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Why We Love... Buying Games On The High Street (?!!)

Jonathan Lester

Why We Love... Buying Games On The High Street (?!!)

Note: I originally penned this article on February 1st. GAME has since brokered a new deal with their backers, which has bought them some financial security in the short term. However, with the relevance of high street retailers now being fiercely debated, I hope you enjoy my slightly more personal take on the situation.  - Jonathan

Buying games online is infinitely better than traditional retail. It's obvious. We all know it. Hell, sites like us wouldn't even exist if there wasn't a demand for low prices and stiff competition between online vendors. Internet shopping is cheaper and more convenient than ever before, and makes trudging down the rainy high street, braving the elements and probably getting mugged by a crew of teenage chavs on the way home look like crap. Because it is.

But as retail giants like GAME and HMV face financial problems and the very real threat of extinction, I can't help but feel slightly sad about the whole thing. I wouldn't necessarily mourn their loss (our wallets definitely wouldn't), though I would miss them. My reasons are surprisingly personal rather than purely rational... but love can't be measured by bottom lines and savings. Well, not in this case.

Why We Love... Buying Games On The High Street (?!!)

See, the pilgrimage into the high street was one of the defining joys of my young (and teenage) life. After saving up my pocket money for what felt like an eternity, I'd leap on the number one bus into Southend Victoria, all the while imagining the game I planned to buy. I would spend days, weeks even, working out exactly which one I could afford and which one I wanted; obsessively daydreaming about the characters and screenshots I pored over in creased magazines.

Barely containing my excitement, I arrived on the high street and strode purposefully through the crowds. Unlike them, I knew what I wanted. I knew what I came for. Just picking up the cardboard box from the shelf and feeling the weight of the enclosed jewel case was a thrill, and on the bus home, I'd greedily absorb each word and every picture in the instruction manual.

This became a private ritual for me, one that was synonymous with the joy of gaming. One that, in all honesty, I enjoyed almost as much as finally being able to play the title itself. While I tend to buy almost all of my games online these days (I work for Dealspwn, so it would be pretty stupid of me not to), I sometimes stroll down to my familiar home turf when I'm feeling a little jaded, just to recapture some of that childhood feeling of excitement and innocence. Not an easy thing to do in Southend, mind.

For me, buying games online also takes some of the magic and magesty out of them. Clicking on a game and having it arrive on your front door a few days later is just - how can I put this without sounding like a total berk? - too easy. Without the ritual, without the pilgrimage, games become raw commodities rather than works of art, compounded by the fact that I get plenty of them directly from PR companies, publishers and developers. Having to do a little work makes the anticipation taste all the sweeter, though these days, who has the time?

Plus, sometimes, I want a game now. Not in two days' time. Now. Still, at least we'll always have the supermarkets.

Do I buy the overwhelming majority of games online? Of course. Is traditional retail better than buying on the web? God no. But I will miss the high street if and when internet and digital distribution deals its killer blow. Because, in spite of myself, I still love it.

Add a comment5 comments
Yukes  Feb. 5, 2012 at 13:09

I know exactly what you mean, and couldn't agree more. It defies logic, and yet there is still just something about popping into a game shop every so often to browse the games I know all about from stuff online, that I'd miss if I couldn't do it.

It's odd because I know full well I can get most, if not all of the titles in a retail shop online. I know this everytime I go into the shop, and as I leave put off by the high prices, it just reinforces this. And yet I still keep popping in.

My favourite was buying Turok 2 on the N64 when I was 14. The cashier wouldn't sell it to me, so after a long while I managed to persuade my mum to get it on my behalf. The cashier initially refused, saying he knew it was for me, but this argument makes no sense, so in the end he relented. I was so happy that day, just due to the thrill of the chase! :D

liars  Feb. 5, 2012 at 14:57

Wow, what a load of crap, did you get paid to report this. the rambling waffles of a nobody.

Gogol  Feb. 6, 2012 at 03:01

I see a troll crawled out of the woodwork to **** on someone's parade. **** off back to IGN or whichever pisspot you emerged from 'liars'

On a different note, I still love shopping for games on the high street...can't beat rummaging around the 2 for £30 section when in town on a Saturday afternoon.

DivideByZero  Feb. 6, 2012 at 11:23

Liars, you summed up your own post perfectly.

The trouble with people only picking up cheap deal games from high street stores is that is no way to run and sustain a business. I love browsing games in the shops, but like most people have internet on my phone so can price check before I buy. I have enough games left untouched that I am never in a hurry for a game so don't mind waiting for delivery to save a few quid (quite a few quid on some games!). Stores wont make as much proffit on the sale games (obviously) so it will be hard to keep running like that.

Same goes with shops like HMV, games, music, films, books, merch... the exact same stuff is often much cheaper online and you don't even have to get followed by security as you have long hair and therefore must be a shoplifter!

Also Jon, I think some of the magic is taken out when you can afford to buy more games than you can have time to play them. Back when you were a kid you couldn't afford every single games so you played and played games over and got to know and love them. I find the same with music too.

Last edited by DivideByZero, Feb. 6, 2012 at 11:27
JoeDark64  Feb. 6, 2012 at 21:09

Sadly regarding GAME they do not want us to shop in store any more.

They won't match their online pricing in store.

They won't accept gift cards online so you have to purchase at the overpriced in store price if you end up with one of those.

Service in my local stores has become woeful.

Trade in prices are terrible.

At first I thought thinking they were actively driving me away from stores was just in my head. But a few weeks ago I received an email with special 'download offers' which related to deals where I could buy games from their website and download them to the PC thus circumventing the store entirely. My email adress was obtained from an in store transaction... They are actively trying to turn people away from stores. I suppose there is a weird logic. If people migrate to the online store they can shut more physical stores which are easily more expensive to maintain and run.

What a shame that the company at the forefront of video game retail made a conscious decision a few years ago to put board members profits in front of video game service.



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