Editorial: Just because we buy from you, doesn't mean we like you.
It could be said that GameStop is on a roll. In the past year their stock price has more than doubled from 25.50 to its current home, hovering around 60. In September
, the company began turning most of the remaining EB Games stores into GameStop stores. And just last week the company opened their 5000th worldwide location.
But not all is well with the world's largest video game retailer. Over the years they have slowly been ostracizing the hardcore gamers of the world with insulting business practices and annoying employees. When GameStop and EB Games "merged" in 2005, most of GameStop's corporate policies won out and even though the stores were always very similar, gamers felt betrayed that EB Games would eventually go the way of the dodo. I strongly doubt the same number of tears would be shed if GameStop were to disappear tomorrow.
While GameStop's financial future is in good order, losing the hardcore crowd will eventually start to affect their bottom line and we as gamers deserve a place to buy our games that respects who we are and what we've done for them. If bratty teen girls can have Abercrombie and Fitch, then we as gamers should have a better place to buy games. So here are seven suggestions to the GameStop brass on how to fix the problems with their store. Maybe they'll ignore them, but look at what has happened to the big players in your own industry after Nintendo ignored gamers in 1996 and how Sony is doing the same today.
1. Stop asking us to pre-order.
And while you're at it, make your retail drones stop telling us that if we don't pre-order a certain hot game we might not be able to buy it on its release date. Within five miles of where I currently sit there are three GameStops, two local shops, two Blockbusters, a KB Toys, a K-Mart, a Wal-Mart and a Target. All of these stores sell copious amounts of games and I can't imagine any game that could be sold out everywhere. If Halo 3 can't do it, nothing can.
2. Start carrying more copies of the obscure stuff.
A few months back I went to a GameStop to buy a copy of The Red Star, a side-scrolling shooter for the PS2, a game in an obscure genre on a system that is becoming more obsolete by the day. The clerk had never heard of it (even though I was holding the box in my hand) and thought it was some kind of special controller. It was also the only copy of the game the store had.
He also seemed rather confused that I was buying a side-scroller for the PS2 instead of the latest gorefest on the PS3. While it's great that GameStop stocks a crapload of copies of Guitar Hero III and all of the other AAA overhyped system sellers, their role as a specialty retailer should extend into the obscure games that the hardcore gamer also wants to play. Katamari Damacy didn't become a hit because people bought it in droves at Wal-Mart. It became a hit because GameStop followed the buzz and stocked enough copies.
3. Keep publishing Game Informer.
With the future of print publications always in doubt, it's nice to know that Game Informer is still a quality game magazine. If for no other reason than that many people don't want to always be sitting at a computer for their game news.
4. Lower prices on used games.
This one should
be something that common sense tells you is the right thing to do. But not, apparently, for the executives at GameStop. The markdown on a used game should be more than $5 off of the current retail price. A used game is just that, used, and with the fragility of disc-based media it's idiotic to expect a used game to be considered almost equal in price to a new game.
5. Stop selling the open display copy as "new."
As many of you may have noticed in the past, GameStop opens one copy of every game they sell and puts the box out on display. When it comes time to sell this copy they pull the disc out of a pile of other display games and give it to you in the open box. The company does not even put its meager used game markdown on the game because they consider it "new." Well, even a two year old could understand that an open game that's been handled is not new. And it's even worse if a customer is buying the display copy as a gift.
6. Gamers still play PC games.
Ever since GameStop stopped selling used PC games the new PC rack has gotten smaller and smaller with every visit. While console gaming is the big money maker, there are still lots of PC gamers out there who want a place to buy games. I'm sure the company is more than a little afraid of digital distribution (which is much easier for PC games than it is for console games), but don't screw the people who want a physical copy.
7. Stop hiring idiots.
This is pretty self explanatory, but a simple Google search on "GameStop" and "stupid" brings up nearly 1.4 million hits. While this is not a scientific study, I imagine most of those searches will return the phrase "stupid GameStop employees." There are plenty of dedicated knowledgeable game players out there who'd love to work in a game store, but they don't want to put up problems one through six to have to do it. If GameStop can fix those they can fix this one without even trying.
There you have it GameStop executives, you don't have to listen to me and you don't have to like what I say. But you know that a lot of gamers are saying it and as H.G. Wells once said "Adapt or perish."