No power to the players.
At some point in all gamers’ lives, we’ve at least considered the idea of working at a gaming store. The thought alone sounds perfectly normal and innocent. If you are into video games, why not work at a place that sells them? But just like the dream of being a developer for either Konami or EA, the idea may not be as pretty as it seems. And there are plenty of public horror stories out there, that would warn you off those particular career paths. The same goes for being an employee at a GameStop/EB Games store.
Not too long ago, Kotaku’s Jason Schreier released a report on one of GameStop’s newest programs, titled the ‘Circle Of Life.’ Without going too deep into the fine details (you can read the article for yourself), this new program incentivizes and pushes employees into selling used goods over new ones—no matter the price or situation. I’m sure you don’t need me to persuade you into thinking how messed up that is. Not only does this screw over the consumer, but theoretically, it also meddles with the companies that make these games. In some of the worst situations described, customers are lied to about the stock of new games and are instead encouraged to buy pre-owned. So in the end, the purchaser doesn’t get what they really wanted, and the game’s publisher is cheated out of a proper sale. Now, I’m all for the sale of pre-owned games, but this is downright criminal. GameStop appears to hold its buyers in pure contempt.
Since the release of that report, GameStop corporate has sent out a memo that states this behaviour is not widespread and that the article itself ‘couldn’t be further from the truth.’ They also used the fact that they apparently issued one billion trade credits to customers last year (70% of whom spent it on new products), as a reason for their innocence. But that fails to address the main issue outlined in the article, which does not affect the people who trade in their games, but affects those who are trying to buy new ones, not previously owned. Even if it did somehow prove they were right, the ‘Circle Of Life’ program itself, has some fundamental issues. The percentage quotas are inherently designed to force employees into pushing used games onto customers.
Before this comes to a close, and for anyone who has gotten the wrong idea, this piece has simply been a critique of GameStop as a whole and not of the individuals who may have to enforce the aforementioned store policy. But, I digress. So other than being shady as hell, all of this new information just goes to show how much GameStop is on its last legs.
I’ve talked in the past about how I mostly buy and prefer physical media, but even I’ll be the one to admit that brick and mortar is on its way out—especially in the gaming industry. More and more, consoles are becoming like PCs in pretty much every way imaginable, and that includes how its games are sold. Sure, GameStop will try and struggle to stay relevant, but just like RadioShack, it won’t be long until people will start thinking of their brand as less ‘retro,’ and more outdated.