game-store-mEarlier today, I blogged Mike Shatzkin’s post that bookstores may be going away and it might be a good idea for publishers to do more to keep them around. In that post, Shatzkin mentioned a statistic that 40% of all UK “high street” shops might have gone away within 5 years. I came across a possible example of that sort of thing today on PaidContent.

It seems that the largest European plastic-box video game retailer, Game Group, is in financial trouble. It has closed 277, almost half, of its 609 UK and Ireland stores, and has called in administrators to run the company. PaidContent reports that the company seems to have made a number of bad business decisions in the last few years, passing up an opportunity to invest more heavily in digital game distribution and instead purchasing another bricks-and-mortar game store chain, Gamestation.

With games moving more and more to direct on-line sales via download (a la Steam or Electronic Arts’s Origin—nearly half of all computer games were sold as downloads in 2009, and how knows how many that’s up to by now?), Game Group is in the same position as a lot of those bookstores who are watching Kindle and Nook eat their lunch. It could provide an instructive example for other stores in the same position: find a way to go digital, or risk going out of business altogether.


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