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GAME and Gamestation sites back online, but no buyout news just yet

GAME giftcards likely to remain dead, says legal expert

Game.co.uk and Gamestation.co.uk are open for business once more after being shuttered earlier this week by administrator.

It's an auspicious development for the collapsed GAME Group, particularly following yesterday's report that a business-saving deal with a bank consortium led by the Royal Bank of Scotland is "incredibly close". Sources close to GamesIndustry International claim, however, that we shouldn't expect news of a buyout today. Also believed to be in the running for the retailer is OpCapita, architect of Comet's revival.

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Both sites are carrying a range of reasonably up-to-date deals - GAME.co.uk has the Kinect Star Wars Xbox 360 bundle, for instance. Naturally, hefty price-cutting is in effect. By all means look for a bargain.

GAME Group's administrators reactivated the chain's Reward Card service yesterday, allowing customers to redeem points against pre-owned purchases, but according to Mark Cullingford of law firm Thrings LLP, they're unlikely to do likewise for gift cards.

"In essence, the administrator cannot honour a liability on a voucher or prepayment to full value when other unsecured creditors may get paid p/£," Cullingford explained (via CVG).

"The loyalty card issue is a little different because he is selling goods at a discount - when he may be selling at a discount anyway. He is simply agreeing to sell goods that he may not otherwise sell at that price on a fixed discount basis and if these are redeemable on pre-owned games only, these games are probably likely to suffer more in a 'fire sale' and therefore he will want to enhance his sale price on what would otherwise be goods that drop in real value quicker."

"A buyer might be willing to offer transferability of loyalty as an incentive for sales and retain customers and the reopening of loyalty may be part of that process - but they are not likely to honour gift vouchers unless they have calculated that to do so is part of the price for the goodwill they are buying.

"And in doing so they will then seek to deduct that cost from the price they pay to the administrator for goodwill - but it is all part of a commercial assessment on the sale by the administrator and purchase by the purchaser."

What do GAME's troubles bode for developers, publishers and consumers? Find out in our latest feature.

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