Buying Games in Ireland - A Losing Battle

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Rory Galvin weighs up on our unfortunate options for buying video games

There are two independent video game shops in Dublin. Two. One is really a record shop impacted by the pandemic, and the other is underwhelming, with a bigger focus on books than anything else. We live on a small island where liking video games can sometimes still feel like an unpopular opinion, and that is reflected in the options we have when it comes to purchasing titles.

When it comes to the big retailers, we used to have way more options than there are today.

There are many that I could name: GameStop, Smyths, Argos, HMV, GAME and Xtravision. Only the first half of these still exist, with Argos recently announcing the closure of all stores in Ireland this summer, meaning we really will only have two retail shops backing games. I remember HMV being a great place to buy titles, but since their closure, and eventual morph into Golden Discs, it was dropped completely. Xtravision, along with every other kind of rental store, is long gone because of the internet. I still have a few of those boxes at home, funnily enough purchased from HMV’s closing days. GAME was a personal favourite, mainly because they were near me; every single Irish store was shut after they went into administration in 2012. So, two options left for new games.

CEX (short for Complete Entertainment Exchange) has filled the void for a lot of Irish gamers wanting to get their games physically. It can be a bit of a mixed bag with quality: I can’t count how many times I’ve gotten the wrong disc or had to pass on something I wanted because it was in terrible condition. Plus, none of what they sell goes towards the developers who made the games as everything is second hand. That doesn’t bother me for some of the older games, but when they’re selling brand new titles in the same week they come out you might want to look elsewhere to support the industry. Certain hot items can be priced way over their retail value too. It can leave a bad taste in your mouth seeing a console like the PS5 being sold for over €800 due to high demand.

There’s always buying online, though the biggest issue is again a lack of Irish-owned businesses selling. The best deals are found on Amazon UK. And, as you can guess, a website ending in doesn’t do a lot for our local economy, but when it has the best deals and quick delivery, any feeling of guilt disappears fast. Buying games digitally probably does the most for the consumer, but any savvy gamer shopping around knows that sometimes a physical version can be on sale for a much better price.

We’re never going back to the glory days of brick and mortar video games - disc/cartridge based games only make up about 10% of all sales, the rest are downloaded copies. So, if you have any strong feelings about keeping the physical medium alive, support whatever we have left. Or, go towards that all digital future. It’s up to you to make that decision.