GameStop. Love them or hate them, they are the largest video game retailer in the world. It seems, though, that a particular animosity toward GameStop has grown over the past few years through popular media. Why? Almost every gamer has an opinion about the company, and some of those opinions probably require an ESRB rating of Mature. However, if those of us with a severely tainted view can put aside those burning grudges, we might actually see why the retail behemoth isn’t just necessary, but, dare I say it, a good thing for gamers.
Let’s just pretend for a moment that GameStop (or any major retailer of its exact type) was gone. Poof, out of business, up and vanished like a fart in the wind. Would a GameStop-less world really be any better for gamers? No, it wouldn’t.
If the brick-and-mortar game stores didn’t exist, where would you get rid of your dusty old games, systems, and accessories? Well, I guess you could try to sell them to your friends, but most likely the only physical outlet you would be able to find for your junk would be something like a pawn shop. Sadly though, pawn shops don’t buy any form of media based on popularity or rarity, and they typically give a very low flat rate.
Of course, there is always eBay or Craigslist. Well, I hate to burst your bubble (actually, no I don’t), but used games are significantly reduced when sold online. In a GameStop-free world, the online market would be flooded with an endless line of would-be sellers, each having to undersell all the others to get bids. To top it off, you’d be paying listing and shipping fees, and would generally be putting too much work into trying to sell something. Since you’d most likely be stuck with all your old games because MiGhTyMoUsE4536 didn’t come through with his PayPal payment, I guess you could use your game discs as coasters, burn them for warmth, or make a scale model of a 1970’s disco in your room. Congratulations.
I have been in enough GameStop stores to hear my share of complaints. The top complaint on the list has to be trade-in prices. Even in the last year, a popular commercial by GameFly depicted a customer entering a store clearly meant to represent GameStop, who flipped out because the store was only giving him $9 for the game he wanted to sell.
Let me just point out something here: If you’re selling a game at GameStop, or to anyone for that matter, you are not required to take their offer. I know it’s unbelievable, but you can simply turn them down. It’s not even illegal! You can literally just say “No thanks,” and walk away.
As for low trade prices, the longer you have a game, the less it’s typically worth. It doesn’t matter that you paid sixty bucks for it six months ago; it’s like a car in that it depreciates the second you open it. Prices go down the longer the game is out, and trade prices follow. So don’t get mad that your copy of Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City traded in only got you $5 when you paid $60 on launch day. That was your own miscalculation.
Now, there are ways to get the most out of GameStop, get more for your games, buy games at lower prices, and generally feel like you are ripping off the man (in a totally legal way, of course). There are just a couple of things you need to know about first, so pay attention.
1. Trade in bulk. Always trade in your games together, typically three or more at a time. Most of GameStop’s trade specials consist of giving bonuses when you trade in more games at once (i.e. 20% extra credit when you trade five or more games, etc.)
2. Condition is everything. Take care of your stuff. Damaged games bring in less cash because they can’t be sold without being resurfaced or refurbished.
3. Become a member of their loyalty program. You get 10% extra trade credit with it and 10% extra off used games, in addition to other perks. They also send you weekly emails so you know what promotions are running and you can figure out how to stack them.
4. Buy used games when possible. I know they aren’t much less than the new price, but if they suck, you can return them (within seven days), and you can even get extra off with the loyalty card.
5. Timing is Important. Wait for major promotions (like Buy Two, Get One Free) to stock up on used games, and trade in your current games toward them during the promotion.
If you can combine all these tips, you can get your games for considerably cheaper and take advantage of all the offers available.
Above all, you need to consider the fact that GameStop is not a benevolent or philanthropic organization; they are in business to make money. You can be upset about that if you want to be, but no amount of pissing and moaning is going to change the harsh reality. If you simply don’t like GameStop, then don’t shop there. I’m sure the little old lady in electronics at Walmart will be more than happy to give noncommittal answers to your gaming questions and sell you things that she knows nothing about.
Ultimately, it’s your choice. But please quit crying about it and stop hating on GameStop. We’re tired of hearing it.
Date: January 29, 2013