Bottom Line: Not much can really change in two years

 
Elizabeth Fournier
IF INVESTORS were in any doubt that gaming is big business, they only need to scan rumour boards yesterday for their fear to be allayed.

As Game announced its return to market after just two years, the tech world was rife with talk that Google is preparing a $1bn bid for Twitch – an online gaming community where people watch live streams of other people playing computer games.

Set up just three years ago, Twitch now boasts 45m unique monthly viewers (twice as many as a year ago) and generates more traffic than HBO GO – the US network’s online streaming portal.

So gaming is big, and Game sells games, so it’ll be alright, right?

Not quite. Though the retailer claims it has reduced its reliance on consoles in the two years since it went into administration, big hitters like the Xbox One, Playstation 4 (both released in 2013) and the games designed for them are still its bread and butter – with each console mentioned four times in yesterday’s intention to float. Releases as big as those don’t come around often, and even bestseller games are few and far between, with both the Grand Theft Auto and Call Of Duty franchises also releasing new titles last year. No wonder Game’s numbers look good.

Yes, Game has slashed its unwieldy UK high street presence by half, cutting rental costs and shifting customers online, but it’s still dependent on a niche set of products that gamers can just as easily buy on Amazon.

At the same time, investors seem to be growing weary of the slew of retailer IPOs making their way to market. Game’s opportunistic rescuers may stand to make a lot of money, but no one else is likely to.

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