Game (Overview)

Game is a video game retailer which has shifted towards events and the creation of gaming cafes under its Belong brand in more recent years.

Mike Ashley added Game Digital to his burgeoning empire Frasers Group in 2019 in a £52m deal. Previously Sports Direct (now Frasers) took a 26% stake in the business in 2017, but this was upped to more than 30% in 2019, sparking a mandatory takeover bid. It completed the acquisition of the remaining share capital in July 2020, and assimilated the brand into Frasers Groups’ UK sports retail division.

Prior to the takeover, Game had been on shaky ground. It entered administration in 2012, which led to it halving its store network, streamlining operations, and restricting its international presence to its steadfast Spanish territory, before it returned to the stock market in 2014.

But it continued to suffer from waning interest in consoles and physical media, with the market shifting increasingly towards digital products and PC gaming. Stock issues had plagued the retailer in 2017 and led to a profit warning, at the time highlighting its severe dependency on the three major console manufacturers.

Frasers Group reduced the UK network to 244 stores as of April 2021, Game’s Spanish network stood at around 236. Rationalisation in Spain has been much less severe than in the UK as nearly all Spanish stores were reported to be profitable from 2014. 

Despite the store closures, observers generally see the acquisition as positive for both retailers, with obvious crossovers. 

Game had strengthened the business by creating gaming community spaces both within stores and online, and focused on digital content. And Frasers is working on ideas to add more experience-led innovation to its stores as part of an ongoing elevation strategy to create the “Selfridges of Sport”, as well as the development of multi-fascia stores which will feature its various brands under one roof. See Frasers Group parent profile

Game’s ongoing business transformation from a seller of physical services to a provider of gaming services and experiences will still be critical moving forward, however, as its model faces threats from various angles, including competition from download services such as Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network and Steam as well as mobile gaming.

Innovation rating: 3.5

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