UK High Street retailer Game has officially announced its intention to discontinue its pre-owned video game business. Parent company Frasers Group revealed that the phase-out of trade-ins will occur gradually in the upcoming months. Despite this move, pre-owned games will still be available for purchase in the company’s standalone stores until existing stocks are depleted.
The decision, initially reported by Eurogamer, marks the end of an affordable option for acquiring games, which has been favored by many gamers. The decline in physical video game sales, a significant shift from Game’s peak in the early 2000s, is evident, with digital sales now constituting nearly 90% of all video game sales in the UK, as reported by the digital entertainment and retail association (ERA) trade body in 2023.
The trend toward digital sales is further underscored by the popularity of monthly subscription services such as Sony’s PlayStation Plus and Microsoft’s Game Pass, offering subscribers access to extensive libraries of downloadable games.
In the process of integrating Game, Frasers Group spokesperson stated, “As part of the integration of Game, we will be phasing out the trade-in, pre-owned, and Game Elite offerings in the UK over the coming months.” While pre-owned titles will still be available in standalone stores until supplies last, Game Elite will remain accessible until the end of summer.
Game’s website currently accepts trade-ins for “most consoles, games, and gaming accessories,” excluding titles from older consoles like the PlayStation 2. This contrasts with High Street competitor Cex, which has established a global presence with 600 stores, including 385 in the UK, focusing solely on a pre-owned electronics business model.
While Cex pays cash for pre-owned games, Game provides credit against future purchases. Some observers suggest that Game’s decision could potentially benefit Cex, with one social media user commenting, “They’ve just handed their biggest rival (CEX) the entire pre-owned market.”
Sophie Smart, production director at UK game studio No More Robots, expressed disappointment, highlighting the nostalgic experience of saving pocket money for pre-owned games. She noted a broader industry shift away from physical products but anticipated continued demand for pre-owned titles, especially given the high initial cost of new AAA titles.
Game, acquired by Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group in 2019 for £52 million, has undergone changes, including store closures and openings within existing Frasers Group retail spaces. The company has diversified its offerings, dedicating floorspace to plush toys, board games, and Pokemon cards. Game’s managing director, Nick Arran, emphasized a desire for the business to be “a toy business that sells all year round” in an effort to safeguard its future.