.
Eurogamer themselves are a little rattled by the retail giant’s timing as well. In an interview with MCV, Eurogamer’s Rupert Loman commented he was ‘disappointed GAME is attempting to split the market.’ When GAME boasted its potential wide-spread audience reach, (2.8 million reward card holders) Loman replied with ‘It’s not just about scale, but the quality of the audience too. We’ve got a strong track record, growing it from a community event to an established bigger show. GAME speaks about going after families and casual gamers, but from our point of view it’s about getting the evangelists that really matter in to see key new games first’.
Are GAME over stepping their mark, hustling in on Eurogamer’s increasing success, whilst being potentially damaging to an honest, core community? From the outside, it certainly looks like there’s at least a degree of elbowing going on here, and it’s a shame that GAME seemingly have the power and the brashness to attempt to crush an entity that needn’t even be seen as a competitor.
Ruffling feathers? At this rate GAME’ll have stripped an entire chicken coop come Christmas.
Luckily, we can confirm Respawn in… 5 will be attending and covering Eurogamer in FULL this year, so stay peeled for that one. If you fancy attending the show, get your tickets over on www.eurogamer.com/expo .
Lastly, here’s Damian Butt of Imagine Publishing making an unquestionably brilliant comment.
‘If I was Eurogamer, I’d leverage my 5m readership and get into games retail in a big way.’ – ImagineMD