WHY I STOPPED SHOPPING AT GAMESTOP
Outdated business practices and poor customer service are just some of the issues
by Felipe Parada
A while back I wrote an article about how GameStop was on the verge of extinction because of their questionable business decisions, you can check out that article here. After all this time has passed, they still can't seem to get things back on track. I’ve noticed that my visits to GameStop have stopped completely but I never really gave it some serious thought as to why, until now. It’s no secret that you're not going to have a pleasant gaming experience going into a GameStop, well at least not anymore. Sadly, here are just some of the reasons why I stopped shopping at GameStop.
They have really sketchy business practices
This reason can be an entire article of its own. Whether it's the overpricing used games, selling used games as new, or the Xenoblade Chronicles controversy of 2012, there is no shortage of sketchy business practices at GameStop. You hear about these stories all the time but you never think that it will happen to you. This is just ONE of my stories.
I encountered one of these slimy business practices while picking up my new copy of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor back in 2014. It started out like any normal transaction. The employee in question, I’ll call him Samir Nagheenanajar, began to ring me up when I noticed something rather odd. Instead of just turning around and taking a game off the shelf behind him, he proceeded to open the drawer and pull out a disk of the game. I kindly stopped him and told him that he must be confused because I wanted a “New” copy, not a used copy of the game. He assured me that this was a new copy.
This is where things turned bad. I told him that the game he was trying to sell me WASN’T New because it was out of the box. Be proceeded to stick to his convictions and tell me that it was a new game. So I kindly pointed to the games in the back and asked him “Well what about THOSE new games, you know, the factory-sealed ones?” He proceeded to tell me that “Those are reserved for pre-orders” and that he couldn't sell me those games. So to expedite the process I told him to ring me up for a USED copy instead of new, I don't mind paying the price for a discounted game. He still stuck to his guns and told me it was a new game.
By this point I had enough and I just walked away because I remembered that there was another GameStop about a mile up the road. It was a smaller GameStop and I knew that not many people shopped there so I can easily pick up a copy of the game and be out in less than 5 minutes. As I reached the door the associate chased me down urging me to buy the NEW GAME. Sometimes people only understand when you get nasty with them, so I told him that if he didn't get out of my way I was going to fold him up like one of the display models. Safe to say I NEVER returned to that GameStop ever again.
I didn't realize till much later when a friend of mine, who worked at GameStop, explained to me that there was this thing called the “Check-Out” Policy. This was also confirmed by Jason Schreier when he worked at Kotaku. The policy allowed GameStop store associates to check out 1 item for personal use for up to four days. He claimed that it was for “research'' purposes to help sell games. Depending on the store, some managers would force employees to sell these games as “New” but some other stores have such a poor inventory management system that the games would get mixed into the new games inventory for sale. Either way, this is a terrible business practice.
Their Used Games Market is an Absolute Rip-Off
This also can be placed in the previous category but I wanted to single this one because this was one of the MAJOR reasons why I stopped visiting GameStop. I know everyone has a GameStop trade-in story, and it has become so ingrained into the gaming culture that it has become its own meme. Have 10 games to trade in? GameStop will give you $1.47 for it.
It’s no secret that GameStop puts a large emphasis on its used game sales because that’s where they make most of their profit. But there is no excuse why their trade in value for games is so low. It’s so low at times that it's not even worth trading in games at all. What makes matters worse is that I have personally seen games that I traded in sell for 3x the amount of their trade in value. The game was about 6 months old from the time I bought it and I only received a single digit trade in value. Come on GameStop, REALLY?!?!?
The End Their Elite Pro Program
GameStop gives you no incentive to shop at a physical store anymore. They can't find a way to make the customer experience sustainable. I used to love the Elite Pro Program. It was one of the main reasons why I shopped at GameStop regularly. It felt like every week there was a sale or some sort of incentive just to stop in and browse the inventory. Depending on the store, you were always alerted of a special midnight launch of a new title. Sadly those days are gone.
The best we get now is Buy 2 and Get 1 Free on Used games. Other than that, there is no real incentive to shop there. Sure you can occasionally find a rare collectible here and there but when was the last time you went to GameStop to find a collectible? It almost feels like they are punishing their most loyal consumers.
They Can’t Figure out How to Stay Out of Their Own Way
The more they try to figure out how to make money, the worse it becomes for the consumer. Remember Power Pass? Yeah, I don't either. They attempted to launch a service similar to GameFly that was Dead on Arrival. It was a $10 per month rental service that allows subscribers to rent any used game in their library, and after 6 months you get to keep one. This sounded great on paper but unfortunately GameStop couldn't get out of their own way. It failed because their computer infrastructure couldn't handle the high demand.
With the rise in digital storefronts like Steam and The Epic Games Store, it is more convenient to just download a game. I mean if you want a physical copy, Amazon can get it to you in just 2 business days. I’ll go even further, if you preorder the game, you’ll get it the same day that everyone else does. It seems like it is becoming easier for the consumer to get their product regardless of whatever platform you choose, and GameStop chooses to sit back and do nothing.
Just face it, It’s Game Over!
GameStop is now officially a horrible place to work at AND shop at. It’s no surprise that they are practically on the way out. If they are not on the way out, they should be. Wait, remind me again why we need GameStop? Their sales process is extremely manipulative, the customer is NOT the focus and they always find a way to screw something up.
Everytime I want to buy a game I look for other alternatives other than GameStop. GameStop is not even a last minute resort anymore. You think that a store that specializes in Games would evolve with the industry but sadly that isn't the case. I give GameStop another 2 years before it completely folds due to lack of innovation. I really hope I’m wrong because there are some great GameStop associates out there who care about the business, and at one point they were at the forefront of creating long lasting gaming culture.
It's Not About Games Anymore.