This Week In “Fuck You” – By now, you know the latest dick move perpetrated by GameStop, so I won’t go through any of that again. I will say that this is the last time I will buy anything from any GameStop. I’m not even going to walk into one unless I am saying hello to one of my friends that works there. I’m not going to be one of those people that say “I fucking hate [insert company or product here]!” that continues to support said company or product. I’ve seen a lot of shit go down at GameStop that I didn’t agree with, but this is far and away the worst thing. Like Popeye says: “I’ve had all I can stand, and I can’t stands no more!”
The “Still-New-Last-Copy” Line
You know when you go to GameStop and they pull out a little white envelope with your game in it, then they say “This game is still new; it is just the last copy in the store. That’s why it is in the envelope and not in the case”? If you buy enough games, it will happen eventually. Well the truth is that that game may or may not be new; it could very well be used. You see, one of the perks of working long hours for shitty pay as a GameStop employee is that you get to “check out” games. Sort of like GameFly, but without the waiting. The employees take the game home, play it for a few days, and then bring it back. When they bring it back, it goes into one of those cute little white envelopes behind the counter.
I understand this practice. You want your employees to know what they are selling (even though the only thing they are really there to sell is pre-orders, GS-branded merch, and Game Informer subs- more on that one in a bit). In order for them to know the products without shelling out thousands of dollars a year, they borrow the games from the company and play them long enough to get an idea of what’s going on in the game. What doesn’t make sense is that these games are then sold as new. The very definition of ‘new’ goes out the door the second that factory seal is broken. You assholes make enough money on trade-ins (GS will give you $30 for a trade-in, and then turn around and sell it for $55) that you can just sell that one as used. For fucks sake, you’re only taking a $5 hit. It’s not like you aren’t gouging people in the rest of the store.
The best part of this little new-but-really-used dance is that there isn’t only 1 copy of the game being taken out and passed around the employees (you know, to limit the number of times GameStop fucks over its customers). I personally watched 2 copies of Demon’s Souls walk out of the store on release day after overhearing the “check out” process. So that’s at least 2 people just from that particular store that got boned with a free-ish copy of that game. This is why I always insist on a factory-sealed game. I won’t take them from those little envelopes because I know where they have been.
The “Extra-Money-For-Your-Trades” Line
Another one of my favorites: The trade-in specials. If GameStop is offering you 50% more on your trade, you can pretty much guarantee that what’s really going on is that they dropped the amount they were giving for trade-ins for that particular product. So much so that you probably aren’t getting as much as you would have had you traded it in before the “special”.
I have an example from my own life. Right around the time the new Slim Xbox 360 was being released, my aging 360 Elite was showing signs of wear. Not on the outside, because I baby my gear. The case looked pristine and brand new. But it was starting to show that it was getting close to RRoD. It hadn’t happened yet, but it was definitely creeping up. About a week before release I was encouraged by a friend to trade it in before the new ones were released. He said that my Elite would get me $160 in trade-in credit. I didn’t do it. Not because of some sentimental attachment to my console, but because I don’t trade my shit in, for reasons that I may or may not go into another time. 2 days later, GameStop had a trade-in special! 50% extra for old Xbox 360 consoles if you traded them in toward the purchase of a new Slim system. The new trade in value? $80. Even with my 50% extra, that’s only $120. That doesn’t sound very special to me.
The “You-Get-A-Free-Subscription” Line
And here’s one that will just make you laugh. I’m sure that you’ve noticed the issues of Game Informer lined up at your local GameStop. Have you ever tried to buy one? Give it a shot next time you go in. Just see if you can buy a single issue of Game Informer Magazine. Fuck it, go for broke and ask for a full subscription. I can save you the trouble though, by telling you that it’s impossible. You can’t buy a single copy or a subscription. There’s not even a SKU in the system for a single copy/subscription Game Informer. The only way to get the magazine is to to sign up for their PowerUp Rewards card. So when they say “If you sign up for PowerUp Rewards Pro, you’ll get 1 year of Game Informer Magazine for free!” what they really mean is “We are hoping that our magazine will entice you to sign up for our smile-while-we-rob-you program.” The PowerUp Rewards Pro is GameStop’s way of getting you to trade in more games and buy used games. If you have a Pro card you get an extra 10% off of everything you buy used (excluding systems) and 10% more for everything you trade in. There’s also some shit about accumulating points and then trading in the points for stuff, just like any good rewards program. Except with the GS rewards program you have to spend about $200 to get a $5 off coupon, and that’s if you buy nothing but used games. Buying only new games (like this guy) would require about $400 worth of purchases for a whopping $5 off.
Okay, so that last part may have been just a whole lot of me ranting about the most fucked-in-the-head rewards program I’ve ever seen but what I was getting at was that Game Informer Magazine should really be called GameStop Is Run By Fuckheads magazine. Flip through it some time when you’re in the store (perhaps right before you try to buy a single copy) and take note of the ads instead of turning past them. All of the ads that aren’t for upcoming games are GameStop ads and coupons (and even the ones for games have “Available at GameStop” stamped on them somewhere). No ads for fast food joints, clothing stores, or anything like that. Why not? Gamers eat food. Gamers wear clothes (please tell me you wear clothes!). Why wouldn’t you want to advertise to them? Because GameStop only advertises GameStop, goddammit.
For What It’s Worth (Not Much)
Square-Enix issued an apology to GameStop for putting a 3rd party coupon into the PC version of Deus Ex: Human Revolution without notifying GameStop brass (Here is a link to the press release, but the page is dropping 404’s right now). I can see why they apologized. It makes good business sense to make sure that the largest brick-and-mortar video game retailer still wants to sell your games. Squenix had to make some sort of statement on this whole thing because if they hadn’t people would start asking questions. Since they still want their games in stores, they had to bitch up and say “Yeah, we’re totally cool with that. Our bad, guys.”
At the same time, I say “Fuck that”. Bending over and taking it up the ass from GameStop is only going to make them pull more stunts like this in the future because they know they can get away with it. Game companies have other outlets that don’t have a history of douchebag behavior. It’s easy for me to say these things because I’m not an investor or a board member, so I don’t have to worry about the stock hit or the drop in sales. But when I see companies like GameStop profiting from being assholes, it makes me want to see them fail. I want them to suffer for their hubris.
If GameStop had a competing service and not just an idea/plan for one, their actions may have leaned a little more toward acceptable. But as of the time of this writing, their streaming service is nothing more than an idea. They have plans to go into the testing phase some time at the end of the year. Which means that the full service most likely won’t be around for at least a year or two, depending on how aggressive they are with their release schedule. Once they get the system up and running they still have to acquire licenses for all of these games that they want to stream. Which ones are they going to go for? The new ones that are releasing around the same time as their service, or the ones that are already 1 to 2 years old?
So I’m done. I’m not going to call for a massive boycott of GameStop or any shit like that for a few reasons:
- That shit never works
- It makes me look like I think I am more important than I am
- Who the fuck am I to tell you what to do?
I am just saying that for me, personally, GameStop no longer sells games. It’s a place that I will visit when I say hi to my friends and mock them for working on the weekends while I drive around with the windows down and the stereo up, and nothing more. Fuck you, GameStop.