Editorial: GameStop on the Path to World Domination
Whomever thinks that the gaming industry is not a lucrative business has had his head in the sand for the past few years. Leading US retailer GameStop has opened its 5000th store, in Jackson, California and is close to achieving their goal of opening up between 500 and 550 new stores this year. With locations in over 16 countries as well as North America, Dan DeMatteo, vice chairman of GameStop, had this to say when questioned by GamesIndustry.biz:”With more customers being attracted to the videogame category, they will increasingly find a GameStop convenient to them. This landmark store opening underscores the strength of our business model and represents a spectacular effort on behalf of our 44,000 employees worldwide.”
Effort of the employees? How many times have you been dissed by an employee at a GameStop, had one of the workers treat you like the Comic Book Guy does customers on The Simpsons, or try to get some information from some ill-informed moron who only works there for the discount? 8/10 times that I have visited a GameStop in the past year, I have left pissed off to the point of knocking over a rack of used GameCube titles. I am not saying that ALL GameStop employees are idiots. On the contrary, I used to have fantastic experiences with a particular store whose manager, Niall, was fantastic. Not only was he helpful, friendly, and knowledgeable – he steered me in the direction of games that I never would have thought of playing. I was sad to see him leave his position when EB Games and GameStop merged. He told me that his reason for leaving was his disgust at the way customers would be ripped off even more than they already were when the companies were separate.
*More ranting after the break*
I will use a personal example that will explain why Niall quit GameStop, and it is a situation that is familiar to all gamers who shop at the retail goliath. Last week, I was in the store trading in a game that had just come out not 6 days before. I paid $59.99 plus 6% sales tax on the game and with my “member card” they gave me $20.00 credit. I look over on the shelf, and there is a used version of my game (just like the one I traded in) being sold for $54.99. I do not know how much of a percentage GameStop gets on the sale of new games, but I DO know that when they buy back your game, they more than double the price to make up for the money they “lost” when giving you 20 bucks for it. They in turn, will eventually get the game back again, give the consumer even less for it because it is “used”, and turn around and sell it again for $49.99 and it keeps going down from there until you are paying $19.99 for a used game and when you trade it in you get $3.00. They then sell it, again, for $19.99. Prices, of course, fluctuate depending on how new the title is and what system the game is for.
Now, far be it from me to complain about a company trying to make a profit. Everyone likes to make money, but no one likes to be screwed unless that was the end result they were after in the first place. The problem lies with the unfair consumer gouging. GameStop does not have to share the profits they acquire from the sales of used game with developers or publishers. Like I stated above, I am not sure how much of a percentage they make off of the sale of new games, I do not know if they share the profits with the gaming companies or if they buy them outright in the first place. Personally, I do not care about that end of the deal, it is not what concerns me. The inflated price of used games is what annoys me.
It also annoys me that you can trade in your used DVDs to the store, which does NOT sell new ones, and get gouged on that end as well. For example: Two days ago I saw a used “Simpsons Season 10″ for sale at EB Games for $34.00. I passed on it, because I saw the same DVD set – brand new – at Wal-Mart across the street for two dollars cheaper – and again, it was brand new. That is nothing but pure profit for the GameStop/EB Games conglomerate.
I am not trying to say that Wal-Mart is the lesser of two evils here, because we all know how evil the Waltons are – I used to live in the town that is home to the wonderful box store, and believe me, Wal-Mart is as evil as evil gets. What I am saying is that a company such as GameStop will accomplish nothing but angering their customers if they continue to rape the customer’s wallet and insist on hiring employees who 90% of the time could care less about the consumer’s needs. That being said, not all locations are filled with dull employees. On the contrary, the EB Games store that I visited the other day, has great employees and the manager seems like a great guy. They are knowledgeable, likable, and extremely helpful. I wish all locations had employees working for them of this caliber, but unfortunately they do not.
The previously mentioned GameStop manager Niall left the store that I frequented. The store went downhill from there, and I stopped going to that location – and last I heard, sales for that particular GameStop had plummeted. So, the question now becomes – why do I continue to go to GameStop or EB Games if I feel I am being taken advantage of? Well, the same reason everyone goes – the selection, availability and lack of choice. None of the big box stores have such a wide range of games, plus if you want to play a game THAT day, you can’t order it from Amazon. Granted, you can always go to Best Buy or Circuit City, but they still do not have such a vast selection as GameStop. Plus, if you want a certain game, are strapped for cash and vomit at the thought of donating plasma, it is much easier to trade in a game that day instead of waiting for some sap to buy it from you on eBay. At this point in the game, we do not have much of a choice. So, we can either suck it up and be content to get gouged for used games, or wait until our grandmother throws a yard sale to get rid of our old titles. Either way, the end result usually leaves a bad taste in your mouth. To say that the 5000th GameStop store was built on the blood, sweat and tears of gamers is not far fetched -the profits they amassed by draining your life force with used game prices built those stores.