I don’t understand why people still go to Gamestop

Gamestop continuously get criticized by the gaming press and shoppers alike.  So my big question is – why keep going there?  What is it about this over-saturated video game chain that keeps drawing people in, time-in and time-out?

There was definitely a time when I loved going to any of the video game stores at the mall, back when I still went to the mall.  Electronics Boutique and Software ETC were always my favorites.  They had charm and employees who knew about gaming as a subject, not just as the retail item being sold.  These little mall-branded game stores of yesteryear seemed like they were literally consumed overnight by Gamestop and their charm was quickly swept away in favor of pre-order BS.

I remember the day my content for Gamestop began very clearly.  Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas had just recently been released and I wanted a copy.  This was back when pre-orders didn’t seem very necessary to me or really most of the gaming public.  A game was released and stores got copies, simple as that.  Over time we figured out that there were too many of us gamers to sustain that model, but I digress.  On that day I walked into the local Gamestop to pickup a copy.  When asked if I had pre-ordered, I told them no, never got around to it.

“Well sorry, we only have copies for those that pre-ordered.”

I was literally shocked by this news.  You already know how many pre-ordered, those are pretty much guaranteed sales.  Why don’t you seize the opportunity to sell to those that didn’t pre-order by ordering copies on top of the pre-orders?  I promptly walked over to the Target that sits adjacent to the store, asked for a copy, of which they had many and walked out somewhat confused by what just transpired and amused by the notion that one store just profited from me while the other didn’t, despite having the clear advantage to begin with.

Used games have become the primary business for Gamestop and I believe this is why they don’t put much emphasis on new purchases.  A customer buys a brand new copy and that money must be divided amongst publishers, developers and distributors; not much left of the money pie for Gamestop to get.  A customer buys a used copy of the game, however and suddenly all profits go to Gamestop.  The only real cost being the overhead of storing the game somewhere in the store itself.  Makes sense financially, but the developers who put years of work into this thing get nothing out of selling the game to another person willing to front the cash, I just don’t see how that is fair to anyone.

Even new games, what little of them they seem to keep on hand, get the short end of the stick.  Back in August a little game called Deus Ex: Human Revolution released.  It quickly became apparent that Gamestop was opening cases of the game, removing content and resealing them as new.  Now, the only thing lost in this case was some free trials to a new game service called OnLive, but what happened for me at least was realizing that Gamestop made a practice of opening new games and resealing them.  Sorry, but I like my games mint-sealed until I get to open them myself, knowing that from the factory they were pressed at to my house, nothing was tampered with.  Gamestop completely violates that trust for me after this latest episode.

I guess what I’m ultimately ranting about is why do people who regularly read about games continue to shop there?  I don’t mind so much that the 12-year-old gamers of the world, bless their young little hearts, are likely pulling parents into the nearest game store when exploring the mall, but for the rest of us what’s the excuse?  No other game stores in the area?  Go to Amazon/Glyde/Cheap Ass Gamer!  Its 2011 after all and this internet thing ain’t going away anytime soon.

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About Ryan Saul

Hailing from Portland, OR I work by day and blog by night. I like to consider myself a video game connoisseur, playing as many new things as I can get my hands on. Its hard to hold me down to one game for very long before I move on to the next big thing. Luckily, that works pretty well in terms of video game blogging.

One response to “I don’t understand why people still go to Gamestop”

  1. Allyn says :

    Used games have become the primary business for Gamestop and I believe this is why they don’t put much emphasis on new purchases.

    There’s very little margin on new video game products. GameStop will make about five dollars on a PlayStation 3 or an Xbox (and actually lose money when things like warehousing and shipping are factored in). On new video games, GameStop will make between five and eight dollars.

    GameStop stocks their stores based on pre-orders. It’s a way of minimizing risk and potential profit loss. The company orders what they know they will sell and not much more than that.

    I pre-ordered the Lord of the Rings: War in the North collector’s edition ($140, comes with an artbook in a leather arrow quiver), and my GameStop received exactly one copy — the one I ordered.

    GameStop employees are rated on their pre-orders and their Game Informer subscriptions. It’s something they call “the Circle of Life” — Game Informer gets customers excited about product so they pre-order it, pre-ordering generates new game sales which will come back as trade-ins toward the next pre-order, trade-ins lead to Game Informer subscriptions because it’s attached to the pre-owned discount card. Low pre-orders will lead to disciplinary action and termination, which is why GS employees will flog both until the customer loses their mind.

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