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Sometimes Its Good and Often Times Not

  • Sep 22, 2009
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Reviewing a place of business is VERY hard to do.  The experience differs from one to another.  I don't think I've ever had a tiff with the Gamestop employees where I live.  Ever.  In fact, I've become quite good friends with most of them.  Enough that they'll give me discounts, magazines and posters they plan on getting rid of etc.  So I usually go back just because I like the people in my local Gamestop.  But there are Gamestops everywhere.  They're popping up faster and faster.  In fact, there's a spot in Aurora, Colorado where a Gamestop is literally across the street from another Gamestop.  I have about five Gamestops within five miles of my home.  

So I have good experiences.  Which judging from so many others here, that must be so rare of a commodity that Big Foot got moved down on the "I've never seen it" list.  The only time I have a bad experience at Gamestop is when  I go in for the Holidays.  In fact, I'd recommend everyone stay away from GS on the holidays.  They never seem to have enough employees to provide swift service.  But I'll try to talk about Gamestop as a whole.  There's one down the way from me that I love, but it should be known that that's the only one I like to shop at because the people working there consider me among their friends. 

In reality, Gamestop has quite a few big problems that are worth addressing.  I will start off with the good, there are games.  Lots and lots of games.  Much of them are used.  In fact the most money that Gamestop generates in revenue is due to selling used games, and they sell them by the truckloads.  And if it's an older game, buying it used usually isn't such a bad idea.  If you can find an old PS2 game for 17.99 there's nothing wrong with that when other places might not be carrying it at all.  This also means that because the store specializes in games there are times when Gamestop is a much better choice than say... Wal-Mart (where a video game gets marked off 3 cents and they call it a discount).  But it simply means that where as some department stores are likely to get rid of older games, Gamestop is likely to have them in stock.  And if not, you just might find a used copy.

Reserving a game is also a good idea.  For big games like say... the latest Halo or something like that reserving is a waste of time.  But for games like the next Tales game or other unexpected JRPG... reserving might actually be a good thing.  "But no one is going to buy it!  It's not popular!" you might think... that's why you reserve it.  A store will get hundreds of copies of the next Halo game, but only five or six copies of the next Tales game.  Getting a hold of Nights in the Nightmare was hard because every Gamestop in my area only received ONE copy on the shipping day.  Turns out, if I'd reserved at any of them, I'd I've gotten the game on release day instead of waiting for the next shipment (where that time at least three copies came).  Of course you'll have to put five dollars down which goes toward the game.  Although what sucks is that the game will only be held for a certain amount of time.  If you don't get it within the time they specify they'll sell it regardless of whether or not you reserved it... and you won't get a refund on the money you put down.  This is even worse if you decide to put down more than five dollars for your reserve.  If you say... pay the entire game off but something keeps you from picking it up in time (usually about 48 hours after release) they'll sell it... and you'll be out $60 in that case.  That's... really bad.

And thus we come to some of Gamestops problems.  While I enjoy shopping at my one Gamestop, the corporation itself has big problems.  I won't comment on the employees.  Everyone's experience is going to differ.  As I've said, I've never had problems with the employees, but some people might.  Even if I did... with a business that has a chain of over 3,000 stores, it would be unrealistic to judge EVERY single employee based on just ONE asshole.  I can't do that.  And I can't judge 3,000 stores based on just one of them.  So I'll let your experience be your experience.

But we can talk about the store policies and whatnot, that even many of the employees I talk to that work there don't quite understand.  It seems that the only reason anyone ever really chooses to work at Gamestop is for the sake of working with games.  And believe me, it's nice to go in and talk about games at a game store.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of problems with many of the policies.  Let's start with the biggest of the biggest problems: Trading in games.

Trading in games is often a horrible thing at Gamestop.  Only titles that were just released are usually worth anything (or in very high demand, you can still get quite a bit for Mario Kart Wii, for example).  Otherwise without trading in A LOT of games you just won't get your money's worth.  Let's put it this way, you trade in a game... they give you say... ten bucks for it.  Now look at how much they'll sell that game for: 55 bucks.  That's five dollars off the game were it brand new.  Now imagine you trade in a game that's sold for 30 bucks brand new... you'll get even less than ten.  What I'm saying is, if you spend sixty dollars on a game and then don't trade it in within a week of release, you're basically getting nothing for it.  It's like going out to dinner, agreeing to split the bill, but the person then says, "How about you get the meal and I'll get the tip?"  Because when trading games at gamestop you're only getting 10-12% of the games actual value.

Worse than that, while Gamestop has a lot of games from the current generation, and some great games from the previous that you might as well pick up now (they're cheaper than they've ever been for some games).  On the other hand, anything released before the PS2 can't be found, nor will they take them.  This is actually pretty damn bad considering finding older games is getting harder and harder and harder.  Soon you won't be able to Find PS2 or Gamecube games.  They'll get rid of those too.  It's just a shame that in order to find say... SNES or Sega Genesis or even just PS1 games you'll have to either search online (where some will come at unusual prices) or find an independent game store (where you'll get so much more for trade ins... although rare games they get quite... uhh... expensive).  But this still isn't as bad as them taking money out of your pocket for trade in titles.

Now for Gamestops other really big problem.  The "NEW" merchandise.  Sometimes when you go and buy a new game you get it in the box with the shrink wrap.  That's great right?  Well, it would be if that happened every time.  In some cases you'll see them reach into that glass case behind the counter and pull out your game in the original wrapping.  Other times, however, you see them take the case you pulled off the shelf (which is supposed to be for display purposes to let you know they have it) and they'll reach into the drawer and pull the game out of the case, slap it in and give it to you.  If that seems strange to you, congrats... you are living in the real world.  Notice they do this same thing with used games.  "That doesn't sound so bad, Sean," you might say.  Well, no... until you get a game that as a result has scratches on the disc... and then the sticker you pull off leaves residue on the case. 

Let me tell you of an experience I had.  I picked up Knights in the Nightmare for my DS.  The game doesn't come in your typical DS case.  No.  It comes in a box, where the case is inside (kind of like how a GBA game used to be packaged, but the best comparison would be the slip case some special edition games come in).  This is because Knights in the Nightmare comes with the Soundtrack CD and they had to put it in a box to package.  Upon finding the box at the store on display and finding out they did have it in stock, I grabbed it.  They only had the case.  I handed the case to the clerk, who first reached into the drawer to pull out the game itself... great, I thought.  THEN he reached into one of the cabinets behind him (not that glass case, mind you) and pulled out the box itself.  And that box looked terrible.  So bad in fact that I simply looked at him and said, "Just keep the box."  

"Are you sure?" he asked me.

"Dude, my toilet looks better than that goddamn box, throw it away."  He smiled and laughed (I have that strange effect on certain people, but at least he wasn't being a jerk) and stuffed it in the box anyway.  Then he handed it to me.  Nevertheless, the box looked as if they threw it on the ground and stepped on it.  The stop was ripped, it wouldn't close all the way... and the case itself was also damaged.  What did they put that game through?  

I have had times when I've picked up brand new DS games, watched them pull it out of the drawer and stuff it in.  Then I got home to play it and there was already a save file.  THAT'S NOT NEW!  I went back to address the problem (this wasn't at my special Gamestop) and the clerk told me, "Oh, some people get to check out games and take them home for two weeks."  Oh.  That would explain the scratches on the backs of so called "brand new games."  You'd think that if Gamestop were going to check out games to their employees (which I'm all for) they'd check out the USED games not the so-called NEW games.  If the employees are playing some of these new games first then they've already been stripped of their value.  But that doesn't matter because the used copy will only be five dollars off anyway. 

But they've got that discount card, right.  And when you get it there's a subscription to Game Informer, right?  Well, that discount card is only useful if you buy A LOT of used merchandise.  It'll cost you twenty dollars to get, and has to be renewed every year.  For those who go shopping for used games and accessories this is great.  It also gives you ten percent more on trades (and that usually amounts to a dollar, folks).  If you do A LOT of shopping and trading at Gamestop it's worthwhile.  But if it's just the subscription you're looking for Game Informer is cheaper to go through.  Of course the receipt will still mock you with the words in small print: "You could've saved..." and then they'll show you.  I feel like that receipt is mocking me when I see that.  F@#k you Gamestop receipt!  

So is Gamestop a good store?  Well, when I go to my special one it is because the people are good.  But stepping back and looking at the forest instead of the trees... it's a store that dicks you around more than not.  They hardly have good deals, and the ones that are good are only good to those trading in games that are only getting 10% of the value on.  In short, only those trading with Gamestop are getting a good deal when they have one going (unless it's one of those clearance sales on Used games... but all the good used stuff will be gone).  Can it be an okay place to shop?  Sometimes.  But your experience, like mine, is apt to differ from one visit to the next.  One day you might go in buy a new game and you'll get that shrink wrapped game that actually seems like it's new.  Other times you won't.  You almost can never tell (though you can always look.

The biggest problem is that at times it feels like you're being dicked around.  Trading in games and getting such a miniscule pay for it (did I mention you'll get even less if you ask for cash?--20% less.  So if you get ten bucks but ask for cash you'll really get eight...).  I still go from time to time, if only because I have that one I do enjoy because I get some great stuff from them.  But while my experiences are often good, it's still the fact that when I go there are times when I feel as though I'm really being dicked around so that they can get more out of my pocket.  And the fact that they might check out brand new games to employees who won't take care of them and then STILL sell them as New is really disturbing.

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October 23, 2009
Back when I was a die-hard gamer (and reading some of your reviews in ammie) I was getting most of my games at Electronic Boutique which was pretty similar that you can try the game for 8 days. They're now called EB Express now, but have only bought a few items for gifts. My new games were given to me by a friend but I'll give this store a shot for the used games.
September 22, 2009
Very Nice review.  However as a former GameStop Employee, I'll agree and disagree with you on a few things.

Yes, we got to take new games home for 5 days and try them out.  When they were returned, they were, yes, still classified as new which I think is a little screwed up.

I will say that I have never had any problem getting a new game without pre-ordering it, popular or not.  We got so many boxes of those games, it's ridiculous.  The main reason they try and get you to pre order is for individual employee numbers.  Think of it as a competition.

Working there is no fun at all, getting to be around games or not.  If you are not at there register than you are re-alphabetizing ALL of the games which was so not worth what I was getting paid.

Again the main reason they want to sign you up for the Edge card is individual employee numbers.  Finally, as far as using my edge card, when I trade in games, I always seem to be getting my new games virtually for free, so if you do use it, it's worth it :)

September 22, 2009
It might be the Gamestops here in Colorado then. I never have to pre-order big titles, but I always have to pre-order less popular ones. I didn't have to reserve Halo 3, for instance, but when it came to Tales of Vesperia, reserving actually made the difference in me getting a copy because their store didn't get many copies to begin with. If I hadn't reserved a copy I might not have gotten it on release day. I may have to edit this review based on some of the information you've given me. I don't think I could really work at Gamestop. Some people seem to enjoy it, but I'm not sure if it's really for me.
More GameStop reviews
review by . July 14, 2009
GameStop retail stores seem to be a cross between a used car dealership and a comic book store (not the good kind of comic book store, but the kind where the owner has a "better-than-thou" attitude and seems put out that you would actually want to buy something in their store).  Here are the things I've noticed at all the GameStop stores I've visited: It's nearly impossible to tell the new games from the used games.  Everything seems to be in complete disarray when you walk …
Quick Tip by . April 08, 2012
Goodness I cant stand these guys anymore. Am I the only one who feels like they are being robbed at gun point whenever they shop there? Some things that really annoy me with them is that the prices for some games here are ridiculous and their trade policies for games is just downright theft.      You could go there and buy a game new just as its released, you spend 70 dollars on this game and play it. Two weeks when later you come back to trade it in they tell …
Quick Tip by . September 26, 2010
I've been in better game stores. Ones that don't open the games from new packs and tell you they're new.
About the reviewer
Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #7
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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