It’s been no secret that UK videogames specialist retailer GAME has had a turbulent time of late. In essence, the GAME you see on high streets today is not the same company it was this time last year, but with that comes both positive and negative connotations. The stalwart of the high street had undergone many a change of face since it’s inception in the early 1990s and yet has remained a static and commanding figure in the industry. It was perhaps this reluctance to bend to industry trends that resulted in the company’s untimely demise, but this rebirth has resulted in a desire to face that issue head-on.
Electronic Theatre reported on a new and inventive initiative late last year called the GAME Pad. This was an attraction in London which featured a hotel room decked-out with high-definition (HD) televisions, videogame consoles and dozens of the latest software releases supported by a large buffet of snacks and drinks for a very reasonable price. An interesting concept certainly, but aimed at a minority audience; there’s only so many people that you can attract to a private hire room intended for no more than four people per night.
The latest live event from GAME is aimed at a more mass market audience. The ‘Lock-Ins’ recently took place at nearly twenty stores across the country, inviting gamers into the retail space after trading has ceased and allowing them to get hands-on with an upcoming title before release, free of charge. In this first instance, Electronic Arts aided with the promotional activities bringing the highly anticipated Dead Space 3 along for consumers to try, complete with four HD televisions and debug Xbox 360 consoles.
With the key arrangements designed by head office, local GAME stores had to determine their own entry policies and additional compliments. Electronic Theatre visited the local GAME in Norwich where store manager Shaun Mickleborough had demonstrated calm and confidently that he agreed with the direction that the company was moving in, and that he had high hopes for building a community through a series of Lock-In events. Thirty-six people were named on the list to attend – all of which made it to the event, Electronic Theatre was informed – and as the Lock-In took place immediately after the late night shopping in Norwich the doors were left open to invite passers-by. Of course, given the array of nibbles and soft drinks convincing interested parties to join the fun wasn’t exactly difficult.
The staff on hand were clearly cherry-picked for their knowledge of videogames. While quickly admitting that they hadn’t yet experienced Dead Space 3 themselves all were keen to lend a hand, whether it be with the videogame itself or other more general enquiries. Furthermore, the friendly and inviting atmosphere presented by the team was certainly a direct correlation with what they hoped to achieve through the Lock-Ins, each offering their name and personal gaming preferences in a subtle and well placed effort to build customers relationships.
Other stores may have handled their own events differently, but if Norwich was picked randomly for part of this trial run of Lock-Ins it was certainly a lucky guess. More events are planned for the future, including further titles from Electronic Arts and a Microsoft Studios event for one of the biggest Xbox 360 exclusive titles coming in 2013, and you can be certain that Electronic Theatre will keep you updated with the future of the GAME Lock-In events in Norwich.