Belfast Telegraph

Dispute raises fears it's Game over

By Louise Small

Games from two of the world's largest video game publishers will be unavailable for purchase at Game group stores from now on.

Reports of a fall-out with one major supplier has raised questions about the future of Game, which has 18 stores across Northern Ireland.

Nintendo and Electronic Arts (EA) announced on Wednesday that they would no longer be supplying the company with many of their new releases, including Mario Party 9 and Mass Effect 3.

Shares within the high street retailer fell by more than 15% after news of the fall-out with EA appeared on industry websites.

Electronic Arts is the world's second largest games publisher by sales.

The possibility of Game stocking new releases such as The Sims 3 Showtime and Tiger Woods' new golf game hangs in the balance.

Telephone calls to Game's store in CastleCourt, Belfast, yesterday were answered by an automated service, which directed those wishing to purchase Mass Effect 3 to their website. The automated recording also said that their call centre was closed.

Game was recently thrown a lifeline after lenders agreed to revise its banking facilities.

The company said in a statement that it had a "supply issue" and would refund deposits as well as give customers a £5 voucher.

Game confirmed that it would not be stocking a "small number of titles" from EA this month.

The statement added: "This situation, which is a result of ongoing discussions between the group and EA, is a temporary one and indeed both businesses are already engaged in discussions about future launches together."

Nintendo's list of suppliers for forthcoming releases did not include Game. Electronic Arts did not comment on Game.

A deterioration in relations with EA would represent a significant problem for Game, which will rely on the support of suppliers and lenders to see it through this period of dire trading.