GameStop: Understanding the System

Posted: October 29, 2013 in Gaming
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“That’s all I get back for my game!?!” “Is that really the best you can do!?!?” “This used game is almost as expensive as a new one!?!?” These are just a few of the many questions I received as a GameStop employee and still hear as a customer. I feel like these questions stem more from ignorance than from sincere disbelief. Your average person has no core concept of how the economy they live in actually works, causing them to question simple, everyday transactions like trading in a video game at their local GS. Had they known and/or taken advantage of various discounts and rewards the store offers, maybe they wouldn’t feel so slighted. Not that I am an authority on economic sciences, but allow me to help any and all who may stumble across my words.

First of all, the game you’re bringing in is old. I don’t care if it’s only ten seconds old, it’s old. There is no way any sane person—let alone a multimillion-dollar corporation—is going to give you back what they charge for a product. It’s just not good business. So let’s say they give you $30 in store credit for the game you spent $60 on a week ago. That’s not bad. One, store credit is tax free; if you purchase something that’s $29.99, it will be just that. Small consolation, I know, but dammit, it’s something. Two, that’s half your money back. Try that with almost any other product on the face of the planet. No, seriously. Go grab your blender, take it to a pawn shop and see what you get for it. Better yet, call a moving crew, have them lug your refrigerator to any store and see what you get for that. Exactly.

Second, understand that GS makes the bulk of its profits off of used sales. Look at it like this, they pay you $30 for your used game, then they sell it for $54 as opposed to the new price of $60. They stand to make a profit of $14 on a game they initially made nothing on. They can do it because they own the games. If you imagine GS is just one guy who owns a shit ton of games, it’s far easier to see where the profit concept comes in. If you bought a game from your friend and then sold it for more than you paid, you’d make money. That’s how simple this concept is. Good for them I say. The bottom line is, they’re here to make money. It’s how businesses grow and stay operational.

Finally, the employees in the store control NOTHING. They do not set trade-in values, they do not set used prices, they do not determine the value of anything within those four walls outside of their own self worth. Asking for a “better deal” only works on car lots. The prices are what they are like in ANY retail location. You do not go into Wal-Mart and haggle with the employees over the price of an oven mitt, and if you do, you’re a dick. Telling a GS employee that you can get a game $2 cheaper at Costco is not going to break their heart. Actually, it is more to the average buyers’ detriment to go to another location. Unless you are a seasoned gamer or have received very specific directions from someone, you might not even know what you’re purchasing. Getting 50 Cent: Bulletproof for $2 instead of $5 means nothing because the game is trash, which no K-Mart employee is going to bother telling you. This is not to say that every GS has socially functional workers—because that would be a lie—but typically, you can find at least one person with a pulse and social skills who can save you from a bad purchase.

Now that we’ve seen everything you can’t control, let’s get into what you can. You know that annoying card they always try to push on you that comes with that lame magazine and it’s like $15 for the year? GET IT!! That card is the basis for all that is great about GS. That 10% off used games and accessories means that $55 used game is now $50, so that’s $10 saved right there. Considering you can return used games to ANY GS for a FULL refund within seven days, you might not end up paying anything at all if you just need it for some weekend fun. Getting 10% more on game and accessory trade-ins means you get a boost on every single game you trade in. The trick to that is stacking. You want Battlefield 4, Call of Duty: Ghosts, WWE 2K14, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag or whatever other upcoming title, right? Check this: reserve the game for $5—which is basically layaway because the $5 goes towards the cost of the game—then any games you trade in towards it gets you 30% more on each game. Add the 10% from your new handy, dandy card and you get 40% more on every game you trade in towards shiny newness!! How is this not great??

On top of the percent bonuses, you earn points for transactions, which you can turn into merchandise (posters, dog tags, styluses…stylusi…stylusum…whatever the plural of stylus is) or coupons for anywhere between 10 to $50 off any in-store purchase. You probably didn’t know that. You’re welcome. Also, they recently started giving buy 1 get 1 free codes for used games to customers who pick up reserved games within 48 hours of release. Yes, your 10% off STILL stacks with the B1G1 free. The system is trying to work with you, you just have to pay attention people.

For those of you who just don’t want to trade in your games, that’s fine. I respect people who make such solid gaming choices, never feeling the need to relinquish a single title—I’m serious. For those of you who only buy new games, I envy you for never needing to decide which new game to get or having to wait for a used copy. For the GameFly guys and gals out there who don’t buy anything, I applaud you for gaming on a budget. For the rest of us, we have to work within the system to get our money’s worth. If you understand the game and play your cards right, GS can make their money and we can get fairly priced awesomeness. I think that’s pretty damn fair.


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