All The King's Men: How GAME Australia Fell Apart At The Seams


In July 2012 GAME Australia closed its doors for the last time. 700 members of staff, 90 stores, 20 years. All lost. Gone. But two years previously, when the UK’s Chief Executives sent its best men to save GAME from the doldrums, no-one could have predicted how quickly it would all go wrong. This is the story of how one retailer tried to reinvent itself, but came tumbling apart at the seams.


May 2011. GAME’s newly redesigned Parramatta store is a pitch-perfect exercise in ergonomics; carefully dotted with display units, slick in silver. The latest products adorn the shelves, thoughtfully organised. A glorious debut. On a small raised stage in the centre of the store, surrounded by the Australian press contingent, stands Ben Grant, GAME’s Marketing Director, dressed in his trademark black. He clears his throat.

“Who is GAME?” he asks. “Don’t you mean EB Games?

“Well, I’m fed up of hearing that. We’re GAME and I’m very much proud of that.”

Five metres to Ben’s right is Paul Yardley, GAME’s Managing Director. Brought on initially as a consultant it is now his job to rescue GAME’s struggling Australian operation. This transformed Parramatta store is part of the plan.

On Paul’s left, ‘Phil and Ed’, a comedy duo. The first stage in a marketing blitz that will ultimately land GAME in some serious trouble. At least that’s what GAME hopes. They want to make waves, land a headline or two. ‘Phil and Ed’ is just the beginning.

Behind everyone, standing at the counter, watching it all transpire, is Parramatta’s store manager Travis Jones. He has no idea what the hell is going on, and he’s not entirely sure he likes it. His store has become an experiment. He’s not sure if that’s a good thing.

Just over one year later, Travis Jones, with stubborn tears in his eyes, will lock up GAME’s Parramatta store for the last time. He will head to Parramatta RSL for beers with a group of store managers who have just done the exact same thing. They will drink their sorrows until they drop and GAME will be no more.


Hotshots

November 2010. The sun beats down on Elizabeth Bay. Ben Grant is still dressed in black. In between drinks, he tells us the master plan. GAME's stores are dull. No-one cares. Worse, no one really knows who GAME is. That’s set to change, he says. The UK has sent some hotshots to the rescue. These men have dragged other territories out of trouble into calmer waters. They’ll do the same with the troubled Australian market, believes Ben. Things are about to get interesting.

Hotshot #1: Gordon Graham, a gruff Scottish Operations Manager. A man Travis Jones affectionately refers to as “a mean old prick”. The man who single-handedly saved GAME’s Irish territory from the abyss.

Hotshot #2: GAME’s brand new Managing Director Paul Yardley.

But Paul Yardley had already been in Australia for three months before his appointment — time he mostly spent sunning himself on Sydney’s beaches. Paul had just entered his 30s. After spending four years working for Deutsche Bank as an investment banker, he took a sabbatical, headed to the other side of the world, and quietly wondered what the hell he was doing with his life. He found his answer in a chance phone call.

In his past life at Deutsche Bank, Paul Yardley had spent the past three or four years getting to know the executives who ran GAME PLC. When he heard GAME’s Chief Executive was on a visit to Australia, he figured catching up for drinks was a decent idea. The conversation soon turned to business. GAME’s Chief Executive was frank.

“Australia’s a struggle,” she said.

"Why?" That was Paul’s first question. Surely Australia, with a population of 22 million and an engaged set of potential consumers, was the perfect market for GAME. What could have gone wrong?

That’s what she wanted Paul Yardley to figure out.

“She said, ‘Can you do a bit of consultancy work?” says Paul. “’Go look at GAME for three months? Figure what it is that we’re not quite doing right, see if the business in the right place?’

“I said, ‘Oh, that’s interesting. I’m very happy to do that’.”

Paul Yardley’s days of sunning himself on the beach were about to be over.


Store Wars

Paul Yardley scratched his head. As far as he could tell, there were roughly five major things GAME was doing wrong, almost all of which were the result of one major issue. GAME had far too many stores, and too many of those stores were being fundamentally mismanaged. Too much stock, not enough sales, poor management. First order of business: close the offending stores, clean up the mess.

In its rush to expand rapidly, he concluded, GAME had been taken advantage of. They had an overwhelming amount of stores, paying extravagant rental rates for mediocre retail space. According to Parramatta Manager, Travis Jones, GAME’s previous Managing Director was essentially being paid to open as many stores as he could in as short a time as possible. It took the previous owners of the Game Wizards brand almost 20 years to establish 15 stores. In 30 months, GAME increased that number to an incredible 125. Ben Grant claims the UK wanted 200+ GAME stores in Australia as part of a global expansion plan. And they wanted them fast.

“GAME saw that the market in this country was big, and EB pretty much had it to themselves at that stage,” explains Paul Yardley. “There was a big attractive market, with $110 price points. So they thought, 'Brilliant, here we go.’”

Here we go indeed. But while GAME was busy expanding, so too was its main competitor EB Games. Both were caught up in bidding wars for retail space throughout the country, allowing the Westfields of the world to play one against the other.

“We were losing so much money that it made sense to say to the landlords, ‘Look, we know we owe you for another three years, if we pay you six months rent, can we walk away?’"

“The property market was very, very full,” says Paul. “Westfield had eight people begging for every site they had. So you ended up in this bidding war, and I think all the landlords were saying, ‘OK, GAME, OK, EB Games, I’ve got one site in the centre. I want a games store there. What’s your best offer?’”

Ben Grant agrees.

“The arrival of GAME into the Australian market resulted in EB Games accelerating their store expansion plan,” he admits. “The landlords did very well out of the property expansion battle between us.”

Paul immediately set about the painful task of deciding which stores were financially viable, and which needed to be closed immediately.

“We took the business from 130 stores down to about 90 over a six-month period,” says Paul. “It was quite painful.“

Painful because of the job losses, admits Paul — Managing Directors typically don’t want to be part of a shrinking business — but the majority of the financial pain came from the exorbitant cost of closing stores. GAME were bound to multiple overpriced locations for three years, getting out of these contracts proved costly.

“We were losing so much money that it made sense to say to the landlords, ‘Look, we know we owe you for another three years, if we pay you six months rent, can we walk away?’

“We’d have that debate, and eventually they would say yes.”

Closing the stores was the first order of business. The second order of business was to whip the remaining stores into shape and make sure capable hands were manning the deck.

And that’s where Gordon Graham comes in. The man Travis Jones once called a “mean old prick”.


Travis And Hotshot #1

Travis Jones was a little sick of wearing a shirt and tie to work. That’s one reason why he quit his job at EB Games in Shellharbour. The other was poor management. EB Games put more focus on Key Performance Indicators than customer service, and that was difficult to take. Working at GAME was far more suited to a man like Travis, who took real pleasure in making sure customers walked out of his store with a smile on their face.

“GAME always told us the customer came first,” says Travis, and that suited him fine. “Before you stack a shelf you serve every customer. You make sure they feel comfortable.”

Travis admits that life before Paul Yardley was a little more relaxed. He was usually left alone to run his store, and visits from the previous Operations Manager were few and far between. Very little scrutiny was placed on how things were run.

But that all changed when Gordon Graham came on board.

“A lot of the staff members were scared of him,” says Travis. “He had a presence.”

Gordon Graham was ‘hotshot #1’. It was his job to fix what Paul Yardley believed was the second major issue with GAME’s business in Australia — the stores themselves. What did they look like, how were they run? Were the right people in charge of these stores?

Thankfully, Travis made the cut.

“Gordon was very strict in making sure everyone hit their targets,” says Travis. “He kept an eye on that. The feeling you got when he came over was this guy is fucking serious. A lot of the staff members weren’t used to that because the Aussie guys who were running it before were so laid back they didn’t give a fuck!”

But Gordon Graham gave a fuck — he gave several fucks. And despite feeling intimidated by his presence, most managers grew to respect his style. Gordon Graham expected the world from his managers, but was quick to reward success.

“He was definitely fair. Gordon rewarded good work quite well. At the end of the day we all understood that this guy knew what he was doing. We all respected that.”


The Bitter Pill

In a warehouse in Sydney 10,000 copies of the latest Just Dance gather dust. GAME, across 90 stores, is selling roughly 200 copies a week. It’s endemic of an ageing business model, endemic of the poor purchasing practices of GAME’s previous management team.

If GAME was to have any chance of surviving in Australia, changing the way it dealt with local publishers and distributors was essential. The constant overpurchasing of retail units had resulted in all kinds of difficulties.

“Historically we were buying too much,” admits Paul Yardley. “But that’s the way publishers tend to work, or used to work I should say. THQ were good at this.

“They’ll sell you 10 million, and you sell five. Then the publishers say, ‘well, that’s terrible isn’t it — what are you going to do about it?’ We say, 'Well, alright we have to pay for it, right?' Then they say ‘I’ll do you a deal, you put it on the front of your window for a week and I’ll take off $10 a copy.’

“So you end up being forced to do these things because you bought too much in the first place. You’re constantly in debt. Then the publishers say, ‘OK, if you buy 10 million of the next game, I’ll half the price of the last stock you couldn’t sell.' So you end up in this sort of spiral. It’s a bit like being at the drug dealer where they give you the first hit for free.”

Paul Yardley wanted to change the conversation. Again, it was as easy as taking the right people out for a drink.

“There’s roughly, I don’t know, 12 people here in Australia who run the games industry,” says Paul. “If you have a beer with them once every three or four weeks, you don’t necessarily get everything you want, but you’re at least able to ask for certain things politely. They’ll say, 'Yeah, I’ll give you that, but I won’t give you this.'"

The tough part of the conversation was obvious — GAME would now be buying less of what publishers and distributors were trying to sell. That was the bitter pill. The sweetener was a slicker business model, where GAME would consistently sell through the stock they purchased. Retail, as a whole, was changing, and GAME was helping drive that change here in Australia.

“Retailers started to understand that when we bought four million we sold 3.8 million,” explains Paul. “Brilliant. Perfect. Because they don’t have to worry about the next shipment and how we’re going to pay for that.

"Whereas before GAME were screaming, ‘Ship it in! We’ll sell 10 million!’ Then we’d come back, saying, ‘Give us some discounts! We can’t sell them!’”


A Brief Encounter

Travis Jones pauses for thought. He chooses his words carefully.

“Ben Grant definitely has... uh, a different kind of mind when it comes to marketing.”

In 2010, GAME’s Marketing Director Ben Grant had very little to lose. He had already handed in his resignation. Ben Grant initially arrived in Australia in 2008 on a 12-month contract; GAME had acquired the Game Wizards stores, and Ben was asked to come over to Australia and help drive this new commercial undertaking. Two extensions and three years later, he was ready to go back home to England. Ben Grant missed his family.

But the proposition offered was impossible to pass up. Paul Yardley and GAME’s UK Directors gave Ben a blank slate — reinvent GAME’s image from the ground up, build GAME’s brand awareness to the point where they could no longer be ignored, to the point where no one would ever mistake them for EB Games again.

“The brief I was given was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” he says.

It was a dream assignment, but Ben’s budget was almost non-existent. It was the challenge that motivated him: How could he maximise brand awareness with minimal investment?

Ben’s first step was GAME TV, hosted by Phil and Ed.

Phil and Ed were invented characters, played by actors Steen Raskopoulos and Seamus McAlary. They lived and played in Ed’s mother’s basement and were intended to appeal to GAME’s core audience, to represent a new, edgier GAME — a brand with personality and presence. Interesting concept, but patronising in practice. Some saw Phil and Ed as a harmless bit of fun, but many gamers were offended by the idea of two basement-dwelling man-children representing them.

But Ben Grant’s intention was to elicit some sort of reaction, positive or negative, so he pressed on. There were harmless campaigns like the Battle Of The Clans or the Sonic Quest, but Ben was intent on stirring the pot. As far as he was concerned, the more controversy the better. The likenesses of Phil and Ed were used on some fairly juvenile reward cards — strategically positioned holes allowed owners to get a little ‘creative’.

And then there was the notorious ‘WTF?!’ campaign...

A dancing dwarf, a couple of regular joes, a playboy bunny, a gardening grandmother — all exclaiming "What the F—" at GAME’s trade-in deals. It was attention-grabbing by rote but smart positioning. According to Ben Grant a number of these campaigns resulted in complaints to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which, of course, was precisely the reaction Ben Grant was looking for. He wanted to market the GAME brand as a bit crazy, a bit edgy, a bit out there.

“I would much prefer to have had 100 per cent positive press coverage, but this resulted in a lot of free media coverage and articles,” says Ben. “People were talking about GAME for the first time.”

And Ben Grant was just getting started.


GAME Swinging

“The GAME swingers thing?” begins Travis Jones. “That was really fucking weird, and it should never have happened.”

“Everyone who worked for GAME was thinking, ‘What the fuck is going on. Has it really come to this?’”

GAME Swinging. It was the culmination of Ben Grant’s reinvention of GAME. An attempt to maximise exposure with minimum marketing dollars, a last gasp shot at rebranding GAME as something completely separate and distinct from its competitors. It backfired. Massively.

But GAME Swinging was supposed to backfire. It was designed to fail, right from the start.

The concept for GAME Swinging was relatively simple: a series of speed-dating events focused on gaming and trading games. Male and female gamers would meet up, swap games and maybe even swap phone numbers. It seemed like harmless fun.

The actual event itself, however, was far from harmless. GAME Swinging began, as you’d expect, with some gaming and a few drinks. Later, however, a series of clearly paid male and female models spontaneously began removing their clothes and wandered around the venue naked. A promotional video for the event ended with a male and female model leaving the event, heading up to a hotel room and suggestively closing the door behind them.

By the end of the video, no one was ever in any doubt — what initially seemed like a curious, if misguided, dating concept was actually a calculated attempt at grabbing shock headlines. Today, Ben Grant is happy to admit as much. His goal was to create controversy, to generate media headlines and mainstream outrage.

“GAME Swingers was a PR stunt,” he admits. “We wanted make the national news and cause enough public outcry to get the event closed down.”

From the beginning, says Ben, the GAME Swinging event was designed to achieve a handful of distinct goals: get the GAME brand on national television, distance GAME from EB, and shock consumers. But Ben’s ultimate goal was to generate multiple letters of complaint that he could then send to the media to prolong media coverage and get a “second bite of the cherry”, as he puts it.

Ben even ascribed a financial target to the GAME Swinging operation: he wanted the event to garner $1 million dollars of free media coverage. In the end, according to his estimates, GAME pulled in roughly $500,000 — half of what Ben had initially hoped for.

“Would I do it again? No,” he says.

“I would have tried something else more controversial that would have obtained double the media coverage, with an even bigger shock factor.”

But by the end of Ben Grant’s media blitz, he was mentally and physically drained. He left Australia and headed back home to his family in the UK, having built GAME’s brand awareness from 18 per cent to 50 per cent in just over a year.

“Ben Grant tried his best to promote GAME in different ways,” says Travis Jones. “I give him real credit for that.”


The Dance

Late 2011. A meeting room in the UK. GAME PLC is in the midst of a dangerous gambit. Paul Yardley refers to it as a ‘dance’. Like most PLCs, GAME UK owed a large sum of money to the Bank, but that wasn’t the problem. GAME PLC was starting to show the stresses that came with steering a retail giant through a declining market in the midst of a global recession. That was the problem.

Soon those stresses became visible fractures; the bank was concerned. GAME wasn’t exactly proving itself to be a profitable company that could pay its bills on time. The dance went sour.

“It was around about that time the UK noticed their dance partner was eyeing up the girl behind them,” explains Paul. “They started to think, ‘OK, now we really are in trouble.'”

GAME’s credit, like anyone’s, was tied to a number of financial covenants. There was a golden ratio: to manage its debt GAME PLC had to prove a certain level of profitability. And it had to cough up a certain amount of cash for expenses.

And therein lay the issue — heading into 2012 GAME, as a global company, wasn’t profitable enough to maintain those financial covenants. It was struggling. Majorly.

“Initially the banks were friendly,” explains Paul. “They listened carefully and GAME outlined a plan to restore profitability to the group. All the way through this we really, honestly believed this was just a game of poker. The banks would say, ‘You’re going to break your covenants’. We would say, ‘Well, yes, we might, but we’ll come good again in six months time.’”

But the stakes were high. The dance became tense. GAME’s lenders, in the first quarter of 2012, sent in financial services firm PwC to double check if GAME’s generous business forecasts actually held water. GAME PLC was put in the difficult position of having to work in the same offices as its potential administrators. One false move and the accountants working across the office would have their heads on a silver platter.

“There was this mob of accountants sitting in the UK offices saying, ‘be nice to us or we’ll tip you over the edge’,” explains Paul.

And all the while, looming on the horizon, the spectre of store rent, paid quarterly in the UK. It was an expense that always had the potential to sink GAME. There were over 600 stores across the UK. A lot of cash to pay in one hit; an almost impossible sum of money.

And, in the end, it was this store rent that took GAME PLC to the cleaners.

“GAME UK went to pay the rent and the bank just said ‘nope’,” says Paul. “It was very much a moment of ‘insufficient funds’.”

“At that point you haven’t got an option. If the bank won’t give you any money and you can’t pay your rent. You haven’t got a business anymore.

“So the UK had to call in the administrators.”

The mothership had just gone bust.


A Moment Of Clarity

You would expect chaos. Meltdowns. Staff walkouts. You’d expect instantaneous storewide sales across Australia. In truth, no one knew what to expect when GAME PLC went into administration. Most assumed that when the UK went pop that, in turn, GAME Australia would go pop.

A reasonable assumption, but what actually happened was this: Paul Yardley drove to his office, sat down on his chair, took a deep breath and exhaled. At his desk, in the midst of the insane situation he had just inherited, Paul did some thinking. The Australian banks are still dealing with us, he thought. We have money in the bank. We can pay our rent, and we can buy stock. We still have a business.

“We had this moment of clarity,” says Paul. “We realised we didn’t have to do anything day one. We could keep going.”

But there was fallout. Paul Yardley and his team had been busy transforming GAME into something approaching a profitable business, but that process required a cash investment. If GAME was to survive it needed a buyer, someone who would continue to fund GAME’s reconstruction. But, before that could happen, it was the responsibility of the management team to reassure everyone — business partners, staff members, themselves — that recovery was possible.

“I spent a lot of the first few days telling everyone ‘We’re still here’,” says Paul. “We’ll find an answer.”

On the frontline, however, everyone’s confidence was shaken.

“Although none of us wanted to believe it,” says Travis, “we all knew the UK situation would affect us in Australia. We were told numerous times that it wouldn’t, but it scared the absolute fucking shit out of me. That was the start of everything, when everyone started wondering, ‘Are we going to be OK?’”

The answer to that question depended solely on Paul Yardley’s ability to find a buyer for GAME Australia.


Falling Down The Crack

Crack picture from Shutterstock Paul Yardley spoke to multiple interested parties, 10 in total. At one point, the management team got together and discussed the possibility of buying GAME themselves, but that was eventually deemed impossible. In the end, three major parties seemed genuinely intrigued in GAME, and Paul truly believed a solution was in sight.

“We had some good healthy discussions with a number of people,” says Paul.

But one buyer suddenly left negotiations — that was a blow. Then, later down the track, the second prospective buyer pulled out. GAME’s bargaining power was significantly reduced.

And, finally, May 13. GAME’s final prospective saviour walked away. All was lost. GAME was too risky a proposition. For those who didn’t understand the cyclical nature of games retail, GAME was simply too much work for too little reward.

“There were three things that anyone coming into the situation had to get their heads around pretty quickly,” explains Paul, “and this was hour by hour stuff.”

“One. If I’m not from the games market, if I’m new to this, what I’m seeing is a declining market. I’m investing in a company that’s telling me it’s going to turn around in a few year’s time but I’ve got no proof of that. Will I gamble four million bucks on that?

“Two. Let’s say I buy into the gaming market. I’ve got a business that’s been through a pretty tough six months and lost a lot of good people. Do I have the appetite as a buyer to rebuild this thing? A lot of people were like, ‘That sounds like a lot of fucking hard work actually’. Quite high risk.

“Three. GAME is a funny size really — 90 stores. If I’m, say, Anchorage Capital, I can buy Dick Smith, which has 400 stores. I could put in $20 million and make $200 million. Or I could put in $4 million into GAME and make $20 million. Both are going to take the same amount of energy.

"I think we fell down the crack in a way. Just an awkward size at an awkward point in the market cycle.”

May 13, Paul Yardley has two very difficult phone calls to make. The first is to GAME’s lawyers. He double-checks the figures, triple-checks his options. The last thing he wants is to be charged with insolvent trading. As a Managing Director, that may be the one thing that follows him to his grave. Paul Yardley is now out of options. He saves the most difficult phone call for the next morning.

May 14. Paul Yardley calls PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). We know you’re outside waiting, he says. You can come in now.

It was official, GAME Australia was in administration.

“You make that phone call,” he says. “You actually sign a piece of paper. You sign a piece of paper that says GAME is bust. And then you’re depressed.”


No Longer In Control

“I think everyone sort of knew something bad was about to happen.”

Employees in the back are busy packing boxes; buyers are on phones, frantically negotiating with distributors. Reluctantly, Paul Yardley stands up in the middle of GAME’s head office. He watches as productivity slowly grinds to a halt. He begins to talk; he explains the situation as plainly as possible. He scans the room for a reaction. Fear, exhaustion. Before the day is out there will be tears.

“Everyone had worked so hard,” says Paul. “It was like being in the trenches and you’ve just lost the war. It’s not an episode I care to repeat in my corporate life.

“You sign a piece of paper. Then you call a staff meeting. You say, ‘this morning we’ve had to put the company into administration, we’re very sorry. And I’m very sad to be standing in front of you telling you this. Here is Mr PwC who will now tell you what’s going to happen, what that means for you. Because I won’t be here any more.’”

At that precise moment, Paul remembers one specific conversation. A few weeks back an employee came into his office. "Will I lose my job if we go into administration?" he asked. "I don’t know," Paul replied. "But there’s a good chance you will."

"My wife lost her job four weeks ago,"" the employee continued. "How am I supposed to cope when my family has lost both sets of incomes within two months?""

The memory sent Paul reeling.

“There’s not a lot you can say to someone in that situation,” says Paul. “Those discussions and conversations weigh very heavily on you. You walk round the office and people are crying. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. I really wouldn’t.”

Two years after he first agreed to help reel GAME in from the brink, one year after GAME's reinvention, Paul Yardley walked out of head office. No longer responsible. No longer in control. No longer in charge.

“You go from the busiest, most mental time of your career and all the pressure of administration to nothing. Absolutely nothing.”

He headed directly to the nearest pub and ordered himself a stiff drink.


'I Read It On Kotaku'

Travis Jones wasn’t angry, just disappointed. Alright, maybe he was a little bit angry.

News of GAME’s administration spread fast. Before Head Office had a chance to inform its 700 members of staff, most had heard or read the news elsewhere.

“It was on a website before we heard it from GAME,” says Travis. “Actually I read it on Kotaku. They didn’t say anything to us about what was going to happen. They denied it until the day it happened and I felt that was very unfair. I think everyone saw it as a bit of a kick in the nuts.”

It was the opposite of what Travis had come to expect from GAME, a company he still refers to as the best he’s ever worked for. To this day he resents the idea that GAME may have been hiding something from its store managers, the staff who kept GAME afloat during incredibly trying times.

Paul Yardley blames the lack of information on, well... a lack of information. GAME’s final potential buyer pulled out on May 13. Paul made the call to PwC the next morning but, up until that moment, he genuinely believed that GAME could be saved. Part of it was an attempt to keep spirits up, but he did, as he puts it, “believe his own hype”. Paul didn’t think GAME would go into administration until the day GAME actually went into administration.

But that didn’t make things easier for staff on the frontline. The situation was bad and it was about to get much worse. With GAME in administration it could no longer guarantee its customer’s pre-orders, of which there were literally thousands.

The highest profile launch around that time was Diablo III. A large majority of customers had paid this game off in full, and GAME couldn’t provide the game or offer consumers a full refund. The laws of administration define customers as debtors, and if they wanted their money back, they would have to head to the back of a very long queue. The harsh reality was most of these customers would not be getting their money back. Not then, not ever.

And it was the job of GAME’s store staff to inform customers of that fact.

“It was hard dealing with that many complaints,” says Travis. “There was so much frustration and anger.”

At the time, Travis had roughly 25 fully paid-off pre-orders in his store and countless others that were partially paid. Travis and his staff had to bear the brunt of this. Every day, there was an incident. Every day, they had to suffer volleys of abuse from frustrated consumers.

“We were getting yelled at by customers demanding $10 or $20 back when we were all about to lose our jobs,” says Travis.

There was one incident Travis will never forget: “He was an absolute pearler.”

“He was my customer, so he came directly up to me. The guy had $50 down on a game for his son; a decent amount of money. I tried to explain to him that GAME was in administration, that we couldn't give him the game or his money back. I said, ‘If you want to register to get your money back, you should head to our website...’”

“We were getting yelled at by customers demanding $10 or $20 back when we were all about to lose our jobs,” says Travis.

At that precise moment the customer lost any semblance of control. In front of his wife and kids he exploded with rage, screaming, shouting, threatening violence.

“I said, look, mate, your kids are here, calm down, it’s not my fault.”

The customer then calmly and casually walked his wife and children out of the Parramatta store — before charging back with another stream of abuse that threatened to turn physical.

“He ran back in saying he was going to jump the counter and punch my head in! I had to get security in to drag him away!"

It was a difficult situation for everyone involved: for the consumers, who lost money, for GAME’s staff members who had to manage the situation. The games industry had become increasingly dependent on the pre-order model for a multitude of reasons — to gauge interest, to measure the success of marketing campaigns — but it proved a dangerous game to play in a volatile retail environment. With distance and perspective, Paul Yardley admits the pre-order model GAME and other retailers used (and still use) is heavily flawed.

“It’s a lesson for everyone about retail in general,” explains Paul. “Any money you’ve given to a retailer before you’ve taken something out of the door isn’t protected. You rank below everyone in the list of creditors.”

As someone who has worked at the highest level of retail Paul’s advice is simple.

“The games industry loves having pre-orders because it’s the best indicator of what will sell,” he says. “But paying them off? It’s terrible. Because it puts you at risk.

“My advice for people would be this: unless you’re very sure of the standing of your retailer, don’t risk it. Don’t ever pay anything off in full.”


20 Years To Build...

With GAME finally in administration, PwC made a final sweep of any potential investors but, in Paul Yardley’s words, he had already "bled the market dry". Internally, at head office and in stores, everyone was preparing for GAME’s inevitable liquidation. Within two days there were redundancies at head office. Before the end of the week GAME went from 90 stores to 60. Massive storewide sales sent the message to consumers: GAME was going out of business and it was only a matter of time before every single store in Australia closed its doors for good.

In the end it took PwC eight weeks to close GAME completely.

“Twenty years to build, eight weeks to close it down,” says Paul.

On the last day of trade, Travis Jones made sure all of his full-time staff were rostered, he owed that to them he thought. Morale was low. They packed games into boxes, they tossed a football around in an attempt to lighten the mood. Towards the end of the shift, Travis brought in some beers. They sat around and clinked some bottles.

“We just tried to celebrate the fact that GAME was GAME and it was going under,” says Travis.

Paul Yardley took longer to let things go. He distinctly remembers two particularly harsh weeks in the middle of winter, directly after GAME’s closure. It took six months for him to put the events of the last two years into some sort of perspective.

“You reflect, you twiddle your thumbs,” he says. “You feel very depressed for a while. And I don’t use that word lightly because I don’t think you should.

“Up until November 2012 it still felt very fresh and raw. But now everyone has their new jobs; I realise it could have been worse.”

Travis Jones was one of those people with a new job, in retail, in a new store, but he’ll never forget his last day at GAME, as he locked up the flagship Parramatta store for the very last time.

July 2012. Just over a year before, Ben Grant stood on a small raised stage and said GAME had to “adapt or die”. Somehow, GAME Australia managed to do both, and it almost felt inevitable — but for Travis it genuinely was the end of an era.

He'll never forget his last day. The boxes packed, the display units dismantled, GAME's flagship store felt like a strange tomb — a historical relic, a last testament to a retail model in transition. In the end there was nothing left but storage space.

“Walking out of my store and locking up the padlock for the last time, I did get teary. I had so much care and respect for that store and I worked harder for that company than I have for anybody.

“For me, memories of GAME are always going to be good.”


Comments

    Out of all the Male & Female models they brang to Game Swinging AU were thier any legitimate gamers there? because I remember they had submission forms of interest for that event it would of been a dick move to ignore them all.

      All the one that worked at my local store were gamers, one was a mate of mine.

        Did you even read my comment? I was refering to the Game Swinging AU event, not asking if gamers worked at GAME AU.

          Maybe his mate was a swinger

            If that was the case his sentence is missing a word or two and would just be a misconception on my part.

      As far as I know, yeah, there were non-models there for sure.

      I recall reading on a forum that a bunch of guys did go and were making really creepy comments about the models there.

    I could have told you how it happened in a much more concise fashion.

    They charged a shit-load of money for new games, and a shit-load of money for second-hand games. They were the most over-priced and sterile store you could have ever visited.

      If that is the case - perhaps you should write for kotaku US? Kotaku Australia typically doesn't write uninformed and shallow nonsense.

        I guess as a consumer I am not at all uninformed about their high prices. Perhaps you should write for AU Kotaku comments section, it's generally full of vitriol.

          Congratulations. You have failed both a grammar and a hypocrisy test! You can now apply for a job with Kotaku US. Well done!

          I don't see you shouting at Dick Smith, Myer and David Jones for even more overpriced games. Keep bashing and you have the potential to be the next Bashcraft. I call for your new nickname, Hate'n.

      exactly, they came in and tried to copy EB but as a gamer i havent shopped at EB in years as they started focusing more on sales numbers and less on value. EB used to be a fun place to go chat, find some good games and get 2 games traded in and get a new game free.

      Game tried to copy EB as it currently is with its expensive games, bland stores and constant crap sales.

      The last time i went to shop at game it was when i wanted to buy Gears of War 3, big w had a good price and i asked them to match it, they said they couldnt so i went else where.

      Yeah but then so is EB Games.

        I would suggest that GAME was consistently more expensive in both new and second hand games. I think the article sums up GAMEs view on Australia - a $110 game marketplace.

          Suggest all you want buddy, wont ever make it true :)

            umm?
            “There was a big attractive market, with $110 price points."

            Haydens comment was pretty much a direct quote you ardtard, it definitely makes it true...

              I'd go over the meaning of more but I feel that the energy would be wasted

                And you'll be better off because you couldn't be bothered.
                I'm guessing you never went into a GAME store.

          My best mate worked at Game. Their biggest competitor was a JB Hi-Fi that was two doors down in a shopping centre. I told him they were selling some game (can't even remember what it was) for about $20 and he looked at me in shock.

          Believe it or not, some businesses sell games at a high price because it's all they can afford. Sometimes the entire corporation doesn't think that's okay. So try being less of a cynical dickwad and lighten up.

            Wouldnt happen to have been the Eastland store would it? If so then unfortunately they never stood a chance. The JB there is very good for games, both new and pre owned. Not to mention there was a Gametraders AND an EB in the same complex.

              Heyyy, Eastland is where I used to do all my game shopping. GAME refused to price match a few times because it was too close to their cost price. GameTraders would offer 20% off on any pre-order, which was good, and never seemed to have an excuse for not price matching; thankfully they understood how to keep customers. Unfortunately they went through an apparently similar process to GAME of brand restructuring (thanks to the bigwigs with big ideas, and the stores being franchises), changed owners, went downhill, and eventually closed.

              The week GAME closed was awesome for buying games, because JB curb stomped them even harder by having their 50% off games sale (which I imagine made it hard for GAME to sell the last of their stock (even though it was still more expensive than any other store (including EB)!))

              Another store that used to be good for games every now and then was Knox Toys R Us. Unfortunately they've reduced their entire gaming section to a mismanaged shelf. We've lost a lot of gaming retail space lately, what with the closure of GAME, the majority of GameTraders stores, and then Myer, David Jones, and TrU halting the sales of video games. But the thing is, with the exception of TrU, these stores have generally been notoriously bad with high prices.

                Oh, and the GameTraders Ballarat store owner was a complete knob, and I'm surprised his store lasted at all. I went there in 2004 to buy a SNES controller and he spent a good while harassing me for wanting an original controller instead of his new third party controllers.

                  I remember that guy, My partner and I went to his store once after moving into the area and never went back instead going to GameTraders in Highpoint, the guy there is really good at remember people from different areas, then GAME opened in wendouree and we always use to buy games from them and not EB but they did get expensive but we wanted to support our retailer of choice so we did then one day we went in to buy a game and they where gone, that was a sad day see the old Wendouree store closed and dark. But then again we never though it was going to survive with the location they picked.

                I totally agree that GAME wasn't up to scratch at the time you visited it. Post 2010, when managment changed, Eastland GAME was well run. Price matching was no problem and the prices were consistently less than EB.

      But their sale prices were f***ing awesome. And I guess we now know why after reading this article and seeing how much stock they were purchasing.

        I remember back when they had some sale in 2010 (I distinctly remember GAME sales because they weren't doing a sale every month like EB so they were more of an event) where I bought Borderlands and Street Fighter IV, the amount of NEW COPIES of Mirrors Edge they were trying to sell (a game I bought new at Kmart for $20 a few weeks earlier) was staggering, it makes sense now since reading this article though!

      Despite hayden's post probably being overly pejorative, can't say I disagree with the conclusions. Game in my neck of the woods was horrendously expensive, about 20% greater than even EB, irrespective of whether buying new or used.

      Was Game the only retail store you ever went into? All game stores charged just as much for their new games and second-hand games it wasn't overpriced i actually quite often found games cheaper then EB were selling them for.

      Hayden, i for one agree completely. High prices, few shelves and lights so white you would swear blind it was a hospital. Not to mention the very pushy sales staff who seemed to be on you the instant you walked in the door.
      I dont know why others are picking on you for your opinion honestly. Just because we all read a touching story about their closure doesnt mean we suddenly have to change our opinion of their franchise.

        I think some people may be taking my post to be an attack on the original article, which it's not. Seems to be a bit of a group mentality going on sometimes.

        The staff at GAME Wendouree where not at all like that, they where welcoming and never pushed you to buy anything from them. They would talk to you about anything and where very friendly, buy I don't know about other GAME stores because as said I live in Ballarat and we only had the one.

    Excellent piece. I really wish most of the US articles would step up to the quality of the stuff that gets written on this local site. Well done.

    Great article Mark. Thanks for putting all that together, it's great to finally have a bit of a picture of what happened!

    Sad but brilliant story
    Very well written

      I agree! I very much enjoyed reading this and getting a profound insight into the retail industry and the downfall of GAME.

    There's was a TV show called The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret. I can't help but feel that title is relevant when every single poor decision was "fixed" by another poor decision. Yes, everyone involved probably thought that it was in their best interests - from rapid expansion to the brand awareness exercise - yet pretty much all of that seemed to come back and bite them in the ass.

    I rarely shopped at GAME when it was open. JB offered better prices, EB and Gametraders offered a better range, big box retailers were convenient. GAME just didn't have a competitive edge anywhere. EDIT: I guess they were best for trade-ins. Not something I really gave much thoguht to though.

    Then came the marketing campaign that seemed like they were a brand that didn't understand their audience. Instead of going for controversy and having two manchildren playing in their mother's basement (do Aussie homes even have basements? I've never seen one), they should have been all embracing. That characterisation shouldn't have been how they sold themselves, it should have been how they made the competitors look like.

    But instead they relied on the cheap "controversy" route.

    A real shame. They had many opportunities to turn things around and like Todd Margaret, lost every coin toss.

    Last edited 14/03/13 1:43 pm

    What have we learned? That Ben Grant is poison who shouldn't be allowed to touch anything, if you want it to survive.

      In the business world Ben Grant is a massive success, he improved Brand awareness by 32% in a year on a tiny budget.

      To us, Gamers he's a joke who insulted us constantly but to the business would the numbers are all that matters.

        Ben Grant is an idiot and text book how not to run a shopfront business marketing campaign. If he applied half the brain power he had to actually marketing the company instead of thinking up stupid shock marketing stunts, something positive might have come from the money spent on the 2010-11 campaign.

        Yes he may have improved brand awareness 32% however the problem was that that awareness was all negative. Shock marketing works great for things like television, film and other short term media because it is just that, short term, and only needs to get people to think about the brand or watch a single show to generate advertising dollars, not maintain a relationship with the customer long term and produce sales.

        A business needs to maintain brand awareness long term and in good standing.

        Yes, everyone who may not have known about GAME before Ben Grant certainly knew about GAME after, the only problem is that all the publicity was negative and negative publicity will never translate into sale dollars or people walking into your stores.

        The man is an idiot and should never have been given a green light for the marketing that he pulled.
        Brand awareness in the "business world [where] the numbers are all that matters" means translating the awareness into dollars and positive image.

        That's nothing even close to what he achieved.

          Interesting comments Dave - some good educated points made.

          I assume you are talking from first hand experience of dealing with GAME on some level?

          Having read all the comments, and worked on the publisher side of the industry myself - I am not sure a long term brand awareness campaign was relevant to a business that was clearly trying to turn things around quickly? The long-term campaigns also take long times to implement (ie. longer than 12 months).

          If you wanted to quickly gain brand awareness with a small budget, what would you do?

          you are also an ardtard, did you just start first year business and think your a marketing guru? firstly lots of companies use shock value that are reputable, virgin and dicksmith as examples.

          secondly at that point there WAS NO long term future... so how do you look to maintain something that doesnt exist yet?

          Dave, your comments are mostly on the money, with the exception about Ben being an idiot. He is stacked with lots of IQ, but was placed under enormous pressure from Paul and the UK directors to gain brand awareness. As you suggest, he should not have been allowed to spend the marketing budget the way he did, as all it did was to increase brand awareness, but this did not convert to increased sales. Blind Freddy could see that coming. I know this frustrated Ben at the end, and he left when the last-throw-of-the-dice from a marketing perspective was ineffective on the bottom line.

    Amazing article. I still remember when I was job hunting going in and handing my resume to my local GAME, not knowing what was happening, and the guy just said "Sorry dude, we don't have jobs either"

    I always went to game. Their prices were way cheaper than EBs and they had awesome deals for trade ins. I actually made money when I traded in Final Fantasy 13. And the workers were awesome. I only ever went in maybe once a month but they always remembered my name and we'd talk about what we were currently playing.

    The brand awareness was a huge thing though. EB is a household name which parents, even if they don't game, know of. Mum was always asking if I meant EB when I was talking about GAME.

    Last edited 14/03/13 1:40 pm

    I managed the store at Knox. That Ezio figure up there? My photo, and my store. The empty store is mine too.

    This article definitely opens up some old wounds; and brings back a lot of great memories, and also the sad ones. It's the best and most detailed account of what happened, a lot of it which not many people knew was going on.

    It was a horrible time, I felt bad for everyone involved, the head office, the staff, but most importantly, the customers who we'd dealt with for so many years. Having to call 150 people and tell them no Diablo, and no refund, was one of the hardest things I've had to do. Closing the store on a days notice was even harder, but ultimately not being able to tell the people we'd been seeing regularly for so long that we were about to be gone was the worst. There were so many cool people that we didn't get to see, thank, and say goodbye to in those last few days. That's what sucked the most.

    Fantastic article Mark. It was a great read to remember it all, even how shitty the last few weeks were. I still miss going in to work there every morning.

      Dude -- thanks for the pic. Let me know if you want a credit on the story, I remember you sending these in, but I couldn't find the email. :)

      Here here. I too ran a GAME store for many a year. Was a great time for me, but it all ended in a pile. I got out just in time, 3 weeks before they went into Admin. I was at Warringah Mall. I also opened and setup the Maquarie sotre. When we started, it was more relaxed, not very professional, but that didn't matter, we killed it. I was there for around 6 Years and saw the decline over that time. Its a shame, my teams were dedicated to providing games, for gamers. We all were fully into the products we sold. Wish I could get back into the industry, maybe away from the frontline retailing though. I kept in contact with the guys after I left in my old store, and yea, the stories that they told me about Diablo were tough to hear. Must have been a nightmare for the staff left. The shame for me was, most of us store managers were gamers, committed to seeing the company succeed. I think the industry is poorer for not having these passionate, involved people in it anymore. I think its safe to say now, I smoked bongs at the conferences, EVERY YEAR!

        lol and for those of us that know who Brewer74 is....we already new

          Haha brewer did you think that was a secret?

      GAME may be gone, but the 17th Floor Saints will live on in infamy!

      I applied for a job there about three times, and never got a call back.

      So, uh, thanks I suppose. Saved me from another job hunt.

        Hiring was always one of the things I hated the most. The ad would go up, and by the end of the fist three days we'd have, no joke, over 400 applications. Don't take it too personally dude :P

      Well shit, now i feel bad. Nothing personal, but through no fault of your own you just couldnt compete with JB on price or the EB upstairs' selection of used games. Also your location was right in the middle of the complex, and i rarely walk in that far unless i need milk from the supermarket.......Sorry!

        It was always an uphill battle for us, but we did pretty well considering everything that was going against us. I mean, considering everything that ended up going down, it was still one of the best performing stores in Victoria.

    It's pretty much a guarantee when you see a locally written 'proper' article that it's going to be a good one, this is no exception. Fascinating reading.

    I find it hard to believe the points being made about their over-purchases and conversations with their publishers to get credit. I assumed they would do what everyone else does, that is, buy their stock "sale or return", so every unsold unit is fully refunded by the publisher. I can't imagine anyone would be foolish enough to buy stock on "firm sale". Seems dubious.

    To be brutally honest I was quite happy when GAME went under. Why? They went out of their way to gouge Australian gamers.. they even admit it early in the article:

    "“There was a big attractive market, with $110 price points. So they thought, ‘Brilliant, here we go.’"

    They came into the Australian market at a time when they could have undercut EB prices by 25-40% and still made a hefty profit. The good will garnered by this would have won them huge kudos and brand loyalty. Instead, they just continued what EB had been doing and ripped us gamers off... so,a big FUCK YOU to GAME was ordered and delivered as far as I'm concerned. All they had to do was charge us the same price they were charging their UK customers (or even a 10% premium on that) and they would have had lines out the door.

    I do feel sorry for the employees of GAME, but as an organisation, I was more than happy to see them die a slow painful death.

    It took JB Hi-Fi to have a bit of balls (plus online distribution) and now we've seen games drop in price significantly. Eventually, even EB will die once people are more happy to purchase their games via digital distribution. There's no need to walk in and by a copy from EB / GAME, when you can just purchase it from the distributors website for 50% of the price.

    Bye bye GAME, don't let the door hit your arse on the way out.

      Yeah, I see this as an explanation as to why they couldn't save themselves rather than why they went under. GAME Australia was a conceptual mistake as much as anything else.

      Where are these "distributors" websites that sell for 50% of the price?

      As far as I know 50% of the price is Ozgameshop not Distributors.

      Blanket Argument: Distributor sells physical game for $90 so EB need to sell it for $100, Can't budge on the price Distributor won't allow it. Digital prices are the same because the physical retailers won't allow a discount.

      Current gen games typically have a gross margin of around 25%. That is if you see game on the shelf for $100, $25 is the retailers margin. Undercutting EB by the numbers you say would have sent GAME to the grave MUCH quicker.

      The most tragic part for me was really GAME taking over Games Wizards and pretty much killing what was a nice independant gaming chain.

      The shop I went to just wasn't the same ever since the rebadge and new staff came in =(

      I feel sorry for their employees but GAME made it very clear what they were about when they arrived on the scene.

      In my local mall at the time in Corio (northern Geelong) they set up about 5 metres away from the EB games which was already well established.

      EB saw them coming, the week they opened EB had tables upon tables filled with new games for $20, $25, $30, $40.

      GAME, by contrast, was a sterile white store, all the game cases were behind those clear plastic boxes which set off alarms if you try to leave the store, the ones some video stores use, there were no specials to speak of, everything about that store pushed the customer away.

      It took them six months to have a sale I reckon, and it was decent, but EB was having a different sale every other week whereas GAME would have a sale every three months.

      I'd only bought 4 games from them and a PS2 controller by the time they closed them down in the first wave of GAME closures, after that purge there were no GAME stores in Geelong whatsoever, the closest being in Werribee.

      After that GAME did get on my radar one more time when they offered this incredible trade in deal where you could trade in any two games and get a new game for $1!!! I got Mass Effect 2 and Splinter Cell Conviction under that deal, amazing - but in the back of my mind I felt it was setting them up for a big fall.

      People criticise EB games for their practices but fail to see what they do right, their constant barrage of specials means that for the gaming enthusiast there's bound to be something take your interest there from time to time, added to that their trade in and price matching policies make them a good target for the bargain hunter, it's those two core crowds that are the backbone of their "mum & dad" audience that would otherwise be buying their games from Big W.

      The fact this article even spells it out, they came to Australia to take advantage of the $100 price point, never mind that most of that seems to be taken by the distributor! They were totally unprepared for the story of Australian retail in the past 3 years - the rise of the frugal consumer

    Wow. Such a gut-wrenching read, but so good.

    Nice job, Mark.

    They had high prices, they shut down a good Australian chain (my first ever game purchase was from a Games Wizards store... such great memories...) and they had asinine marketing campaigns. Personally, I went out of my way to avoid buying games from them.

      I agree alot of their advertising campaigns made customers of GAME AU look like sexist perverted man-childs and tried to pass it off as terms of endearment with their customers however we all knew they saw us as cash cows.

      That however wasn't my issue with Game AU mine was their aggressive sales tactics of their store hands, tough return policy and unusually garish looking shop setups with the cheap purple and grey displays that just looked so artificial and counter-intuitive.

    Really it was the poor economic climate in the UK that killed GAME Australia as they were bankrolling the Aussie stores.Also over expanding particularly in the UK when they bought a major competitor but failed to consolidate their stores and ended up competing with themselves, plus a extended console generation didn't help.

    In Australia they were over-priced, over-staffed and badly managed.They were always in locations near EB-Games and JB Etc.

    When the UK arm went into administration I urged my GF who worked for them to update her resume and start looking for work, as I could see the writing on the wall and wanted her to get in early and not have to compete with all the others who I knew would soon be made redundant.

    I think the opportuity is there for someone to come along and really take it to EB.

    JB is making a fist of it, but in all honesty, I don't think they've really grasped the opportunity properly. EB charges RIDICULOUS prices for games. They shouldn't be doing as well as they are. It's actually baffling to be honest, that they're not going under themselves.

    I think JB would have a chance of knocking them off if they opened dedicated Gaming stores. Concept stores.

    Otherwise, an investor with money to burn needs to back someone knowing there'll be loss initially, and really undercut EB. Take the hit initially to turn it around later. Only hire staff who are actual gamers, and offering good trade in prices is a big one.

    If someone can come along and offer great trade in prices and then sell those trade ins at an appropriate price, I think that would be the killer blow.

      I don't see why JB would do that. They've got a majority market share, without the risk of only carrying one product category.

        the thing is JB hifi often sells their games close to if not at cost price around launch and then they go straight back to RRP once the next game is out, the problem here is that its driving the cost down of a product that is getting increasingly more expensive to make, im not saying we should be being charged $120 for a game like we once were but the prices it is now ($80 - $100 RRP) are completely fair, and honestly if you wanna keep seeing AAA games being made you need to be prepared to pay this price otherwise all we're going to get is bland updates of last years game plus a bunch of extra greedy microtransactions. If you dont want to pay $80+ for a brand new release game, there is loads of amazing indie titles available for much cheaper online and you can help the little guy not starve. but as fantastic as these titles are they are never going to be of AAA size and scope because it just costs way too much money to make games at such a level.

        TL:DR dont be cheap and support the games industry or you'll get more microtransactions in your AAA titles.

          I'm going to be blunt here: your comment about the relationship between pricing and mircotransactions makes absolutely no sense.

          Paying full retail is not going to prevent micro-transactions in and of itself. Developers include micro-transactions because its an additional revenue stream. They are going to charge the maximum they can get away with for the base game, and include micro-transactions anyway because that makes them the most money.

      Physical games retailers are going the same way as CD and DVD stores. Distribution is already moving online. All the next-gen consoles will be digital first, pushing you to buy as much as possible from Microsoft, Sony (or Apple, or Steam…) directly.

      In less than five years buying a physical copy of a game is going to be one of those quaint things people used to do. EB is going to go the same way as HMV and Virgin, and JB will continue to do what it does best: discounting as hard as possible to ensure there's no oxygen in the market for anyone who doesn't have their reach and volume.

      Why the hell would anyone want to get into this business?

      Problem is is that if you read JB's financial reports, the commentary still regards their games division as a minor factor at best, despite being their most stable (though not most profitable) trade. JB has been great for games retail in my opinion in the last 6 years, but i dont think they have the will to capitalise on it.

    This article makes every other article on Kotaku look like crap.

    You guys need serious quality control, and this article should be the benchmark.

    Amazing article with a lot of obvious research and true reporting.

    Well done Mark, Kotaku stays in my bookmarks bar.

      Not every painting can be a masterpiece.

      I agree though brillant article.

    I would also like to add, Travis was a friggin Champion. Really good dude that did his job really well, like many of us other Store Managers. Respect. Many a fun time with him at various events and gatherings.

      Yeah, Travis is fabulous, but I would love to know his thoughts about what happened to the $240,000 worth of stock from the Parramatta store that never made it back to the National Distribution Centre at Castle Hill on the day of closure. It's still a complete mystery.

        Whoa, cant say I have heard of that one. I managed to get out 3 weeks before they went into administration and was out of the loop for the end part. That is surprising to hear however.

          I can verify BlindFreddy's claim. The NDC guys told me there was a $240K discrepancy with the Parramatta store; only about 10% of the stock came back. However, the responsibility of securing the stock fell on the PwC representatives (administrators) as they let go all the managers/supervisors of the logistics team on the day that the last stores were closed. They chose not to keep any of them to finalise the return of stock to the NDC, which was stupid (and I told them that).

    Great Article. I remember hearing that Game wasn't offering refunds to customers but had no idea of the rest of the story.

    Such a said thing..
    I couldn't imagine being in that situation having to fire someone like that. Wasn't aware of any of that marketing stuff. I just walked into the local forum one day and was like lol a pink store. Their staff seemed friendly and approachable. Still have a photo on phone where they sold brood wars for $2.

    Maybe if at one point they suits put in charge had actually asked gamers why they weren't coming in store they might have succeeded. I guess that's the kind of wooly headed liberal thinking that leads to being eaten.

    Awesome article! Travis is one of the most hard working, honest and straight forward dudes you will ever meet, I'm proud to know him!

    Mark that was a great read. Keep it up. Very well done.

    To share a 'GAME story' my local store is gone (of course) and its retail space now belongs to one of those crappy imported knock-off cheap plastic toy shops.

    Sadly the purple GAME signage remains though (not the cardboard and standees and stuff). What do you call that sort of sign, I think it's glass and is back-lit? They are in every shopping centre everywhere.

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