Controversial UK online shop Gameseek goes into liquidation

Cheshire-based online video game shop Gameseek has gone into liquidation – leaving angry customers out of pocket.

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The letter sent to Gameseek customers today.

Gameseek’s website is currently offline, and emails to staff return “address not found” messages. Emails and calls to CEO Stephen Staley went unanswered at the time of publication.

Gameseek’s closure has come just days after its website and official Twitter account were in operation. Customers now face losing money on products they’ve already paid for.

One affected customer, 36-year-old Tom Robinson from Gwynedd, Wales told Eurogamer he received a letter from a business recovery specialist today notifying him of Gameseek’s liquidation and his status as a creditor after paying £64.98 for the Japan-exclusive premium edition of PlayStation 4 exclusive Detroit: Become Human via PayPal. A decision on the appointment of the company as Gameseek’s liquidator will be made on 17th May, when the business winds up. Until then, Robinson and other affected customers like him have little choice but to fill out proof of debt forms.

“I’m not holding out hope of getting my money back to be honest,” Robinson told Eurogamer. “From what I’ve read online these claims can take months and it’s unlikely I will get reimbursed for a relatively small sum.

“I think my best hope is to contact PayPal and see if their buyer protection covers instances like this. It’s upsetting because not only am I out of pocket, this version of the game is out of stock everywhere, so getting a replacement will be nigh-on impossible.”

Anger is building on social media, where customers are calling for refunds. Here’s a snippet:

Gameseek has endured a number of controversies in recent years. It hit the headlines in 2017 for selling the Nintendo Switch at £198.50 – over £80 cheaper than it costs elsewhere. It later said it would honour pre-orders after nearly 100 people put money down on the website.

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GameSeek said nearly 1000 people have pre-ordered the Nintendo Switch at the low cost.

GameSeek boss Stephen Staley told Eurogamer at the time: “A part of me wanted to cancel, but I just couldn’t do it.

“When the team asked me this morning it was difficult but I saw no other way. I couldn’t bear the thought of telling them to send us more money.

“For what it’s worth I am hoping we get some sort of goodwill for this as I know many other retailers wouldn’t of done it.”

Later in 2017, Staley issued an impassioned defence of his company’s controversial “Cyclonic Deal” promotion, which had been accused of being a “scam”.

The promotion saw aggressive discounts on big, upcoming games – and even the sought-after SNES mini.

But customers had a hard time buying the products in question at the discounted prices advertised.

Gameseek’s “Cyclonic Deal” promotion advertised the SNES mini at £50 – £20 off RRP – Destiny 2 for £30 and Mario & Rabbids Kingdom Battle for Nintendo Switch for an eye-catching £25. Many other games were discounted well below RRP.

Gameseek’s Facebook page posted about these deals when they were live – or at least when Gameseek claimed they were live – but when users clicked through to the website many found the deals restricted by a countdown timer.

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Gameseek’s SNES mini for £50 offer sounded too good to be true.

“It’s a loss leader,” Staley told Eurogamer at the time. “It’s just a promotion. I am more passionate about gaming than business.

“I am in a very unique position where I own 100 per cent of the company and can do things other companies cannot. I have no-one to report to. No shareholders. No Investors. Ultimately I am extremely passionate about video games.”

He added: “I don’t need to do this. And it’s not just the SNES mini, there are 349 other items on live deal right now.

“I love my company and I love e-commerce. We could easily sell at higher prices but why not create history?

“We are doing something very generous. I don’t understand. I am trying to make a difference in the world here and do things never been done before. Yes it’s innovative and yes we are not perfect, but we are clearly trying, whereas most other retailers are just drifting through life and accepting the norm.

“We want to actually make history and change how customers engage and interact with an online shop. We have so many new features coming it’s extremely exciting to be a part of this.

“This is an exciting new dawn for video gamers.”

It’s a tough time for independent video game retailers at the moment. In March Eurogamer reported on the closure of Grainger Games, which shut all its stores and let go some 400 staff after encountering financial difficulties.

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