GAME's custom barcode blocks mobile price comparison apps

10 November 2011

...whats all this then?...(original barcode just visible under new GAME sticker)

For those that own a smartphone, you are probably familiar with mobile price comparison apps such as RedLaser or ShopSavvy. If not, RedLaser is an app which lets you scan the barcode of an item and then it searches thousands of online and local retailers for the best price available for the scanned product. The app recognises a wide range of standard barcodes such as UPC, EAN, UPC-E and EAN-8. It will not however recognise barcodes produced by individual retailers and, following a tip from a Bitterwallet reader, the barcodes which can now be found on all of GAME's software.

It appears that GAME have printed a custom barcode on a sticker and placed it over the existing barcode. Scanning the new barcode with a price comparison app fails to find any online matches - you are simply shown this search result:

RL Search Result

So, as you can see, there are no results because the barcode isn't readable by the app because it has been generated by GAME.

Whilst it is not in question that GAME can do exactly what they like in their own stores, it does seem to fly in the face of their strategy which was set out by them in February in which they believed that they would "become the first choice for customers gaming needs by making games more affordable by creating different ways to buy and own them".

If GAME are not being transparent enough to show exactly where they stand following a price comparison, does it really fill you with confidence that you are really getting the best deal after visiting a GAME store?

We could be entirely wrong and there may well be reasons for this secondary barcode. It would be interesting to find out from GAME why and when it was introduced and if they are aware of any other retailers who feel the need to do the same. Contact will be made with GAME to allow them to explain the reasons behind this custom barcode covering the original.

Please get in contact with us if you have any information or thoughts on this issue. Have you seen other retailers doing this? Drop us a line at [email protected]

TOPICS:   Games   Consumer Advice


  • Joff
    Just use Google Goggles (or whatever) and search by the box cover image.
  • Dave
    Surely if there were innocent reasons for it they'd have it elsewhere, maybe on the price sticker like I think HMV have in the past.
  • RazorD
    Actually, this a common thing across all GAME group stores, but it's not about price comparison stopping.. It's because it's used games. They need different barcodes to know its a used game and charge you the according price :) Nothing evil, for once.
  • Steve O.
    Yeah, how fat-fingered do you need to be to not type the name of it in to Google? Or if it's not sealed, slip out the sleeve a bit until you can see the barcode. I've done that before.
  • klingelton
    this is unfairly picking out game as well. im sure other retailers do exactly the same thing (and yes, my assumption was that it was to prevent price comparison).
  • Paul Nikkel EDITOR
    @RazorD - Are you saying they only do it on pre-owned games and not new games? Should be easy to check.
  • NotAGameFan
    Game not over priced?? Their prices advertised online are different to those instore and lets take MW3 as an example of over pricing.... Got a copy at BestBuy for £29.99 with no trade ins
  • Jammcr
    Think HMV have done this for years?
  • Shang
    They have been doing this for years, I've got copies of PS2 games with these very stickers on. And as far as I'm aware it's on second hand games only.
  • Andy D.
    Our instore spy says the stickers are on both new and used games. Any other stores known to do this?
  • Me
    They have been doing this for YEARS. I have old Gamecube games with them on, hell I even think I took one off a PS1 game once.
  • Paul C.
    Just slip the sleeve out of the plastic cover like a DVD. Fucking hell - not difficult, eh?
  • Paul Nikkel EDITOR
    HMV don't do this btw - they put the second barcode sticker on the front or otherwise not covering the original barcode.
  • JD64
    GAME have done this for years on pre-owned games but have never seen it on new products. The last releases I purchased a couple of weeks ago were F1 and Forza, neither had anything other than the conventional barcode visable. Anyone picked up BF or MW in the last few days from the store?
  • Sawyer
    For those saying the sticker is placed intentionally over the barcode, surely if they're using their own system, that's the best place for it? It prevents scanning of the wrong barcode, and means that the sticker doesn't cover the promotional stuff on the back. Nothing more annoying than having part of the game info covered by a pricing sticker.
  • Iain B.
    Unfortunately, It's not just GAME, a lot of shops have their own bar codes for products, this can be seen at christmas, if you've ever been given the same cd/dvd/game for christmas and accidentally taken the wrong one back to the wrong shop, the shop will likely be unable to "find it in the system" In GAME's case it's probably like other people have said, its for used units.
  • @goonerjamie
    Well I'm looking at my copy of MW3 bought from GAME and it's just the normal barcode, no sticker?
  • Harry B.
    GAME use this for pre owned titles, not brand new titles. Would help to check the facts before you publish
  • callum
    Covering the barcode seems the logical place for them to put their own barcode. I work on a checkout and it drives me mad when you were meant to scan a sticker but the checkout saw the original barcode first. If you are that concerned with finding the price, why not just type in the name though? You could be right that it's a move to stop people scanning to search prices, but that seems a bit stupid. I can't say I've EVER seen a single person scanning products to check prices - rolling out a national stickered barcode to stop it seems a waste of time. Especially as it doesn't stop normal price comparisons - and if you felt the need to only search by scanning the barcode and were prevented from doing so (though if you lift up the plastic you can get the original barcode anyway), you would likely leave and not just buy it.
  • Studley
    Yes HMV have done this for years for similar reasons. Scanning the standard barcode on an item will scan it at full-price; if it's a sale item, it needs a sale barcode. I hope you retract this article as it's a shameful and unfounded accusation.
  • bob
    It takes a special kind of retard to not be able to head to google and type in the game of the game they have right in their hands or they intend to buy. How about the solution of people stop being lazy or at the very least abide by the defacto - its going to be cheaper online.
  • Mike
    It's for stock control of Pre-owned items. Thats it, nothing else to say.
  • Paul Nikkel EDITOR
    @Mike - Apparently they are on new items also but not on own-brand items. @Studley - HMV don't cover the original barcodes with an inhouse barcode.
  • Martin
    Its for stock control on 2nd hand and promo stuff, you need to correct this crock of shit piece
  • harry b.
    @ Paul shouldn't you be amending / retracting this article instead of trying to justify its existence?
  • Spanks
    @ Martian I'm not justifying the context but is there the need for the abuse? Effort is put into the blog as a whole, which last time i checked was free.
  • klingelton
    the article does say "We could be entirely wrong and there may well be reasons for this secondary barcode". it has been proven that they are wrong. on another note, sainsburys cover the barcodes on their stock. it's on new stock as well, so im not entirely sure why they do that. maybe fling some shit at them and see if it sticks? (I sincerely hope it does)
  • Phil
    Meh - I'd have to actually buy something in game for this to even bother me. CEX are cheaper for preowned fixes on the high street however I mainly just buy online.
  • Tim
    I've seen store generated barcodes stuck over the original in many stores, on many products not just games, for years. Long before the existence of smart phones! It depends on their stock and till system. Some use the official barcodes, some use their own. Some place the security tag in the sticker also to save having a separate sticker.
  • Neil
    Game are rubbish, and staffed with juveline assistants that make Mordeci and Rigby look like examples of down the line corporate men. They also don't price match, so offski to Amazon, Argos, HMV etc.... Hardly a surprise they are struggling, esp. after taking over Gamestation a few years back and leaving most of the stores open. In my town Game and Gamestation are 50 yards apart int he same shopping centre. D'Oh.
  • Mark H.
    This seems to be the ultimate none story. Good work guys!
  • JP_
    The stickers are only on the outer plastic cover - I've even peeled of stickers such as this when the promo price's were higher than the standard prices (eg a £14.99 game being part of a 2 for £30 or £19.99 each offer). If your instore and want to price compare you just open the case and slide the cover a little way down to scan the orignal barcode, as most stores have empty cases on the shelves it's not difficult - its also nothing new - sheesh!
  • TimB
    Waterstones do this too, so it's not even limited to games and DVD's. As has been said, this practice was around long before barcode-based price checking apps, so it's nothing underhand.
  • Gav
    On a recent trip to Meadowhall I saw Conan for the X360 in Gamestation (owned by Game since 2007) for £7.99 or it could be included in the 4 games for £20 promotion. It's £4.98 delivered on their website. erm...
  • Are R.
    [...] twitter follower also tipped me off about this Bitter Wallet article which suggests that GAME in the UK is using custom barcodes that cannot be read by scanning [...]
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