Gameplay are no more. RIP.

Embattled organisation The Game Group, who expanded in the last decade with buying out Electronics Boutique, Gamestation and Gameplay, are having to aggressively cut back due to falling profits and their inability to get stock insurance and buy in new stock.

In order to do this, they are cutting 35 stores nationwide, with a further 25 to be phased out by Christmas 2013. But the real bitter pill is Gameplay are to be closed down and consigned to the history books.

This, for me, is a crying shame as I remember the history behind Gameplay.

The site was the result of one man who had a business plan in the mid-90s to start selling games via mail order. Whilst banks agreed this was a good idea, he had no capital of his own to invest, and banks therefore were reluctant to join in. Which shows just how much banks have changed in the past near-twenty years, eh?

So, instead, this man – Dylan Wilk – went to a charity called The Princes Trust, which was set up to help encourage and support young people trying to set up their own businesses. The trust game him a capital loan of £2,500. And so it began, as Mr Wilk spent much of his time getting the best deals for stock.

A few years later in 1999, the company was floated on the stock market, and was valued at £88 million. Dylan made £4 million from the deal.

Gameplay was a success story. Humble beginnings to a massive player in the online space. Which makes it all the more sad when in the Noughties, The Game Group started to aggressively buy out the competition, against most trading practices and laws. Gameplay was bought, as was Gamestation and Electronics Boutique.

EB was consigned to the history books. And now, Gameplay follows suit.

I feel quite sad about this. Because it was a great success story, and this is the kind of ending that makes you feel bad about how some organisations run their company. It’s a crying shame, as the Gameplay brand – despite its assosciations – remains a loved name, primarily because of its origins story. It holds more power in that than, say, Gamestation.

But whatever. Goodbye Gameplay. We’ve loved you, we’ve lost you, and now we mourn you.

Rest well, old friend, for one day we will all follow you.

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