Monday, January 16, 2012

Gamestop is a really shitty store

I think everyone already knows Gamestop is a pretty crappy store. There are things that are great about it - namely, their stock locator, where you can look up used games and have them reserved in store. And honestly, as much as people grouse about their slightly pushy preoreder/magazine sales techniques, they really aren't nearly as awful of people on the internet like to make them out to be. (For comparison, never go into Teavana, even if they lure you in with some tasty samples - before you know it, you'll be halfway through a transaction to buy an antique tea set and $100 worth of tea leaves.)

No, today we'll be looking at how their stores are merchandised. This particular store is the one in the Palisades Center in West Nyack, NY.

Here's the biggest issue. On both walls, the used games are by far the most prominently displayed. Most of the top tracks have their stock facing outwards, the rest are oriented spine outward. Where are the new games, you say? The ones whose sales actually count towards supplying the industry with money?

A tiny spot shoved in the corner, you say? Hmmm. Now when companies put all of that crappy new copy DLC in their games, you know why.

The rest of the new games are on their own separate racks. Technically these are in the middle of the store, but they're all faced spine outwards, and not nearly given as much space as the used titles. Gamestop seems to be doing everything in their power to make these as inconspicuous as possible.

Away from the new/used games debacle, we have these shelves. They're meant to be the bargain bin, but Christ if you could find anything in there. They're never anything remotely resembling alphabetized. Technically facing the covers out makes them more prominent, but most of the games are buried behind the rest, requiring that you flip, one by one, through everything. That simply takes way too much time for what would amount to impulse purchases anyway. The old, literal bargain bins may take up more space and don't allow titles to face out, but they were quick and easy to scan though.

Oh look, whole shelves of games without proper packaging. One would think that you could get a serviceable discount for damaged goods, but no - a beaten up copy of Skyrim without proper materials is the same exact price as one with all of the goods. Gamestop has been doing this forever, but it's still a pet peeve of mine. Similarly, I wouldn't have an issue with them gutting products if they'd give you a small discount for buying a floor model, but they definitely don't do that. Awful.

I did buy this though. $12 is a good price for a copy of Etrian Odyssey III, which is going for twice that price online. This particular store actually still had boxes and manuals for some of their DS games. Many stores have taken to throwing them out to purportedly make space for 3DS games. How does that even make sense to sell? Do people actually try to squint through those display cases with all of those loose DS games?

Anyway, the above game was actually mislabeled - it should've been $14.99 rather than $12.99, but the cashier gave me the lower price anyway (as retail establishments should). In fact, the employees here were extremely nice. Gamestop workers have been stereotyped as being the worst kind of mouthbreathing fanboys, but I've very rarely ran into those sort of people, and the usually the folks I find working in stores here in NJ are very cool and very professional. (In fact, if any Gamestop district managers are reading this, I have to commend the staff at the Westfield, NJ store for being extremely courteous and very friendly, probably some of the best crew I've seen in a retail establishment.) The fact that they can function so well despite the dreadful metrics and rules imposed by the Gamestop corporation, not counting the typical lousy pay in such jobs, shows a tremendous amount of fortitude on their part.

The gist of all of this is, I find it increasingly less useful to go into Gamestops anymore. Even their B2G1 free sales have become less useful since the general price of their games is so much more expensive than Amazon, Gamefly, Newegg, or any number of places online or elsewhere. Just do what I did, and accidentally buy a membership to Amazon Prime, so you don't need to preorder anything for their stores again.


  1. One of the more skeezy things they've done lately is get rid of the yellow price stickers for used games and made them all white. As a former employee, this is a very nice change for the employees working there (I can't tell you how many times used labels printed out on the white stickers or new on the yellow by accident), but combining that with replacing "Used" with the euphemism "pre-owned" are pretty anti-consumer.

    I still shop at my local Gamestop because I know the folk that work there and a lot of Gamestop register jockeys do get a bad reputation that should be reserved for the store or district managers, and the corporation itself.

    I'm also not sure if this shady merchandising is endemic to just this store in West Nyack or the district/region the store's in. As far as my local Gamestop goes, the new games are still featured fairly prominently.

    At least they dropped the stupid business casual dress code.

  2. Discoalucard, what you have just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

  3. Game in the UK does something similar- not quite AS bad but definitely getting there...

  4. @Anon- if you want to sound like you're more intelligent than someone else (who is honestly one of the most intelligent people I happen to know), try not quoting Billy Madison.

  5. I only published that comment because I kind of like that movie! (Or rather, the 12 old version of me did.)

  6. I stopped going to game stop as soon as they stopped carrying titles from the pre-PS2 era. For a while, I would go to different ones around Los Angeles and find rare titles under-priced. Since then, the few times I've gone into one when I check their online stock to see if they certain games for cheaper than third-party vendors on the internet including all the PSP Falcom games published by XSeed and the day Metal Gear Solid HD Collection came out, after seeing three Targets and a Best Buy, I gave up and waited in line with all the Call of Duty fans for MGS.

    I actually do the same thing you do with the inventory check. Helps me literally go in and out of Gamestop and pick up what I want. I've actually piked up numerous under-priced games (in comparison to the internet) that way.

    Anyways, it's a hit and miss experience. Aesthetically, GameStop is an eyesore with Photoshopped ads, ugly furnishings, warehouse like lighting, television blasting ads non-stop, but certain stores will actually have nice people who care about games working there. For the most part though, I've had the unfortunate luck of going places where it's semi-autistic fanboys or bros working there. I can think of two were the staff is nice though.

  7. I've pretty much stopped shopping there. I'd rather just order from Amazon. Most games cost over $25 dollars so the shipping is free most of the time anyway.

    Gamestop just doesn't have any presence any more it keeps feeling more and more like a pawn shop. Going in doesn't make me interested in anything the store has to offer.

    I've been to a few in the area I love and some of the help just seem really uninterested. Uninterested in working there, in games, and in helping the customers. So, I can't say I've had terrible service I can say I've had a lot of really mediocre service.

    I'd rather go to Teavana, they at least make me want to buy tea. Gamestop kind of makes me not want to buy games.

    In fact the only reason I still buy anything from there is I get gift cards from an online survey site I belong to. The only reward I would want remotely at this point (since Borders closed) is the Gamestop gift cards. Everything else is like coupons off on fancy bags, or magazines I'd never be interested in.

  8. It's been years since I've regularly bought from gamestop. I vaguely remember them stocking retro stuff at one point (maybe that was Funcoland..), but at the time I wasn't really interested. Now, even though pretty much all they stock are used games, the used game selection is really uninteresting. Maybe if I tried looking more often I'd come across some gems, but even if I did, the odds of it being a significantly better deal that what I would pay online is slim, at least not worth the extra effort.

  9. Just to be awkward, when you said retailers should give you the price printed on the ticket, there is no legal obligation for them to do so (in the UK at least)
    Though it is nice when a shop assistant does that for someone - the amount of times I've had customers explode on me before I can even suggest discounting the product for them (this happens a lot working two shop jobs).
    So I decide to be a dick and use my right as a trader to cancel the transaction and refuse to sell them the product :3

  10. They've changed it all here in Canada too. Basically they've organized all the games into genres (Action, RPG, etc) and it's a mixture of new and used. The only ones that are really obvious are PSP and DS/3DS, everything else is a mess. 90% of the time you have to go up to the counter to get a new game anyway as they haven't bothered to put it out!

    I go to a locally owned game store almost exclusively now. It costs a bit more, but they get basically everything (and you aren't chastised for not pre-ordering) and have awesome staff. I only really go to GameStop if everywhere else is a wash or I'm rather bored at the mall (sometimes I'll find a good deal..)

  11. Wow, it's really bad in the US. In this area, Gamestop's new games shelves look like the first picture, while the used ones are only in those bargain bin style shelves. Bargains are extremely rare, though, ebay is almost always the far better solution.

    Last time I was in a Gamestop it was because I had to wait for the bus and I encountered Perfect Dark Zero for 3 or 4 Euros, which was about the price I always wanted it for ever since it was released. I actually took the box to the counter but both guys thought it necessary they both endlessly advise a stupid couple with their Wii buy, so I just dropped it and went out.

  12. @Brand

    E-Rewards, right? Yup, I'm in that boat too. Have to do something to cut spending on games while out of work and in college.

    I stopped going to Gamestop when I finally started shopping online. Better value in every way. For me at least, Gamestop is only a good place to go if I find myself in the area, had been planning on getting a game anyway, and Gamestop decides to not pull a dick move and mark a six-month old game at the full $60 MSRP or something.

  13. My best friend manages one of their locations. Every day he wishes for bankrupty to end the madness. He despises their business practices and wishes corporate would just leave him alone. Goddamn, has he told me some real doozies.

    However bad you think it is? Triple it. He has no control over stock, used games go over new games, they now organize by genre, they can't special order, they have new 'deals' every week, they now use different software for the POS/game-locator (the one good thing is now dead in a sea of buggy code), employees are treated with shitty pay and shittier hours, they have no room for new inventory thanks to hundreds of unsold CoD copies taking up storage space in the back, floor space is taken up by a bluray video section and other advertising, etc. etc. etc.

    I'm just skimming the top here. Their profit margin is slim and they have to handle physical stock; they cannot compete with digital sales at all. Just last year they were down 21%. They know this and the way middle management scrambles with new deals, memos, and ideas every week...

    My friend used to manage a Blockbuster. The *exact* same behaviour he saw from his corporate overlords there he is now seeing again. You know, up until his Blockbuster shut down for good.

  14. Sadly. their bread and butter aren't me and you. It's Joe Blow who buys Madden and COD,and the parents of the Catz, Bratz, and Cars crowd.

    They keep them in business. They don't know any better, and don't expect that to change anytime soon. I loathe supporting them, but every so often when I get a steal or a rare game there, I bite the bullet. (You try finding Crimson Gem Saga for PSP in a Best Buy or Walmart.)

    1. They actually don't make a whole lot of money on new games, and they make exactly $0.00 on new systems. Their bread and butter aren't the mainstream gamers and kids so much as people who trade in their games for a couple of bucks a piece that get resold for 800% markup. That's where they make their money and that's why they push used games so much over new ones. This is also why dedicated game stores can't really survive without selling used games. This includes everything from the local indie shop to smaller chains like Play N Trade to Gamestop.

      On that note, that's why they push pre-orders so much. They're guaranteed sales of new games, something they want to get rid of as quickly as possible so they can focus on what actually makes them profit.

  15. Gamestop is good for a quick pickup, otherwise Amazon is a better choice for me. Gamestop is a terrible company to their employees, I know this first-hand, but they are really the only shop around that carries the variety that they do in new games. It really stinks that they have no real competition at their same sort of model anymore. Now we have no choice in many cases than to deal with them or even larger retailers online and b&m, of which have their own evils.

    On the micro level, though, I have to say they are quite good. Many of my friends work at Gamestop, and therefore the other employees know me well. These people are friendly and make game buying a fun experience outside of getting the actual games. It's a social event. This is the sort of experience that the company provides that I don't want to see go away.

  16. In france, Gamestop bought one of the biggest video game stores: "Micromania". It's pretty terrible, they are always bothering you about pre-orders and other inane marketing. Game is a bit better in my opinion.
    When I went in Stamford, CT, last year, I checked the Gamestop to buy some stuff for my mates back home. They couldn't use my Visa credit card for some reason and checked my cash to see if it wasn't fake. :(
    Then they asked me if I wanted to preorder modern warfare or something, after I told them that I was staying for only four days in America...

    Anyway, I don't think retail is going anywhere. Most of my friends buy from or because game are MUCH cheaper there.

  17. Interesting. I don`t think I could ever set foot in a game store like that. There are some chains like that in Japan (Famicom House comes to mind. Despite the name it doesn`t sell Famicom games) and I always avoid them.

    I find it odd that they prefer to push used games over new, I would have thought the profits on new ones would be higher.

  18. My sister used to work at Gamestop. She would always talk about the insane pressure the employees are put under to push pre-order and membership sales. Somehow the corporate body took what should be one of the best retail jobs around and twisted it into one of the worst aspects of shopping experiences I endure. I miss the game store employees of the 90s before Gamestop became a monopoly and fired all the non-conformers.
    Speaking of which, why hasn't anyone legally challenged Gamestop for their predator-like expansion? Where I live, we literally have one Play N Trade left standing against six or seven Gamestop stores. I miss the variety of stores like Rhino Games and Babbages, but I won't hold my breath for the return of competition.

  19. And businesses wonder why everyone just does their shopping on ebay and amazon. Why even bother going out and dealing with this kinda bullshit? Just point and click... better service, better prices, and BETTER SELECTION without getting off your ass. There's really no incentive to leave the house with the way gas prices are anyway.

  20. I once bought a "new" copy of Geometry Wars DS at Gamestop, but there was a save file already on it. When I took it back and complained, they said it was because it had been returned and they reserved the right to sell returned games as new, and refused to do a damn thing about it.

    Yeah, it made me want to kick things.

  21. While the store isn't perfect, it's not nearly as bad as most make it out to be. My local store is great. And yeah, there is a smaller section devoted to new games, but they can't very well carry new versions of every game out there, whereas their used stock is dictated by what gets traded in, which could potentially be _every game for the system_. So it's no wonder there is more floor space for those titles.

    To be honest, I mix up my purchases between them and Amazon. Sometimes, Amazon has the best deal, and sometimes, GameStop does. They serve their purpose quite well, and I've got a much better shot at finding some obscure title through them than anywhere else, without having to deal with either an Ebay auction or third party sellers on Amazon (not that I'm above going that route, either).

    I'll definitely agree, though, that them ditching DS cases sucks. It absolutely destroys my OCD about having the box/manual for all my DS games. I've passed up on certain titles before simply because of that. Ditto with the PSP.

  22. I just thought I'd illuminate a few things that I think explain Gamestop's current tactics:

    first, @Sean: with Gamestop's current business model, sales of used games are astronomically more valuable to them than sales of new games (and I'll explain why). First off the bat, it's important to remember that (despite near-constant bitching by American consumers) the price of games in the US is significantly lower (when calculated against currency value and average consumer buying power) than anywhere else in the world---despite the Dollar's massive devaluation over the last five years, the price of games has not decreased (nor has the consumer price index risen significantly). According to industry sources, the profit margin for a $60 game is around $15---a 25% profit margin is not too bad of a turnaround, but hardly as high as in many other major industries; subtract overhead and employee pay, and the profit drops further.

    Consider, on the other hand, a sale of a used copy of the same game:
    If a customer trades in a recent title, Gamestop will usually pay out between $15-20 in store credit (less if you opt for cash); with Gamestop's current policies, the price of a "pre-owned" game is generally set at $5 below the price of a new copy of said game. Thus, if you trade in your copy of Skyrim for PS3, the cost to the store is $20, but they can resell it for $54.99, for an immediate profit margin of $34.99 (nearly 64%)!

    Of course, this means that "pre-owned" sales are *much* more lucrative than sales of new items. Add to this the fact that the profit margin on used handheld titles is even higher (years ago, when I traded in my $35 copy of the Legend of Zelda: the Phantom Hourglass, I received a paltry $5 in store credit---and they resold it for $30), and it quickly becomes clear that, as far as corporate is concerned, new titles are only on the shelf so that they can be later traded in; the current "PowerUp Rewards" program certainly reinforces this idea. Through means completely incomprehensible to the average consumer, purchases at Gamestop accrue seemingly-arbitrary numbers of points, which can be redeemed for store credit or promotional items. Careful analysis of point values (invisible until after you make a purchase) quickly indicates that the number of points you get for a purchase has nothing to do with the amount of money spent, and everything to do with the profit margin on the item purchased---thus, a brand-new $60 game was worth 594 points, while a pre-owned $32 game was worth 539 points.

    It's also worth mentioning that, while missing manuals/cases will reduce the trade-in value of a game at Gamestop, none of that is passed on to the consumer: a used game without the manual (or without even a case, for that matter!) will still be marked the same price on the shelf---which leads to the current wasteland of caseless, manual-free used games clogging up the shelves at most Gamestop retail locations.

  23. I would like to add that the EB Games in my area have started calling used games "recycled" and using green stickers for them.

  24. I've used Gamestop as an impulse buy store. Also, no one in this area buys RPG's so they sit on the shelves and get cheap. I bought a copy of Radiant Historia for $20

  25. Wow, West Nyack? That's about 5 minutes walking distance from my job. Their store space is really small, so it's no wonder they can't display new game titles properly.

  26. Yeah, this is the one upstairs by all of the food places and the theater. They used to have a larger one off by the ends on either the second or third, but it closed some time ago. I guess this one has much higher foot traffic but the space is awful.

  27. people who work at gamestop are usually hella rude unless you fit their standards.
    not down for that

  28. Look... I wanna put my opinion into this...

    You really shouldn't base the look of ONE GameStop onto all of them... and not all the employee's are rude and honestly I'm sorry you guys have to deal with those kind of people...

    Also with pre-owned games, GameStop gets more profit from it than a New game as Carl said... Although the games are taken in as let's sayy Call of Duty: MW3.. Gamestop takes that in for a value of 15-20$ depending on the condition of the disc... The only reason GameStop creates cases for some is because they get traded in without cases... In order for us to sell said game it is required to have a case... Unless you would prefer that the company sold it to you without a case and then you break it... Also missing the manual and the case doesn't reduce the trade in value or anything... It's the CUSTOMER that forgets them or loses them not the employees. yes gamestop is corrupted but what company isn't? All the major corporations want money and will do what they need to in order to achieve it, even if it means ripping people off along the way. So before you bring in the separate stores and the employees, remember how business works and what the employees deal with on a daily basis with the changes in the company. Also, the people that work at this gamestop clearly need to make sure that the walls are filled and well kept. Also it would help if the people BUYING the games would put things where they belong, and not just put it one row above where the game was because they're too lazy to reach down one more shelf or stick in the spine where it was.

    GameStop employees don't always have the time to go around and make sure everything is clean. I dont know how this gamestop works or how many people go in, but they don't always have the time to make sure everything is spic and span... so please don't go and say that all stores are like this because they are not... and don't bring employees into it because not all employees are douchebags... Some are I'm not gonna lie but there are A LOT of awesome ones out there.

  29. Gamesop is a joke, i had 5 games and a kinect all worth at min 10 dollars
    all the games came out within the last 2 years and i got less than 1.50 for each.

  30. I ordered Diablo III Reaper of Souls over Two Weeks ago.... I got a UPS notification that My Order was ready for pick-up... but it was NEVER actually Shipped by GameStop. I've called 5 Times already, trying to get the Game I payed-for delivered with NO Luck. This Number here is NOT Posted anywhere on the GameStop site. GameStop should not be trusted.