GAME over for Mass Effect III fans

A European retailer has told staff it will not be stocking Mass Effect 3 — not because of the game’s content, but rather because of financial problems.

GAME, a British firm that operates across the continent and in Australia, has experienced financial difficulties over the past year. It appears to have struggled to compete with online retailers and major grocery supermarket chains that sell high-profile games at discount prices, possibly even taking a small loss in order to attract shoppers to the store.

The company has recently revised the terms of its bank lending and has attempted to negotiate new credit terms with suppliers. Several major British retail chains have been forced to close in recent years not because they weren’t profitable, but because of cashflow problems.

According to a memo to GAME staff leaked to Eurogamer, the company could not agree viable payment terms with Electronic Arts and has decided not to stock any of EA’s March releases: “We committed to only stocking products on which we could get the right credit terms, regardless of the title or the supplier…. It is never easy to make a decision not to stock a title, particularly one with such a strong fan base.”

The company says it will be refunding deposits on pre-orders for Mass Effect as well as adding £5 worth of loyalty card points to the accounts of affected in-store customers, while those who order on-line will get £5 of credit. (This appears to have caused some confusion with people mistakenly believing the deposit refund itself would be in store credit rather than cash.)

The decision will also affect Gamestation, a chain bought out by GAME several years ago.

Although GAME has not yet confirmed this, it appears there may be similar credit terms problems with Nintendo. A “compehensive” Nintendo listing of retailers for the forthcoming Mario Party 9 does not list GAME or Gamestation.

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