With the news of HMV going into administration, as of today, the UK games industry takes another hit. HMV’s dire state echoes that of Play.com who have announced plans to suspend retail operations (but continuing marketplaces) and Game, who also announced the closure of over 300 of its stores back in March 2012. If you’re from abroad then you’ll most likely be unaware of any of these stores, so please check out the outbound links to learn more. If you’re from the UK you probably know of at least one of the above, so please read on and learn how to make a difference.
The problems faced by these stores will have huge effects upon the hard copy industry of nearly all media formats, games included. HMV retails most media from movies to games. If it closes, one of the last remaining superstores that stock such merchandise will be gone. In my town (Bromley, a large Borough of London), only one store would remain to sell games brand new. HMV won’t be the only one especially if the rumors of disabled pre-owned games is a reality in the next generation of consoles. What I’m trying to get at is when you’re shopping online and you find a game that’s £1 cheaper than retail, please consider the effects on other vendors.
The online surge in sales and price comparison utilities have all but murdered the UK high street industry. Steam and The App Store, which are great ideas regardless, will one day take over the game stores entirely just as iTunes and other online distributors are slowly achieving with the music industry. This may be the point where you deny that any of this affects you, but employment comes from high street stores. If HMV closes over, 4,000 jobs in the UK will evaporate. I’m not a one-man army and my words won’t change the world, but what might are the little actions, like walking to your local store to pick up that game, movie, or CD.
I understand the arguments people have with purchasing from the high street such as “games are cheaper online”,”there’s more choice online,” and my favorite of all, “I don’t have to get out of bed with online shopping”. Bravo, all the above answers have displayed that you’ll happily diminish the industry for the sake of a few pounds. If you’re after new games, nearly 80% of stores will have the game you’re after. The final retort doesn’t deserve an answer. If you live miles away from the nearest town or you don’t have a postal service, fair enough. However, most of us do not have an excuse to neglect the businesses that supported gaming even before the internet.
Imagine if you never had a hard copy game ever again. No more chucking it in a bag and playing it at your mate’s, no more packing it into the car and taking the console and games to your grandparents’ for the weekend. Gaming will become nearly 100% dependent on internet connectivity. I don’t know about you, but that feels so wrong to me. I share my games with my younger brother, I lend them to my friends and I enjoy flicking through the instruction manual every now and then—little things that the industry will lose if we continue. It’s sad to think that stores like Game, one of the last remaining specialist stores, was in trouble not a year ago and is still getting back on its feet. Their financial crisis will affect everyone reading this in some shape or form—if not gaming then music, movies or the general well-being of retail business. Even the best offshore casinos according to Inside Bitcoins will eventually suffer. Little things like getting off your backside and going into town to buy a game or not illegally downloading that album are small yet significant actions everyone can perform to help the UK media industry. This may or may not resonate with US readers, but thank you for reading if you are from overseas: take note and defend your games!
This is quite a controversial topic, and I’m sure many of you have your own views. Please feel free to share them either on our Facebook or contact me via my personal Twitter. The articles below offer further information on HMV’s situation.