Game Group’s future as a major high-street videogame retailer is looking ever more worrying as reports have emerged today that the retailer will not be stocking any of EA Games’ March releases immediately following the European release of SSX this Friday. Crucially – and perhaps foretelling of what is to come for the company – that will mean no store shelving will be reserved for EA and Bioware’s trilogy-closer Mass Effect 3, the biggest and most noteworthy game of the year so far.
This comes just a day after publisher EA revealed the game’s pre-orders taken to date had “broken targets set” by the company, and that they are “well ahead of where Mass Effect 2 was [at the same point]”. The fact that one of the UK’s biggest videogame specialist retail chains is now not in the position to stock the title should come as a major blow to both Game Group and its investors, who would have hoped the Vita’s strong UK launch would have cast away stock fears for the time being at least. Disconcertingly, this isn't the only title Game has been unable to stock recently; Ubisoft's entire Vita launch line-up was absent from store shelves for the handheld's release last week (though they're all now in stock), while Tekken 3DS and Wii RPG The Last Story have also suffered the same fate. No plans have yet been revealed regarding future EA titles.
An EA spokesperson told online publication MCV, “We currently have a supply issue with regards to Mass Effect 3, which means that GAME and Gamestation will not be able to fulfill orders for Mass Effect 3 at this time. We appreciate that this is disappointing for our customers, and we apologise sincerely for the inconvenience that this will cause.” The retailer will be offering those who pre-ordered the game £5 worth of GAME Reward points to their card through to 16th March. Customers who placed down a deposit for the game will get a full refund as well as the £5 worth of points. If you are one such customer, we'd suggest you spend the money relatively soon, that £5 might well be worthless in the coming months.
We previously voiced concerns about the state of Game Group earlier this year – see 'Is This The Beginning Of The End For Videogames' High Street Presence' - when it was revealed a number of its credit agencies withdrew credit insurance associated with the company, signaling what many believed to be the beginning of the end for Game and Gamestation as we know them. We await further developments.