|originally posted by The Guardian:|
Speculation about the future of Game Group is mounting after it emerged that the struggling retailer will not to stock the potentially best-selling games Mass Effect 3 and Mario Party 9.
This is another severe blow to the company, which is under heavy pressure from its lenders and battling for survival.
Game blamed supply issues for Mass Effect 3, which is out on 9 March. Shares in the company crashed more than 20% to just over 5p.
A Game spokeswoman said: "We currently have a supply issue with regards to Mass Effect 3, which means that Game and Gamestation will not be able to fulfil orders for Mass Effect 3 at this time."
She said that customers who have pre-ordered in store will be able to add £5 worth of reward points to their card between 1 and 16 March. Customers who have paid a deposit will receive a refund as well as the £5 worth of reward points, while customers who have pre-ordered online will get an online voucher for £5.
The problem for Game, and rival HMV, is that many gamers have stopped going into shops and either download games or buy them online. They have lost ground to online retailers such as Amazon.com and Play.com.
Nintendo issued a statement listing the retailers where Mario Party 9 would be available for sale, from which Game and Gamestation were absent. The game, from the best-selling Mario series, is out this Friday. A Nintendo spokeswoman said the list was comprehensive.
The Game spokeswoman said: "Following the extremely successful launch of the Sony PS Vita, there is lots to be excited about in our stores and online this weekend including the release of the Mortal Kombat GOTY Edition, Angry Birds: Seasons, Ski-Doo Challenge and Crash Time 4. Unfortunately, Mario Party 9 for the Wii is not in stock; we have apologised to any customers this has affected and can assure anyone who has pre-ordered that they will be able to exchange their credit."
Game Group was able to renegotiate terms with video game suppliers recently which gave the firm some breathing space on its bank borrowing.
However, its lenders – Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays, HSBC, Caixa, Allied Irish Bank and Bank of Ireland – are still exerting considerable influence and are pressing for a sale of Game's overseas shops.
Nintendo said Mario Party 9 will be available to buy on the high street via Argos, Asda, Tesco, Dixons Stores Group, GameStop, Sainsburys, Smyths Toys, Toys R Us, HMV, Blockbuster or online at Amazon.com, The Hut, Play.com, zavvi.co.uk, johnlewis.com and Littlewoods.com.
The latest instalment introduces new game modes, battles against bosses and playable characters from the Mushroom Kingdom.