Did you know you’re being robbed, one pre-owned new release at a time?
GameStop is everywhere. You find it in strip malls, shopping centers, and on the corner, and I’m pretty sure the company just broke ground for a new store in my closet. GameStop seemingly multiplies like catholic bunnies. As with many of you, stores like GameStop (formally EB Games, formerly Electronics Boutique) were like Mecca for a child of the late 80s who was obsessed with video games. By the time I got old enough to troll the malls, these types of stores were in full swing. It’s where I bought my first video game magazine and spent countless hours just perusing the endless isles of games (many times just to look at the back cover for that quick five-second thrill). To me, those were the days where my deep-rooted passion for gaming sprung from.
Unfortunately, the days of Camelot are over. Now, one of the single greatest threats of gamers is a store like GameStop. Thing is…most don’t even know it!
One of the biggest so-called threats to our industry is software piracy, or so we’re led to believe. However, I present to you a far greater representation of theft; the GameStop corporate structure. With the launch of the PS4 last week, and the Xbox One’s release nipping at its heels, millions of dollars will be spent by gamers on their favorite next-gen games. Many will (or already have) decided that GameStop will be their go-to source for all these purchases. Most already consider GameStop the one and only place to shop for their gaming needs.
However, did you know that GameStop does nothing but steal from the very industry it seemingly represents?
I’m sure you’ve had this experience in the past. You walk into a GameStop to purchase your brand new copy ofMadden or Call of Duty, when you’re hit with an innocent sounding question from the employee behind the counter. “Hey, you want to buy it pre-owned? You’d save like five bucks.” Thinking that any deal in this economy is a good thing, you respond “Yeah, sure. Why not?!”
BOOM, you’re now an accessory to theft. OK, well, that might be a little dramatic, but allow me to explain.
The way GameStop makes most of its money is on its used titles. Any time you purchase a game for $59.99, that money goes to its proper place: to the developer (or round about). This helps cover the cost of the twenty-million dollar budget it took to create this wonderful piece of art (R.I.P. Roger Ebert) via the countless unsung CG, graphic design, and voice-over artists (just to name a few). Once GameStop has sold the first retail copy (and then buys it back from someone else for next to nothing), the store can resell it a second time “pre-owned.” Thus, nearly 100% of the second sale goes directly to GameStop, and the developer doesn’t see a dime. Do you see where I’m going with this? The company uses the previous trade-in as a way of intercepting the sale of the next customer. So essentially, instead of Activision rightfully getting $120 for two copies of Call of Duty: Ghosts, it only gets the one and GameStop pockets the other.
Now, there are those who might be saying, “Why should I care?”
Well, if your conscious is not screaming at you right now that something is wrong, allow me to try and appeal to a concept that might prick you in another (and slightly more painful) place…your wallet. Have you noticed the huge influx of things such as DLC and “online passes” lately? Don’t get me wrong, some are great. Done right, they bring us additional content that can extend the life of a game. On the other hand, some absolutely suck in the way they nickel and dime us to death after the fact. You can thank GameStop for much of that. This is the response of game companies trying to recoup some of the lost revenue GameStop is stealing from them. In many instances, content that would have been included in the retail price is sliced off, and you’re then forced to purchase it separately. Are the game companies any less villainous for trying to double dip in our pockets? No, but maybe now you understand some of their motivations.
To be clear, I’m not a disgruntled ex-employee of GameStop or even someone who’s been kicked out of the store and now has some type of vendetta. I’m just a person who finally has taken a step back and sees things the way they truly are. GameStop has all but given up on pretending to care about its customers these days (sure, I’ll take $4 for my game that’s only a few weeks old). So, it’s no surprise the company regularly bites the hand that feeds them. We need to wake up in the next-gen and show GameStop we’re not the mindless sheep it takes us for. Remember, GameStop is stealing from you as much as the game industry.
Nintendo was right…we do have the power!